Posted on October 10, 2011
The Frederick Ashton Foundation, set up to perpetuate the choreographer’s work and legacy, was launched on October 8.
The new Foundation will be based at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where Ashton worked for much of his career. It will have a close association with the existing Ashton ballet copyright holders (the Ashton Trust) and will, among its other activities, work with them to develop the skills of those who will be registered to teach, coach and stage Ashton’s ballets in the future.
Monica Mason, director of The Royal Ballet, welcomed the initiative, saying: “It is of paramount importance that, as founder choreographer of The Royal Ballet, Ashton’s choreographic legacy can be safeguarded for future generations and the rights holders of his works can be supported by the Foundation’s activities.”
Immediate aims of the Foundation include establishing an online Ashton Archive, to include filming relevant work in the studio, masterclasses and interviews with those who worked with Ashton. It will support writers and archivists to carry out research in connection with Ashton, cataloguing written and photographic material. Written, photographic and film archive material will be catalogued, with plans to make the catalogue and as much of the original material as possible available to the dance sector and the wider public through the online archive.
The Foundation will support several upcoming projects, open to the public. On November 2, an insight evening at the Royal Opera House will be held in conjunction with the Royal Academy’s current exhibition Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement. The evening will include a section of Ashton’s 1932 work Foyer de danse, reconstructed by Christopher Newton and Ursula Hageli.
On November 10, The Royal Ballet in Rehearsal will show the company at work on Ashton’s Enigma Variations.
In March 2012, at Birmingham Hippodrome, a Birmingham Royal Ballet rehearsal of Ashton’s The Two Pigeons will be filmed, supported by the Foundation. On April 11, another Royal Ballet In Rehearsal Event will focus on La Fille mal gardée.
In November 2011, Opus Arte will release a DVD of Ashton ballets, including divertissements, Scènes de ballet and Les Patineurs.
The establishment of the Foundation has been made possible by a generous donation from The Tomlinson Family Trust. Lindsay and Sarah Tomlinson will become founding patrons of the Foundation, together with ROH chief executive Tony Hall and vice-president of The Royal Ballet Lady Sarah Chatto.
The first trustees of the Foundation, who are also directors of the limited company, will be Tony Dyson, David Bintley (director of Birmingham Royal Ballet and of the National Ballet of Japan), Felicity Clark (member of the advisory council of The Royal Ballet School), Jeanetta Laurence (associate director of The Royal Ballet), Monica Mason, Kevin O’Hare (administrative director of The Royal Ballet and director-elect) and Anthony Russell-Roberts, Ashton’s nephew. The executive director will be Christopher Nourse (governor of The Royal Ballet).
Picture: Steven McRae and Roberta Marquez in La Fille mal gardee. Photograph: Tristram Kenton, by courtesy of the Royal Opera House