Monday, 10 September 2012

Anthony Hopkins: Café Des Sports - more information

I recently posted about Antony Hopkins’ ballet score Café des Sports. Immediately after I pressed the ‘publish’ button I found this resume of the ballet in Margaret Crosland’s 1955 book Ballet Carnival. Rather than paraphrase this text, I quote it below with full acknowledgements.  
It is a scenario which would still, nearly sixty years on, have the opportunity to provide a colourful dance.
Maryon Lane appears to have disappeared from ballet historical scene with little trace. There does not even appear to be a biography dedicated to her. [Please correct me if I am wrong] Yet reading her obituaries would suggest that she was a star performer and deserving of attention by students of the ballet.
Hopefully, I will have more to write about this ballet in the future. 

One day an adventurous urchin girl was walking alone through the fields in the Mediterranean countryside. Looking into the distance she sees below her a village, with gaily coloured roofs,
that seems to invite her. She decides to walk down and see if the village is really as attractive as it seems to be. When she arrives in the square the first thing she sees is the Café des Sports, which is kept by Madame Flora. The urchin is not sure whether someone as ragged as she is, with all those holes in her stockings, will be allowed in, especially as she has no money.
But Madame Flora and the waiter are on her side and soon offer her something to eat. They explain to her that she has arrived in time for a most exciting event, the annual bicycle race which centres round the village, and finishes in the square.
While waiting for her first glimpse of the cyclists the urchin sees all the strange bohemian people who are staying in the village for their summer holidays -the hedonist artists who wear gay clothes and think of nothing but enjoying themselves, and the essentialist artists who take life very seriously, carrying about with them such things as skulls and strange, incomprehensible
pictures. There is also one rather shocking couple who seem to be incurable drunkards, for they never appear without a bottle of wine.
At last the race begins and the first cyclists dressed in bright-coloured clothes, bent over their handle-bars, cycle away as hard as they can go. The urchin leaps up and down in her excitement. It had not taken her long to decide that the youngest cyclist was the most attractive of all and he kissed her for luck before he cycled away. The various groups of artists and the people who live in the village pass the time dancing and drinking, cheering the cyclists wildly each time they pass through the village. Then there is a terrible tragedy-the youngest cyclist falls off his bicycle and
hurts his leg: He cannot go on. The urchin helps him to his feet; tells him that he will be all right, and before he can protest she takes his bicycle and pedals off after the others.

After everyone has disappeared the rest of the village inhabitants comfort the youngest cyclist, soon enough the other cyclists come back, and now they are on the last lap. To everyone's amazement the urchin is doing very well and seems to be among the fastest of the competitors. As the cyclists cover the last lap to the winning post the urchin plays a clever trick-she manages to avoid making an extra circle round the square, and so, without anyone noticing she has cheated, she is quicker than anyone else and comes into the winning post first. The youngest cyclist embraces her and the whole village joins in her victory celebrations.

Music by Antony Hopkins. Choreography by Alfred Rodrigues. Scenery and costumes by Jack Taylor.  First performed by Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet' in Johannesburg in 1954, and in London later in the same year. The part of the urchin was successfully created by Maryon Lane.

Ballet Carnival: Margaret Crossland, Arco Publications Limited, 1955.

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