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Customer Review

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EASILY THE BEST VERSION: Coleman and Collier are perfect for Ashton, 14 Dec. 2009
This review is from: La Fille Mal Gardée [DVD] [1981] [2001] (DVD)
Now this one's a cracker.

It's the most entertaining ballet in the repertoire, it doesn't date and it doesn't tire. There are some comments on here about the look of the production: some people say it looks 'dated' - well, that's the whole point. The decor, which is 100% traditional, and by a very English cartoonist (Osbert Lancaster), is not afraid to send itself up a bit, and the ballet is hazily nostalgic in a countryside that could never exist except in our fondest imaginings. It's all the more glorious because of it. (If you don't believe me, ask yourself how many times you have seen chickens dancing!)

There are now quite a few versions of the ballet available on DVD. Think carefully before leaping for your wallet. 'La Fille Mal Gardee' was created for the Royal Ballet by Sir Frederick Ashton, so I'd go for this one that was produced in 1981 - during his lifetime. It has all Ashton's hallmarks, and it's far and away the best and most enjoyable performance.

Some people of course will go for the more recent DVD featuring (or rather 'starring') Carlos Acosta, simply because they've heard of him. Let's face it, he's good at publicity in the way that a lot of modern stars are good at publicity - and the Royal Ballet has been quick to cash in on this. He's also very showy, and a crowd-pleaser - but he's not really suitable for 'La Fille Mal Gardee'. (While he may be excellent in certain roles, nobody could accuse him of being subtle, and subtlety is something you need by the bucketload with an Ashton ballet. You certainly need it with 'Fille' - and you also have to look as though you don't mind dancing with lengths of ribbon. I can't help feeling that Acosta finds ribbon a bit of a challenge to his macho image.)

There are no such problems with Michael Coleman in this earlier BBC production. He is perfect for the role of Colas, and the lovely Lesley Collier (Lise) is fortunate in her partner, who has warmth and tenderness stamped all over him. Coleman also executes the bravura bits to spectacular perfection, and if you want to see more of his leaps and jumps, have a look at his performance of Jeremy Fisher in 'The Tales of Beatrix Potter' - a delightful feature film with some exquisite dancing, also created by Ashton.

'La Fille Mal Gardee' is here conducted by John Lanchberry, who adapted Herold's original score - and he milks it for all it's worth, obviously relishing every swipe of his baton. This is ballet to enjoy on every level: chickens, clog-dancing widows, village idiots, haymaking peasants - all human life is here, wrapped up in the dusty warmth of a summer afternoon, and you'll need a box of tissues handy for the romantic bits. They never fail.

Trust me: this is one for the collection - give me vintage Collier and Coleman every time!
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Feb 2011 13:48:39 GMT
Last edited by the author on 21 Feb 2011 13:49:25 GMT
Oyarsa says:
Thanks for your review who helped me last year on buying my version of Fille... I'm so happy with this. I think I've seen it about a dozen times now and I got the copy only in September.

I got a chance of watching the new version this weekend and believe me if I say that even with the macho thing, I did enjoy Acosta more than Nuñez. I think the tempo is slower in the new one for Lise's parts just because Nuñez, as good dancer as she is, don't get the speedy footwork here. And she's too soft in my view. And I realized that she also has problems with ribbons :-)
The editing is also poor in places I believe. So I'm more than happy that I got the older and fantastic Fille.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Mar 2011 18:42:49 GMT
Green Knight says:
Hello - many thanks for your fascinating comment on my review. I must confess it had never occurred to me about the tempo because I haven't watched the two versions side by side. I am very fond of the older version (as you are, too, I am happy to see) and my problem with Acosta really is one of personality, not his ability as a dancer. There is something about him that I simply do not warm to.
How nice to read your comment - thanks again. carry on enjoying Coleman/Collier - and do have a look at 'Beatrix Potter' - Coleman is extraordinary.

Posted on 13 Feb 2016 12:32:56 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Feb 2016 12:38:20 GMT
Georgina says:
Thank you for this review. They may have been a partnership from the 70's, but it was a golden era for our "home grown" dancers and that still shines through all these years later. I saw them dance this at Covent Garden so many times, always funny and brilliant. Sadly I don't think there is much DVD evidence of a lot of Coleman's work, Jeremy Fisher was brilliant, but he was fantastic as Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, as "Death" in Song of the earth, and as Des Grieux in Manon. I could go on! Michael is still dancing - character roles with English National Ballet - and at 75 still has that magic he always had! Yes I have been a fan for a long time - 40 years now, but that era of dancers will always be with me in so many fond and wonderful memories. I've got the original VHS video of "Fille" but am now looking forward to getting the DVD.
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