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The Fred Step

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I thought Royal Ballet fans might be interested in knowing, in this Ashton year, that there's now a page devoted to The Fred Step, and the ballets in which it appears, and which characters dance it, in the Ashton Archive:


(For those who don't know the site, of which I am the caretaker, for David Vaughan's chronology of Ashton's ballets. which includes subsequent productions anc casts, it's http://www.ashtonarchive.com ).

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If anyone checked that link before 4:30 p.m. EST today, you won't have seen the essay that was supposed to accompany the list. It's a beautiful essay about Ashton (by Alastair Macauley), and how he worked, and what the Fred Step is, and how it's woven into Ashton's ballets, and why it's important. So check again :FIREdevil:

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Thanks for drawing our attention to that, Alexandra!

I remember during the NBoC's 50th anniversary season they gave a series of master classes. Karen Kain led a class focusing on Ashton and she taught us the "Fred Step", so it's great now to read about it in so much detail.

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Thanks, Alexandra, for the link to Alistair Macauley's article on the Fred Step. His instructions were so clear that I was able to approximate it in my living room -- which made it possible to visualize on the stage. I'll be looking for it now, and I feel richer for the knowledge.

I am embarrassed to admit that I heard about the Fred Step years ago and assumed it was something done by Fred Astaire.

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I knew what it was, generally, because I've read David Vaughan's biography (actually, I reread it every Christmas :) ) And I knew it came from Pavlova. BUT I didn't know how important it was to Ashton himself, and to Somes and other Royal Ballet dancers of that time.

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NB: alastair macaulay spells his name w/ all a's.

on stage now at ABT, i don't know if alastair macaulay knew it when he published his essay identifying the Fred Step in ashton's ballets, the 'peasant' women who join the bucolic dance begun by the other peasant men women in the first act of SYLVIA, execute THE FRED STEP on a lovely, small-scale w/ their little wheelbarrows and other rustic props at the front of the 16(?) dancer group in the grotto of eros.

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Macaulay also is very passionate about the Fred Step, and frequently demonstrates it at Insight Days at the ROH.... Usually with his bright red shoes on and laces coming undone, causing most of us to fear that he's going to trip and fall off the front of the stage!

Thanks for this link! :)

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Alastair sets an example for us all by fearlessly demonstrating the steps in hte lobby, and with an air.... I try to emulate him in this, and many other things.

My question about actually DOING the Fred step (Carbro, have you tried this? Bart, atm711, Choura?) is about that pas de bourree -- after the developpee in second (which as I'm picturing it is in ecarte back, the arabesque haveing been efface), is there a tombe, or do you step up up down -- he says there are four steps there, and I don't see how there can be FOUR steps into hte pas de chat unless you tombe pas de bourree (down up up down) into it.......

I would go check my Cinderella, but the VCR isn't working....

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I only noticed the step in London last week, and just read McCaulay's article - nice essay, but I'm still not entirely convinced we aren't giving the combination too much weight. In all cases, Paul, I *think* the transition between the developpe and the pas de bouree is a small fondu ballone - after the developpe, fondu on the standing leg and bring the extended leg into sur le cou de pied. From there (step 1) you do the pas de bourree (3 steps, 4 total).

I could easily be completely wrong here and applying my own movement logic to a step I saw consciously exactly once.

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Thanks, Leigh -- hm, I've been assuming that the pas de bourrees travelled upstage -- they DON'T? the floor plan is forward on the upstage leg, coupe under, developpe, and then toward the audience?

Wll, yes, a kind of critical mountain IS being made out of a molehill -- but there are little ciphers people often put into their art. Hitchcock made a point of sneaking himself into some scene in most of his movies. Directors like to build little secrets into things that will bind the work, make it gel, like adding an extra egg to your cookies. But i' m telling YOU this?

And thanks, Mme. Hermine, for that insight into the pas de chat -- I did have the idea that that pas-de-chat thingy was kind of a throw-away move.... and a precipitee would fit that bill...

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We just did the Fred Step today in a class I take w/ a former SWRB dancer. The pas de bourree is as Leigh described it. So, if facing the front, pique arabesque onto right leg (efface), fondu, coupe fondu developpee seconde (right leg extends), and then ballone into the pas de bourree. The pas de chat was indeed a proper pas de chat, but it was emphasised to us, as it is in the article, that this is the 'basic' and that it appears in variations... hope that helps!

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The index link has sadly gone inert...  Found this nice thread when a friend posted a link to a video of that charming solo Ashton choreographed for Fonteyn at 60.  


So, that dance they do together before Ashton leads her offstage, is that the Fred Step?


would be a fun game some August (or Nutcracker seige) to see how many quotes we can find in the piece.  I think I see Ondine, maybe Firebird and surely Juliet?, but do not know the Fonteyn repetoire well enough to see more.

Edited by Amy Reusch
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