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Sir Frederick Aston’s Monotones I & II….

July 4, 2013

Monotones I

Emma Magiure, Akane Takada & Dawid Trzensmiech
Choreography: Sir Frederick Ashton
Music: Erik Satie (Trois Gnossiennes)
Recorded Live at the Royal Opera House (London) on February 21, 2013

Monotones II

Marianela Núñez, Nehemiah Kish & Edward Watson
Choreography: Sir Frederick Ashton
Music: Erik Satie (Trois Gymnopédies)
Recorded Live at the Royal Opera House (London) on February 21, 2013

Sir Frederick Ashton (1904-88) was the founding choreographer of The Royal Ballet.  Monotones II was first created as a gala piece for the gala performance in aid of the Royal Ballet Benevolent Fund in 1965.

Monotones I and II  display some of Sir Frederick Ashton’s most modernist choreography. Monotones II was created first and given its premiere at the Royal Opera House in 1965, accompanied by Satie’s Trois Gymnopédies (1888).

A year later (1966) Sir Ashton created a second piece (Monotones I) to Satie’s Trois Gnossiennes (1888). The two were presented together the following year (1967). Satie’s Préludes d’Eginhard  (1893) was played as an overture.

Monotones I opens with a slow, serene pas de trois in a wonderful example of adagio classicism. The dancers remain on stage throughout the entire work, with their smooth lines of movement unbroken.  Monotones II features another pas de trois that mirrors the controlled movements of the first. Satie’s delicate music, coupled with Ashton’s beautiful choreography, is wonderfully haunting.

When the original ‘Monotones’ pas de trois (1965) was taken into the repertoire of The Royal Ballet, Ashton created another pas de trois to be performed before the original, creating a longer work. Since then, when the original 1965 work is performed on its own, it is often called   ‘Monotones II’ or ‘Monotones No. 2’. (The pas de trois added in 1966 has not been performed on its own.)


Monotones II (1965)

Premiere 1965 performance of Monotones II danced by Vyvyan Lorrayne, Anthony Dowell & Robert Mead

Monotones I (1966)

Premiere1966 performance of Monotones I danced by Antoinette SibleyGeorgina Parkinson & Brian Shaw.

Monotones I & II were first performed together in 1967

The Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, England


From → Dance History, Video

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