chapter  5
26 Pages

The Choreographic Trust: Preserving Dance Legacies

WithFrancis Yeoh

Choreographers must secure records of their choreographies not only for the preservation of their works, but also for propagating their dance legacies.

While some in the dance community express a reluctance, for a range of reasons, to preserve works, others have taken steps to do so. Some choreographers have expressed doubts that their works will survive in acceptable form for any period of time after their demise. George Balanchine stated his belief that, without his personal supervision, his works would eventually lose integrity and identity: “I don’t want my ballets preserved as museum pieces for people to go and laugh at what used to be. Absolutely not. I’m staging ballets for today’s bodies. Ballet is NOW.”1 Frederick Ashton likewise voiced doubts about his dance legacy. In 1999 David Vaughan wrote that Ashton believed his “works would be considered passe´ and would fall into neglect.”2 Vaughan suggested that “this was typically self-deprecating, yet it proved to be not too far from the truth, and shockingly soon. There was a sense that those who took over the direction of the Royal Ballet did indeed find his works silly and irrelevant. Whether or not this was actually the case, the number of his ballets in the company’s repertory certainly declined.” This phenomenon may be attributed to the pressure of maintaining a “balanced” repertory of

old and new works by the Royal Ballet and the Birmingham Royal Ballet, but the loss of so many Ashton works is disheartening and, perhaps, irrevocable.