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Ashton Celebration: The Royal Ballet dances Frederick Ashton (Royal Opera House, 2013) [Blu-ray]

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Frederick Ashton, Founder Choreographer of The Royal Ballet, was one of the 20th century's most influential choreographers, whose musical, subtle and graceful style and extraordinary gift for storytelling had a profound impact on the development of British ballet. This special programme, performed at the Royal Opera House to mark the 25th anniversary of Ashton's death, presents five works that demonstrate his astonishing versatility, from compelling abstract ballets such as the exuberant Voices of Spring and the radically modernist Monotones to the tragic love story Marguerite and Armand, brought to life with performances of heart-wrenching intensity (The Observer) by Tamara Rojo and Sergei Polunin.


Ravel: La Valse

Massenet: Meditation from Thaïs

Satie: Monotones I & II

Johann Strauss II: Voices of Spring

Liszt: Marguerite and Armand

<h3 class=""productDescriptionSource"">Press Reviews

"... a performance of such dramatic intensity that the audience sat in silence, as if afraid to breathe. Ashton turned the story of the tubercular courtesan Marguerite into a one-act ballet, set to Liszt, designed by Cecil Beaton, to show off the partnership of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev; its headlong rush from first love to deathbed reconciliation requires dancers of similar charisma. In Polunin and Rojo it has them. Polunin's talent doesn t just lie in the elegance of his arabesques, the speed of his pirouettes, or the height of his jump - all of which are fully displayed here - but in the way he can make you believe he is living the part he plays. Here he traces Armand's story with spellbinding clarity: his stillness when he first sees Marguerite, the ferocity of his public renunciation of her, the tenderness of his love - each step has meaning. His passion is more than matched by Rojo, whose emotions are not only etched on her face, but in every muscle of her expressive body. She is simply wonderful. Their magnificent performances brought to a close a bill which revealed the variety of the Royal's founder choreographer from the perfumed sway of La Valse, to the lyrical loveliness of the Thais pas de deux, and the audacious joy of Voices of Spring. Monotones I and II, on the other hand, show his geometric modernism and his ability to conjure a kind of mysterious beauty by the simplest of means... the performances throughout the evening made the choreography look as fresh and important as ever." (The Daily Telegraph)

"... performances of heart-wrenching intensity ...Polunin stalks the stage like a panther, his every breath and gesture a cry of longing for Rojo's ailing, consumptive Marguerite ... and while his dancing is faultless, it's the other things that you remember. His burning gaze. The ferocious tenderness of his touch. The terrible desperation with which he buries his face in her neck ... Rojo has never been more incandescently beautiful, nor more vulnerable. " (The Guardian)

Leanne Benjamin (Meditation)
Valeri Hristov (Meditation)
Yuhui Choe (Voices of Spring)
Alexander Campbell (Voices of Spring)
Edward Watson (Monotones II)
Tamara Rojo (Marguerite and Armand)
Sergei Polunin (Marguerite and Armand)

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House; Emmanuel Plasson

Television Director: Margaret Williams
Choreographer: Frederick Ashton

Catalogue Number: OABD7128D
Date of Performance: 2013
Running Time: 84 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Label: Opus Arte


(Marguerite & Arman) …a performance of such dramatic intensity that the audience sat in silence, as if afraid to breathe. (The Daily Telegraph)


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