7 January 2016 at 12.50pm | 3 Comments
Ashton, Two Ways
The Royal Ballet’s first mixed programme of 2016 brings together two classic works by Frederick Ashton. Absent for 30 years before its revival earlier this Season, The Two Pigeons is a tender romance, while the abstract Rhapsody is a dazzling display of virtuoso dancing. Together they form a vibrant celebration of the talents of The Royal Ballet’s Founder Choreographer.
Russian and English Style
When the great Russian dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov agreed to perform as a guest with The Royal Ballet in 1980, he requested a new work by Ashton. The resultant piece marvellously unites the bravura Russian style for which Baryshnikov was renowned with Ashton’s own, English sensibility, as embodied by Lesley Collier, who created the lead female role. Rhapsody has been a firm favourite ever since. This revival uses Ashton’s original set designs, along with original costume designs by William Chappell – not seen on the Royal Opera House stage since 1995.
Sparkling Music, Sparkling Dance
As ever with Ashton, the dance and the music work seamlessly together. Ashton’s brilliant choreography sets Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for piano and orchestra, itself a brilliant demonstration of virtuoso talent – its first piano soloist was the composer himself.
Musings on love
A Young Man unsuccessfully attempts to paint his lover, but finds himself drawn towards a wild Gypsy Girl. He follows her back to her camp, but things soon take a turn for the worse. Will love find a way?
A long-awaited return
First performed alongside Monotones I and II earlier this Season, this ballet marks the first occasion since 1985 that The Royal Ballet has been joined onstage by two pigeons. The birds mirror the story of the young lovers in Ashton’s touching tale set to music by Messager. Its return this Season was long awaited: according to Director of The Royal Ballet Kevin O’Hare, of all Ashton’s works, The Two Pigeons is the one he has most often been asked to revive.
Rhapsody / The Two Pigeons runs 16–30 January 2016. Tickets are still available.
The mixed programme will be broadcast live to cinemas around the world on 26 January 2016. Find your nearest cinema.