Tag Archives: Frederick Ashton

Royal Ballet Mixed Bill: Scènes de ballet, Five Brahms Waltzes, Symphonic Variations, Month in the Country, Covent Garden, October 2014

Four Ashton ballets in one evening — what a spoil. The first and third created just after the Second World War, the other two in 1976. Scénes de ballet is a perfect opener. Stravinsky’s music, originally commissioned for a Broadway revue, was conducted with suitable astringency by Emmanuel Plasson, making a striking contrast to one …

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Royal Ballet Triple: The Dream/ Connectome/ The Concert, May 2014

The clever mockery in the first and third items in this excellent triple bill contrasted well with the brilliant new ballet by Alastair Marriott that lay between them. Connectome is named after a scientific term referring to the neural connections of a brain — in other words its ‘wiring diagram’ — and though only that …

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Ashton Mixed Bill, with Yanowsky and Bonelli, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, February 2013

This review is for the cast on the second night, and what a treat it was again to have Emmanuel Plasson as maestro for this delightful mixed bill of short Aston pieces. As a serious conductor who is happy to perform ballet music he showed a sure touch with orchestra, instrumental soloists and dancers. Musically, Plasson is ideal for …

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Ashton Mixed Bill, with Rojo and Polunin, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, February 2013

This was Tamara Rojo’s evening, ending with a lovely bouquet of flowers for her — making up for their lack of such tributes in her last days with the Company, after accepting the artistic directorship of the ENB. In Ashton’s take on The Lady of the Camellias, she was a captivating Marguerite, glamorous and consumptive, showing fine textures …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Birthday Offering/ A Month in the Country/ Les Noces, Covent Garden, July 2012

A second view, with a different cast — see my opening night review for more details. As before, Tom Seligman conducted Birthday Offering with Barry Wordsworth taking the other two ballets, and things got off to a fine start as Seligman produced swelling sounds from the orchestra to Glazunov’s Concert Waltz No. 1. Later the music interleaves excerpts …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Birthday Offering/ A Month in the Country/ Les Noces, Covent Garden, June/July 2012

This triple bill offers an evening of glorious choreography, opening with the exuberance of Ashton’s Birthday Offering. Birthday Offering, first shown in 1956 for the 25th anniversary of the Company (then known as the Sadler’s Wells Ballet), starts with the melodious phrases of Glazunov’s Concert Waltz No. 1, and Tom Seligman in the orchestra pit made it swell …

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La Fille mal gardée, with McRae and Marquez, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, May 2012

La Fille mal gardée is one of Frederick Ashton’s most delightful ballets, and this review covers the same cast as for the live cinema relay on May 16. The story is simple. Widow Simone wants to marry off her very pretty daughter Lise to the son of a wealthy landowner, thereby assuring her and her daughter’s financial future. There are …

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La Fille mal gardée, with Choe and Maloney, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, May 2012

For a witty pastoral story of young love triumphing over a widow’s desire to marry her daughter into wealth this ballet is hard to beat. First created in 1789, the year of the French revolution, its characters are ordinary folk, unlike the stylized shepherds and shepherdesses seen on stage at that time. The scenario is …

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Daphnis and Chloë/ The Two Pigeons, Birmingham Royal Ballet, BRB, London Coliseum, March 2012

Essential for first rate ballet are music and choreography, and this double bill provides them in spades, along with some very fine dancing. Both ballets involve young lovers splitting apart, yet reunited at the end, and both are choreographed by one of the great masters of the twentieth century, Frederick Ashton. His creations were entirely new, the …

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The Dream with Marquez and McRae, Song of the Earth with Watson, Benjamin and Hristov, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, February 2012

When Frederick Ashton choreographed Dream in 1964 to celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, he created a magical evocation of the play with Oberon and Titania danced by a very young Anthony Dowell and Antoinette Sibley, and every time I see this ballet I recall Dowell’s performances. But Steven McRae rose to the challenge of this fiendishly …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Asphodel Meadows, Enigma Variations, Gloria, Covent Garden, November 2011

The first and last items on this excellent programme are to music by Poulenc, and both these two ballets — though not the music — deal with death. In an announcement at the start of the evening, a request was made for no applause during Gloria. As a result the audience seemed hesitant about applauding the …

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BRB Triple: Checkmate, Symphonic Variations, Pineapple Poll, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Sadler’s Wells, October 2011

The tranquil centre of this triple bill is Symphonic Variations, one of Frederick Ashton’s greatest ballets. He produced it in spring 1946 as something of an antidote to the recent war, providing a wonderful serenity to the mystical calm of César Franck’s music. Yet for the dancers this serenity is a great challenge. The six of …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Limen, Marguerite and Armand, Requiem, Covent Garden, October 2011

Having seen Limen two years ago, my main memory was of blue number lights at the rear of the stage in a confusing on-again-off-again pattern, along with dancers barely visible in a half-light, but that is only in the second part. The first half is better, and I like Kaija Saariaho’s music, I love the use of bright …

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Ashton’s Romeo and Juliet, Peter Schaufuss Ballet, London Coliseum, July 2011

Frederick Ashton choreographed Romeo and Juliet for the Royal Danish Ballet in 1955, and it was on a smaller scale than the 1965 Kenneth MacMillan version familiar to Covent Garden audiences. Schaufuss’s mother and father danced Juliet and Mercutio in the original, so Peter Schaufuss is very much involved in this work, and he worked with Ashton on a new …

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Peter and the Wolf/ Les Patineurs/ Tales of Beatrix Potter, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, December 2010

The Royal Ballet are delivering wonderful fare this Christmas and New Year, not just with Cinderella, but in two double bills containing Frederick Ashton’s Tales of Beatrix Potter. The first combines it with Matthew Hart’s Peter and the Wolf, and the second with Ashton’s Les Patineurs.

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Cinderella with Rojo and Côté, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, December 2010

… in Act II, Rojo and Côté, surrounded by the ‘dancing stars’ gave a display of classical ballet at its best. Ashton was a master of large ensemble dances and this was magical.

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Cinderella, Royal Ballet, 17 April 2010

Yuhui Choe danced Cinderella with exceptional charm and refinement. Her elegant footwork and sympathetic body language marks her out as an exceptional future performer of this role.

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La Fille mal gardée, Cojocaru and McRae, Royal Ballet, March 2010

McRae danced with precision and snap, and being still such a young member of the company he fitted the part perfectly.

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Les Patineurs and Tales of Beatrix Potter, Royal Ballet, December 2009

These two delightful ballets by Frederick Ashton are a joy to watch.

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