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Subject: "Another take on 'Fille'" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #1416
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Ann Williams

04-03-01, 10:46 AM (GMT)
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"Another take on 'Fille'"
 
   Belinda Hately danced an exquisite 'Fille' at yesterday's RB matinee - the best I've seen for years. Hatley seems born for this role, with her creamy jumps and turns, strong yet delicate feet and clean, unforced technique. There's a sort of joyousness and bubbling glamour about her that radiates out over the audience and draws them (or at least me) right into her performance.

But the whole performance yesterday was a joy; everthing was 'right' despite Hatley's Colas, Johann Persson, having some technical difficulties towards the end of Act I (he may possibly have injured himself slightly). Otherwise he was a sunny 'Jack the Lad', a perfect foil for Lise with his cheeky stolen kisses and flashing smile. I think the role of Colas is a real gift for any male dancer with the requisite combination of musicality and tough technique. It's a totally masculine role without a hint of the fey romanticism which puts so many boys off ballet, and it's something of a surprise that the homosexual Ashton created it.

Alistair Marriott was by far the best of the current crop of Widow Simones - his clog dance was accurately on the music and very funny too. I never think the four 'clog girls' get enough credit here - after all, they have to dance in unaccustomed wooden clogs, tap in time, look pretty and support the old widow at the same time. They are never identified in the programme, but I think I recognised Vanessa Palmer in yesterday's performance. Somehow, she's noticeable in everything she does, whether through her dancing or the sheer force of her personality I'm not clear, but either way I think she should be promoted above her present status.

The corps were terrific too, a really happy and natural-looking bunch of villagers given to bursting into dance at the drop of a knotted handkerchief. I loved the male corps in the second-act dance in the widow's kitchen - it's so fiendishly complicated that they really have to concentrate, yet they still managed to look as if they were enjoying themsleves. Edward Watson was the only one I could identify here thanks to his ginger hair, but all the boys were excellent.

Ricardo Cervera was a remarkable Alain. Technically thrilling throughout his performance, he was especially touching on his discovery of Lise and Colas as a couple, falling to his knees in confused disappointment. This is a benchmark point in Ashton's ballet; either you get it or you don't, and if you 'get it' in the way that Ashton wanted you to, you'll almost be in tears. And I was indeed moved by Cervera's lovely performance. As is well known, Ashton created the role of Alain for his partner Alexander Grant, who is now coaching all the current Alains, and it was nice to see the sturdy, upright and dignified Grant collecting his coat beside me at the end of the performance.

Speaking of Grant brings me to a memory of him at the wonderful Ashton conference at the Roehampton Centre in 1994. Forgive me if I've related this before, but Alastair Macauley was giving a lecture 'Gender & sexuality in the ballets of Frederick Ashton' and demonstrating the particular erotic points of Ashton's works with slight arm movements, when there was a disturbance from the floor. It was Alexander Grant, who sailed with the dignity of a duchess onto the stage, seized Macauley's arm and kissed it's underside from the wrist to the shoulder, saying " *he* knew where it was!" before sweeping off the stage and back to his seat, leaving Macauley blushing so pinkly that it was visible from the back of the room!

'Fille' is one of the greatest gems of English ballet and few - if any - of us here can have seen its original Lise, Nadia Nerina; more of us have probably been lucky enough to have seen seen that other incomparable Lise, Lesley Collier. Perhaps every ballerina shines in this most blest of roles, but I think I'll have 'Hatley' carved on my heart.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Another take on 'Fille' Annabel 04-03-01 1
  RE: Another take on 'Fille' Shirley 04-03-01 2
  RE: Another take on 'Fille' Steven 04-03-01 3
     RE: Another take on 'Fille' Ann Williams 04-03-01 4
         RE: Another take on 'Fille' Steven 04-03-01 5
             RE: Another take on 'Fille' Meunier 04-03-01 6
                 RE: Another take on 'Fille' Michael` 05-03-01 7
                     RE: Another take on 'Fille' Anneliese 05-03-01 9
                     RE: Another take on 'Fille' Ann Welsh 06-03-01 13
                 RE: Another take on 'Fille' Anneliese 05-03-01 8
                 RE: Another take on 'Fille' Tony Newcombe 05-03-01 10
             RE: Another take on 'Fille' Annabel 05-03-01 11
                 RE: Another take on 'Fille' Steven 05-03-01 12
                     RE: Another take on 'Fille' Alexandra 06-03-01 14

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Annabel

04-03-01, 11:04 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Another take on 'Fille'"
In response to message #0
 
   >

what do u mean by this? How does ashton produce erotic connotations through....arm movments????!!!


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Shirley

04-03-01, 11:47 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Another take on 'Fille'"
In response to message #0
 
   Also thought it was a wonderful show - in fact I think it is the best performance of the show I have seen this season.


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Steven

04-03-01, 11:52 AM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Another take on 'Fille'"
In response to message #0
 
   Ann, what exactly do you find surprising? The fact that Ashton created the role of Colas or the fact that a gay man created it? I certainly don't think it's fair to assume that a gay man would only create "girly" parts for male dancers. You may, of course, find the role of Colas essentially different from other male roles Ashton created, in which case I'd love to hear your comments.


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Ann Williams

04-03-01, 02:40 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Another take on 'Fille'"
In response to message #3
 
   Hmm, Steven, I'll have to go away and think about what I meant! (I certainly didn't mean to offend, by the way, and my sincere apologies if I have unwittingly caused offence to anyone).

My comment was a bit thoughtless, but what I meant was that Colas is such an exceptionally and robustly masculine role that it's perhaps surprising that his creator happened to be a gay man who was himself miles removed from the character. Yes, I know that argument can be shot down in flames - was Hannibal Lecter's creator a murderer and a cannibal, etc. etc.?

I hope I can be forgiven. But this has set me to thinking - is there a similarly laddish role in classical ballet? Maybe Basilio in Don Q, but that's the only one I can think of.

Annabel, your point about the arm movements - what Macauley was actually attempting to demonstrate was Colas kissing of Lise's arm when Grant intervened, and I was amused to see yesterday that Persson kissed the inside of Hatley's arm in exactly the way Grant kissed the 'inside' of Macauley's tweed-covered arm!


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Steven

04-03-01, 07:16 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Another take on 'Fille'"
In response to message #4
 
   Thanks for the reply Ann. You certainly haven't offended me, I found it an interesting observation and wanted to see where it came from.

You may never have seen a gay porn film, but they are full of "exceptionally and robustly masculine roles", all conceived and (mostly) acted by gay men. I'm not suggesting any other connection with Ashton's work, I hasten to add! It's just that I don't find the connection between a gay creator and a butch creation all that surprising and I was surprised that someone did.

By the way, I like your point about the scarcity of laddish roles in classical ballet. Like you I can't think of any beyond Basilio - I guess it's something to do with the male dancer in pre-20th Century ballet being there primarily to support the ballerina.


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Meunier

04-03-01, 09:54 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Another take on 'Fille'"
In response to message #5
 
   I always think James in La Sylphide is a rather 'laddish' role, or Gurn for that matter as well.

On another point, I was delighted to be present at the Saturday matinee. Hatley's performance was a joyfully sunny one: truly radient. (I agree too about Marriott's Widow. So nice to see a performance of this role in the current company where the widow is more enchanted with Lise than herself.) Hatley should be the principal rather than the over-acclaimed Mrs. Cooper. Hatley made the case in point evident on Saturday as to why technique IS important. Without security in technique an artist can never sufficiently relax in order to give a performance. If, for example, a singer (or her/his audience for that matter) is worrying about the notes being accurately hit, he/she cannot begin to relax sufficiently to give an interpretation. The artist needs to be sufficiently secure in order to forget it. Only then will the audience be able to do so as well. Only then can it be made to look simple: the true test of brilliance. Ms. Hatley had it in spades and all relaxed in the splendour of her performance. We all basked in her vitally and were let listen to the music aside her confidently.

Here's to many, many more similar glorious undertakings.


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Michael`

05-03-01, 03:42 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Another take on 'Fille'"
In response to message #6
 
   Julie Kavanaghs book is required reading on Ashton with regard to these postings !!

The other great Ashton male role is the Young Man in Two Pigeons - and there are several potentials in the company now, like Kobborg, Persson, Watson. This is the work I most want to see back in the RB repertoire. I am sure Belinda would be perfection as the Girl, and I recall the lovely Vanessa P being a splendid Gypsy Girl at the 1989 RBS performance, with Adam Cooper and Alice Crawford.


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Anneliese

05-03-01, 01:10 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Another take on 'Fille'"
In response to message #7
 
   Vanessa Palmer is a lovely dancer, isn't she? I've found myself noticing her a few times but she seems never to have moved forward into bigger roles.


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Ann Welsh

06-03-01, 06:31 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: Another take on 'Fille'"
In response to message #7
 
   Belinda, partnered by Adam, performed the last act of Pigeons in the 'Darcey & Friends' one-night performance at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre in June 99. You could have heard a pin drop in the audience and most were in tears at the end. 'nuff said!


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Anneliese

05-03-01, 01:09 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Another take on 'Fille'"
In response to message #6
 
   I was going to reply to Ann's posting - I was very moved by it - but finished the thread first and thought I'd reply here. You have made the point about technique very well. I'm sorry to have missed Belinda Hatley's Lise - although the first time I saw her (standing in for Collier as Aurora) I was not desperately impressed (hey, it WAS six years ago and I'd really really wanted to see Lesley Collier and her rose adage was a bit wobbly) but every time I've seen her since she's just leapt out at me with her lovely feet, absolute security and radiant personality. I would just like also to echo everyone's views on Alastair Marriott as Simone - I was bowled over by him in this role 2 years ago as he DANCED so beautifully and managed to be touching and believable as a mother as well as funny as a pantomime dame. Ashley Page, for example, hasn't managed to convey they woman in this role at all as far as I can see.


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Tony Newcombe

05-03-01, 04:01 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Another take on 'Fille'"
In response to message #6
 
   I am sure that Belinda would be horrified over the comment made about Sarah!


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Annabel

05-03-01, 09:49 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Another take on 'Fille'"
In response to message #5
 
  
> It's just that I
>don't find the connection between
>a gay creator and a
>butch creation all that surprising
>and I was surprised that
>someone did.
>
Its like saying that all lesbians are butch! please dont make wild assertations. I know that Im not butch, you cannot sterotype a gay person...i dont consider myself politically correct but such comments really bother me


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Steven

05-03-01, 11:25 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: Another take on 'Fille'"
In response to message #11
 
   Sorry? If you read the comments above you will see that my point was originally intended to do just what you are telling me to do - contradict an assumption of a stereotype (in this case, that it clearly surprises some people that a gay man would create a butch or laddish character).

Gay men, lesbians, heterosexual people, men and women can and do create all kinds of characters in different media. That is exactly the point I was trying to make. So please don't have a go at me!


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Alexandra

06-03-01, 11:30 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: Another take on 'Fille'"
In response to message #12
 
   On the question of "laddish" male roles in classical ballet, it's hard to find one in the Bournonville repertory that's not. Gennaro in Napoli (a fisherman and leader); James, as someone mentioned; the Senor in La Ventana; Wilhelm and Alvar in Far From Denmark.....Even though Franz in Coppelia was originally a travesty role in Paris, it was always a man's part in Copenhagen and always a peasant boy. It was an interesting observation, though, that Colas stands out in today's repertory, but perhaps that is because today, elegance is usually seen as a feminine atrribute? In former eras, of course, men were allowed to be elegant, and fight duels wearing pink silk suits.

I was interested in reading about Hatley's Lise and hope she'll do it in Washington, when the company comes calling this spring.


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