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The Two Pigeons

Young love triumphs over misunderstandings and mistakes in Frederick Ashton's nostalgic and humorous ballet.

The Story

In a 19th-century Paris studio, an artist - the Young Man - becomes bored with his lover, the Young Girl. When a Gypsy troupe arrives, his eye is caught by the Gypsy Girl and he is tempted to stray.

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Frederick Ashton created The Two Pigeons for The Royal Ballet Touring Company in 1961 and it was restaged later that year for the main Company. The score, by André Messager, was composed in 1886 for a ballet at the Paris Opéra, and Ashton worked with John Lanchbery to adapt it for his own version of the story. The inspiration for the score and the ballet was a fable by La Fontaine, but Ashton interpreted the original story in a different way, bringing the focus onto the love between the Young Man and the Young Girl.

The lead roles were created by Lynn Seymour and Donald Britton (although due to an injury, Christopher Gable danced the Young Man in the premiere). The ballet's title is recalled in the bird-like movements of the young lovers' steps, and in the appearance of two real birds on stage to symbolize the young couple's relationship.

Frederick Ashton created more than one hundred works during his lifetime (1904–88). For further information, please visit

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