The rich ballroom dancing of La Valse is a homage to the vanished world of 19th-century Imperial Viennese waltzes. Two gorgeous and contrasting pieces follow with Thaïs pas de deux and Voices Of Spring pas de deux. The first is a delicate, emotional love duet to Massenet’s poignant ‘Méditation’ from his opera Thaïs. The second is a joyous, virtuoso occasion piece originally created for The Royal Opera’s 1977 production of Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus.

We then find Ashton at his most abstract and modernist in Monotones I and II – an otherworldly distillation, in two pas de trois, of Erik Satie’s exquisite Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes. The programme concludes with Marguerite And Armand. The well-known story from Dumas fils’s La Dame aux caméllias, the music (Liszt’s torrential Sonata in B Minor), beautiful designs by Cecil Beaton and unrivalled romantic frisson between the two Principal dancers make this one of Ashton’s most passionate creations.

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