Dillington re-opens and my two courses in October 2020

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Natalia Goncharova’s backcloth design for The Firebird

The good news is that Dillington House in Somerset has reopened and I have two courses running at the end of October. 

On Wednesday 28th October 2020 Stravinsky and the Ballets Russes – Exploring his first three great ballets: The Firebird, Petrouchka and The Rite of Spring.

On Thursday 29th October 2020Three Visionary Women who shaped the Story of British Ballet: Lilian Baylis, Marie Rambert and Ninette de Valois.

Dillington has worked hard to put in place measures to keep us all safe and reassure people during these strange times.  Full details will be sent when you book but here on the Dillington website is a short video explaining what is in place: The feedback from those who have already attended courses is all very positive and encouraging. 

Because of Covid restrictions Dillington has not published its normal brochure so all details are online, see links above, or of course you can call on: 01460 258648

Full details about each course follows.

Stravinsky and the Ballets Russes – Exploring his first three great ballets: The Firebird, Petrouchka and The Rite of Spring

The words Ballets Russes and Serge Diaghilev are synonymous with the extraordinary period 1909-1929 when the history of ballet changed forever. Diaghilev was neither a composer nor choreographer – his genius lay in his ability to seek out new talent and one such early discovery was Igor Stravinsky. Despairing of finding a composer for Michael Fokine’s Russian-themed ballet The Firebird, Diaghilev put his faith in the 28-year-old Stravinsky. With this commission music history was changed forever – The Firebird (1910) was quickly followed by Petrushka (1911) and The Rite of Spring (1913).

All three ballets were very Russian creations, the product of unique collaborations with the best Russia artists assembled by Diaghilev: designers Alexander Benois, Léon Bakst and Nicholas Roerich; choreographers Fokine and Nijinsky; dancers such as Karsavina, Bolm, Nijinsky and Cecchetti.

The Firebird and Petrushka have come down to us in their original form with Fokine’s choreography. Nijinsky’s original ground-breaking choreography for The Rite of Spring was lost but has been reinterpreted by many choreographers, including Kenneth MacMillan, Maurice Béjart and Pina Bausch. In 1987 the Joffrey Ballet with Millicent Hodson reconstructed Nijinsky’s ballet using archival material, photographs and commentary from books; this version gives a fascinating insight into what the audience at the infamous première in 1913 might have seen.

Presentation: this presentation is illustrated by PowerPoint slides, along with archive film clips and DVDs shown to illustrate the topic.

Three Visionary Women who shaped the Story of British Ballet: Lilian Baylis, Marie Rambert and Ninette de Valois

Lilian Baylis, Marie Rambert and Ninette de Valois

At the beginning of the 20th Century ballet in England had a tenuous foothold through ballerinas such as Danish-born Adeline Genée who brought grace and charm to the stage of the Empire Theatre in London; for ballet to flourish it needed strong roots and vision. Step forward three remarkable women: Marie Rambert, Polish by birth, Ninette De Valois, born in Ireland to an Anglo/Irish family and Lilian Baylis, born in London but her early years were spent in South Africa.

All three lives were touched by war and ill health. Their story and that of British ballet is indeed set against the backdrop of wars and turbulent times. They fought hard to overcome limited resources and to pursue their vision. That all three succeeded is remarkable; through them were laid the foundations that grew to become the three national companies we have today: English National Ballet, the two Royal Ballet companies and Rambert Dance – a remarkable legacy, along with the National Theatre and English National Opera. Plus they played a pivotal role in developing the new foundations for the teaching of ballet that led to the professional training organisations we have today, such as the Royal Academy of Dance and the Cecchetti Society.

Their story will touch on many of the people who helped them or where discovered by them, including Frederick Ashton, John Maynard Keynes, Lydia Lopokova, Tamara Karsavina, Edouard Espinosa, Nikolai Legat, Enrico Cecchetti, Serafina Astafieva, Alicia Markova, Anton Dolin, Margot Fonteyn, Robert Helpmann, Beryl Grey, and many more.

Presentation: this presentation is illustrated by PowerPoint slides, along with archive film clips and DVDs shown to illustrate the topic.

Other dates at Dillington for your diary …

Wednesday 17th February 2021: Diaghilev’s Women: Four Women of influence in a man’s world – A ballerina, a choreographer, an artist and a patroness.  The ballerina Tamara Karsavina, the ballerina/choreographer Bronislava Ninjinska, the designer Natalia Goncharova and the patroness Misia Sert.

Thursday 18th February 2021: Martha Graham and Agnes de Mille – two greats who shaped American dance

Wednesday 7th April 2021: American joy – the ballets of Paul Taylor and Mark Morris (NB postponed from June 2020)

Thursday 8th April 2021: How ballet shaped the American stage and film musical (NB postponed from June 2020)

Thursday 3rd June 2021: Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin Britain’s first ballet superstars; 70 years ago they founded Festival Ballet with the help of Polish impresario Julian Braunsweg

Friday 4th June 2021: Two titans who shaped the history of ballet: the American impresario Lincoln Kirstein, and British composer/conductor Constant Lambert.  Two great ballet companies, New York City Ballet and The Royal Ballet, owe a huge debt to these extraordinary men of the 20th century

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