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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful example of art concealing art -a mesmerising display of pure beauty
This disc, recorded in 2013, is a fascinating selection of Ashton's work and illustrates very clearly what an influence he had in the creation of a British ballet concept. If the intention was to showcase a number of short self-contained ballets to demonstrate his range and versatility primarily through the combined talents of members of the current ballet company, it is...
Published 17 months ago by I. Giles

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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ashton Celebration dvd
Not one that I would watch a etime - the dancing is good but quite boring, though of course the Rojo Marguerite and Armand makes up for it. Many much better Royal Ballet dvds are available.
Published 19 months ago by M. Maeve


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful example of art concealing art -a mesmerising display of pure beauty, 18 Nov. 2013
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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This disc, recorded in 2013, is a fascinating selection of Ashton's work and illustrates very clearly what an influence he had in the creation of a British ballet concept. If the intention was to showcase a number of short self-contained ballets to demonstrate his range and versatility primarily through the combined talents of members of the current ballet company, it is has been a success.

The 15 minutes of brief interviews and comments on each of the features ballets and Frederick Ashton's legacy to British ballet make for an interesting snapshot summary. The points that come over most strongly and consistently are Ashton's focus on graceful action achieved through action above the legs. In other words he required dancers to use the whole body and not just focus on feet and legs. This had the effect of favouring shorter dancers in contrast to Ballanchine's leg focus which favoured taller dancers for example. The other point that was repeatedly made by all the interviewed dancers was that this made it more demanding and physically tiring than choreography devised by others. They all felt that it was also very fulfilling and rewarding as an experience.

The five featured short ballets make a satisfying program and nicely illustrate all these points. The disc opens with La Valse which is really the only ballet featured for the corps de ballet plus groups. Ravel's original idea for this music was to illustrate the increasing degeneration of the modern world and its eventual collapse. This is quite clearly portrayed in his music. Ashton's setting goes some way towards this conclusion without the finale being as extreme. There is emphasis, as always, on beautiful costuming and movement with artistic balance being maintained at all times even as it speeds up remorselessly. Closing the curtain at the same time as the music ends is the stage equivalent to a fade -out device on a pop record as it avoids the true ending as Ravel intended.

The following Meditation is a lovely example of poised beauty and line held seamlessly throughout by Leanne Benjamin and Vasko Vassilev. All the Ashton characteristics as described above are to the fore throughout. That is also true of the two Monotone ballets featuring two trios of dancers who have to work independently to achieve group unity. This is a very demanding requirement and is wonderfully done by Emma Maguire, Akane Takada., David Trzensimiech, Nehemiah Kish, Edward Watson and Marianela Nunez.

Voices of Spring is a delightful piece of highly artistic 'fluff' not surprisingly popular with young dancers especially. As mentioned in the interview, they then quickly discover its enormous challenges. These include the requirement of great strength and stamina for the numerous lifts from the male dancer, Alexander Campbell on this occasion, and artless femininity from the female dancer, on this disc apparently effortlessly achieved by Yuhui Choe.

The evening probably belonged to Tamaro Rojo though with her swan song as Marguerite, Traviata-like, doomed in her love with Armand, danced by Sergei Polunin. These two magically suspended disbelief throughout their tragic story and not a sound could be detected from a packed audience as the inevitable end approached. The increasingly ecstatic applause that erupted and constant rain of flowers that continued beyond the playing time of the disc did not hide the emotionally taxing effect on Rojo of, first the story, and then her own final curtain call. Carlos Accosta was also there to join in the applause on stage.

This disc therefore is largely a celebratory event. It celebrates Sir Frederick Ashton, his influence on the Royal Ballet and also includes a celebratory final role for Tamara Rojo. The chosen program is effective in these ways even if not everyone's first choice either of ballets or particular dancers. It is still a memorable disc.

The camera work displays both full stage and detailed shots that are sympathetic to Ashton's concepts. The orchestra is on top form under Emmanuel Plasson and one must also mention the fine piano playing of Robert Clark. The imaging is crisp and provides fabulously subtle colour range and the sound is presented in excellent DTD 5.0 as well as sa stereo option. The extras are as described in paragraph two.

I would suggest that this disc is likely to provide a great deal of enjoyment and satisfaction to admirers of Ashton, the Royal Ballet and its dancers including the ones highlighted in the course of this review which is based on the Blu-ray version in surround mode.

........................................

Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:

Excellent Review, Ian!
Please check my Comment on Satish Kamath's Review of the Dutch Nutcracker - you are mentioned! (U.K. review)

............................................
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting collection of Ashton works, 3 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Ashton Celebration [Artists of the Royal Ballet, Emmanuel Plasson] [Opus Arte: OA1116D] [DVD] [2013] [NTSC] (DVD)
This DVD contains a recording of an evening's mixed bill of Ashton works. It also happened to be made on the night of Rojo's farewell performance at Covent Garden.
I personally find the quality and interest to be as mixed as the styles of the works. First up is La Valse, a corps de ballet piece to Ravel's music. I love it!
Then follow two of Ashton's best known gala pieces, the Meditation from Thais and Voices of Spring. These two pas de deux are very nicely performed by three first soloists and one principal, but suffer by comparison with the versions on the other recently released DVD of Asthon's work where they are performed by experienced principal couples.
Then comes Monotones I and II. My feeling about these abstract pieces is that here is the master choreographer showing every one else how to do it. The performances, by a mixture of up and coming soloists and established principals are splendid: I could sit and watch this all day.
Lastly comes Marguerite and Armand, Rojo's farewell with guest artist Sergei Polunin. Although there are some stunning moments, I wasn't convinced by this piece. The narrative doesn't make sense unless you know the story, though I suppose many people do so perhaps that isn't a big problem. But there's something lacking. I think Ashton didn't want any one except Fonteyn and Nureyev to perform this work because he thought no one else would have the chemistry to carry it. Sadly, I think he was right.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rojo's emotional farewell - and more, 3 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Ashton Celebration [Artists of the Royal Ballet, Emmanuel Plasson] [Opus Arte: OA1116D] [DVD] [2013] [NTSC] (DVD)
I bought this because I knew Tamara Rojo's farewell performance would be memorable and this is such a dramatic yet compact ballet. And the fact that she lured Sergei Polunin back to London to be her partner certainly said something special about what he would bring to the production. Make sure you watch until the very end of the credits!! The other ballets were beautiful and precise - the Royal Ballet at its best.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rare gems, 27 May 2014
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Lovely and rarely seen ballet shorts, a "must have" for ballet enthusiasts. I am very pleased to have discovered it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Moving Live Performance, 7 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Ashton Celebration [Artists of the Royal Ballet, Emmanuel Plasson] [Opus Arte: OA1116D] [DVD] [2013] [NTSC] (DVD)
Voices of Spring and Meditation from Thais are on an earlier DVD of Ashton's works but the jewel of this one is Marguerite and Armand (danced by Tamara Rojo and Sergei Polunin.) This brought tears to my eyes when I saw it live and thie DVD of it is very moving.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, 11 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Ashton Celebration [Artists of the Royal Ballet, Emmanuel Plasson] [Opus Arte: OA1116D] [DVD] [2013] [NTSC] (DVD)
I actually saw this programme at the Royal Opera House and I am delighted to see it again on this DVD. Excellent.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ashton Celebration, 9 Sept. 2013
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A wonderful performance of many outstanding Ashton works. I particularly enjoyed "Voices of Spring", which features the enchanting Yuhui Choe. Also an opportunity to see Sergei Polunin in "Marguerite and Armand", originally choreographed for Rudolph Nureyev.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 27 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Ashton Celebration [Artists of the Royal Ballet, Emmanuel Plasson] [Opus Arte: OA1116D] [DVD] [2013] [NTSC] (DVD)
Not at this time, but later''.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 3 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Ashton Celebration [Artists of the Royal Ballet, Emmanuel Plasson] [Opus Arte: OA1116D] [DVD] [2013] [NTSC] (DVD)
Beautiful Royal Ballet program about the genius of Ashton. I suggest to all loves art-ballet.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ashton Ballets, 1 Oct. 2013
By 
Mr. J. R. STEPHENS "BOOK WORM" (CAMBERLEY SURREY) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ashton Celebration [Artists of the Royal Ballet, Emmanuel Plasson] [Opus Arte: OA1116D] [DVD] [2013] [NTSC] (DVD)
I was wonderfully reminded just what a genius Sir Fred was/is . I am biaised mind you in having known Sir Fred when he was alive and in the1970s and onward . He was the most extraordinary man and one I would sit down with for a meal or whatever . My greatest memory was in the early 1970s when he along with Margot Fonteyn , Georgina Parkinson and David Wall were going to Brazil . I was working for the Brazilian Airline VARIG . We used to TWA VIP room for our illustrious clients and this group from The Royal Opera House were deemed as high ranking and representatives of Ballet in England . Sir Fred , , never one to ' hold-back ' on ceremony, picked up a large portion ... tin of Caviar and proceeded to eat the said Caviar with a gold spoon given to him by Queen Elizabeth the Queens Mother . Such a remarkable Man and Choreographer . His whims and fantasies showed themselves in his wonderful Ballets especially La Fille mal Garde.... in the Clog dance he danced along side the great Australian ballet dancer , creating a wonderful and prestigious act to follow . No-one could match their incredible mastery of his steps and nooone ( in my estimation ) could match his humour . Such romantisism . He nearly always had a sequence where dancing with ribbons was set . Pure excellence and sorely missed and possibly never matched save Kenneth McMillan .
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