Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Ballets: Ashton's The Dream


Recommended Posts

I had an interesting conversation with my fitter today (with the Husband involved a little too, which was refreshing!), about the efficacy, and general success of converting Shakespeare's work to ballet, particularly Frederick Ashton's "The Dream."

 

As a (mostly) Medieval and (some) Renaissance "Scholar-in-training," I am of the camp that Shakespeare, when read critically OR for simply enjoyment, is successful largely largely due to Shakespeare's near-perfect word smithing; his use of language that sets the tone of each section of his plays.

 

Due in part to the nuance of his language, our discussion centered on whether or not it could be properly translated into a ballet beyond plot. One of the arguments was that dance often has so many "obvious" clues as to what's going on, such as "let's dance" or "let's fight." Also, one question was about the ability to truly convey the aspect of a "play within a play" on stage.

 

I am a firm believer in ballet conveying more than just " ballet" sign language" and pretty steps on stage, and perhaps my question is not simply about whether or not Ashton "got" The Dream, but is instead more about WHAT a dancer should be thinking about when a) trying to convey a story (as so many ballet's were based in folk-tales) as well as something that, in print, is considered a "high" form of literature by most literary circles.

 

Are there difference criteria? Can Shakespeare, or for that matter any established literature, be translated to stage? What do you think is lost or gained in the transformation? The play is clearly very long; why is the ballet so (relatively) short? Besides the technical aspect of dancing and obviously not repeating the lines, how is a ballet of Shakespeare different from a play? What are the dancers conjuring or brining out of the play?

 

Lots of questions, I know, but this has been on my mind a lot as I am dancing Hermia, just for fun, for a local ballet studio in my parent's home town. I'm not really looking for "advice" here, just a lively discussion about one of my favorite ballets!

Link to comment
  • 1 year later...
Guest Azelzion
why is the ballet so (relatively) short? Besides the technical aspect of dancing and obviously not repeating the lines, how is a ballet of Shakespeare different from a play? What are the dancers conjuring or brining out of the play?

 

Lots of questions, I know, but this has been on my mind a lot as I am dancing Hermia, just for fun, for a local ballet studio in my parent's home town. I'm not really looking for "advice" here, just a lively discussion about one of my favorite ballets!

 

I am very familiar with Ashton's "The Dream" because when the Joffrey Ballet did it in, I think 1974, I taught it (from the Benesh notation score) to the Joffrey dancers, every day, 9-5 for two weeks. Sir John Hart from Covent Garden was directing it and I taught all the steps. The ballet lasts exactly 50 min. with a huge cast. I can give you the cast if you want but they've all retired now, or have died. YOu say you are or have danced Harmia. Those scenes with the 4 lovers were very difficult to stage. I remember having to ask often during rehearsals, "which one are you - Hermia or Helena?" to be sure they were in correct places.

However, I'm curious. You say you are or have been (I don't know how old your posting is) that the production is for a local ballet studio. Surely it could not be the Ashton version, which would be illegal. That is copyright material and even so, Ashton was always very particular which companies could do his work and certainly never a school. Joffrey was fortunate as Ashton loved his company. (I also taught his Monotones 1&2 for Joffrey).

So it must be your teacher's own version. I would be interested to know more about it. Richka

Link to comment
  • Administrators

The post by bluebillie was in May of 2008, however, the poster is still active on the board, so hopefully she will respond here. :)

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...