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Subject: "A Life in Dance: BBC Knowledge documentary on Anthony Dowell" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Ann Williams

24-05-01, 09:06 AM (GMT)
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"A Life in Dance: BBC Knowledge documentary on Anthony Dowell"
 
  
This documentary on BBC Knowledge last night turned out to be a gem. As suspected, it was mostly archive material threaded on a long, interesting though somewhat over-reverential interview of Dowell by Judith Mackrell. Every question was asked with a plastered-on smile and her most challenging question seemed to be 'did you ever wish you were a ballerina?' (Answer: Yes, sometimes, because it would have been wonderful to have been lifted instead of always having to do the lifting).

The archive material was gripping; interviews with Ashton, Macmillan and Tudor speaking admiringly of Dowell and above all, clips of the young Dowell dancing. If anything showed up his dazzling talent I think it was the fast and furious solo from Ashton's 'Enigma Variations', which left me breathless just watching. But elsewhere, the purity and clarity of his dancing was both inspiring and moving. Of note was the beautiful slow variation by the Prince in 'Sleeping Beauty' which may have been part of the original Petipa/Ivanov choreography but which looked very Ashtonian to me. Does anyone know? Whatever, Dowell's dancing in the piece was so perfect and so calmly controlled that it moved me almost to tears.

Antoinette Sibley was interviewed at length and told a delicious story about 'Thais', the pdd created for her and Dowell by Ashton. Incredibly, they only had three rehearsals before going on stage with it, but it got such a tremendous reception that Sir Fred went on on stage and asked the audience 'Would you like to see them do it again?'. Dowell and Sibley were aghast at hearing this. 'We could have killed him' Sibley recalled 'We had to go on and do the whole bloody thing again'.

BBC Knowledge will repeat the programme on Sunday 27th May and I think there will be at least oneother repeat after that.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: A Life in Dance: BBC Knowledge documentary on Anthony Do... Helen 24-05-01 1
     RE: A Life in Dance: BBC Knowledge documentary on Anthony Do... sugar plum fairy 24-05-01 2
  RE: A Life in Dance: BBC Knowledge documentary on Anthony Do... James 25-05-01 3
     RE: A Life in Dance: BBC Knowledge documentary on Anthony Do... Fuzzyface 25-05-01 4
         RE: A Life in Dance: BBC Knowledge documentary on Anthony Do... Ann Williams 25-05-01 5
             RE: A Life in Dance: BBC Knowledge documentary on Anthony Do... James 25-05-01 6

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Helen

24-05-01, 10:46 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: A Life in Dance: BBC Knowledge documentary on Anthony Dowell"
In response to message #0
 
   Thanks so much for telling us about this, Ann. How I wish I'd seen it - how I wish I'd been at the Gala, for that matter. I have followed Sir Anthony's career from the time he was a teenager. Still, with any luck my son will have taped the documentary and I will see it eventually.


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sugar plum fairy

24-05-01, 03:27 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: A Life in Dance: BBC Knowledge documentary on Anthony Dowell"
In response to message #1
 
   i too wish i could have been at the gala...but alas no. as for the programme it is repeated next week along with the Nutcracker from christmas on the same station.


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James

25-05-01, 02:02 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: A Life in Dance: BBC Knowledge documentary on Anthony Dowell"
In response to message #0
 
   >
.
> Of note was
>the beautiful slow variation by
>the Prince in 'Sleeping Beauty'
>which may have been part
>of the original Petipa/Ivanov
>choreography but which looked very
>Ashtonian to me. Does
>anyone know?

I think that at some point in the documentary Dowell mentions that Ashton choreographed two pieces for this production (1968?), a pas de deux and a solo for the prince. The prince's solo was interpolated into Act 2 (the Vision scene) and is to music for a Sarabande - usually cut - which features in the full score immediately before the Act 3 finale. It is lovely piece of music, a kind of 18th Century pastiche, and Nureyev used it in his production as a dance for the King and Queen to open Act 3. I think its use as a melancholy piece for the lonely prince was inspired, and it is a great pity that the Ashton pieces have been dropped from from the RB's productions of Beauty and Swan Lake.


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Fuzzyface

25-05-01, 04:26 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: A Life in Dance: BBC Knowledge documentary on Anthony Dowell"
In response to message #3
 
   Well that solo still is in the current RB "Sleeping Beauty" - the prince dances it before the Lilac Fairy arrives in her boat!


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Ann Williams

25-05-01, 04:59 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: A Life in Dance: BBC Knowledge documentary on Anthony Dowell"
In response to message #4
 
   James, thanks for this informative response. Fuzzyface beat me to it - I was going to say that the solo is certainly in the current RB 'Beauty'. In fact, it even made Zoltan Solymosi look quite good!

I'm quite proud though that I recognised a typical piece of Ashton without actually knowing that it was by him. I feel I've sort of grown up, balletically speaking, and not a minute too soon...


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James

25-05-01, 07:18 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: A Life in Dance: BBC Knowledge documentary on Anthony Dowell"
In response to message #5
 
   Ann, Sorry, I was wrong. The solo is there, just where Fuzzyface says it was. But the pas de deux has gone hasn't it?


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