‘As this is my most varied and exciting score,’ declared Sir Arthur Bliss, ‘I am disappointed that it has fallen into oblivion.’ The celebrated British composer and former Master of the Queen’s Music expressed regret within the pages of his autobiography at the disappearance of Adam Zero from the permanent repertoire of The Sadler’s Wells Ballet. However, had Bliss been alive today, he would have revelled in the discovery that his finest ballet composition had served as the inspiration for a contemporary restaging by Sergei Vanaev at the Stadt Theater Bremerhaven, almost seven decades since the production’s 1946 premiere. As the curtain closes on the final performance of Adam Zero in Germany in June, it seems fitting to reflect on the creative lineage of this heritage work and – more significantly – Vanaev’s choreographic achievement in enlivening Bliss’s neglected score. (more…)

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Birmingham Royal Ballet’s triple bill with ballets by Kenneth MacMillan, Gillian Lynne after Robert Helpmann, and David Bintley, is a subtle commemoration of the centenary of the First World War. The approach to the subject is oblique compared with the English National Ballet’s innovative programme Lest We Forget, premiered at the Barbican earlier this year, but it works.

Kenneth MacMillan’s La Fin du Jour evokes the heady days of the years between the wars, the dancers wearing in pastel coloured costumes, their fashionable sportiness reminiscent of some of the later Diaghilev ballets. They are Bright Young Things but they move like puppets on strings in their cream coloured box, from which we glimpse a garden through a door at the back of the stage. The two principal women dancers (Arancha Baselga and Karla Doorbar) morph from swimmers into aviators as their male attendants sweep them through the air, or turn them on point, slowly spinning them like skaters, feet held high behind their heads, weather vanes revolving in the wind. At the end one of them symbolically closes the door to the garden. An idyll is over and war is coming. (more…)