United to dance in London, these leading UK ballet companies will honour the legacy of an extraordinary British choreographer on the 25th anniversary of his death.
MacMillan’s vision transformed ballet. Influenced by the contemporary theatre of his day, he engaged with subject matter that had never been seen on a ballet stage before in his visceral and compelling works. He often opted for dark, near-realist scenarios, marrying the traditions of classical ballet with a bold outlook on the expressive potential of dance.
In this double bill – programme number two of the MacMillan festival – the Royal Ballet performs The Judas Tree and English National Ballet performs Song of the Earth. These are adult and complex works that epitomise MacMillan at his most powerfully pensive.
The Judas Tree was MacMillan’s final creation for the Royal Ballet, in 1992, to music by Brian Elias. A brutal narrative with controversial themes, the action is set on a south London construction site where the workers violently vie for the attention of a beautiful woman.
Although criticised for its barbarous content (gang rape, murder, suicide), there is a biblical subtext to the tale and MacMillan’s choreography cleverly draws out the psychological nuances of each of his characters.
Audiences should expect to be disturbed but mesmerised by this potent piece exploring collective guilt and the horrific consequences of a rule of fear.
English National Ballet has recently acquired the rights to Song of the Earth, which MacMillan created in 1965 for Stuttgart Ballet.
This neoclassical masterpiece is a meditation on life and death performed by a cast of 19. Three central figures portray the bittersweet reality of love, loss and mortality: a Woman, a Man and an enigmatic Messenger.
Inspired by Gustav Mahler’s haunting song cycle Das Lied von der Erde, Song of the Earth combines music, poetry and breath-taking dance to comment on the fragility of life.
These are both important MacMillan works; together they create a double bill that is not to be missed!
Booking opens to the general public on 26 July at 9am
|What||Kenneth MacMillan: a National Celebration, The Judas Tree Bill|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
24 Oct 17 – 01 Nov 17, 19:30 Dur 2 hours including one interval
|Website||Click here to book via the ROH website|