Rose Adagio. West Australian Ballet 1971

As part of my current research project into the career of Kristian Fredrikson, I came across four designs in the National Library’s Fredrikson collection labelled Sleeping Beauty Act I.  They were for four Princes: English, Indian, Russian and Saracen and so were clearly for the ‘Rose Adagio’. But I was a little puzzled by them as they were not for the Stanton Welch version of Beauty, which Welch choreographed for the Australian Ballet in 2005 and which was designed by Fredrikson. I was not aware of another Sleeping Beauty with Fredrikson designs.

The English Prince had the name DeMasson written on the back and Paul De Masson kindly identified the costume as one he wore while a dancer with West Australian Ballet. He recalled that in the 1970s he had partnered Elaine Fifield in the ‘Rose Adagio’ during a season that contained a number of divertissements.

After a bit more investigation I uncovered a flyer and some programs in the National Library’s Rex Reid collection. Reid directed West Australian Ballet from late 1969 to 1973 and in November 1971 presented a season of two programs, which included a number of divertissements, at the Octagon Theatre, Perth. It was the first program, staged from 8-13 November, that included the ‘Rose Adagio’. The printed program contained the following details:

  • Rose Adagio,

Producer: Bryan Ashbridge
Music: Tchaikovsky
Costumes: Kristian Fredrikson
Choreography: Frederick Ashton
‘A new production by Bryan Ashbridge’

Princess Aurora: Elaine Fifield, Patricia Sadka
Indian Prince: Robert O’Kell
Saracen Prince: Laurence Bishop
Russian Prince: Ron Deschamps
English Prince: Paul DeMasson

I was also curious about the choreographic credit to Ashton, but the Ashton scholar David Vaughan has noted that Ashton created a ‘Rose Adagio’ in 1963 especially for a Royal Performance at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Bryan Ashbridge, who produced the 1971 West Australian Ballet version, retired from the Royal Ballet in 1965 so could well have been part of that Royal Performance or subsequent stagings of this Rose Adagio.

Rex Reid’s second 1971 Octagon program, presented from 15-20 November, included ‘The Dying Swan’ as one of the divertissements. A design for ‘The Dying Swan’, which was danced by Fifield, is also part of the National Library’s Fredrikson collection.

More items to add to the growing ‘List of works designed by Kristian Fredrikson’.

Michelle Potter, 26 October 2011

Update, 31 January 2017. The Fredrikson material also contains a design, from the same production, for Aurora, a detail of which is the featured image on this post.

6 thoughts on “Rose Adagio. West Australian Ballet 1971

  1. Paul, the first program was Bournonvilliana, Rose Adagio, The Mermaid (also Fredrikson designed) and Pineapple Poll. The second program seems to have been Triptych, Le Corsaire pas de deux, Jeux, The Dying Swan, The Mermaid, Pineapple Poll. Does this all sound familiar?

  2. Thanks Michelle, now it is coming back. Bournonvilliana was by Paul Gnatt, who I remember gave the hardest classes of Bournonville, and he put together the Pas de six from Napoli and inserted Flower Festival Pas in the midst. That has been done often as a Bournonville divert and works very well.

    I do remember Mermaid as it was one of Rex’s swirling Debussy/Ravel pieces, but Triptych is rolling arround on the tip of my tongue, forgotten the choreographer. Could it have been a Robin Haig piece? Pineapple Poll we did often with Elaine and I even graduated to dance Captain Belaye at such a young age. We toured to the Eastern States with some of that program in 79 I believe adding Rex’s work The Glade, the Rashomon story. Even going as far north as New Guinea on another tour which took 3 months from Perth right up and back down along the WA coast home again. What a tour and all the boys un-packing the charter plane and setting up the stage and the girls ironing and repairing costumes. We were billeted mostly but when a hotel came our way it was hoopla……. sorry to go on. Best Paul.

  3. Hi Michelle,
    I have just stumbled across this site of yours by accident as I was looking up Bournonvilliana. My name is Jenny Boase nee Phillipson and I was a dancer with W.A. Ballet from 1971 through to 1980 with a few years break in between dancing overseas. Hans Brenner came to Australia from Denmark to reproduce the Bournonville ballets of which dearest Paul spoke. Triptych was choreographed indeed by Robin Haig and she also reproduced Pineapple Poll for us too. I remember dancing with Fifield and feeling incredibly privileged to be sharing the stage with her. She was stunning in Rose Adagio. She did in fact tour with us to the eastern states and as Paul says it was an incredible experience and holds many wonderful memories.

  4. Hi Jenny
    Lovely to hear from you and to have confirmation of the details of this post. The designs by Fredrikson are gorgeous but confused me at first. Thanks to Paul, and now you, there is no longer any confusion.

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