They say that pigeons mate for life—perhaps that’s why these birds naturally symbolize the young lovers in Sir Frederick Ashton’s The Two Pigeons. In these clips from a 1987 performance in Pisa, Alessandra Ferri and Robert LaFosse—then stars with American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, respectively—dance a rapturous pas de deux at the … More »
How would you like to see the opening night cast of Sir Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée—yes, from 1960—perform the ballet’s ribbon pas de deux? Nadia Nerina and David Blair, former principals of The Royal Ballet, appear in this clip from a BBC broadcast filmed two years after La Fille premiered. The video may … More »
Sir Frederick Ashton created his 1980 ballet Rhapsody in honor of Elizabeth The Queen Mother (mother of Elizabeth II) for her 80th birthday. I’d say this serene, elegant pas de deux is fit for a queen—and for the strengths of its lead dancers, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Lesley Collier, on whom the roles were created. In … More »
I love Prokofiev’s somewhat dark musical compositions, his way of twisting graceful melodies in unconventional, dramatic ways. This is particularly apparent in Cinderella. Prokofiev’s sonorous score, combined with Sir Frederick Ashton’s nuanced choreography and The Royal Ballet dancers’ poetic movement, makes for true enchantment. As the Winter Fairy in Act I, principal dancer Zenaida Yanowsky … More »
The ballet Sylvia has undergone many reincarnations since its 1876 premier by the Paris Opéra Ballet. Some of the past two centuries’ most notable choreographers—Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Mark Morris and John Neumeier—have seemed inescapably drawn to creating their own versions of this ballet, as if it was an artistic scratch they simply had to itch. In this 2005 clip, Darcey Bussell dances the title role in Ashton’s revived version for The Royal Ballet.
It turns out that Queen Elizabeth was quite a fan—and friend—of Sir Frederick Ashton. A new book is publishing many of her private letters, including the one at right to the Royal Ballet choreographer. Check out her sketch of “ballet on a pinnacle”!