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Royal Ballet: Inspired by Ashton

'Momento', 'Fantasy', 'Three Footnotes to Ashton', Engram', 'MR BEAR-SQUASH-YOU-ALL-FLAT'

by Cassandra

June 16, 2005 -- Linbury Theatre, London

Inspiration can take many forms, but it was intriguing to discover that the two most successful items in the programme "Inspired by Ashton" seemed to have no possible link with Britain’s most celebrated choreographer at all.

The two outstanding works were “Three Footnotes to Ashton” choreographed by Kim Brandstrup and “Engram” by Wayne McGregor, both pieces showcasing the extraordinary talents of Alina Cojocaru. In the Brandstrup work Cojocaru was paired with her regular partner, Johann Kobborg and they dazzled in a lightning fast pas de deux of mounting excitement in the first half of the piece with a slower more thoughtful solo following it danced by Zenaida Yanowsky. Wonderful usage of music by Gluck and Handel, not the easiest composers for dance.

Cojocaru changed partners for Wayne McGregor’s “Engram”, dancing with the handsome Frederico Bonelli.  This was a very sexy number, totally at odds with Cojocaru’s usual repertoire, but she seized the opportunity of dancing something radically different and proved that she has more varied abilities than one might first think. The opening of this work subjected the audience to eardrum splitting noise that eventually settled into something more acceptable. At the end of the ballet a photomontage of Ashton flashed onto the screen in split second images, reminding us of who had motivated the evening’s offerings.

The opening ballet “Momento” by Antony Dowson was a traditional looking affair with the girls dressed in white tutus performing in strictly classical style. I wasn’t too impressed, but on reflection I think the ballet might have more merit than I initially thought, as quite frankly it was rather poorly danced with the exception of the always-impressive Laura Morera. I don’t think I have seen anything by Dowson before, but on this showing he has potential.

“Fantasy” by Peter Quanz was a work for five male and five female dancers in vaguely period costumes to some very attractive music by Schubert. Over long and not very interesting, I’m not sure where the fantasy of the title came from; it certainly didn’t have anything in common with any fantasies that I’ve ever had.

Finally “MR BEAR-SQUASH-YOU-ALL-FLAT” was an amiable piece by Will Tuckett, but a work that might be better aimed at children I think. There were nice little cameo roles for dancers as animals (though very human animals): a frog, hedgehog, donkey and so on all living happily in a tree trunk until confronted by Christopher Saunders as a big bad bear. Dressed in eveningwear with opera cloak and cigar it’s easy to imagine the bear as the archetypal wicked capitalist out to wreck their happy commune. The music was by Ashton’s collaborator Constant Lambert and was rather like Prokofiev’s ‘Peter & the Wolf’ but without any tunes. Terry Edwards, formerly with the Royal Opera, made a perfect narrator. Of all the ballets on show that evening this was only one that lived up to being Ashton influenced, as Ashton adored this sort of whimsy and indeed created something similar of his own in his "Tales of Beatrix Potter" film.

 

Edited by Staff.

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