A season of five famous ballets from The Royal Ballet company is currently being screened at Cinema Nouveau theatres. The season launched with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in March, Swan Lake in May, and Romeo and Juliet in June. The fourth production to be shown on the big screen is La Fille mal gardée (The Wayward Daughter), the beloved rural comedy from choreographer Frederick Ashton.
Conceived by Ashton as “…A life in the country of eternally late spring, a leafy pastorale of perpetual sunshine and the humming of bees…”, this quintessentially British production and one of The Royal Ballet’s most beloved works, releases exclusively at Cinema Nouveau theatres on Saturday, 27 June, for limited screenings.
Frederick Ashton’s final full-length ballet is one of his most joyous creations, inspired by his love for the Suffolk countryside. It is based on an 1828 French ballet and the music was adapted by John Lanchbery from Ferdinand Herold’s original score. La Fille mal gardée was a resounding success on its premiere in 1960 and has remained a firm favourite in The Royal Ballet’s repertory.
La Fille displays some of Ashton’s most virtuosic choreography – the youthful passion of Lise (danced by principal Natalia Osipova, who danced the role of the Black and White Swans in the recent production of Swan Lake) and her lover, Colas (danced by Steven McRae), is expressed in a series of energetic pas de deux.
The ballet is laced with good humour as a whirl of dancing chickens, grouchy guardians and halfwit suitors take to the stage. Ashton affectionately incorporated elements of national folk dance into his choreography, from a Lancashire clog dance to a traditional maypole dance, making La Fille mal gardée (despite its title) The Royal Ballet’s most emphatically English work. Osbert Lancaster’s colourful designs reinforce the robust wit of the production.
First performed in 1960 at the Royal Opera House, La Fille mal gardée showcases a wealth of delightful and challenging choreography. The virtuoso dancing has colourful injections of folk dancing and music hall traditions, noticeably seen in the famous Widow Simone (danced by Philip Mosley) clog dance and the symbolic ribbon pas de deux (pas de ruban), which showcase Ashton’s genius as a choreographer and the distinctive English balletic style he shaped. This iconic British ballet, complete with dancing chickens and a live Shetland pony on stage(!), is perfect entertainment for newcomers and ballet lovers of all ages.
The lead virtuoso roles of Lise and Colas combine dazzling technique and touchingly human details that have won audiences over for more than 50 years. The story begins with the feisty Lise about to be married off by her over-protective mother, Widow Simone. Not wishing to marry the simple-witted Alain (danced by Paul Kay), Lise makes several attempts to run off with her true love, Colas. Fortunately, a summer thunderstorm proves the catalyst for the lovers’ eventual union as true love wins the day.
This in-cinema production releases exclusively at Cinema Nouveau on Saturday, 27 June, for limited screenings.