Jump to content
volcanohunter

Ashton around the world

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

I found this to be both shocking and depressing.

Is this really all the Ashton that's being performed worldwide? I notice that the Royal Ballet's performances of Monotones II are missing. Perhaps other performances have also fallen through the cracks? Nothing in Asia or south of the equator?

Edited by volcanohunter

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)

You can add to the list performances of Marguerite and Armand which are included in a mixed bill called "Alina at Sadler's Wells" which will be performed at the Wells between the 20th and 23rd February 2020. I find the fact that today this work is said to be the most frequently performed of Ashton's works almost as unsettling and unbelievable as the fact that so few of his works are being programmed.

Mr. O'Hare clearly understands the need to perform the company's nineteenth century repertory and to do those works justice in performance but when it comes to the twentieth century repertory he is, at best, ambivalent. He understands the need for regular performances of MacMillan's successful full length works as they generate a regular income for the company and certainly attract dancers to it but another reason for their regular revival is that  they benefit from the presence of an active advocate for them. MacMillan's works  are not thought to need excuses or explanation when it comes to programming them and they most certainly do not fall into the "heritage works" category whereas it would seem that with the exception of Symphonic Variations and perhaps Fille, Ashton's works do. Their presence in a programme requires an explanation about the importance of "heritage works" to the company's artistic identity. 

The problem is that it is perfectly possible to have an insight event about the importance of Ashton to the company without apparently recognising the need to perform his ballets on a regular basis. I suspect that Kevin would think that the loss of a few Ashton works through neglect was a price worth paying for the presence in the company's repertory of a handful of reasonably successful works by MacGregor. As it is MacMillan is seen as far more important to the company than Ashton could ever be. No one seems to be that concerned about devising some sort of plan that would ensure that Ashton's works and other major twentieth century ballets such as Les Noces and Les Biches were performed on a regular basis and were part of the regular churn of the active repertory. If Kevin had thought about the Fonteyn centenary, rather than adding a gala as an afterthought , he might have used it as an opportunity to publicise some of the Ashton repertory and followed it up by including a couple of the ballets  from which excerpts were shown in the following season's repertory. I feel sure that there were plenty of people who would have loved to have seen revivals of Ondine and Daphnis and Chloe this season. However next season should be exciting as it seems that it is going to be full of works which have been made or acquired since he became Artistic Director. I am not sure how that is going to work financially but perhaps that is the explanation for the exceptionally high ticket prices for much of this season's repertory.

 

Edited by Ashton Fan

Share this post


Link to post

I am reading a great book by Dominic Gilbert about Ashton ballets and it seems the handwringing over his lost repertoire was already happening in his lifetime before MacMillan.

This is what Margot Fonteyn had to say about Dante Sonata:

"Dante Sonata was a marvelous ballet when it was done, in 1940, but it was revived after the war with dancers who didn't live through that period and really didn't know what it was about. It wouldn't keep." 

Maybe that could be a discussion, why so many Ashton ballets are so fragile and "won't keep" while Balanchine, Robbins, and MacMillan made warhorses that different companies could do year after year.

Share this post


Link to post

The Royal Ballet has a further mixed bill in the Linbury in mid May 2020 which is supposed to include an Ashton piece. Details are very thin - this was announced in the season press release but it isn't on the ROH web site at present. 

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, Lynette H said:

The Royal Ballet has a further mixed bill in the Linbury in mid May 2020 which is supposed to include an Ashton piece. Details are very thin - this was announced in the season press release but it isn't on the ROH web site at present. 

This might be one of the Monotones, as these are being performed around that time, in place of Ratmansky's Preludes, which was scratched from the early-summer triple bill at the ROH. Just a guess.

Share this post


Link to post
On ‎10‎/‎5‎/‎2019 at 12:20 PM, Ashton Fan said:

He understands the need for regular performances of MacMillan's successful full length works as they generate a regular income

They are done to death though.  Empty seats at Mayering and rows of empty seats for Manon last Saturday.

Share this post


Link to post
7 hours ago, Roberta said:

This might be one of the Monotones, as these are being performed around that time, in place of Ratmansky's Preludes, which was scratched from the early-summer triple bill at the ROH. Just a guess.

Monotones I and II are on in the main house , 3 - 13 June. The bill in the Linbury is different,  it's in mid May. 

Share this post


Link to post
15 hours ago, Lynette H said:

Monotones I and II are on in the main house , 3 - 13 June. The bill in the Linbury is different,  it's in mid May. 

I know. That's why I mentioned it...it's an "easy fix" (after the Ratmansky Preludes work was cancelled for the June triple bill at the main house). Monotones and More Monotones. Hopefully not.

Share this post


Link to post

The Ashton Foundation presented another Masterclass on 27th October. This time it was Christopher Newton and Ursula Hageli rehearsing Royal Ballet dancers in Foyer de Danse (1932), and Wayne Eagling rehearsing Calvin Richardson in Le Papillon variation (1975 ). It was filmed so in time it should show up on the Ashton Foundation website. 

Share this post


Link to post

I think that the real problem with the Ashton repertory is the personal tastes and artistic vision of the artistic directors of the two Royal Ballet companies who decide  which ballets we shall be permitted to see each season.  If they were doing a good job of programming the full range of his choreographic output by ensuring between them that all of the major ballets were revived on a regular basis and even the minor pieces were given the occasional airing then perhaps other companies might wish to stage more of them. The problem is the programming policies  of those two directors ensure that only a bare handful of Ashton ballets enjoy anything like core repertory status.Kevin O'Hare seems to want to go down in company history as a director who added to the company's repertory rather than as a conservator of the non MacMillan works in the company's twentieth century back catalogue. David Bintley as an active choreographer has seen his company as a vehicle for his own sub-Ashtonian creations rather than as a repository of choreographic treasures and curiosities , The neglect of the works which BRB has brought back from near oblivion is little short of scandalous since both he and his predecessor Sir Peter Wright have been responsible for award winning revivals and restorations of important works from the thirties and forties. Only time will tell what happens to the older ballets in Birmingham's repertory when Acosta takes up the directorship there in January 2020. Will he be at all interested in ballets which he has never seen which would not have suited  him as a dancer or will he start staging works with which he is familiar from his days in Cuba?

The great advantage that both Balanchine and Robbins enjoy is that there is a consensus among the US dance community devoted to classical ballet about the quality and significance of their dance output. Although there  may be doubts about the quality of individual works no one who wants to be taken seriously in the world of dance has, to my knowledge, ever suggested that the bulk of their works are old fashioned and should be shelved in favour of works by the current generation of choreographers. Balanchine has the additional advantage of being almost synonymous with classical ballet in the US. Things are somewhat different when it comes to the Ashton repertory in the UK where he seems to be far game for those who would much prefer that the Royal Ballet were dancing works by MacGregor and his contemporaries.Indeed there are some critics who can't resist describing Ashton's  works as old fashioned whenever the opportunity presents itself as it has in the last couple of weeks with the company's latest triple bill of Concerto, Enigma Variations and Raymonda Act III. "Sepia coloured" and "old fashioned" were pressed into service to criticise rather than describe the rarely revived Enigma Variations which rather misses the point that the ballet is a late 1960's portrayal of the characters whom Elgar described in his score and an evocation of the late Victorian world.

You might ask whether this process of downplaying the Ashton legacy was deliberate or accidental and perhaps a meeting which Jeremy Isaacs, General Director Covent Garden 1987 -1996 , described in his autobiography provides some  sort of answer. He says that soon after Ashton's death in 1988 he had a meeting with Kenneth and Lady MacMillan at which she pressed her husband's claims to have  his work given preference in programming as he was still capable of creating  new works for the company.  She added that Anthony agreed to this. This, I think, marks the point at which the company which Ashton had helped to establish and whose artistic and stylistic reputation he had forged became the company whose MacMillan repertory became more important to its artistic identity and its financial stability than that of its Founder choreographer. Then there were those who wanted to speed up the process of reducing Ashton's influence on the company's performance style. Speaking at a conference about Ashton and his works held in the late 1990's, John Percival reported that dancers were being encouraged by their colleagues to "camp up" their performances of Ashton's choreography. That sort of thing does not help Ashton's cause nor does the fact that few if any of his works are danced at the right speed probably because the school abandoned teaching the Cechetti system years ago. Unfortunately Ashton danced too slowly becomes heavy and stodgy and fails to capture the imagination.. 

 

Edited by Ashton Fan

Share this post


Link to post

In his lifetime, though, there were plenty of people who thought that Balanchine was old-fashioned, and that the Robbins rep was contemporary and should have more prominence.  I remember reading a review in Time or Newsweek just after Davidsbundlertanze premiered which was another in a string over many years on the theme of "The Old Man still has it in him," as if this were a surprise.  Even if Robbins had been focused on the Company consistently, as erratic as he was, Kirstein was still there to guard the henhouse and stack the Board.  Ashton was in a much more vulnerable place.

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, Lynette H said:

Wayne Eagling rehearsing Calvin Richardson in Le Papillon variation (1975 ).

To the best of my knowledge this was created as a one off for a gala, a sensational piece, I remember it still.  Wayne Eagling was labelled as a MacMillan dancer, but he always looked very at home in Ashton's ballets, e.g. Fille and Cinderella.  Papillion was very much crafted to match Eagling's unique abilities, I rather think Sir Fred admired Eagling as much as MacMillan did.

 

2 hours ago, Ashton Fan said:

Only time will tell what happens to the older ballets in Birmingham's repertory when Acosta takes up the directorship there in January 2020. Will he be at all interested in ballets which he has never seen which would not have suited  him as a dancer or will he start staging works with which he is familiar from his days in Cuba?

Hard to say, but he always seemed very happy dancing Colas, so I imagine that ballet at least will stay in the rep.

Share this post


Link to post
10 hours ago, Helene said:

I remember reading a review in Time or Newsweek just after Davidsbundlertanze premiered which was another in a string over many years on the theme of "The Old Man still has it in him," as if this were a surprise.

I've been watching some of the Foundation's interviews and Jacques d'A said there was a similar "golly" at the premiere of "Who Cares" -- there was a portion of the audience who thought that Balanchine was past it, and were surprised at the work.

Share this post


Link to post
50 minutes ago, sandik said:

I've been watching some of the Foundation's interviews and Jacques d'A said there was a similar "golly" at the premiere of "Who Cares" -- there was a portion of the audience who thought that Balanchine was past it, and were surprised at the work.

It apparently surprised the dancers too. Balanchine was in a funk after Suzanne left the company. They thought he'd never be the creative genius he was again. When he came out with Who Cares? company members were shocked at how quickly he pulled himself out of that funk.

Share this post


Link to post
On 10/30/2019 at 2:07 PM, Mashinka said:

  Wayne Eagling was labelled as a MacMillan dancer, but he always looked very at home in Ashton's ballets, e.g. Fille and Cinderella.  Papillion was very much crafted to match Eagling's unique abilities, I rather think Sir Fred admired Eagling as much as MacMillan did.

 

 

Eagling said at the Ashton Foundation event that his most favourite of the entire ballet repertoire is Symphonic Variations - though he didn't much enjoy dancing it. He also recalled being told by Michael Somes one day to go into the studio as Ashton was rehearsing and wanted him to stand in for Nureyev - with Fonteyn - so I guess Ashton did like him!

Share this post


Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...