Greta Hodgkinson on Marguerite and Armand
February 12, 2020
“Marguerite and Armand contains all the elements that have been predominant in my career: classical technique, strong characters, incredible music, a tragic story full of drama and sweeping, romantic pas de deux,” Greta Hodgkinson says. “All of these are condensed in a 40-minute gem of a piece.”
A work of ballet legend, Frederick Ashton created Marguerite and Armand in 1963 to celebrate the partnership of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. Fonteyn and Nureyev performed it for the last time in 1977, then the ballet was retired during their lifetimes. It was revived in 2003 and performed by select dancers.
“Given its history,” Greta says, “I’m honoured to have this opportunity to perform it.” Greta was in discussions with Karen Kain about performing it for several years, though not necessarily as a piece to retire with. “Once we talked about saying farewell, it was a logical choice. I wanted to do a new role and the work epitomizes everything I love about ballet.”
Greta loves Ashton’s works. “His choreography is difficult, detailed, musical and expressive and his ballets, like La Fille mal gardée, are so well-crafted in their concise structure and story-telling.” Most inspiring to Greta is the ability to explore rich and complex characters, like those in A Month in the Country.
Set to an orchestral arrangement of Franz Liszt’s B minor piano sonata, the story of Marguerite and Armand is based on La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas about a Parisian courtesan who reminisces about a love affair as she is dying from tuberculosis – a role that demands both great technique and dramatic expression.
“Ashton leaves room for the artist to transition from one thought to another, to process and respond or act and react,” says Greta. “There’s a lot of time to invest emotion in the character and to build drama through the relationships between characters. Guillaume Côté and I learned the choreography over two weeks in the summer but we’re anxious to get back into the studio to delve into the characters and relationships.”
Angels' Atlas & Chroma & Marguerite and Armand is onstage February 29 – March 7, 2020.