In one of the most elegant, poetic and precise pieces of criticism I’ve read this year The Observer’s Luke Jennings sums up the essence of Ashton’s ‘Les Patineurs’ in a single paragraph:
‘Les Patineurs’, Frederick Ashton’s 1938 skating ballet, knows exactly when to call it a day. It ends with one of the most unforgettable images in the Royal Ballet repertoire: the Blue Boy, here danced by the brilliant Steven McRae, whirling round and round in a seemingly endless pirouette in the twilight. It’s a sequence charged with the joy of youth, but also with the edge of sadness that one encounters again and again in Ashton’s ballets. The heart-catching knowledge that all this must pass. That life, like a ballet performance, is an evanescent thing, to be seized before all is darkness. And all of this is expressed in a pirouette à la seconde, a step which, to a dancer of McRae’s accomplishment, can be dashed off almost without thought. But context is everything, and in his blazing determination to resist the dying of the light, McRae captures Ashton’s art and makes it his own.”
The double-bill of Les Patineurs and Tales of Beatrix Potter continues until 10th January at the Royal Opera House
Photo credit: Tristram Kenton
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.