Honouring the legacy of this master choreographer on the 25th anniversary of his death, the shared programme sees Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet and Scottish Ballet debut on the Royal Opera House main stage, home of the Royal Ballet.
Here, all five national ballet companies will come together to present programmes of varied one-act works showcasing MacMillan’s profound impact on dance.
This initial line-up begins with Concerto, danced by Birmingham Royal Ballet. Created in 1966 for Berlin Ballet, Concerto heralded the start of a new chapter in MacMillan’s career as he endeavoured to redefine the company under his directorship.
Flaunting both the talent and the discipline of an artist, Concerto is a vivacious work that contrasts moments of exuberance with wistful reflection. MacMillan’s jazzy pure-dance choreography flawlessly complements the energetic precision and ingenuity of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No2 – no wonder Concerto quickly became a staple of the British repertory.
Juxtaposed with this joyous offering is Scottish Ballet’s restaging of MacMillan’s early narrative work, Le Baiser de la Fée (The Fairy's Kiss).
Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale The Ice Maiden, Le Baiser de la Fée tells the story of a boy destined for immortality after being kissed at birth by a fairy. When this enchanted boy grows up the fairy reappears, lures him away from his betrothed and whisks him off to an alternative realm.
The story is interpreted by MacMillan as a metaphor for the artist’s dilemma – to follow the demands of genius or to settle for more ordinary human happiness. His sinister scenario reveals the darker depths of the tale, focusing on the abandoned bride and a young man in turmoil.
MacMillan first choreographed this ballet to Stravinsky’s score in 1960, revisiting it in 1986. While retaining his own distinctive style, he pays homage to virtuoso choreography from the likes of Marius Petipa and Frederick Ashton.
Rounding off the programme on a ragtime high is Elite Syncopations, performed by dancers from all five ballet companies.
Produced in 1974, this light-hearted ballet is MacMillan at his most playful. Although there is no story, the dancers are given characterisations and there are references to all sorts of social dances.
The dancers revel in the kooky, colourful costumes and rhythmic strut of the score – and you will too.
Booking opens to the general public on 26 July at 9am
|What||Kenneth MacMillan: a National Celebration, Concerto Mixed Bill|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
18 Oct 17 – 19 Oct 17, 19:30 Dur 3 hours including two intervals
|Website||Click here to book via the ROH website|