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Scènes de ballet

18 October—12 November 2014
Ghost Facility

Frederick Ashton's chic and brilliant ballet delights in a dazzling Stravinsky score.

When to see it

Introduction

Drawing on the choreographic language of Marius Petipa, Ashton creates a classical grand pas de deux, with ensemble dances, variations for the two principals and a final, ecstatic apotheosis.

Background

Frederick Ashton's Scènes de ballet was one of the choreographer's favourite works. He described its 'distant, uncompromising beauty, which says I am here, beautiful, but I will make no effort to charm you'. Its icy glamour was inspired by Stravinsky's neoclassical score, itself both an impertinent and strictly formal take on the classical Tchaikovsky pas de deux. Ashton adapted the romantic choreography of Tchaikovsky's dance counterpart, Marius Petipa, while matching Stravinsky's hard-edged geometry to create a ballet with breathtaking floor patterns.

Margot Fonteyn and Michael Somes created the central couple in the ballet's premiere on 11 February 1948. French artist André Beaurepaire designed the sets and costumes, creating devastatingly chic takes on classical tutus and tunics decorated with geometric patterns. Ashton insisted on pearl bracelets and chokers for the women, highlighting them in his choreography with wrist flicks and coquettish nods. Patterns pile on patterns towards an increasingly elaborate climax in Ashton's most modernist work, as much a celebration as a witty reworking of ballet's traditions.

News and features

  1. Autumn Season 2014/15

    31 March 2014

    The Royal Ballet opens the Autumn Season with Kenneth MacMillan’s masterful Manon. Highlights for The Royal Opera include Plácido Domingo in Verdi’s dark political tragedy I due Foscari and - in a new collaboration with the Roundhouse - Monteverdi’s Orfeo.