Woolf Works opens with a recording of Virginia Woolf herself reading from her lecture On Craftsmanship, “Words, English words, are full of echoes, memories, associations …”. If the purpose of ballet is ultimately communication, Wayne McGregor has set himself a problem: how is it possible to add to what Virginia Woolf has already said with words in the three books that inspire the ballet? The depth and density of Woolf’s writing as she moves in and out of the minds of her characters cannot be directly replicated in dance, but by taking themes in the novels as a jumping-off ground, McGregor and his dancers are able to use movement to delve into the human psyche. (more…)

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Rick Guest’s What Lies Beneath strips away the glamour from the dancer’s life and yet this exhibition in the gleaming white gallery at the Hospital Club is magnificently glamorous. Guest captures his subjects against luminous blue backgrounds in larger than life portraits that show the physical and psychological strain that lies behind every performance. He has allowed the dancers to reveal themselves as they wish, whether that is confident and in control, hesitant and uncertain or contemplative. They wear battered old practice clothes, their skin is scratched and bruised, and they have bunions, moles and body hair. There is a tension between the perfection and yet imperfection of their extraordinarily beautiful bodies. (more…)

Wayne McGregor’s Raven Girl is a brave experiment with narrative form, which springs from an exciting collaboration between author, designers, composer and choreographer.  Wonderful but subtle use of cinematic effect enhances the sepia-shaded set, and the choreography makes full use of the extraordinary technical capacity of the Royal Ballet’s principal dancers.

McGregor asked Audrey Niffenegger for a “new dark fairy tale”, and the result is a gloomy and sometimes macabre story, which includes a strong element of magic.  But magic does not make a fairy tale:  to be true to the genre, the story must, firstly, address what Bruno Bettelheim calls our “existential anxieties and dilemmas”, and, secondly, offer us a solution to them.  This, the ballet fails to do.  (more…)

Viscera/Infra/Fool’s Paradise Royal Ballet Mixed Bill, Saturday 3rd November 2012

This triple bill opened with Viscera, a work originally created on Miami City Ballet and presented for the first time by the Royal Ballet. Choreographed by the newly appointed Artist in Residence Liam Scarlett to Lowell Liebermann’s Piano Concerto No.1 this was a thrilling, exhilarating ballet. (more…)