The Friends of the Royal Opera House membership scheme has been going from strength to strength for 60 years, and The Royal Ballet: A Diamond Celebration is its 60th birthday party. Like all membership schemes, Friends offers a series of benefits, including early booking, which is particularly useful for very popular performances which risk selling out very quickly, and access to rehearsals.
So Friends are to be celebrated with a mixed bill that will includes three world premieres, one company premiere and Balanchine's glittering Diamonds, the choreographer's homage to the purity and allure of the Russian Imperial Ballet (pictured top), which has long been part of the company repertoire. The programme will feature many of The Royal Ballet principal dancers – an enticing prospect indeed!
The new works come from the American choreographer Pam Tanowitz, Royal Ballet emerging choreographer Joseph Toonga, and company first soloist and up and coming choreographer Valentino Zucchetti.
London had its first exposure to Pam Tanowitz's work with Four Quartets, an extraordinary blend of poetry, dance, visual arts and music which entranced the Barbican in 2019. Later that year, Royal Opera House audiences had their own first glimpse of Tanowitz's creative spirit when her rigorous, yet joyful piece Everyone Keeps Me took its place in the Cross Currents Triple Bill at the Linbury Theatre, which celebrated the centenary of Merce Cunningham.
To say that we are all agog at the prospect of a new Pam Tanowitz piece for the Royal Ballet would be an understatement.
By contrast Joseph Toonga's work mines a completely different seam: it's based on the hip-hop culture of young urban black men. Toonga performed with this company in the most recent edition of The Royal Ballet's Draft Works in April.
Valentino Zucchetti is fast carving a place for himself as a choreographer of note. His work uses the classical vocabulary but infuses it with a freshness and vitality all its own, which particularly suits the company's young ranks. His most recent work for the company, Anemoi, inspired by flowing winds, was delightful, and not even the depredations of Covid could make a dent in it.
Royal Ballet associate artist Christopher Wheeldon created For Four in California in 2006 for Kings of the Dance, an all-star showcase of top male ballet dancers. The piece is performed to Schubert's Death and the Maiden quartet and features four male dancers aiming to illustrate the style of four different schools of dance: Cuban, Russian, Danish and American – the Balanchine style. With the current crop of male principal dancers at The Royal Ballet, this is certainly a mouth-watering prospect!
|What||The Royal Ballet: A Diamond Celebration, Royal Opera House|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
16 Nov 22 – 19 Nov 22, 19:30 Dur.: TBC
|Website||Click here to book|