At the National Gallery we try and bring paintings to life, but Deloitte Ignite has been an incredible opportunity to create a cross-arts spectacle; each art form – painting, video art, dance, film, street-art, music – offering its own modern re-telling of the Greek myths of Prometheus and Leda and the Swan. Prometheus – rebel, traitor, protector of mankind and Leda – a queen seduced by the God Zeus in the form of a swan and bearer of eggs – a symbol of the sacred feminine and giver of life. Their message is still relevant today and the Festival offers contemporary artists from all disciplines the chance to bring these stories to a modern audience.
Deloitte Ignite 2014 will offer free and ticketed events with performance, film, art installations, discussion and live-streaming, culminating in a free Deloitte Ignite Family Day on Sunday 28 September with a wide variety of family activities and workshops. The Deloitte partnership with the Royal Opera House brings together both organisations in their appetite for innovation and commitment to widening access to the arts. This relationship was initially for five years and has been extended for a further five years which allows the Royal Opera House to continue to stage a broad range of ground-breaking work each year with a new vision from the chosen curator. Director of The Royal Ballet is pleased about the collaboration:
Our new Season gets off to a thrilling start with The Royal Ballet's first ever Deloitte Ignite festival in an exciting opportunity to open up the whole House with a variety of different events across many art forms. Dance and contemporary art are a very natural fit, with myth and story-telling integral elements of the heritage of dance… a fantastic way to start the 2014/15 Season.
The festival will include new work by Royal Ballet Soloist Kristen McNally created for BalletBoyz theTALENT, and Royal Ballet First Artist Ludovic Ondiviela explores the myth of Cassandra in conversation ahead of his first work for The Royal Ballet which premieres in October.
Sampling the Myth is a programme of performance and film exploring the modern retelling of myths through art collaborations, including a special commission for Turner Prize-winner Chris Ofili with Royal Ballet dancers and choreography from rising star of the British dance scene Aakash Odedra. Inspired by the myth of Prometheus as the creator of Man, Ofili will paint directly on to dancers' bodies, transforming them into transient living canvases as a perfect complement to Odedra's unique style of contemporary and classical Indian dance. The programme includes extracts of Mikhail Fokine's The Firebird and The Dying Swan, Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, George Balanchine's Apollo, Wayne McGregor's Raven Girl and the world premiere of a new piece by Rambert's Miguel Altunaga; the UK's foremost writer on myth Marina Warner will provide an accompanying text.
The performances will also include the world premieres of three commissioned short dance films that explore the origins and retelling of Leda and the Swan which will be broadcast live and free on giant screens in the Paul Hamlyn Hall alongside the live performances. There will be new films from choreographer Robert Binet with The National Ballet of Canada, rising choreographic talent Charlotte Edmonds, and internationally renowned choreographer Kim Brandstrup.
The festival will break out into the Covent Garden piazza with an interactive street performance from choreographer Luca Silvestrini and his company Protein as they take over shop fronts along the colonnade to animate the entrance of the Opera House using a blend of original choreography, humour and music.
Acclaimed street artist Phlegm will decorate the Royal Opera House with large-scale illustrations of mythical creatures, applying his visually iconic style to create a 21st Century response to the complexities of classical myth.
Continuing the visual art element of the festival on the theme of fire, a work will be on view at the Royal Opera House by video artist Bill Viola titled Fire Martyr (2014). It represents a single panel derived from his four-channel video installation Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) that recently premiered at St Paul's Cathedral. The front of house areas will display photographic work by contemporary artists Tom Hunter and Mat Collishaw, together with a unique site-specific sound installation by sound recordist Chris Watson in a very natural response to Leda and the Swan.
In her curatorial role at The National Gallery specializing in Renaissance paintings, Minna Moore Ede will bring giant replicas of works by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo to the Royal Opera House to be displayed in the Paul Hamlyn Hall. These will form a focal point of the festival, exploring those artist's responses to the myth of Leda and the Swan. Against this back-drop there will be performances of Royal Ballet Artist Calvin Richardson's version of the famous Dying Swan solo.
Beneath the paintings in the Paul Hamlyn Hall will be the chance to explore the ‘breath of life' and ‘the fire within' through mass participatory yoga sessions led by international yoga instructor Ross Rayburn and his team. From the experienced to the uninitiated, festival attendees can tap into the very origins of their own self through meditation, and a variety of different yogic styles reflecting elemental aspects of myth.
Royal Ballet Soloist and choreographer Kristen McNally will describe and demonstrate to audiences her approach to choreography in open rehearsals over Deloitte Ignite's opening weekend providing an insight into the creative process of her new piece for BalletBoyz theTALENT.
Deloitte Ignite will also host a variety of spoken-word, poetry, film-screening and musical performances over the weekend. Free family events include costume displays, mask work-shops, dressing up, a Gods and Goddesses scavenger hunt and story-telling.
Deloitte Ignite 2014
MYTH – THE FEATHER AND THE FLAME
Friday 5 September – Sunday 28 September 2014
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.