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Subject: "The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb." Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #1347
Reading Topic #1347
Ann Williams

14-02-01, 11:39 AM (GMT)
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"The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb."
 
   Is it possible to write about Ashton's 'La Fille Mal Gardée' without using the words 'sunny', 'happy', 'bucolic', 'rustic' etc? Has anyone ever tried it? It would be dificult, because these trite words sum up exactly the simple magic of Ashton's great work. It's a magic that hardly ever fails, and Sarah Wildor and Ethan Stiefel in the RB's production on Tuesday night (13th) brought their separate and unique talents to make 'Fille' blaze once more.

John Lancherbery conducted his own arrangement of the Herold music - a great treat for all of us old 'Fille' hands - but his tempi for Colas' first solo briefly defeated ABT's Ethan Stiefel, who nevertheless soldiered on with his crisp, powerful and clean dancing. If only the RB could sign him up permanently! Apart from his exceptional dancing, he's handsome and hunky enough for any girl. He proved a sturdy partner for Sarah Wildor's declicate and witty Lise (no, actually,she was downright funny; she made me laugh out loud). Her dancing was, as usual, wonderfully poised and musical, but I especially loved her flashing solo in the village fete scene, where she seemed literally to float across the stage. The scenes with her mother (William Tuckett as the Widow Simone) were beautifully detailed in their mime. My only grumble with her performance is that she did the vital 'pregnancy' mime face-on to the audience instead of sideways, so the whole point was rather lost (the audience barely tittered). Who was coaching here, I wonder?

Tuckett was a funny though brutal Mum to Lise; these days if your Mum slapped you and beat you like that you'd be on to Childline in a flash. But he did a very good clog dance, and he was such a pushover in the wedding scene that you nearly shed a tear for him.

Tom Sapsford's Alain was brilliant both technically and comically - he's a wonderfully gifted dancer. I believe the original Alain, Alexander Grant, coached him, and it showed. He got one of the biggest cheers at curtain call, but he needs to add some pathos, and perhaps a suggestion of sexuality, to really round out his performance.

The corps were enthusiastically on form, and the Cockerel (Hubert Essakow) and his four hens were the most realistic fowl I've seen in ages, with their lazy leg scratchings and distracted farmyard pecking for food. When Lise was up the ladder tying the pink ribbon to the staff, they actually looked like real hens pecking and bobbing about.

A wonderful evening. I'll be seeing Belinda Hately and Johann Kobborg in 'Fille' next month, but you know, I don't think I can wait that long...


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb. alison 14-02-01 1
     RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb. Ann Williams 15-02-01 2
         RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb. alison 15-02-01 3
             RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb. Ann Williams 15-02-01 4
  RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb. Anneliese 15-02-01 5
  RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb. Claire S 15-02-01 6
     RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb. Annabel 15-02-01 7
         RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb. Mary Cargill 16-02-01 8
             RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb. Alexandra 16-02-01 9
                 RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb. Jane S 17-02-01 10
                     RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb. Stuart Sweeney 20-02-01 12
  The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb. Meru 20-02-01 11
     RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb. Jeannie 20-02-01 13
  La Fille 21st February jANE 22-02-01 14

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alison

14-02-01, 12:43 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb."
In response to message #0
 
   >A wonderful evening. I'll be
>seeing Belinda Hately and Johann
>Kobborg in 'Fille' next month,
>but you know, I don't
>think I can wait that
>long...

I don't for a minute suppose that they've changed the casting again (I wish!)


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Ann Williams

15-02-01, 12:16 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb."
In response to message #1
 
   Alison - I'm not at all clear what you mean by this posting. Do you mean that Hatley/Kobborg are *not* down for 'Fille'? Is this what you wish for?

Sorry if I'm being dense!


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alison

15-02-01, 12:52 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb."
In response to message #2
 
   No, I meant that Kobborg isn't dancing it at all now, as far as I know, unless they've changed the casting round. Persson is replacing him at all his performances, I think. I just wondered whether you had some special information about Kobborg replacing Persson in the Hatley performances or something, since they are the last ones in the season and he might be fit by then. I'd have loved to have seen him and Hatley together.


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Ann Williams

15-02-01, 07:00 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb."
In response to message #3
 
   Alison - Kobborg is dancing again. At least, he's in Saturday's 'R&J' matinee with Alina Cojocaru, for which I've just got a standing ticket in the stalls circle. YEA!!!


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Anneliese

15-02-01, 08:57 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb."
In response to message #0
 
   >Is it possible to write about
>Ashton's 'La Fille Mal Gardée'
>without using the words 'sunny',
>'happy', 'bucolic', 'rustic' etc?
>Has anyone ever tried it?
> It would be dificult,
>because these trite words sum
>up exactly the simple magic
>of Ashton's great work.
>It's a magic that hardly
>ever fails, and Sarah Wildor
>and Ethan Stiefel in the
>RB's production on Tuesday night
>(13th) brought their separate and
>unique talents to make 'Fille'
>blaze once more.
>
> My
>only grumble with her
>performance is that she did
>the vital 'pregnancy' mime face-on
>to the audience instead of
>sideways, so the whole point
>was rather lost (the audience
>barely tittered). Who was
>coaching here, I wonder?
>
Hmm, who indeed - as Lesley Collier is now repetiteuring on the staff there's really NO excuse!

But your posting has made me stop and think - when I was young (well, under 15) I didn't like Giselle, Swan Lake or R&J because they didn't have happy endings. Now I'm less young (all right, 37 and a mum!) I'm finding more and more that I rather agree with my youthful self - I want something that makes me cry tears of sheer pleasure when I've gone to the effort of going out. Fille never fails to do that. Long may it remain in the repertoire, and here's to more happy endings!


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Claire S

15-02-01, 09:14 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb."
In response to message #0
 
   I'm glad someone is enjoying Fille being back at Covent Garden as much as I am! It really is not only a wonderful ballet, but a wonderful evening/afternoon's entertainment. It was great to see so many children at Saturday's matinee and they must have been enthralled because there wasn't a murmur to be heard (except laughing of course!)

Yoshida/Mukhamedov were terrific on 26 January (nice to meet you, Patricia!) but Wildor and Stiefel ALMOST surpassed Wildor/SAnsom at the Festival Hall two years ago. How come I wasn't too impressed with Stiefel last year in Coppelia when I was bowled over this year? And of course Wildor was perfect as Lise.

Please bring Stiefel back, Ross Stretton. I'd love to see him in Rhapsody!

Claire S


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Annabel

15-02-01, 11:46 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb."
In response to message #6
 
   I read in balletalert/ballettalk ..in the RB fille thread that Fille is not really Ashtons baby...and is only real contribution was the chicken dancing, and the men in drag:

I got this info from this posting: http://www.balletalert.com/ubb/Forum13/HTML/000436.html

(This info submitted by Jeannie)
'Has anyone on this board (beside me) seen the complete Russo-Soviet FILLE MAL GARDEE? It is delightful and has many elements that make me wonder if Ashton saw a recording of it...or saw it on tour in the USSR...before he set about to choreograph his 1960 FILLE? I do know that Karsavina assisted Ashton in setting some of the mime, which may account for some of the *incredible* similarities.
The standard Russo-Soviet FILLE (a.k.a. VAIN PRECAUTIONS) is by Leonid Lavrovsky, from his 1937 Leningrad Maly Theater production. Lavrovsky maintained the best of the Imperial Era FILLES (1885 Petipa/Ivanov and 1901 Gorsky) & made it more theatrical. Too, Lavrovsky utilized the Hertel score (the Imperial Russian era music), rather than that by Herold, which Ashton used.

The Russo-Soviet/Lavrovsky FILLE is significantly longer than Ashton's. It includes a complete "Wedding Celebrations Act" (Act III) after the "discovery scene" in Simone/Lise's house. Act III is a Petipaesque Wedding Divertissement in a garden, complete with unlikely 'national dances' from far-off lands, such as a troupe of gypsies. The ballet ends with the Grand Pas de Deux for Lise and Colin.

All of the comic touches that I heretofore thought of as "pure Ashton" are in the Lavrovsky; for example, Lise/Colin's Act I Ribbon Dance making a cat's cradle or the 'promenade' of characters before the front-curtain on their way to the harvest or Alain's dopey flirting with his beloved umbrella throughout the ballet and at the very end.

Ashton's main innovations are:

- dancing chickens (I love them!)

- Simone danced en travestie (as are Ashton's Ugly Stepsisters in CINDERELLA)

- Simone's hilarious Clog Dance

- Alain's "flight" at the end of Act I (the storm)

In sum, seeing the Russo-Soviet version of FILLE/VAIN PRECAUTIONS has shed *very interesting* light on the Ashton version. Both versions delightful...Ashton's tighter and more comic...the Russians a bit 'grander' but also very funny! - Jeannie '


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Mary Cargill

16-02-01, 05:21 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb."
In response to message #7
 
   I am sure no one ever meant to imply that Ashton didn't choreograph Fille. The inspiration certainly came from Karsavina's memories of the ballet, and he used the mime scene that she taught him from the Maryinsky version, but certainly the choreography is all his own. To imply that it is not original because there are older elements in it is like saying that Balanchine didn't choreograph his Nutcracker because it has definite similarities to Ivanov's.


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Alexandra

16-02-01, 08:19 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb."
In response to message #8
 
   Thanks for posting that, Mary. Yes, to clarify, it's not that Ashton took Petipa's version and added some chickens and put the dear Widow in drag. The choreography is completely original to Ashton (as it would have to be, with a different score). One of the duets is often called the "Elssler pas de deux," but that is to indicate that Ashton used music that had been in the version danced by Elssler, not that it is the actual steps that she danced.

I was glad to read Jeannie's description of the after-Petipa version, though. I'd always read about Ashton's "Fille" as being so English, and I'd always thought it looked like an updated Russian ballet in its structure and also in some of the characters.

Fille goes back way before Petipa, of course, and that cat's cradle may well have come from the original version. A French company brought a reconstruction of the 18th century version to the Kennedy Center several years ago and it was fascinating (no pointe work, for one thing, different character dancers, everything much simpler). It gave one a shiver to realize that this was done at the time of the Revolution. My memory is fuzzy today and I don't have time to look this up, sorry, but in the end, one of the characters comes to the footlights and shouts a republican slogan.


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Jane S

17-02-01, 03:04 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb."
In response to message #9
 
   There's a book called La Fille mal Gardee, edited by Ivor Guest, which describes almost every known version up to 1960 and makes it clear that most of them, like Ashton's, ultimately derive from Dauberval's very detailed original scenario. Various other bits have been added along the way and become part of the tradition - for instance in the one used by Pavlova's company, Alain's umbrella, though probably not Alain himself, was blown away at the end of the picnic scene. It's also clear from this book that Simone has usually been played by a man right from the first performances.

(The book also includes Ashton's own idea of an updated scenario, in which Lise is wooed by a young farmer in jeans with a guitar, but ends up marrying Alain's father - fortunately he preferred the traditional version!)


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Stuart Sweeney

20-02-01, 10:09 AM (GMT)
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12. "RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb."
In response to message #10
 
   Here's John Percival's comments on the providence of Ashton's Fille:

'Happily, Ashton had help from the retired ballerina Tamara Karsavina, who first urged him to attempt Fille. She told him her extensive memories of a Russian production she had danced (including Lise's famous mime episode imagining marriage and a family); and the Royal Ballet teacher Winifred Edwards added some details remembered from Anna Pavlova's version. Because dancers' memories are tenacious and such passing-on of tradition is customary, many details recognisable from descriptions of the earliest productions are still there today. Dauberval would certainly recognise the spirit of Ashton's Fille, and perhaps some of its flesh, too, judging by a French production a few years back in which Ivo Kramer attempted to evoke the 1789 original, working from Dauberval's notes and his own knowledge of historical choreographic style.'


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Meru

20-02-01, 00:51 AM (GMT)
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11. "The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb."
In response to message #0
 
   I was amused by the review you have written and just wish I could have seen Sarah do the Lise too.I tried desparatery hard but did not succeed.I myself is a student of RBS and currenly involved in La Fille..but in the production of BRB and witnessed Alexander Grant coaching the company.He told us that he had been working with RB the week before and that he was very much impressed by the standard of the company. I believe that we as students were extremely lucky to meet him and hear the original experiences and Ashton's words.
Thank you for the wonderful page. Yours


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Jeannie

20-02-01, 04:33 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: The RB's 'Fille' 13th Feb."
In response to message #11
 
   I am quite flattered to have been "reposted" here (from BalletAlert!). Please go back to Ballet Alert! for my answers.

And...yes...I *think* that I may have heard about a pre-Petipa FILLE. (ha-ha!)

Have a great day, all "Fans de FILLE"! - Jeannie


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jANE

22-02-01, 04:05 PM (GMT)
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14. "La Fille 21st February"
In response to message #0
 
   My my what a dreary evening, Sara Wildor as Lise, invisible on stage, her mime awfull, dancing, too many silly actions with her hands, very disconcerting, she is just SO precious, she is certainly not a Lise,I am led to believe Leslie Collier coached her, why did she not take note, as Collier was one of the best Lise's ever, Wildor is the principal who can only dance a very small number of the R.B rep, and one wonders why she got to be princible, with her limited rep.
Stiefel, a fine dancer, but not a Colas, I believe one of the Royal boys, should have been given the part, as they are familiar with Ashton, and would have put more into the role.
Sapford did his best, again it lacked much.
To date the best cast has been Yoshida and Mukhamadov. although neither are true Ashton dancers, they understand his work,and dnce with panache.
I wait for Saturday to see what Jane Burn does with Lise, better than Wildor, I do hope, does some one know who her partner will be ?


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