Three short works will show off the best of the Royal Ballet talent, from dramatic skill and bravura spectacle in two pas-de-deux, to the home grown choreographic flair of Liam Scarlett’s Viscera.
But a new Carmen will be the central draw of this Royal Ballet mixed bill. Its creator Carlos Acosta, Royal Ballet’s Cuban star and beloved of the London ballet stage for the last 17 years, retires at the end of the 2015/16 season. Having danced with Cuban National Ballet, Houston Ballet, and guested with the Bolshoi, American Ballet Theater and all over the world, Acosta’s reputation is global and there’ll be more than British eyes on his last few months.
Liam Scarlett, Viscera
The evening opens with the young and the new in Liam Scarlett’s Viscera. Miami City Ballet's Edward Villella was so impressed with Scarlett's very first ballet, Asphodel Meadows that he caught up with the choreographer in the lift after the premiere to commission another work.
Much of Scarlett's work tends towards the dark and sultry, but inspiration for Viscera came directly from Lowell Liebermann's rapid and percussive piano concerto no. 1, and what Scarlett calls its 'gut-wrenching quality'. As the choreographer pushed the dancers towards a 'more vulgar' mood, and movement more like a pack of animals than a corps de ballet, the title evolved as a reminder of that wildness.
Although this is an abstract ballet, all that hints at a subtle narrative. Steps are tied tight to every trill of Liebermann’s concerto, closing in on a central pas de deux The Guardian called “fraught with emotional secrets.” All is danced in Scarlett’s own rich, plum-coloured designs, against John Hall’s peony and midnight blue lighting.
Cool narcissism: Afternoon of a Faun, Jerome Robbins
A second chance this year to see American choreographer Jerome Robbins’ brief Afternoon of a Faun. Resetting Nijinsky’s ballet – a brief encounter between wood nymphs and a narcissistic faun – to a ballet rehearsal studio, in Robbins’ piece two dancers feel an irresistible sexual attraction to each other; but neither can resist the narcissistic appeal of their own reflections, and even as they come together, they seem more absorbed in their own self-admiring gaze.
Show off tactics: Tchaikovsky Pas-de-Deux, George Balanchine
As soon as Balanchine learnt of this freshly discovered piece from Tchaikovsky, an unused fragment of Swan Lake, he resolved to make something for it. He created the pas de deux on New York City Ballet’s Violette Verdy and Conrad Ludlow to show off their bravura technique, and it remains a piece to show off to. The prodigious technicians Natalia Osipova and Steven McRae were to dance this piece, but Osipova will no longer dance the autumn season due to injury.
This is formally a classical pas de deux, starting with a slow section that gives both dancers the opportunity to exhibit their line and partnership, followed by solos for each dancer and a coda. Expect big, spinning leaps for the man, zipping footwork, tight spins and mind-bending balances for the ballerina, as all gets ever more demanding towards the dazzling finish.
Carlos Acosta’s Carmen
And so we arrive at the last piece of the evening, Carlos Acosta’s one-act Carmen. Acosta’s last reworking for the Royal, a crowd-pleasing Don Quixote, was full of energy and Latin spirit. Carmen is likely to employ that same vigour towards its darker end.
A naïve country boy, Don José deserts the army in his passion for the free-spirited gypsy girl, Carmen. Embroiling her lover in a web of crime and testing his love in her heated flirtation with toreador Escamillo, Carmen ultimately meets her end at the hands of the jealous and disgraced José. Acosta promises to pare the tempestuous tale down to its absolute essentials and will, over the course of the run, play both of Carmen’s rival lovers.
Tickets for anything Acosta does this year will fly, so be sure to book early.
|What||Royal Ballet Mixed Bill: Viscera / Afternoon of a Faun / Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux / Carmen, ROH|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
26 Oct 15 – 12 Nov 15, times vary
|Website||click here to book via the ROH website|