To mark the 110th anniversary of Ashton's birth, Kevin O’Hare, Royal Ballet Director, has put together a programme of four Ashton ballets that illustrate those qualities and the range of Ashton’s work.
Scènes de ballet (1947) to music by Stravinsky was the first work in which Ashton consciously paid tribute to the great 19th century choreographer, Marius Petipa, and shows his fascination with the geometrical configurations of Petipa’s corps de ballet.
Symphonic Variations (1946), set to music by César Franck and described in Ashton’s biography by David Vaughan, as a "kind of manifesto", is also a "pure dance" homage to Petipa (and to the passing seasons), and a test of stamina for its six dancers. "As soon as I got the job," Kevin O’Hare recently told Dancing Times, "I was desperate to bring Symphonic Variations in..."
Both can be described as “coming of age” works. The remaining two ballets date from almost three decades later. In 1921 the young Ashton saw a performance by the iconoclastic Isadora Duncan, dance pioneer, and was profoundly impressed. His homage to Duncan came in 1975 with Five Brahms Waltzes in the manner of Isadora Duncan.
Created on Lynn Seymour, it was based on his own memories of Duncan’s skipping and running and her ‘plastic arm movements, ’as well as something that can be seen in all his work, the ability to make " very small gesture that seemed full of meaning", as he put it.
The final piece is the evening’s only narrative ballet: A Month in the Country (1976) set to music by Chopin, and based on Turgenev’s play of the same name. It tells the story of a married woman living a stifling bourgeois life in the Russian countryside and falling disastrously in love with her son’s young tutor.
It’s a deeply affecting piece which the Royal Ballet have made their very own. It should bring the evening to a powerful conclusion and cement the position of this celebratory work on your cultural event calendar this week.
|What||The Royal Ballet, Ashton Mixed Bill: Royal Opera House|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
18 Oct 14 – 12 Nov 14, 19:00 on 18th Oct, 19:30 all other performances
|Website||Click here for more information|