When New York Times dance critic Alastair Macaulay first saw The Royal Ballet's Lynn Seymour and Sir Anthony Dowell in Sir Frederick Ashton's A Month in the Country, he was “thunderstruck." Reflectively, he wrote, “I've still never seen feet so expressive or beautiful…Ms. Seymour remains my ultimate dance-actress," and that Dowell, “extended our idea of masculinity in ballet into unsurpassed poetry." Ashton adapted A Month in the Country from a 19th century Russian play of the same name. This clip features the original 1976 cast: Seymour dances the role of Natalia, an elegant housewife whose life is thrown into turmoil when she, her daughter and the maid all fall for the young tutor Beliaev, danced by Dowell.
Though simple, the story is rich in its emotional depth, and Seymour and Dowell dance it brilliantly. Macaulay wasn't the only one who thought so: throughout her long career as a principal at The Royal Ballet, Seymour was lauded as one of the greatest dramatic actress of her time. In this pas de deux, we can see why. Seymour seems to orchestrate each tender movement. Enraptured by her love for Beliaev, she thrusts her head back in their embraces and caresses him with a maturity that the virginal female characters of classical ballet rarely exhibit. Even when the lovers are discovered and she obviates disaster with a composed façade, Seymour shows us the gravity of the suppressed love in Natalia's heart. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!