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Your Reaction: Monotones I and II / The Two Pigeons

What did you think of The Royal Ballet's Mixed Programme of works by Frederick Ashton?

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

19 November 2015 at 10.31am | 18 Comments

Press reviews:

The Telegraph ★★★★★
FT ★★★★★
Guardian ★★★★
Independent ★★★★
The Stage ★★★★
Arts Desk (£) ★★★

What did you think of Monotones I and II / The Two Pigeons?
Let us know via the comments below.

Monotones I and II / The Two Pigeons runs until 5 December 2015. Tickets are still available.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

19 November 2015 at 10.31am

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged by Frederick Ashton, Monotones I and II, Monotones I and II / The Two Pigeons, Production, review, Social Media, The Two Pigeons, twitter, your reaction

This article has 18 comments

  1. Jakegee responded on 19 November 2015 at 12:02pm Reply

    Oh ..... goodness!!! The Two Pigeons was an absolute delight!!! I had never seen this piece, not even on film, so it came as a wonderful pleasure to watch it last night. All the cast excelled, and now I can hardly wait to see them again next Tuesday night. I see it again twice in January with a different cast, but surely none can improve on this one.

    Vadim portrayed the angry, frustrated young photographer to perfection, Lauren was the amazing fidgety, scatter-brained Young Girl, Laura, as always, a consummate perfect dancer and actress as the Gypsy Girl, Ryoichi was her energetic and manly lover and Marcelino Sambe mesmerising as the Gypsy Boy. Marcelino, you are going places in your career, and deservedly so! Your solos were sublime!

    Anyone who has not yet bought a ticket for this production, please don't miss it, or at least see it in the live cinema relay on 26th January (with this same cast).

    Congratulations to all the cast members for the pleasure - and fun! - you gave us with this performance. Two special mentions - the pigeons and their handlers, who were presumably hidden in the wings! (pun not intended!).

    But, above all, a HUGE thank you to Christopher Carr who has put enormous effort into the revival of "The Two Pigeons" after an absence from the Royal Ballet stage since 1985. It was touching to see Christopher brought onstage to take a bow in response to the well deserved applause from the appreciative audience. Everyone left the theatre with smiles on their faces. I spoke to Christopher at the stage door and he was quite overwhelmed at the response to his efforts.

    Thank you also, Kevin O'Hare, for bringing "The Two Pigeons" back to the ROH stage. May I make one little request / observation to you? As often happens in the printed cast lists and on the credits on DVDs, the eight female dancers names were listed last night, but the male Corps become merely 'Artists of the Royal Ballet'. Let's please have gender equality here and list the male dancers by their names, too! They certainly deserve this respect.

    A wonderful colourful delightful evening of dance and drama! Superlative in every aspect.

  2. Seeing Two Pigeons last night makes its absence from the Royal Ballet's repertory for so long totally inexplicable. After some of the more recent offerings in mixed bills it was a great pleasure to see the work of a master choreographer whose abilities as a storyteller are second to none and whose choreographic inventiveness is breathtaking.A wonderful cast led by Cuthbertson, Muntagirov and Morera gave magnificent performances.

    As Kevin O 'Hare has recently gone on record saying that Ashton's works are central to the Royal Ballet's identity I expect to see regular revivals of those works that have come to dominate Ashton revivals at Covent Garden but may we expect to see revivals of his other full length works and Daphnis and Chloe, A Wedding Bouquet, Facade, Jazz Calender,Les Rendezvous (in the Chappell designs) Les Patineurs, Les Illuminations, Enigma Variations, Capriol Suite,Les Apparitions, Valses Nobles et Sentimentales, The Walk to the Paradise Garden at some point? Then there is Ashton's Romeo and Juliet which has no home, is the company only allowed to have one version of the ballet in its repertory?.

    • ML responded on 22 November 2015 at 1:45pm

      I agree about wanting more Ashton. It's a pity that the last time I heard of anyone dancing Les Illuminations, it was not Royal Ballet nor Birmingham Royal Ballet but instead it was the Joffrey Ballet in the 80s in their previous incarnation as a New York City company dancing the "choreographic masterpieces of the twentieth century" (due to financial and other reasons they are now based in Chicago dancing a traditional mid size troupe repertoire- Don Qs, Nutcrackers, Giselles etc). It's been too long since Daphnis and Chloe was performed too. I think the problem with Ashton's Romeo and Juliet is the legal one- it was made for the Royal Danish Ballet and Ashton, I understand, bequeathed the rights to Mona Vangsaae and Frank Schaufuss (ie Peter Schaufuss's parents) who had been his original Juliet and Mercutio, so Peter Schaufuss now owns the rights. It's a lovely version. I'd like to see the other rarely seen (nowadays) pieces too- Wedding Bouquet, Facade, etc.

    • ML responded on 22 November 2015 at 1:52pm

      Sorry -just checked: Ashton left the rights to his R&J directly to Peter Schaufuss, not his parents.

  3. Geoff responded on 19 November 2015 at 8:55pm Reply

    Two Pigeons was just wonderful, can't believe it has been away for so long. The audience clearly adored the show - and most of the people I talked to had never seen it before, which shows (as if this needed demonstrating) just what a great choreographer Ashton was. If you haven't got a ticket yet, hurry hurry hurry!

    I also hope we will now see more "forgotten" Ashton coming to Covent Garden. The list posted by MC above would be a good start.

  4. Nina Battleday responded on 19 November 2015 at 11:41pm Reply

    Lovely to see Pigeons again after such a long absence. And what a super performance from the whole cast on Thursday. While I have very fond memories of earlier casts, tonight's were equally good and I think the corps de ballet were probably even better. Seeing it again in January with another cast, but please don't leave it another 30 years for more performances-I Shan't make it!

  5. I don't think too bad but wonderful. Wonderful ballet. I wouldn't mind see it again in the future.

  6. Adrian Burley responded on 20 November 2015 at 10:34am Reply

    I saw Two Pigeons yesterday. Pure magic. Costumes wonderfully colourful. Dancers exquisite. Of special note (for me) Fumi Kaneko Fernando Montano and Steven McRae.

  7. Wendy Humphrey responded on 21 November 2015 at 9:35pm Reply

    I thought Monotones and the Two pigeons were both very good together . Pigeons was worth waiting for and I would like to add that I thought Laura Morera was wonderful and really excelled in that part, She has been with the Royal Ballet a long time and is a very good actress as well as a wonderful dancer.
    Bravo Laura!

  8. Peter Ellis responded on 22 November 2015 at 6:20pm Reply

    What choreography and story telling, so atuned to the music. . It makes a mockery of Kevin's aspiration to have only ballets created in the last ten years as the company's mainstay by 2020. Firstly, as this dissapointing season has shown, apart from Wheeldon on a good day, we don't have the choreographers capable of matching Ashton and Macmillan. Secondly what gems we would be deprived of.

  9. Bridie Macmahon responded on 25 November 2015 at 7:51pm Reply

    Such BEAUTIFUL works! Perfectly made and wonderfully satisfying to watch. Long may they stay in the repertory.

  10. Daniel Deronda responded on 5 December 2015 at 8:59am Reply

    PURE JOY & DELIGHT, to have "Les Deux Pigeons" return "after a flight of 30 YEARS" ! WHY ? I recall seeing it on the "1st night" in 1962 ! WOW then, and WOW now ! Please do not DEPRIVE your loyal RB followers of such great works ! Month in the Country, Sylvia, and so many other neglected Ashton works !
    Ps. On another track, how about "Jazz Calendar !

  11. Tim Sanderson responded on 5 December 2015 at 6:00pm Reply

    I have just returned home in a cloud of euphoria after seeing the amazing 5 December matinee performance of The Two Pigeons. It is a gorgeous piece, full of grace, wit and beauty - Ashton at his very best. But the star of the show this afternoon was Akane Takada as the Young Girl. She is heart-stoppingly wonderful, with impossibly effortless fluidity and exquisitely detailed subtle finishing touches with hands and feet. My heart was in my mouth, and I was quite overwhelmed. I have not felt so moved by a dancer since November 2001, when I first saw Alina Cojocaru dance (as Kitri in Don Quixote). On that occasion I could scarcely breathe, and Akane Takada has the same effect. One to watch... a Star is Born, in my (not always humble) opinion!

  12. sarah langfield responded on 5 December 2015 at 9:39pm Reply

    Loved both Mayara Magri as the gypsy in The two Pigeons, her technique and presentation were wonderful. Also James Hay despite the pigeon sticking on his arm like glue he continued as though nothing were wrong. Best afternoon, thank you.

    • Annabella responded on 8 December 2015 at 9:45pm

      Mayara Magri looks beautiful as the gypsy, both her technique and artistic expression are improving really fast with the afore expected results that I have had since her triumph in Laussanne.

  13. Dana responded on 5 December 2015 at 9:56pm Reply

    Monotones could have easily been called "2001: A Space Odyssey Ballet". Although initially classed as "futuristic", it ironically comes across a tad outdated today, and very emblematic of the decade in which it was born.

    From the amphitheatre heights, the green clothed Monotone I trio came across like three Kermit frogs in search of a lily pad, while Monotone II was edging towards a circus act. Not even Watson or Nunez could bring any spark to this visually sparse work.

    However, it was an excellent opportunity to hear Satie's gorgeous, sweeping music live, which I thoroughly enjoyed while appreciating the interior decor of the Royal Opera House.


    Two Pigeons: A cross between La Fille mal gardee and La Sylphide, with shades of Don Quixote and Coppelia for good measure. This is signature Ashton with comedic, pantomime moves, a happy ending, and of course, the all too familiar chicken clucking.

    The first half was slow and tiresome, but thankfully the performance picked up pace after the interval, and I found myself genuinely gripped by the drama. The gorgeously colourful gypsy costumes and beautiful cityscape backdrop offered one of the most visually stunning ballet scenes I've seen, on a par with the Nutcracker, La Bayadere, Le Corsaire, and Swan Lake.

    Zucchetti was a brilliant gypsy lead, though his characteristic super leaps were somewhat lacklustre at today's matinee. Magri was convincing as his gypsy lover, though I felt this was a role for a principal such as Morera or Nunez.

    Best moment: Hay's pigeon not quite following its cue to move from his shoulder to the chair, which resulted in a few seconds of theatrical tension and ripples of laughter from the audience. The second pigeon which flew across the stage to join the first on the chair also missed its cue, and for a brief moment, appeared to have a mind of its own.

    [Edited by moderator to meet community guidelines]

    • Anna responded on 8 December 2015 at 9:50pm

      Maybe what you saw in M Magri was right, but tomorrow she will be as good as many of the principals of today. She has such a big potencial.

  14. Jennifer J Jones responded on 6 December 2015 at 3:47pm Reply

    Thank you to Iana Salenko for being such a beautiful dancer and portraying the Young Girl in Two Pigeons so genuinely and musically last Friday. The first ballerina in a long time who I really enjoy watching and can connect with somehow. Lovely ballet and fabulous dance off between the Young Girl and the Gypsy in the first act. Male corps de ballet were a hoot as gypsies and clearly enjoyed themselves! Everyone in good humour and audience left happy - very well done by all.

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