BTC: The Royal Ballet’s “Tales of Beatrix Potter”

Hey, can we all pool our resources and send fresh bouquets of snapdragons n’ dafferdillies to British ballet choreographer Frederick Ashton every day for the rest of his life? Seriously:

Piggy pas de deux! Jemima Puddle-Duck on pointe!

Must. Stop. Squealing.

The original film version of Tales of Beatrix Potter, shot in 1971, has twice been staged by the Royal Ballet, once in 1992, and more recently in 2007. The score –arranged and composed by John Lanchbery– delightfully interweaves melodies from old vaudeville ditties with more classical forms. The masks, costumes and production design are all so squee-inducingly adorable as to border on the demented. But it’s the incredible range of expression and dynamicism of Ashton’s choreography that brings beloved characters like Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Squirrel Nutkin and Hunca Munca so vibrantly to life. I’d give just about anything to see a production of this at the Royal Opera House. Here’s hoping it comes back sooner than later! Meantime, there are tons of clips to watch online, and a DVD to buy.

(Still squealing. Can’t be helped.)

5 Responses to “BTC: The Royal Ballet’s “Tales of Beatrix Potter””

  1. Oscar de Winter Says:

    I remember seeing this when I was a young lad at the Royal Opera House. Such a bizarre experience. Part of me thought they were real, part of me was terrified when Squirrel Nutkin lost his tail to the owl, and part of me was expecting the Phantom to appear at any moment and steal the girl I was with. I had completely forgotten (possibly repressed) this experience.

    Thank you for reawakening these memories. I think.

    …still watching these. This is a level of tweeness that only the English could muster. I feel a swell of patriotism inside me.

  2. Matthew Sheret Says:

    I caught this, along with an awful lot more, while working front of house there for just shy of five years. The dancers had a pretty grueling time of it under those costumes, but also loved the effect it had on the audiences. It was on around Christmas, and pretty much everyone left with a huge grin and feeling a little bit closer to magic.

    The costumes themselves are from the televised original, I’m told, and they look every bit as strange and beautiful close up.

  3. Luai_lashire Says:

    That last clip was really interesting, where he was talking about the effect the costumes have on the dancers. I took ballet for four years, which isn’t much, and I never got very far, but you do learn a few things about costumes and stage lights and I was thinking to myself as I watched that those dancers must be boiling in there! And the costumes also really restrict their movements in certain directions, as he was saying in that clip- “sometimes we can’t reach fifth position”. They must be very heavy too, which makes kicks and leaps a lot harder.
    But of course without the elaborate costumes the effect wouldn’t be nearly so cool! Those things are amazing, I keep staring at them… especially the mice, fox, and squirrels.

  4. tread me underfoot Says:

    Out of all the amazing and beautiful entries on Coilhouse, THIS made me register to comment. My mum read the Tales of Beatrix Potter to me a good number of nights as a child, and I had a poster on my wall…oh, the glorious nostalgia. I WILL BE ORDERING THIS DVD.

  5. R. Says:

    I actually read it as “Battle Royale vs. Beatrix Potter”…I don’t know where that came from. Lack of sleep maybe? As usual BTC makes my day/evening much better.