David Bintley, a choreographic successor to Ashton, drew on the Variations on a Theme by Hindemith by William Walton — a friend of Ashton’s – for his elegant Tombeaux (1993).
Just as its music has been described as a ‘conversation’ between two composers, so the choreography – beautifully poised and delicately detailed – is a quintessentially English dialogue between classical tradition and contemporary interpretation.
Enigma Variations returns with Elgar’s much-loved score and Ashton’s 1968 interpretations of the composer’s ‘friends pictured within’, here in performances dedicated to its designer, the late Julia Trevelyan Oman. The meticulous period imagery and carefully drawn characterizations evoke Elgar’s Worcestershire home in 1898: a world in reality long past, but with an ever-present shade of fond memory.
MacMillan’s 1962 interpretation of The Rite of Spring, Stravinsky’s modernist masterpiece, concludes the bill with a work Ashton greatly admired: full of power and striking imagery, its portrayal of pagan sacrifice with the Chosen Maiden at its ritual heart, remains as thrilling as ever.
Find out more about the rich variety of West End shows on offer in Theatreland.