Saturday, 6 May 2017

Royal Ballet's Rehearsals of Marguerite and Armand.and The Dream

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I skipped class on Wednesday night to watch the live streaming of rehearsals for two of the ballets in the Royal Ballet's Ashton triple bill of Marguerite and Armand. Symphonic Variations and The Dream at Covent Garden. The programme will only appear between the 2 and 10 June and all but two of the performances are already sold out. However, it will be streamed live to cinemas in the United Kingdom and elsewhere on 7 June thereby providing welcome relief from this already very depressing general election campaign.

Being very long in the tooth I know all three works very well and love them very much.

I shall always associate The Dream with Dame Antoinette Sibley who is my all time favourite ballerina by a country mile (see Sibley 17 Dec 2013) and her noble partner Sir Anthony Dowell  and visions of them in the reconciliation scene rush to mind causing me to forget whatever I am doing whenever I hear Mendelssohn's glorious score (see the RAD's tribute to Dame Antoinette on YouTube and if you have any heart I defy you to keep a dry eye). I remember hearing it in Leeds in the next rehearsal studio as our teacher patiently gave instructions for an enchainment which completely washed over me as I listened to the music.

Almost as dear to me is Marguerite and Armand in which I saw Nureyev dance with Fonteyn whom I also loved and admired (see Margot Fonteyn 18 May 2015). Fonteyn was also one of the original dancers in Symphonic Variations along with Moira Shearer, Pamela May, Michael Somes, Brian Shaw and Henry Danton. Although it was first staged even before my time Somes and Shaw were still dancing when I first took an interest in ballet. Danton was the only one I missed even though - ironically and praise is - he is still very much with us.

Those ballets are the very finest examples of Ashton's work which is discussed in a talk by Prof. Stephanie Jordan that you can hear in the above video. Also in the video is a Q & A by Kevin O'Hare, Lesley Collier, yet another all-time favourite ballerina and the gracious Zenaida Yanowsky. 43 minutes and 29 seconds into that session Yanowsky demonstrated the famous "Fred Step". The reason I know that timing so precisely is that I have been practising the Fred Step. There are two lovely rehearsals in the film. One by Yanowsky as Marguerite and Gary Avis as Armand's father in the scene where Armand's dad warns Marguerite to stay away from his boy. The other is Francesca Hayward and Marcelino Sambé in the quarrel scene over the changeling boy and the reconciliation. They are nothing like Sibley and Dowell but I think they are just as beautiful in the way they interpret this work.  At the end of the Marguerite and Armand rehearsal, Avis said some lovely things about Yanowsky which made me admire both of them even more than I already did. The whole video is presented and moderated by Alexander Campbell who did a really first class job.

I have said enough, ladies and gentlemen.  I will leave you to watch this gorgeous video.

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