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  • Your Reaction: What did you think of Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée?

Your Reaction: What did you think of Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée?

The Royal Ballet 2016/17 Season opens with the founding choreographer’s joyful ballet.

By Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer)

28 September 2016 at 11.44am | 20 Comments

Press reviews:
Bachtrack ★★★★
The Stage ★★★★

What did you think of La Fille mal gardée?
Let us know via the comments below.

La Fille mal gardée runs until 22 October 2016. Tickets are still available.

The production is given with generous philanthropic support from Hans and Julia Rausing and The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund.

By Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer)

28 September 2016 at 11.44am

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged Ballet, by Frederick Ashton, Covent Garden, La Fille mal gardee, opening night, Production, Reviews, ROH, Social Media, twitter, your reaction

This article has 20 comments

  1. Annette Klimek responded on 28 September 2016 at 1:57pm Reply

    Fantastic, amusing , enchanting and an unexpected impromptu choreography from the little pony highly amusing ❤️

  2. Roger D responded on 28 September 2016 at 2:00pm Reply

    Paul Kay exceptional as Alain as part of a wonderful first night cast. La Fille must be the definition of delightful. Have seen this production perhaps 15 times and it never fails to deliver and bring a smile to my face.

  3. Dewi Hughes responded on 29 September 2016 at 1:23pm Reply

    Fantastic exceptional performances both the general rehearsal and the evening first night performance. Artistes and orchestra truly amazing performances. This is a ballet for all young and not so young. Everyone ends up happy even Alain when he retrieves his umbrella!!

  4. Simon Smith responded on 29 September 2016 at 9:55pm Reply

    A magical start to the new season so many thanks to all at the Royal Ballet for such a memorable evening. A special mention to the two boys for their expert supervision of both the maypole, ensuring everyone had a ribbon, and Perrigrine, deftly dealing with his mishap! There's always the prospect of rapid progression: it's not that long ago that Steven McRae was leading the pony but I don't know if he was called upon to sweep up. So looking forward to Francesca's and Marci's public debut next week. Last time Francesca was a hen and I'm quite sure she will be a wonderful Lise, a great way to celebrate her promotion. Good luck to all for this run of performances and audiences will undoubtedly be enchanted.

  5. Ronnie Murdin responded on 29 September 2016 at 10:58pm Reply

    The most enchanting ballet - loved it .The best Christmas Present ever.!!

  6. Chris gill responded on 4 October 2016 at 12:07pm Reply

    I absolutely loved this it was a joy from start to finish

  7. Brian barford responded on 6 October 2016 at 8:54pm Reply

    Delightful Osbert Lancaster designs, enchanting Herold/ Lanchbery score, and quite perfect Ashton choreography. Yuhui Choe is both comic and touching - a beautiful Ashton dancer.

  8. Madeleine responded on 6 October 2016 at 11:27pm Reply

    What total joy .. A superb production and ballet to die for. Simply perfect evening .. Peregrine is a star too.....!

  9. Brett responded on 7 October 2016 at 4:59pm Reply

    I have to share this with you
    I have been a ballet fanatic since they age of 6 ( I grew up in South Africa - where Pact Ballet had an impeccable production of Fille ) this is now 35 years later ... my sister lives in London with her Husband .. a London born and bred ... to my horror last year I found out that he had NEVER been to a ballet ... when I learned that Fille was to be presented this season I went on a campaign to get him to go .. as I knew of course that this is THE perfect first ballet ....last night (October 6 ) My brother in Law went to his first ballet ... I had jokingly asked him before for a 500 word review of his experience ....well he obliged .....Confessions of a Ballet Virgin
    In the interests of full disclosure my first confession is this: although an English graduate with the kind of reverence for Shakespeare that George Bernard Shaw described as bardolatry, I am also a terrible reverse snob.
    As such I exhibit a deeply ingrained scepticism towards the received wisdom of what constitutes high culture and a readiness to mock bourgeois aesthetics that my critical theory class at university would have been proud of.
    And now for my second confession. I went to my first ballet last night – the Frederick Ashton version of La Fille mal gardée at the Royal Opera House – and bloody well loved it.
    Firstly, the venue. What a stunning performance space. With plenty of leg room for those of us who aren’t Hobbits…and nobody aggressively Whats-apping during the performance as is the custom at our local Cineworld. This is promising…
    Suddenly there are dancing chickens on stage – and I’m actually laughing out loud…at the ballet of all places - am I allowed to do this? But these fowl can seriously dance and their synchronisation is egg-quisite (my sincere apologies).
    Soon we’re introduced to Lise, Simone and Colas and despite the fact that there are no words (as someone with no previous interest in ballet I hadn’t really registered the obvious)…the narrative is easy to follow thanks to a masterclass in visual storytelling from Ashton and all involved with the Royal Ballet’s current production.
    The dancing is – simply put - otherworldly. The initial pas de deux (thanks Google – not a term I’ve had cause to use before today) of Lise and Colas is impossible to take your eyes off. But not just because of the immense technical skill and athleticism on display…
    Yes, the technical skill is breath-taking from both leads. I don’t have any other ballet experience to compare it to – just other forms of dancing I’ve seen and sport – but Francesca Hayward’s movement and control of her body is both dazzling and heart-achingly graceful.
    And yes, the athleticism from both leads defies belief. How Marcelino Sambé can soar through the air – almost in slow motion - without any apparent effort is beyond me…as is how both leads sustain this for nearly two hours.
    But it’s their performance that makes them so utterly riveting. Their dancing as an expression of emotion. And it’s beautiful. This is an extremely technical art, evidently refined over several centuries, placed in the service of communicating feelings…and it works! Following the amazingly choreographed ribbon sequence between Lise and Colas – an irresistible evocation of courtship, attraction and romantic play - the reverse snob in me is happily forced to admit that ballet really isn’t some fusty relic of polite society. It is true, vital, very much alive and making me smile like a child on a sugar high.
    A maypole dance, some fun with clogs (yes, I know this piece of music!), a storm and then a brief interval follow (you know the ballet, I don’t need to go into anymore detail)…Lise is kept inside but Colas visits her, getting trapped in her house. Alain’s father remains determined to marry his son off. But Simone relents, gives Lise and Colas her blessing and the needs of the heart finally triumph over financial expedience in the ultimate feel-good ending.
    I’m still grinning like an idiot and judging by the rapturous applause and multiple curtain calls, the rest of the audience are too. The consensus of murmurs around me suggests that this is both a very special production (oh no, has the bar been set impossibly high by my first ballet experience?) and that Francesca Hayward and Marcelino Sambé are exceptional performers, even by the vaunted standards of the Royal Ballet.
    A few other thoughts. Alain and Simone were also magnificent – the former pulling off the trick of dancing both brilliantly and comically at the same time while the latter showed delectable comic timing.
    Meanwhile the brilliant corps danced dizzying patterns around the stage and seemed thoroughly immersed in their parts which made a massive contribution to the suspension of disbelief (Brett, my ballet expert brother-in-law and the inspiration for this outing, assures me that this is not always the case with other companies).
    The music was exquisite and hearing a top-notch orchestra reminded me that I really must get around to hearing Beethoven’s 7th Symphony and Verdi’s Il trovatore live one day. The staging was atmospheric and suitably whimsical (I felt thoroughly absorbed in the fantasy and was kinda sad when it was over). And as for the nuances of the choreography…well I don’t really know anything about ballet, but it looked frickin’ awesome.
    So…that’s my confession.
    I will carry on as a lover of film, both independent and main stream, great TV shows, mixed martial arts, punk music and now ballet. And in these troubling times, I’m genuinely buoyed by the knowledge that the world which produced Donald Trump is also the world in which La Fille mal gardée exists.

  10. Jorge Salcedo responded on 7 October 2016 at 10:01pm Reply

    I do agree with Brett's previous comments about yesterday's performance of "La fille mal gardée" , as well as concerning this production.
    But let me say that for me, the star of the night was Marcelino Sambé. And also as a Portuguese , that always try to be fair, I felt proud and even moved with his performance.

  11. jean amos responded on 8 October 2016 at 7:21pm Reply

    Stunning performances by Natalia Osipova and Steven McRae plus company, Oct.5th
    Just as beautiful as when I last saw Lesley Collier and Michael Colman dance this!
    Thank you to Lesley Collier for her amazing help in keeping this lovely ballet as perfect
    for new generations to enjoy!

  12. Simon Smith responded on 13 October 2016 at 7:18pm Reply

    Many congratulations to Francesca and Marci for last week's public debut - a magical evening and still replaying in the memory. One of those so special performances at ROH that ranks alongside Bernard Haitink's final Act 3 Meistersinger for such an overwhelming feeling of elation. Francesca is so compelling, making Ashton look so easy, and Marci's exuberance is so infectious. So pleased that Kevin O'Hare gave these two wonderful talents the opportunity and how they triumphed. Now looking forward to Ben's Widow Simone debut this Saturday.

  13. Jon Connorton responded on 16 October 2016 at 7:20am Reply

    Honestly thought it was the best production I've ever seen. It was certainly the most cheerful.
    The cast were faultless, the choreography was perfect, and I think every member of the audience loved it!

  14. Sheila Cross responded on 16 October 2016 at 11:05pm Reply

    Wonderful performance by Roberta Marquez at her penultimate show, such a pity she is leaving. Her footwork, epaulement, speed, were truly Ashtonian and her interpretation suitably mischievous and adorable. Alex Campbell, in his first performance as principal, was a very sympathetic partner and a convincing Colas. And Bennet Gartside managed the right degree of femininity and humanity to make Simone more than a pantomime dame.

  15. Simon Smith responded on 17 October 2016 at 11:03am Reply

    Delightful Saturday matinee with Roberta making her penultimate performance with the Royal Ballet, captivatating the audience with her Lise - such a fitting way to bring the curtain down. Alex is so attentive in his partnering and a marvellously accomplished dancer - a wonderful way to mark his promotion to Principal (so looking forward to Francesca and Alex in Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty). Very much enjoyed Ben's Widow Simone debut, great timing for the comic moments, never over the top, and showing real poignancy in Act 2. I'm sure Saturday's final performance will be memorable and many thanks and best wishes to Roberta.

  16. Graham Smith responded on 17 October 2016 at 11:10am Reply

    I've never understood how Ashton manages to waft you along in a comic, light-hearted ballet, and still be able to unleash a surprisingly powerful emotional punch. But after seeing Fille on Saturday, I realised that he works his magic in brief moments that are masterstrokes of characterisation. Take the few seconds of Act II in which Lise sits dejectedly on the stairs dreaming of Colas. Yuhui Choe's faraway gaze tells us that she is imagining her step into adulthood, but her careless backward slide down each step says even more about the heroine's suspension between child and woman. We laugh of course, but who does not remember bumping down stairs this way as a child? And if as adults we know this to be a painful game, we can't resist a parental affection for Lise as we know that her romantic vision my have similar bumps along the way. This and other seemingly trivial incidents are Ashton's silent assassins, doing their work unnoticed, building our empathy with his character's inner life and our care for their fate. Thus we are primed, ready to thrill to the joy of love triumphant in Lise and Colas' final pas-de-deux. Or we can be put through the wringer, as we feel the pain of the young girl in Two Pigeons; how many lumps-in-throats and tear stained cheeks were there in the Amphitheatre as we gazed on the spotlit, crumpled form of our heroine, alone on stage, abandoned by her lover? (“C'mon Lauren - you are killing us up here!”, the voice in our heads wails. But we love it). Truly, Ashton's dramatic skills make him the master explorer of the pleasure and pain of coming-of-age and young love. Like adolescence itself, these vivid performances by the Royal Ballet are fragile wonders, that flare in intensity for the briefest of moments and are then gone. But they kindle an answering glow in the audience that tumble out into Bow Street with a new joy in their hearts.

  17. I went on 15th October and Loved every minute of La Fille mal gardee #ROH it was my time seeing the Great Ballet and my first visiting the ROH,I had a wonderful view of the fantastic ballet dancers and the seat was very comfortable.All were excellent ballet dancers and the staff were very friendly and helpful and all this for a fantastic night out only cost me £9.00. I can't wait to come back to the ROH to see Sleeping Beauty in December. Thank you once again for a wonderful memorable occasion which I will remember for a long time.

  18. Roberta Marquez was delightful and brilliant in her last performance with the company, and Alexander Campbell was her chivalrous Colas-both were neat and precise in the fast spins and leaps, but equally deft at the comedy. We'll miss Berta- the sheer number of bouquets she received and the flower throw at her curtain calls were testimony to the affection which the fans have for her. We wish her all the very best!

  19. I know that some productions from the ROH are available on DVD - is this ballet among them at all? (Maybe not this particular version because it's so recent - I'd just like to see *a* version of it.) I like the look & sound of it from the pics & tweets! ☺

    • Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer) responded on 5 January 2017 at 10:23am

      Hi Laura,
      You can order La Fille mal gardée on DVD (2015) here.
      All best wishes,

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