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 Post subject: Ashton Centenary Celebration (Lincoln Center Festival 20
PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2004 8:55 am 
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Five Sides of Frederick Ashton

By JENNIFER DUNNING
The New York Times
July 4, 2004

Over two weeks, four companies will perform 12 works, both familiar and seldom seen, that span 31 years.
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<small>[ 08 July 2004, 12:47 AM: Message edited by: kurinuku ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Ashton Centenary Celebration (Lincoln Center Festival 20
PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2004 9:03 am 
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Rehearsing the Corps de Pigeon

By LIESL SCHILLINGER
The New York Times
July 4, 2004

So how does a bird get to Lincoln Center — aside from practice, practice, practice? "You're looking for pigeons that have the confidence to go into unusual situations," said Soso Whaley, 49, one of the trainers.
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 Post subject: Re: Ashton Centenary Celebration (Lincoln Center Festival 20
PostPosted: Mon Jul 05, 2004 9:18 am 
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Celebrating a giant of dance
BY ROBERT JOHNSON for The Star-Ledger

NEW YORK -- No elephants will come to town, parading tail-in-trunk to herald the opening of the Ashton Centennial Celebration at the Lincoln Center Festival on Tuesday. But the event may still resemble a three-ring circus.

Even without the pachyderms, the Ashton celebration, a $3 million ballet extravaganza honoring British choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton (1904-1988), will have a looming presence. This huge event features so many companies and so many ballets that squeezing them all in will leave festival director Nigel Redden wiping the sweat from his anxious brow.

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Tribute to Sir Fred - Ballet Music
by Gerald Fenech for di-ve

This is a most delightful double disc treat of some exquisite ballets that bring back the memory of Sir Frederick Ashton, one of the great impresarios in post War London. The combination of Messager, Rawsthorne, Lizst and Couperin also brings about a fine concoction of entertainment.

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<small>[ 05 July 2004, 11:19 AM: Message edited by: ksneds ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Ashton Centenary Celebration (Lincoln Center Festival 20
PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2004 11:20 pm 
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Quote:
Ongoing: Ashton Celebration

By JULIE BLOOM
The Village Voice
July 5, 2004

one of the defining architects of 20th-century classicism, is being honored for two weeks at the Metropolitan Opera House;...
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 Post subject: Re: Ashton Centenary Celebration (Lincoln Center Festival 20
PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2004 10:57 pm 
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ARTS: Lincoln Center Festival 2004 Metropolitan Opera House, New York

By HILARY OSTLERE
The Financial Times
July 8, 2004

This was an unusual arrangement but appropriate, perhaps, for a festival whose main dance attraction this year is celebrating Sir Frederick Ashton.
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<small>[ 02 August 2004, 07:55 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Ashton Centenary Celebration (Lincoln Center Festival 20
PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2004 11:01 pm 
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ASHTON CELEBRATION #1
Lincoln Center Festival 2004: Ashton Celebration / Metropolitan Opera House, NYC / July 6-17, 2004
By Tobi Tobias for Arts Journal


Oh, to be in England this year, the 100th anniversary of Frederick Ashton’s birth, to follow the many productions of the ballets with which the choreographer fashioned the shape and tone of British classical dancing! New York-based dance aficionados, at least, can console themselves to a certain extent with the Lincoln Center Festival’s Ashton Celebration—two weeks of repertory being offered by four companies: the Royal Ballet (Ashton’s own home base), the Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, and K- Ballet Company from Japan.

You may need to scroll down to reach this review. Use the date as a guide.

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<small>[ 02 August 2004, 07:57 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Ashton Centenary Celebration (Lincoln Center Festival 20
PostPosted: Fri Jul 09, 2004 9:25 pm 
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Birmingham Royal Ballet
Ashton Celebration
Metropolitan Opera House
July 9, 2004
The Two Pigeons
[This is an “instant” review, having just returned home from this performance. I may expand on it after a good night’s sleep.]


It’s all too rare to get excited about ballet performances these days. I appreciate great individual performances and great ballets when I see them, but rarely does everything mesh. It did tonight at the Met. The Birmingham Royal Ballet’s performance of Frederick Ashton’s The Two Pigeons was miraculous.

According to the Lincoln Center Festival brochure, the last time The Two Pigeons was performed in New York was 1963. I’m not a dance scholar, and have no idea how the ballet was received then, but I can describe how it was received tonight, the first of two performances at the Ashton Celebration. I found myself talking out loud as Act II ended, in utter disbelief. And complete joy. And I wasn’t alone. When the piece ended, the audience, literally, roared. Then they stood and cheered.

Although I appreciate the undeniable quality of his work, I’m not a huge Ashton fan. I’ve found many of the less familiar ballets too dry, somewhat inaccessible, and overly precious. But The Two Pigeons is wonderful. It’s story, based, according to the program notes, on an extract from The Fables of Jean de la Fontaine (which appears to be titled the same as the ballet, but the program notes do not indicate it), is familiar. There are these two young lovers. One decides to leave his love, and explore the world. After succumbing to the outside world’s seduction, he is nearly destroyed by it. He returns to his love, and both are now wiser for the experience, and the love they have for each other is stronger than before. The end. All through the ballet, I kept thinking of The Fantasticks, the long-running off-Broadway musical. The story is very similar; perhaps they mined the same source.

In any event, in Ashton’s hands the story is transferred to a studio in Paris, and Ashton has the lovers imitate pigeon movements together with classical ballet steps. No, it is not Pigeon Lake. Maybe more the Prodigal Pigeon. And the world that the boy lover decides to explore is a world of gypsies (like The Fantasticks) who somehow show up at the studio and seduce him into joining them at their encampment. It sounds ridiculous, But the choreography is at once funny, touching, exciting, moving, and inventive. Not being a dancer, I have difficulty describing in technical terms what I saw. But the two lovers are given dances that are achingly lovely, the gypsy dances are intense and exuberant and great fun to watch, and the stage is never silent.

But the choreography is only part of the story. The Birmingham’s dancers not only did the choreography justice; they honored it with an extraordinary display of dancing and acting, both on an individual and on an ensemble level. As the lovers, Nao Sakuma and Robert Parker were perfect. Perfect is the only word that fits. Sakuma in particular was sweet and funny and delicious and appeared to me to be technically impeccable. And Molly Smolen as the lead gypsy girl who seduces the boy was at once molten and as funny as Sakuma. And Parker’s gypsy dancing matched Smolen’s intensity and accomplishment. But as fine as the three leads were, the ensemble was just as good. As was the orchestra. This was simply great fun, and a wonderfully executed joy to watch.

And then there were those pigeons. The real ones. In addition to Ashton’s conceit of having the dancers mimic pigeons, there are real pigeons that at critical moments take flight, or perch on Parker’s shoulder. And with the last image, when the lovers are united behind the back of a chair, looking as if they’re birds inside a cage, and the real pigeons fly to perches at the top of the “cage” above them, I – and the rest of the audience – just totally lost it. If there were an award for best performance by a live pigeon (and best training by a pigeon trainer), it would surely go to the pigeon that flew to the stage floor, thought about it for a moment, and then joined its fellow pigeon on the perch above the lovers heads. Total wipe out.

The Two Pigeons will be performed once more, tomorrow night (by this time, it’s tonight). If you’re within 500 miles of New York, and have never seen The Two Pigeons before (or even if you have), get tickets. Hopefully, the ballet powers that be will not wait another forty years before they bring The Two Pigeons back to New York.


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 Post subject: Re: Ashton Centenary Celebration (Lincoln Center Festival 20
PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2004 5:24 pm 
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What a wonderful review of the Two Pigeons! How good also to know that the transatlantic reaction to those intensely moving final moments was so tremendous.

The final scene of Pigeons is one of the great moments of the Ashton canon, a perfect combination of music, dance and stagecraft.

Unbelievable to think it hasn't been seen at Covent Garden for nearly 20 years. Fortunately London gets three performances at Sadlers Wells in October.


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 Post subject: Re: Ashton Centenary Celebration (Lincoln Center Festival 20
PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2004 11:32 pm 
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There is also an earlier thread of the same topic in CD:
Lincoln Center Festival 2004


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 Post subject: Re: Ashton Centenary Celebration (Lincoln Center Festival 20
PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2004 11:42 pm 
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Quote:
The Rarely Seen Side of a Brilliant Choreographer

By ANNA KISSELGOFF
The New York Times
July 8, 2004

Yet, symbolically, this other centennial, following New York City Ballet's tribute to Balanchine, could be celebrated by very different fireworks. If Balanchine's display would explode in the air as a dazzling formal spectacle, Ashton's quieter, blooming design would allude to his poetic and witty streak.
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 Post subject: Re: Ashton Centenary Celebration (Lincoln Center Festival 20
PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 12:38 am 
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The Poet Laureate of Ballet, With a Sense of Humor

By ANNA KISSELGOFF
The New York Times
July 9, 2004

There was a time when Ashton, who died in 1988, needed no introduction. He was 20th-century ballet's poet laureate, an innovator whose use of the classical dance idiom raised it to the heights of metaphor.
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 Post subject: Re: Ashton Centenary Celebration (Lincoln Center Festival 20
PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2004 11:11 am 
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From the New York Daily News,

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New York Daily News - Entertainment - Howard Kissel: Fresh tribute, in step with Ashton's legacy
New York Daily News
The Lincoln Center Festival tribute to the great British choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton, on the occasion of his centenary, is both fresh and nostalgic.
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 Post subject: Re: Ashton Centenary Celebration (Lincoln Center Festival 20
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2004 10:07 am 
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From UPI,

Quote:
Ashton ballets highlights summer festival
By Frederick M. Winship
Published 7/17/2004 3:01 PM

NEW YORK, July 17 (UPI) -- A two-week celebration of the 100th birthday anniversary of Frederick Ashton, considered Britain's greatest choreographer by the time of his death in 1988, is a highlight of Lincoln Center's bustling Festival 2004, bringing to New York the Royal Ballet of London, the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, the Birmingham Royal Ballet, and the K-Ballet Company of London and Tokyo.
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 Post subject: Re: Ashton Centenary Celebration (Lincoln Center Festival 20
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2004 3:54 pm 
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The Royal Ballet
Ashton Celebration – Lincoln Center Festival
Metropolitan Opera House
July 16, 2004
Cinderella


I feel cheated.

Not because of anything wrong with The Royal Ballet’s performance of Ashton’s Cinderella on July 16 at the Met, and certainly not because of anything wrong with Alina Cojocaru, who danced the lead. On the contrary, in every respect it was a memorable performance of a memorable ballet.

I feel cheated because, to my knowledge, Cojocaru has danced at the Met only four times: once last year guesting with ABT in La Bayadere, and in three performances with the Royal during this summer’s Ashton Celebration as part of the Lincoln Center Festival – once in the Voices of Spring pas de deux (which, unfortunately, I missed), once in Scenes de Ballet, and once in Cinderella. I want more.

There are certainly other great ballerinas, both those who are no longer dancing, and those dancing today. Dancers with impeccable technique, exciting and magnetic stage presence, acting on par with their dancing, physical attractiveness, or great rapport with the audience. We all can recite their names; we go to their performances to see them dance, not just to see the ballets in which they are dancing. Very few, however, can put it all together, and fewer still can seem to take the whole package to another level. Cojocaru is one of those rare dancers who does everything well, but more. She has strength combined with gentleness, speed, the cleanest of possible lines, an extension that is perfectly sculpted but never overstated,.... I could go on. She's an ethereal diamond. But what makes Cojocaru different is that the entire package is wrapped in a fresh and natural grace that makes you at once wonder how anyone so talented can appear to be so nice. Forgive my comparisons; I know they are invalid, unwise, and ultimately unfair. But when I see Cojocaru, I see the thoroughbred aura, speed, tenacity, and electricity of a Gelsey Kirkland, combined with the rock-solid strength of a Svetlana Zakharova and the spriteliness and genuine warmth of a Lis Jeppesen. And I mean all that as the highest of praise.

Ashton’s Cinderella, while not, as I recall, as interesting choreographically as other versions I’ve seen, is a wonder of stagecraft and invention that, put in its historical context, must have been a glorious tonic for post-war Britain. It is at once emotionally rewarding and constantly hilarious; a warm-hearted fairy tale/folk tale/comedy routine. Cojocaru was Cinderella in every conceivable way. She danced the part (in hindsight most of what I can recall is a spinning top with an arabesque to die for, but her technical prowess seemed never less than perfect), but she also looked the part. She was sweet and vulnerable and could take your breath away, all seemingly at the same time. Maybe Audrey Hepburn if Audrey Hepburn had been a ballerina. But although the story is “about” Cinderella, the ballet is as much a celebration of the best of ballet slapstick in the persons of the two stepsisters as it is about Cinderella. Indeed, the ballet might just as easily have been titled ‘The Stepsisters.” Anthony Dowell and Wayne Sleep as the two stepsisters were absolutely fabulous; their performances, to my eye, were complete portrayals of characters that could have been simply comic cardboard. The fact that Anthony Dowell, one of the best of danseur nobles, and Wayne Sleep, one of the best of character dancers, pulled it off with such exquisite hilarity is a tribute not just to Ashton’s vision, but to the enduring value of both of them to ballet theater. Johan Kobborg, though not as exciting to watch as Cojocaru, danced well enough on his own, and was a skillful and attentive partner. The fairy godmother and lead fairies all handled Ashton’s difficult choreography, with Lauren Cuthbertson, as the summer fairy, executing particularly well. And the lesser fairies in blue [if Juliet can have “friends”, and Swanilda can have “friends”, these were Cinderella’s “friends”] seemed an unusually promising group of attractive and able dancers – I noticed one or two in particular, but can’t identify them because none were listed in the program. The puckish jester, danced ably and energetically by Jose Martin, nearly stole the ballet. And the production itself, credited to Wendy Ellis Somes, is enchanting. [Apparently this is a new production. I don’t know if the sets are reproductions of the originals or entirely new conceptions, but Toer van Schayk’s sets are marvelous, and Mark Jonathan’s lighting brings it all to life].

This performance was the first truly sold-out house I’ve seen at the Met in a long time. Moreover, unlike performances by “foreign” companies where the audience is populated to a significant degree by tourists, this was a house filled with people knowledgeable about ballet who knew what – or, more accurately, who they came to see. And when the performance ended, the house – the entire house – spontaneously stood, cheered, and refused to let them go.

Which, again, is why I feel cheated. Ultimately, Cojocaru’s performance was a tease [as was the Royal’s appearance, and as were the appearances of the Birmingham Royal, the Joffrey, and the K Ballet Company before them – there was little opportunity to see these companies’ dancers, let alone a representative sample of their repertoires]. Couldn’t The Royal have stayed another week, to take it out of the Ashton umbrella, so we could see Cojocaru dance Giselle in New York, as she did earlier this summer in California, or Juliet, or Aurora, or Kitri, or La Sylphide, or The Dream (why wasn’t that included in the Ashton Celebration?), or anything at all? I guess if we were able to see her dance more frequently, Cojocaru might be less appreciated. But I’d take that risk. Can she be cloned?

<small>[ 18 July 2004, 05:55 PM: Message edited by: balletomaniac ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Ashton Centenary Celebration (Lincoln Center Festival 20
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2004 11:51 pm 
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Thanks for the fine review balletomaniac. I don't know Alina Cojocaru personally, but she makes a very good impression off-stage, as well as on-stage, waving cheerily to the doormen as she goes about the theatre. I also have the impression in the first year or so, that the other RB dancers looked after her when necessary even though she had been promoted over their heads in many instances. So she was clearly someone who had made a hit personally as well as artistically.

As you say, it is the ease, grace and natural quality of her dancing that marks her out.

<small>[ 19 July 2004, 01:53 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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