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Subject: "Ashton Bill - miscellaneous musings" Archived thread - Read only
 
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G Dowler

24-03-00, 04:41 PM (GMT)
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"Ashton Bill - miscellaneous musings"
 
   Very interesting reading about the Ashton Bill, a lot of which I agree with, but which shows a total cross-section of opinion (Symphonic good to bad, Sansom the best to the worst etc.)
A few points:

Guillem as Marguerite:
The comments about Guillem's suitability for the role: I feel that if anyone could make it work, it would be Sylvie, arguably the 'greatest' ballerina in the world at present (although I would have loved to see Asylmuratova do it). Her identity with the role was impressive and if she was as un-Fonteyn as possible, then she succeeded in her own terms and as such ensured that the ballet received the succes d'estime that it has.

Hyper-extension:
The comments about her hyper-extension are interesting,and no, in general, I don't like them either, but may be seen in a different light when we take into account Fonteyn's answer to the question posed to her about six o'clock legs; she said that she and her generation would have done it if they had been physically able to. Interesting I think.

Ballet re-design:
The question of Dowell re-designing Ashton's ballets is more complicated than some may feel. He doesn't just decide to redesign a piece as the ballets do not belong to him (one or two do in fact) or indeed to the company. Therefore, Dowell could not have changed the designs for Symphonic even if he had wished to; it belongs to Wendy Ellis as Michael Somes widow. It would be her decision, just as Deborah MacMillan and not Dowell commissioned a redesign of 'Anastasia' a few uears back. I am unsure who owns 'Les Rendezvous' but I suspect it is Anthony Russell-Roberts, Ashton's nephew and Admin Director of the RB. If he also owns 'Rhapsody', then maybe those who don't like the new designs should point their accusatory fingers at him instead.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Ashton Bill - miscellaneous musings JAC 25-03-00 1
     RE: Ashton Bill - miscellaneous musings Bruce Madmin 25-03-00 2
         RE: Ashton Bill - miscellaneous musings Jane S 25-03-00 3
             RE: Ashton Bill - a couple of questions Susy 27-03-00 4
                 RE: Ashton Bill - a couple of questions Shirley 27-03-00 5
                 RE: Ashton Bill - a couple of questions Karen 29-03-00 6
                     RE: Ashton Bill - a couple of questions Susy 30-03-00 7
         RE: Ashton Bill - miscellaneous musings JAC 02-04-00 9
  RE: Ashton Bill - intervals Stephanie Wragg 30-03-00 8

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JAC

25-03-00, 00:13 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Ashton Bill - miscellaneous musings"
In response to message #0
 
   I don't think that any designs which requires a re-arrangement of the original choreography are acceptable, as is the case with this latest revival of Rendezvous, no matter who is responsible. I blieve incidentally that REndesvous was left to Brian Shaw and so is now probably owned by Derek Rencher, who possibly never even saw it. And no one seems to have noticed how many differences there are from the version danced by the Sadlers Wells company - rehearsed by Ashton himself. Not to mention that not one of the men dancing the lead has attempted the original choreography for the solo ie entrechat into split jump and landing on one knee. Nureyev did it - having been prompted by Helpman. Surely Kobberg could have attempted it. He would appear to have the technique. But the fact that no one even tries, plus the other errors and omissions that even a spectator can spot, seems to me to confirm that the present management thinks that Ashton's ballets are pretty unimportant.


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Bruce Madmin

25-03-00, 11:47 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Ashton Bill - miscellaneous musings"
In response to message #1
 
   >But
>the fact that no one even
>tries, plus the other errors and
>omissions that even a spectator can
>spot, seems to me to confirm
>that the present management thinks that
>Ashton's ballets are pretty unimportant.


Ummm - I don't think its as simple as that. Bringing back Rendezvous will have cost a phenomenal amount of money - a testament in hard currency to the RBs wish not to loose Ashton's choreography. But the eternal issue is should the company train and do his works much more - to the point where Ashton works can be executed the way he first created them?

Some maintain that is the way forward and we see some of that in the current Mini-poll. Others say that dancers are very different beasts now, you can't ignore the wider and more athletic repertory these days and inevitably pieces change with that change in dancers.

Ashton perfection could be had - but at what cost to the rest of the current and future rep?

Surely RB did Ashton well when it did lots of his work. Well now they have a more diverse rep and they now try and do justice to that wider community of choreographers?


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Jane S

25-03-00, 01:32 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Ashton Bill - miscellaneous musings"
In response to message #2
 
  
>But the eternal issue is should
>the company train and do his
>works much more - to the
>point where Ashton works can be
>executed the way he first created
>them?
>Some maintain that is the way forward
>and we see some of that
>in the current Mini-poll. Others say
>that dancers are very different beasts
>now, you can't ignore the wider
>and more athletic repertory these days
>and inevitably pieces change with that
>change in dancers.

I think the issue here is not one of style but one of content - that bits of the original choreography are being lost even though they are steps that today's dancers could perfectly well do: some of today's dancers, anyway - the casting for Rendezvous seemed to me almost perverse - there are surely more suitable dancers in the company than Bussell or Revie for a role designed specifically to show off the tiny, technically brilliant Markova. It's a real shame we didn't get to see Yoshida.


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Susy

27-03-00, 02:10 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Ashton Bill - a couple of questions"
In response to message #3
 
   Back at last at my PC, I'd like to add my thoughts on the Ashton Bill seen on the 18th because, as usual, each one of us was differently impressed and because I hope someone will answer to the questions I was left with at end of the evening.
For me the essence of classical ballet is first of all made of beautiful, long lines. I always look for high demi-pointe so that the heel doesn't cut the line of the leg, narrow waist, long neck, held elbow and wrist so that the hand doesn't cut the line of the arm. Starting from this point of view the choreography of the first three ballets could really gain a new glow from a revival, M&A being quite different (BTW in Paris I heard many ballet goers finding the shape of Le Riche's legs from knee to heel far from good, if such a thing can be written here without being considered too rude).
Unlickily for various reasons each piece was wronged: Les rendezvous by the costumes, Thais and Symphonic Variations by the interpreters. I cannot see the reasons why Les rendezvous should be transformed in a cartoon. The gloves cut the lines of the arms of the girls in the corps (I remember Nureyev wearing such gloves in Murray Louis' comic ballet The Canarsie Venus) and the blazers cut the lines of the legs of the boys, so much that Bruce found Bolle short legged (what about the others, were they dwarfs?). Anyway Bussell and Bolle showed all the precious qualities of their dancing and most of all the amazing easiness of their turns in spite of their height (Bolle did even a 5 turns pirouette). London gave Bolle his best chances at the beginning of his career. I really enjoyed the birth of the partnership with Bussell: youth, beauty, talent in plenty in both these dancers. Does anyone know why, now that he polished such roles as Solor, Siegfried or Basilio, there will be nothing more than the meaningless pdd in Nutcracker and the three Ashton evenings?
Thais and Symphonic Variations were like pieces of music played with the wrong instruments. Cope had leaning double pirouettes and shaky arabesques, Sansom kept a worried look for the first half of the ballet and his landings in the double tours en l'air seemed awful. Kobborg looked too sturdy and his legs too stocky to match the lyric pattern of the choreography. I wonder what POB could do of it, casting Legris, Martinez and Bart ...
About M&A I already wrote a couple of postings at the end of October because I considered Guillem and Le Riche the best dancers for a revival of this particular ballet, and after having seen them I didn't change my mind. While Bolle dances as if he was made out of air, Le Riche seems made out of steel. He shots himself like a bullet and cuts the space on the stage with the sharpness of a knife. Of course his tours en attitude were slowlier than Nureyev's. Anyway the whole ballet looked to me quite different, I don't remeber such violence, 23 years ago there was more softness, maybe because both Nureyev and Fonteyn were quite older than Guillem and Le Riche. Is there someone who can tell me if the difference was less when the ballet was first performed? Definitely I enjoyed the revival and at the end my eyes were filled with tears.


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Shirley

27-03-00, 05:27 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Ashton Bill - a couple of questions"
In response to message #4
 
   Suzy Not sure why they brought Bolle in just for those short roles although very pleased they did! I believe he may be back next season in a full length ballet with the Royal!


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Karen

29-03-00, 06:28 AM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Ashton Bill - a couple of questions"
In response to message #4
 
   Yes, Suzy, there WAS quite alot of violence (on the part of Nureyev at least) when M&A was first done. By 1977 he was much more subdued. Of course when it was first choreographed, Nureyev was very much the young lion - and had built a reputation for a very intense style of movement (to say the least). Ashton utilized this extremely well in M&A. Nureyev was a natural at expressing the extremes of passion: watching M&A in its early days could easily leave one feeling quite drained and exhausted! I remember especially the scene in which Armand tears off Marguerite's necklace and throws money at her - no matter how many times I saw the ballet, Nureyev always made me feel as though he was also about to rip off her dress and throw her around.


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Susy

30-03-00, 07:48 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Ashton Bill - a couple of questions"
In response to message #6
 
   Karen, the first time I saw Nureyev dancing was in 1968 and for many years I saw him interpreting only the prince (Nutcracker, Sleeping beuaty, etc.). But later I saw him dancing different roles. I particularly remember him in Cullberg's Miss Julie and really I could use the very same words of your posting to describe the feelings he provoked. One year later I saw his R&J and again I found a lot of violence in the choreography, not only in the street scenes but less obviously also in the bedroom pdd.


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JAC

02-04-00, 07:32 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Ashton Bill - miscellaneous musings"
In response to message #2
 
   Bruce, I wasn't referring to style so much as omissions or variations in the actual choreography of Les Rendezvous. The 'Ashton Style' which typified the Royal Ballet for so many years has almost certainly gone for good. What I was meaning in my posting was there are elements of the choreography which are missing or have been distorted. And given that there are a number of dancers from the former SWRB still around who were rehearsed in Rendezvous by Ashton himself, I can't help wondering why they wer not called in. After all, Rendezvous hasn't been in the Covent Garden rep since 1963 so it seems to me unlikely that memories would be particularly fresh. And I've yet to be convinced that notation is 100% perfect. If you really cared I think you would try to get someone from the former SWRB ballet staff to take a look at thde piece.


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Stephanie Wragg

30-03-00, 10:18 AM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Ashton Bill - intervals"
In response to message #0
 
   I was just reminded after reading the thread on NBT's Carmen about interval length.

I was dismayed to see that after 20 minutes of Les rendez-vous, we were treated to a 30 minute interval and then another again after about 30 minutes of dancing.

Is this a usual thing?

I find that there must be a problem somewhere when the intervals are longer than the dancing. One can only walk around the lovely Floral Hall and gaze longingly at the champagne bar for so long....


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