Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Birthday Offering. It was last on stage 30 June—7 July 2012.
A series of solos, duets and ensemble pieces celebrate the dancers' distinctive qualities and the unique heritage of The Royal Ballet.
Frederick Ashton created Birthday Offering in 1956 to celebrate The Royal Ballet’s 25th anniversary. The Company was about to receive a royal charter and change its name from Sadler's Wells Ballet to The Royal Ballet. In tribute to the company's founder, Ninette de Valois, Ashton choreographed Birthday Offering in the style of Marius Petipa and the Russian Imperial Ballet, from whose traditions De Valois had nurtured the roots of British ballet. Glazunov's lyrical music provides the setting for this classical celebration piece.
Against a handsome setting of drapes, chandeliers and standing candelabra, seven couples make their entrance, sweeping grandly around the stage. A series of solo variations follow, in which the qualities of each individual dancer are showcased. A powerful mazurka for the male dancers ends in bravura style. An expressive pas de deux – originally created for Margot Fonteyn and Michael Somes – is accompanied by a ravishing cello solo. The work culminates in an elegant, celebratory finale, which is danced by the entire ensemble.
Frederick Ashton created more than one hundred works during his lifetime (1904–88). For further information, please visit www.frederickashton.org.uk.
Birthday Offering is a pièce d'occasion in one scene choreographed by Frederick Ashton to music by Alexander Glazunov, arranged by Robert Irving. The ballet was created in 1956, to celebrate the Royal Ballet’s 25th anniversary. The first performance took place on 5 May 1956 at the Royal Opera House, London.