This autumn, the UK’s leading national ballet companies are joining forces to pay tribute to a man whose vision has been vital in shaping British ballet’s style and repertory.
Kenneth MacMillan: a National Celebration will see the Royal Ballet joined by Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet and Scottish Ballet onstage at the Royal Opera House for the very first time.
In this final collaborative programme, Northern Ballet performs Gloria and the Royal Ballet presents The Judas Tree. The evening closes with Elite Syncopations, danced by artists from Birmingham Royal Ballet, Northern Ballet, the Royal Ballet and Scottish Ballet.
Gloris is MacMillan’s evocative homage to the dead of the First World War. The ballet is dedicated to MacMillan’s father, who was gassed at the Battle of the Somme in 1916, and was inspired by pacifist Vera Brittain’s autobiography, Testament of Youth.
Set to Gloria in G major by Francis Poulenc, Gloria was created in 1980, yet its depiction of the futility of war is as relevant and painful today as it was when new.
The joyful music provides a stark contrast to the agonised, modern dance-inflected action as the dancers lower their heads and cover their faces in grief or fling legs and arms into contorted shapes as if they have been caught in a bomb blast. Sometimes, though, the music evokes happier times before the war; here MacMillan’s choreography imparts moments of sublime beauty.
As MacMillan’s final – and most controversial – ballet, The Judas Tree explores the consequences of violence and collective guilt.
Devised in 1992, MacMillan’s brutal narrative places a single woman among 13 men in an allegory of the betrayal of Christ. Recognisably contemporary but with biblical overtones, this ballet is not for the faint-hearted – it contains scenes of rape, murder and suicide.
Elite Syncopations undoubtedly provides the light relief in this programme.
BRB - Elite Syncopations, Céline Gittens, Tyrone Singleton, photo Phil Hitchman
Opening with a 12-piece band onstage, it re-creates a jazzy dance hall where the dancers let their hair down in a series of relaxed comic dances.
This effervescent ballet premiered in 1974 and has been thrilling audiences ever since. It boasts a ragtime score, virtuoso choreography, characters full of personality and eye-catching costumes. We defy you not to enjoy it!
Booking opens to the general public on 26 July, 9 am
|What||Kenneth MacMillan: a National Celebration, Gloria Mixed Bill|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
26 Oct 17 – 27 Oct 17, 19:30 Dur 2 hours 50 mins including two intervals
|Website||Click here to book via the ROH website|