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Ashton Foundation "Ashton Rediscovered"


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I am sure that some of you are aware that the Frederick Ashton Foundation was established a couple of years ago. I am not sure whether you are aware that the foundation has, for the last three years or so, been running a series of master classes in which sections of rarely performed Ashton ballets and gala pieces have been coached and performed in front of a paying audience. Most of the coaching sessions held from  the 2016-17 season onward have been filmed and most of them are now available to view on the foundation's website. Some of the choreography being coached will be familiar to you but much of it will not. These filmed coaching sessions include:-

1) Darcey Bussell coaching a piece Ashton originally created  for Donald MacLeary and Svetlana Beriosova which I think was simply called "Raymonda pas de deux", with Donald MacLeary intervening in the session from time to time ;

2) Anthony Dowell coaching Reece Clarke in the Prince's moody solo created for act 2 Sleeping Beauty and coaching Vadim Muntagirov in " The Dance of the Blessed Spirits ";

3) Dowell coaching sections of the Fisherman's choreography devised for a staging of Le Chante du Rossignal which was seen in both New York and London;

4) Merle Park coaching Hirano and Hinkis in "The Walk to the Paradise Garden";

5) Monica Mason coaching the Spanish Dance which Ashton devised for act 3 of the Helpmann 1963 production of Swan Lake, the choreography of which remained part of the RB's standard choreographic text of the ballet until Dowell staged his own production of the ballet in the 1980's.

These recordings are readily accessible on the Frederick Ashton Foundation website. Not only do they provide the opportunity to discover choreography which you may never have seen before but, in some cases, they provide the opportunity to watch some of the company's younger dancers who may at present merely be names to you.

Go to the Frederick Ashton Foundation website click on "News and Events" and simply scroll down the page until you find them. There is a rather disappointing snippet of a section of Foyer de Danse which was filmed at a session held in 2011 the sessions held from 2016-17 season onward are much fuller and thus far more satisfying.

Edited by Ashton Fan
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The event held in October 2019 has been placed on the Foundation's website. It is of interest because a large part of the afternoon was devoted to coaching a section of Foyer de Danse which dates from the early 1930's when Markova was working in London and appeared at Rambert's Ballet Club. There is a film of this early Ashton work made by a ballet enthusiast which has tantalised people for years because it is clearly incomplete and many have thought it was too fragmentary to work on. On the basis of what was shown last October it seems that Ursula Hageli has solved many of the problems with the film . Using a computer she was able to slow the film down and found that by doing this the  choreography fitted the music. In her opinion, presumably based on the handful of bars which were left without choreography, the only sections of the stage action which are missing are the dancers' entrances and exits which were not filmed. However as the work was made for Rambert's Mercury Theatre which had an exceptionally small stage and a limited number of options as to how to enter or leave it devising something to provide stage action to fill those bars  of music should not prove an insurmountable challenge preventing the work being revived. The biggest obstacle is likely to be Kevin's limited enthusiasm for such works. As to whether it would be worth reviving the ballet? It was still in Ballet Rambert's active repertory when the company visited Australia in the late 1940's which suggests that it would be worth seeing restored to the stage.

The second part of the event was devoted to a gala piece which Ashton made for Park and Eagling in 1975 which they only danced about three times and about which they admit to remembering very little. It is still of interest.

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