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As we look forward to brighter days, and with spring just around the corner, the Royal Ballet streams one of its most joyous, amusing and uplifting pieces: Kenneth MacMillan's Elite Syncopations.
Premiered in 1974, and a constant of the repertoire ever since, it is set to a series of Scott Joplin ragtime pieces, played on stage by a suitably attired specialist combo. This is Kenneth MacMillan in uncharacteristically light-hearted mood, which is not to say that his choreography is not as exacting and interesting as ever.
For a sampler, here are four of the company's men dancing Hot-House Rag.
There is no plot to this 35-minute work, but characterisation provides snatches of narrative. Some characters stand out from the group of people having fun in what could be a nightclub, all of them dressed in decidedly zany costumes, creating a riot of colour. You have a lead couple, mischievous boys, the very short man who is not defeated by the comical difficulties of dancing with a much taller woman, and so on.
This performance was part of The Royal Ballet's return to the stage last October, in a brief window between lockdowns, and the sheer gusto the dancers bring to their performances is proof, if proof were needed, of their eagerness to dance before a live audience. This was the first time they'd danced together as a company in seven months.
For that particular performance, the cast of Elite Syncopations was especially augmented to include as many dancers as possible, and the choreography was slightly tweaked to avoid touching outside established bubbles.
|What||The Royal Ballet, Elite Syncopations stream|
|Where||Online | MAP|
12 Mar 21 – 11 Apr 21, First stream at 19:00. Available on demand for 30 days after. Dur.: 35 mins approx