Spring is here! Oh wait…no.

8 Sep

I’m currently in the process of switching things over to my shiny, new MacBook so things are a little helter-skelter.  I find myself without some resources and definitely lacking in brainpower.  This was most evident in my futile efforts to accomplish just about anything yesterday.  The day started out grand enough, thinking I would take a morning class at Pacific Northwest Ballet, but lo and behold adult classes wouldn’t start for another day.  No harm done, a decent stroll (twelve blocks, though the walk back is uphill and less…charming) and I had other errands for the day so I went back to my apartment, changed into real people clothes and set about my business, which included stopping by d’Ambrosio Gelato to drop off a résumé.  So I walk again for sixteen blocks this time to catch a bus that goes to Ballard, and what do you know…I forgot my wallet.  Another trek back to the apartment, and I set off for a third time.

After treating myself to pistachio and biscotti flavored gelatos, I set off for the library downtown to pick up books on Frederick Ashton…after all, it’s Ashton month!  Okay, just kidding, last month was technically Ashton month, but really there’s no such thing as Ashton month, and it’s just “Ashton life.” Anyway the library should really just give the Ashton books to me because I’m the only person that bothers checking them out, but I’ll share.  I was really excited because last week the ladies over at The Ballet Bag posted a new video of Frederick Ashton’s Voices of Spring pas de deux, and I wanted to learn more about it.  While lugging the two tomes back home, much to my chagrin I discovered both books were published before Voices of Spring premiered (one of them only a year before!). Fortunately, David Vaughan, author of Frederick Ashton And His Ballets also has a website that lists the chronology of Ashton’s works and Voices of Spring premiered in 1977 as a part of Ashton’s choreography for the Royal Opera’s production of Die Fledermaus. It didn’t officially take the title of Voices of Spring until a gala performance in Los Angeles the next year, although I was much more pleased to read that it made its debut as Voices of Spring at the Royal Opera House on April 2nd, 1981.  Why?  April 2nd is my birthday!  That’s the second Ashton ballet (the first being The Dream) to share its debut date at Covent Garden with my date of birth.  The point is, I hauled ass with those books that weigh more than I do and ended up with no further information on the actual piece I wanted to research.

Since I couldn’t find any history on the piece to discuss, it looks like I’m going to have to fly solo.  First of all, it has to be said that nobody, and I mean nobody does a cheerful waltz like Johann Strauss II.  The famous overture has long been a regular in my iPod, and if neither that nor Voices of Spring (aka, Frühlingsstimmen—isn’t German fun?) are able to put a smile on your face, you are truly dead on the inside.  There isn’t a particularly complex idea behind the piece; it’s a celebration of springtime.  While dissimilar from Bournonville stylistically, I do find that it evokes a similar buoyancy and delight to his work (and not just because his Flower Festival in Genzano appears in the related videos!).  Ashton’s work has more symmetry here, with the dancers posing in crossed attitudes and arabesques as well as more free-flowing arm movements overall.  I love the sort of “skipping” leaps he choreographed, with the man carrying the woman as she appears to weightlessly bound from one leg to another.  For me it evokes this image of a fluffy dandelion seed just barely touching the ground before being picked up by the wind again.  Even though the male dancer is physically supporting her, I still find the ballerina to have a certain intangibility, like if you were to try and catch her out of the air you’d open your hands to find nothing, just as dandelion seeds always seem to evade our grasp.

I am a huge fan of Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg’s performance of Voices of Spring.  She is almost sickeningly saccharine and Kobborg is the kind of man who could probably at age fifty still convince you he’s a young lad, as if he and Alina met at this spring festival and were crushing on each other for the first time…circa, age ten.  Just the grin he has when they burst onto the stage, Alina in the air with rose petals fluttering behind them (props being a must for an Ashton ballet) leads you to believe in their youth and innocent bliss.  How could you not chuckle at Alina’s cheeky little moment where she lifts one arm and when Johan pushes it down she lifts the other?  I kept sighing with nostalgia, wishing I could be at that age where frolicking in meadows and mischief were acceptable and didn’t result in physical strain or reprimanding.  The only real disappointment to the piece is that it’s much too short and the way it builds in speed at the end is almost cruel in that there’s no extended fast section to close.

For anyone who didn’t already see the dance, enjoy:

Realizing that this entry is a little short, I shall flesh out the end with a music request (haven’t done one of these in a while!).  As I work on transferring music from computer to computer, one of the first pieces to make the maiden voyage onto the MacBook was Antonín Dvořák’s String Quartet No.12 in F major.  It’s often referred to as the “American quartet” based on the timing of its creation (Dvořák was in rural Iowa during that summer).  It has for movements with these wonderful pastoral moments and although not to waltz tempi, I can sort of visualize this music as something similar to Voices of Spring…except summery instead.  If there’s anyone out there in the world who choreographs something to this music (or maybe already has) I would love to see it.  Voices of Summer perhaps?

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3 Responses to “Spring is here! Oh wait…no.”

  1. robin September 8, 2010 at 6:38 pm #

    ♥♥♥♥♥

    hmm… the first thing i ever choreographed was to dvorak, but not this piece 🙂

    • youdancefunny September 8, 2010 at 8:56 pm #

      No time like the present!

      • robin September 9, 2010 at 11:38 am #

        hey, you never know………

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