University of Surrey

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A Network of Styles: Discovering the Choregraphed Movement of Frederick Ashton (1904–1988).

Morris, Geraldine. (2000) A Network of Styles: Discovering the Choregraphed Movement of Frederick Ashton (1904–1988). Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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Analysis of choreographed dance movement style has generally been neglected by ballet practitioners. The literature written by them focuses mainly on training methods and instructions for performing the movements taught in class. Whilst training is undoubtedly important, the emphasis on it has unfortunately been at the expense of choreographed dance movement. This thesis considers the choreographed dance movement style of Frederick Ashton (1904-1988) and discusses its relationship with the classroom movement from which it is derived. A model for examining the concept of dance movement style is developed from philosophical papers on style in dance and other art forms. Its focus is on the specific paradigms from which a style is drawn. Theory from cognitive science, which proposes a method for discerning stylistic patterns across an established system, is also used to support the model. For the analysis of Ashton’s dance movement, the study draws on established dance scholarship, in particular, Laban theory. First, the relationship between training and choreographed ballet movement is examined, revealing that aspects of the contemporary training systems form the basis of Ashton’s choreographed movement. This is followed by a discussion of the influence of choreographers and performers such as Bronislava Nijinska and Anna Pavlova, amongst others, and the relationship of their dance movement style to that of Ashton is considered. Ashton’s dance movement is divided into two elements: the smallest unit is the ballet step, classified by the technical term and the second comprises a cluster of movements, described as a phrase. A detailed analysis of Ashton’s ‘steps’ and phrases reveals their distinctive characteristics in terms of body use, dynamics and spatial elements and shows how they differ fundamentally from the movements described in the training systems. In the following chapter, the contribution made by dancers, such as Margot Fonteyn, Anthony Dowell, Antoinette Sibley and others with whom Ashton most frequently worked is considered. Their qualities form a distinctive aspect of the style and it is apparent that this did not develop in a linear way but altered with each dancer. As a result, the dance movement style was greatly enriched.The last chapter addresses the concept of interpretation in dance movement. It is suggested here that the sources which underpin the style, as identified in this thesis, could be used as a basis for interpretations of Ashton’s dance movement style. An approach to choreographed ballet movement is proposed which separates it from the movement used in training and shows how an understanding of the differences between the two can prevent the homogenisation of ballet movement, whilst providing abundant scope for future interpretations.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Morris, Geraldine.
Date : 2000
Additional Information : Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 2000.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 24 Apr 2020 15:27
Last Modified : 24 Apr 2020 15:27

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