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Joel Kasow
Fanfare, November 2012

…a tribute to Frederick Ashton featuring Les Patineurs and the atypical Scènes de Ballet, both performed with the requisite verve, the latter revealing a side to the choreographer one doesn’t often see. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, November 2012

…there is great historical significance in Ashton’s re-creation of what he remembered of Isadora Duncan’s dancing in Brahms waltzes, and Scènes de Ballet is one of the great masterpieces of 20th-century choreography. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, July 2012

…this retrospective of Ashton’s work is one of the finest ballet DVDs I’ve ever seen. To a certain extent, and despite the technical challenges of the dancing, Patineurs has dated the most, but all are worth watching, several times in fact…the camerawork here is excellent in every respect…Very highly recommended to balletomanes. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare

Joel Kasow
Fanfare, July 2012

Les Patineurs is a hardy classic…and makes a wonderful introduction to the work of one of the major choreographers of the 20th century. Meyerbeer’s catchy music inspires Ashton not only in the pas de deux with its fan lifts, but also the male solo, which is as virtuoso as can be. The dancers maintain a skating step throughout, but it is the variety of which Ashton is master that continues to astound us…with Stephen McRae as the Blue Boy and Sarah Lamb and Rupert Pennefeather as the Lovers, we can still sense the excitement of balletgoers of an earlier epoch.

Scènes de Ballet is a postwar creation that has never achieved the widespread currency of Patineurs, yet remains a signal piece in Ashton’s oeuvre…A lead couple is supported by four men and a corps of women, and the choreographer continually astounds us with the patterns he weaves. It is nonetheless fascinating to watch the Ashtonian sensibility at work, while Miyako Yoshida and Ivan Putrov show off both the music and the choreography. Ashton’s delicate references to such classics as the Rose Adagio from Sleeping Beauty cannot be missed.

The divertissements show Ashton’s craftsmanship in the “Awakening” pas de deux from Sleeping Beauty with the ravishing Darcey Bussell and Jonathan Cope; two excerpts from a wartime ballet created for American Ballet Theatre; Devil’s Holiday, especially the man’s solo eloquently danced by Viacheslav Samodurov…The Brahms is the most interesting of the lot as Ashton had seen Duncan when he was a young man, and later created his own work for Lynn Seymour. Rojo is astounding in this re-creation, as she conveys Ashton’s own impressions but also embodies much of what one has read about Duncan in other sources. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Barbara Newman
Dance Magazine, June 2012

…Frederick Ashton created a magnificently varied repertoire that has largely disappeared from the stage. The Royal Ballet’s fascinating compilation of live performances recorded by the BBC includes two complete works, Les Patineurs and Scènes de Ballet…which together celebrate the extraordinary range of his talent and imagination.

An impassioned Tamara Rojo steals the show in one of the short pieces, Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan, fusing dramatic and musical subtleties to evoke the legendary performer. Viacheslav Samodurov is equally compelling in a stately variation from the long-lost Devil’s Holiday, which weaves statuesque poses and port de bras into a vision of noble simplicity.

The four pas de deux embody distinct facets of romance, from oriental languor in Thaïs to swirling giddiness in Voices of Spring. Past stars, such as Darcey Bussell, and current favorites, such as Carlos Acosta and the effervescent Leanne Benjamin, shape each fluid phrase into the sinuous curves that Ashton prized so highly.

Les Patineurs transforms ice skating into a charming entertainment that challenges dancers to the limit…Framed by lacy arches, a lively ensemble, and two pairs of women, a couple of dreamy lovers and a male virtuoso glide across the rink by turn. They skim, spin, and jump as if absorbing their speed and power directly from the ice. Secure in his remarkable skill, Steven McRae polishes off the Blue Boy’s intricate variations with jaunty clarity, and Samantha Raine and Akane Takada as the Blue Girls bring an insouciant sparkle to their dizzying turns.

As abstract as its music, Scènes de Ballet takes dance itself as its subject, coolly adopting the rigorous architecture of Stravinsky’s tart, angular score…Ashton’s ingenuity shines through every sequence, as it does from every moment of this captivating collection. © 2012 Dance Magazine Read complete review

John Sheppard
MusicWeb International, March 2012

it is full of good things and it is all worth seeing at least once. I suspect that I will be returning to the main work and to the Isadora Duncan piece at regular intervals. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

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