The Royal Ballet dancers whose living presence balletomanes have missed so much, digital streaming notwithstanding, are set to return to the ROH main stage this spring, with three mixed bills that blend old and new, British and international, all of which give the company, soloists and ensemble alike, plenty of opportunities to shine and dazzle. All programmes will also be live-streamed.
As well, there will be smaller scale works on the ROH second stage, the Linbury Theatre, showcasing the next generation of dancers and choreographers.
Here's what to look forward to:
Tuesday 18 – Sunday 30 May: 21st Century Choreographers
(Live-stream 26 May, £16)
The programme assembles works by three diverse choreographers: Christopher Wheeldon, Kyle Abraham and Crystal Pite. Wheeldon's Within the Golden Hour is familiar to regular Royal Ballet audiences, but shines anew with each viewing. Dressed by Jasper Conran in shimmering gold, and breathtakingly lit by Peter Mumford, the dancers draw Wheeldon's exquisite patterns with all the requisite contrasts of vibrancy and dreaminess.
Artists of The Royal Ballet in Within The Golden Hour. Photo: © ROH 2019 Tristram Kenton
One recent showing, a new work by the African American choreographer Kyle Abraham is very much something to look forward to. His piece for New York City Ballet, When We Fell (available to stream until Thursday 22 April) is mesmerising in its combination or rigour, simplicity and classicism. We can't wait to see what he'll have devised for The Royal Ballet.
Two works by Crystal Pite complete the programme. First brought to London by Nederlands Dans Theater, on whom it was created, three years ago, The Statement is an extraordinary piece of dance theatre, portraying an ever more fraught discussion between politicians, in the aftermath of a disastrous political decision. It's unique and totally hypnotic.
Also new to The Royal Ballet, Pite's second work is Solo Echo, an atmospheric evocation of winter inspired by a poem by Mark Strand, accompanied by Brahms’s sonatas for cello and piano. It was also created for Nederlands Dans Theater, and here's a taster:
Friday 4 – Sunday 13 June: Balanchine and Robbins
(Live-stream Friday 11 June. £16)
The two sacred monsters of New York ballet are represented with three glorious, contrasting works which have long been part of The Royal Ballet repertoire. George Balanchine's Apollo, narrating the god's birth and education by the muses, is a streamlined neo-classic work, with touches of tenderness and humour, danced to a score by Stravinsky; Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux is an exhilarating display of technical virtuosity.
Jerome Robbins's Dances at a Gathering (pictured top) celebrates the sheer pleasure of dancing. Plotless, it nevertheless gives each dancer a chance to display their own personality. Set to music by Chopin, it is a balm to the soul.
Saturday 26 June – Sunday 11 July: Beauty Mixed Programme
(Live-stream Friday 9 July. £16)
A showcase for Royal Ballet choreographers past and present, this programme starts with Anemoi, by the company's first soloist Valentino Zucchetti. This is a development of his Scherzo, which was streamed last autumn and shows Zucchetti as a choreographer to be reckoned with. There follows a series of divertissements from choreographers that have shaped the Royal Ballet we know today.
The programme ends with the sumptuous final act of The Sleeping Beauty, one of the jewels in the Royal Ballet crown, celebrating Princess Aurora's wedding to Prince Désirè, and featuring the famous divertissements, including the virtuoso 'Bluebird' pas de deux.
Marcelino Sambé as The Bluebird in The Royal Ballet's The Sleeping Beauty. Photo: © ROH 2020 Bill Cooper
At the ROH Linbury Theatre, we're offered a glimpse of the future:
Wednesday 16/Thursday 17 June: Next Generation: Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance
Wednesday 23 – Saturday 26 June: Next Generation: The Royal Ballet School
Thursday 1 – Saturday 3 July: Summer Draft Works
Saturday 10 July: The Royal Ballet School Summer Performance
|What||The Royal Ballet, spring at the ROH|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
14 May 21 – 10 Jul 21, 19:30 Dur.: varies with each programme