On Feb. 5, Alastair Macaulay’s speaking at the Library for the Performing Arts via the Center for Ballet and the Arts about Balanchine and Ashton. On his Instagram he’s posted photos of different casts in Ashton’s wonderful Illuminations, created for NYCB in 1950–an unusual confluence for the two choreographers.

I talked to Mimi Paul about dancing Le Clercq’s original role of Sacred Love when NYCB revived Illuminations in 1967. John Taras put the revival together and then Ashton himself came from London and rehearsed it. Mimi’s one solo rehearsal with Ashton was unforgettable. She’d read the Rimbaud poetry in the original French and was prepared to explore images. The ballet intrigued her: “It was so far removed from what I had been doing. The fact that it had kind some kind of message was interesting.

“He was very verbal,” she recalled about Ashton. “He spoke beautifully. He told you what this step might mean. I wasn’t used to that but I really enjoyed it. Ashton spoke about things that nobody ever spoke about. It was food for me. He didn’t always let you take over, and I enjoyed that kind of dialogue as much as I also enjoyed Balanchine letting me do what I felt I wanted to do.”

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