The Dream: a triple bill of works by master choreographer Frederick Ashton

The DreamCelebrating the life and legacy of one of the greatest choreographers of the 20th century, The Australian Ballet presents The Dream: a triple bill of works by master choreographer Frederick Ashton, playing at Arts Centre Melbourne from 4 June, before performances at the Adelaide Festival Centre from 8 July.

The program opens with two Ashton gems, which showcase the choreographer delighting in music and airy movement, athletic physicality and poetic elegance. Monotones II, last performed in 1979, is a stripped-back masterpiece made famous by its breathtaking pas de trois (dance for three), set to Erik Satie’s ethereal music. For the first time this year the company performs Symphonic Variations, a piece made famous for its physical demands on the dancer and a work that showed Ashton could master the space of a huge stage.

Audiences are then invited into Ashton’s enchanted forest with The Dream, his critically acclaimed take on Shakespeare’s most charming comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, last performed by the Company in 1978. The fate of humans and fairies are hilariously entwined in a flowery bower designed for The Royal Ballet’s original 1960s production.

Ashton traces the tangled love lines of the characters with warmth and wit, and Mendelssohn provides the perfect soundtrack, as performed by The Australian Opera and Ballet orchestra, for his elegant, playful choreography.

The unusual dominance of male roles in the three-piece production allows male dancers Kevin Jackson, Adam Bull and Brett Chynoweth to shine. In a spectacular show of agility and athleticism, they bring a fresh dynamism and vitality to the English choreographer’s vision of this classic tale, including the use of pointe shoes for men.

Sir Frederick Ashton was one of the most influential choreographers of the mid-20th century creating works that embodied ‘British Ballet’. His ballets have been danced across the globe and were a huge part of the early repertoire of The Australian Ballet.

“I am so pleased to have these three magnificent works that show the range of his work, from the paired back abstraction of Monotones II to the gloriously romantic plushness of The Dream,” says Artistic Director, David McAllister.

“The staging of Symphonic Variations is a first for our company and adds one of Sir Fred’s most loved works to our repertoire, around 50 years after we performed our first Ashton Ballet.”

The Dream (1964)
Choreography: Frederick Ashton
Music: Felix Mendelssohn – orchestrated by John Lanchbery

Monotones II (1965)
Choreography: Frederick Ashton
Music: Erik Satie – orchestrated by Claude Debussy and Alexis Roland-Manuel

Symphonic Variations (1946)
Choreography: Frederick Ashton
Directed, supervised and staged: Wendy Ellis Somes and Malin Thoors
Music: César Franck

The Dream: a triple bill of works by master choreographer Frederick Ashton
State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 4 – 13 June 2015
Bookings: 1300 182 183 or online at: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au

Festival Theatre – Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Season: 8 – 9 July 2015
Bookings: 13 12 46 or online at: www.adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au

For more information, visit: www.australianballet.com.au for details.

Image: The Dream – photo by Daniel Boud

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