Sir Frederick Ashton Festival — 'Birthday Offering,' 'Valses Nobles et Sentimentales' and 'Sinfonietta'


The third evening of the Sir Frederick Ashton Festival again opened with “Birthday Offering.” This evening’s performance of “Birthday Offering,” which is a very technically difficult ballet, featured an entirely different cast than the opening night of the festival save for Nicole Padilla, who once again astounded the audience with her incredibly strong technique pulling off perfect pirouette sequences in “Elaine Fifield” solo.

Kristianne Kleine danced with exuberance in the Rowena Jackson solo and Emily Dixon danced with a delightful quality in the Violetta Elvin solo. Danielle Brown and Ricardo Rhodes lead the cast with a regal-air that reflected the lavish ballet. Rhodes continues to demonstrate a growing technique with his turns and jumps becoming even more precise with each performance.

“Valses Nobles et Sentimentales” is a pretty piece set to music by Maurice Ravel. The stage is set with transparent screens that the dancers weave in and out of while waltzing in swirling pink long skirts. Danielle Brown and Ricardo Graziano danced the principal couple role. Graziano is a steady partner for Brown, who needed the support while Graziano and Jamie Carter promenaded Brown in à la seconde en pointe that rotated into an arabesque penchée.

Sinfonietta, which is set to music by Sir Malcolm Williamson CBE, is set in three movements. The first movement begins with two couples Kate Honea and Alex Harrison with Nicole Padilla and Juan Gil. These dancers have some the strongest technique and ability for fast and complicated footwork and it was well demonstrated here. The second movement is comprised of a dream scene where Victoria Hulland is kept afloat mid-air by five men. The third movement finale combines the two couples with an additional six couples performing a tarantella that was expertly led by Ricardo Rhodes.


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