Shechter’s new piece, unnamed at the time of writing, will bring his characteristically politicised, intensely physical and ritualistic style to the Royal Ballet dancers, whom he once described as a ‘superbreed’. Characteristic of his approach is his focus on the ensemble rather than the soloists, dancers taken as an elemental tribe. It will be interesting to see how the well-drilled but often genteel Royal Ballet corps rise to the challenges posed by his choreography.
This world première shares a bill with two acknowledged masterpieces: Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments and MacMillan’s Song of the Earth. Both revolutionary in their own time, each demonstrates the choreographer’s desire to seek a new language and release dance into new realms. This Royal Ballet mixed bill should be among the best ballet in London 2015.
Balanchine's influence in the development of classical ballet in the 20th century cannot be overstated. The Four Temperaments premièred in 1946 and was immediately recognised as a pivotal moment in ballet.
It was inspired by the medieval theory that divided human beings into four main types, or temperaments - Melancholic (sad, pensive), Sanguinic (confident), Phlegmatic (impassive) and Choleric (angry) – and choreographed on Hindemith’s eponymous score for string orchestra and piano.
The prelude introduces a three-part theme, which is then reworked into four variations, one for each temperament. Each section offers a specific challenge to both corps and soloists, one which the Royal Ballet dancers should be equal to.
The closing piece is one the Royal Ballet’s most loved and intense works, Kenneth MacMillan's Song of the Earth. Originally created for the Stuttgart Ballet in 1965, this astounding meditation on loss and renewal is set to Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth). Mahler was much taken with a collection of ancient Chinese poems and set them to music; and the choreographer introduced a light narrative thread illustrating humankind’s struggle to accept mortality. It is a breath-taking and deeply affecting work.
|What||Royal Ballet: Balanchine, Shechter, MacMillan|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
27 Mar 15 – 14 Apr 15, 5 dates
|Website||click here to book via the ROH website|