All the details of the 2016-2017 Ballet Season at London’s Royal Opera House:
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ROYAL BALLET 2016-2017 SEASON – IN BRIEF
Four World Premieres
- New one-act ballet from Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor to a commissioned score by Steve Reich
- New one-act ballet from Artist in Residence Liam Scarlett
- First UK ballet commission for Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite who makes her Royal Opera House debut with a one-act ballet
- New production of Philip Glass dance opera Les Enfants Terribles choreographed by Javier De Frutos at the Barbican
Wayne McGregor’s 10th Anniversary Celebrations as Resident Choreographer include:
- New one-act ballet set to a commissioned score by Steve Reich
- Chroma to be performed with members of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater alongside dancers from The Royal Ballet
- First revival of award-winning Woolf Works
- First revival of Carbon Life with music by Mark Ronson
- 25th Anniversary of The Royal Ballet’s Chance to Dance programme
- 50th Anniversary of George Balanchine’s Jewels
- 70th Anniversary as resident ballet company of the Royal Opera House with performances of The Sleeping Beauty and Symphonic Variations
- 80th birthday celebrations for composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass with new productions by Wayne McGregor and Javier De Frutos
- Sir Peter Wright’s 90th birthday celebrations at The Nutcracker
Revivals and Repertory
- Major revival of Kenneth MacMillan’s Anastasia, last staged in 2004, and the return of Mayerling
- The Sleeping Beauty, this production first presented for the 75th anniversary of The Royal Ballet in 2006 and based on the landmark 1946 production
- Peter Wright’s classic production of The Nutcracker
- La Fille mal gardée, The Dream, Symphonic Variations and Marguerite and Armand by Founder Choreographer Frederick Ashton
- First revivals of Artistic Associate Christopher Wheeldon’s one-act ballets After the Rain and Strapless
- First revival of David Dawson’s The Human Seasons
- The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude by William Forsythe, last performed by The Royal Ballet in 2002
- George Balanchine’s three-act ballet Jewels and his Tarantella pas de deux, a new acquisition for the Company
The Royal Ballet Studio Programme
- Work presented outside of Covent Garden during the Royal Opera House Open Up project
- First revival of ZooNation’s The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at the Roundhouse
- Philip Glass’s Les Enfants Terribles directed by Javier De Frutos at the Barbican
- New work by choreographers Charlotte Edmonds and Robert Binet in the Clore Studio Upstairs
Six ballet programmes presented in the ROH Live Cinema Season
World Ballet Day returns in October
THE ROYAL BALLET SEASON 2016-2017
Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet, presents a season of world premieres, major revivals, international collaborations and anniversary celebrations including Wayne McGregor’s 10th anniversary with The Royal Ballet as Resident Choreographer.
The repertory is brought to life by the Company’s world-class roster of dancers including Principals Federico Bonelli, Lauren Cuthbertson, Matthew Golding, Nehemiah Kish, Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae, Laura Morera, Vadim Muntagirov, Marianela Nuñez, Natalia Osipova, Thiago Soares, Edward Watson and Zenaida Yanowsky. Throughout the whole Season there will be the chance to see the brilliance of these dancers in new and established roles with additional opportunities for younger dancers of the Company to make their debuts.
The traditions of The Royal Ballet are celebrated in 19th century classics and heritage work in a Season that marks 70 years since the Company reopened the Royal Opera House with The Sleeping Beauty and Frederick Ashton created Symphonic Variations.
Marking its more recent history, the Company celebrates a decade of artistic creativity from Wayne McGregor who was appointed Resident Choreographer of The Royal Ballet in 2006. This Season he creates a new work with a commissioned score by one of the foremost composers of our time, Steve Reich, who turns 80 in October. Also featured are revivals of his award-winning ballets Woolf Works, Chroma and Carbon Life.
Wayne will also choreograph a new work for Chance to Dance in celebration of its 25th anniversary.
Also as part of his 10th anniversary celebrations, Charlotte Edmonds (the inaugural participant on The Royal Ballet Young Choreographer Programme) and Robert Binet (former Royal Ballet Choreographic Apprentice), who have both been mentored closely by Wayne McGregor, will each present a new work in the Clore Studio Upstairs.
Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite will create a work for The Royal Ballet, her first ever ballet commission in the UK, and Liam Scarlett presents a new one-act ballet in 2017. Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain and Strapless receive their first revivals and William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude and David Dawson’s The Human Seasons make a welcome return.
Kevin O’Hare announces that former Royal Ballet Principals Viviana Durante and Leanne Benjamin will return to the Company to coach roles that they made their own during their careers; Viviana in a major revival of Kenneth MacMillan’s Anastasia, and Leanne in Mayerling.
Founder Choreographer Frederick Ashton’s work this Season is celebrated with La Fille mal gardée and a programme of one-act ballets including The Dream, Symphonic Variations and Marguerite and Armand. George Balanchine’s three-act ballet Jewels is revived 50 years after it first appeared in New York, and his pas de deux Tarantella comes into the Company’s repertory for the first time. 19th century classics include Monica Mason and Christopher Newton’s staging of the Company’s 1946 production of The Sleeping Beauty and Peter Wright’s festive favourite The Nutcracker, returning in his 90th birthday year.
The Royal Ballet collaborates with The Royal Opera and Jette Parker Young Artists at the Barbican to present a new production directed and choreographed by Javier De Frutos of Les Enfants Terribles, the dance opera by acclaimed composer Philip Glass who celebrates his 80th birthday in January. In other work away from Covent Garden, ZooNation’s The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, originally commissioned by The Royal Ballet receives its first revival at the Roundhouse.
The Royal Ballet continues its commitment to nurture choreographic talent through Draft Works which will take different forms during the Season. New opportunities for young artists are also provided by the Aud Jebsen Young Dancer Programme which, now in its third year, offers a year’s placement to six Royal Ballet School graduates to work alongside the Company’s corps de ballet. Former Royal Ballet Principal Darcey Bussell returns again this Season to coach the young dancers within this programme.
World Ballet Day, the annual live stream behind the scenes of the world’s leading ballet companies, returns in October.
The Season opens in September with Frederick Ashton’s masterpiece La Fille mal gardée. Created in 1960, this enduring love story is regarded as one of Ashton’s most popular narrative ballets. Roberta Marquez returns as Guest Artist to dance two farewell performances in one of her signature roles as the wayward daughter Lise.
Kenneth MacMillan created Anastasia in 1967 as a one-act ballet which was extended to a three-act ballet in 1971 and restaged in 1996 with designs by Bob Crowley. This gripping exploration of the psychology of identity was inspired by the true story of Anna Anderson who believed herself to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia, the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II and only surviving member of the massacred Russian Imperial family. Former Royal Ballet Principal Viviana Durante, who danced the role of Anastasia in 1996, returns to coach the new generation of dramatic interpreters. Anastasia opens in October and will be screened in cinemas on Wednesday 2 November 2016.
Wayne McGregor was appointed Resident Choreographer in 2006 and since that time has introduced new audiences to the Company and its repertory. To mark his 10th anniversary, the Season includes the first all-McGregor mixed programme. This will feature the world premiere of a major collaboration between himself and American composer Steve Reich, with designs by Pakistani artist Rashid Rana and lighting by Lucy Carter. This new work will sit between his Olivier award-winning Chroma and Carbon Life.
Chroma is regarded as one of McGregor’s most exhilarating works set to a score by Joby Talbot and The White Stripes’ Jack White with a minimalist set by John Pawson. This special revival will feature dancers from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performing with Royal Ballet dancers. Carbon Life received its premiere in 2012 and merged the fashion designs of Gareth Pugh with music by Grammy Award-winning Mark Ronson, a leading musician, producer, DJ and music innovator whose song Uptown Funk featuring Bruno Mars has had over a billion views on YouTube.
In January, McGregor’s Woolf Works, inspired by the writings of Virginia Woolf and his first full-length work for the Company, returns for its first revival since it premiered in 2015, and is screened in cinemas on Wednesday 8 February. Former Principal Alessandra Ferri returns to dance the lead role for which she won the 2015 Critics’ Circle Awards for Best Female Dancer, and 2016 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance also for her performances in Cheri. Woolf Works won the 2015 Critics’ Circle Award for Best Classical Choreography and Best New Dance Production at the 2016 Olivier Awards.
Continuing the celebrations of Wayne McGregor’s decade with The Royal Ballet, and in recognition of the impact he has had on the Company, two young choreographers who have been mentored by him, Charlotte Edmonds and Robert Binet, will present new works in the Clore Studio Upstairs. Charlotte Edmonds is currently The Royal Ballet’s Young Choreographer and Robert Binet is a former Royal Ballet Choreographic Apprentice. Their pieces will be presented prior to McGregor’s triple bill in November.
Peter Wright’s production of The Nutcracker, with designs by Julia Trevelyan Oman, makes a welcome return at Christmas with Peter celebrating his 90th birthday on 25 November. The Nutcracker is also screened live in cinemas on Thursday 8 December.
The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party by ZooNation which took the Linbury Studio Theatre by storm two years ago is now restaged for the Roundhouse. Kate Prince‘s dance company has led the way in bringing hip-hop dance into mainstream theatre and this high-octane interpretation of Lewis Carroll‘s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland features a host of body-popping and break-dancing characters and live music composed by DJ Walde and Josh Cohen. This is an opportunity for The Royal Ballet to engage with new audiences while the Linbury Studio Theatre undergoes major redevelopment as part of the Open Up project.
The presentation of work by The Royal Ballet outside of Covent Garden continues in January 2017 at the Barbican. Les Enfants Terribles is the last in a trilogy of works that Philip Glass composed around the writings of Jean Cocteau. This dance opera originally created in 1996 conjures up the strange story of siblings Paul and Lise who live in an isolated room and become so absorbed in each other that they lose all sense of reality. This new production forms part of Glass’s 80th birthday celebrations and is directed and choreographed by Olivier award-nominated Javier De Frutos. Principal dancers from The Royal Ballet, leading contemporary dancers, and singers including Jette Parker Young Artists share the stage in this radical piece of dance opera.
The Sleeping Beauty reopened the Royal Opera House in February 1946 when the Company took up residence in Covent Garden. Margot Fonteyn danced the role of Princess Aurora and the ballet, with designs by Oliver Messel, became a signature work of the Company. This original staging was revived in 2006 for the Company’s 75th anniversary by Monica Mason, then Director, and Christopher Newton and includes additional choreography by Frederick Ashton, Anthony Dowell and Christopher Wheeldon. The Sleeping Beauty will be screened live in cinemas on Tuesday 28 February 2017.
In March, Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite makes her Royal Ballet debut as part of a mixed programme that also features the first revival of ballets by Christopher Wheeldon and David Dawson. Pite has become one of the world’s most sought-after choreographers and is renowned for her thrilling, unexpected dance imagery and vocabulary. For this commission she will create a large ensemble piece for the Company to music by Polish composer Henryk Górecki. After the Rain by Christopher Wheeldon was created for New York City Ballet in 2005 and first performed by The Royal Ballet in its entirety in 2016. With elegiac music by Arvo Pärt and a hauntingly nuanced pas de deux, the work has resonated deeply with audiences worldwide. International choreographer David Dawson made his first work for The Royal Ballet in 2013, The Human Seasons. Inspired by the John Keats poem of the same name, the ballet imagines human life in terms of the cycle of the seasons and is set to music by Greg Haines.
Jewels was created for New York City Ballet in 1967 by the father of American ballet, George Balanchine. In honour of its 50th anniversary, this three-act ballet, inspired by the Fifth Avenue jewellery store Van Cleef & Arpels, returns in April. Each act references a different era of ballet and musical style: ‘Emeralds’ with the French lyricism of Fauré; ‘Rubies’ with the jazz-inflected brio of Stravinsky; and ‘Diamonds’ with the grandeur of Tchaikovsky and the Imperial Russian ballet. Now a fixture in The Royal Ballet repertory, Jewels will be screened in cinemas on Tuesday 11 April 2017.
April also sees the return of Kenneth MacMillan’s masterpiece Mayerling. This three-act ballet explores the darkest reaches of human experience and is regarded as one of the most demanding, complex male roles in the repertory. The ballet follows the true story of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria and his mistress Mary Vetsera and the political and psychological forces leading up to their deaths. Nicholas Georgiadis’s designs evoke the decadence of Vienna and Franz Liszt’s music creates the perfect backdrop for this dramatic work. Former Royal Ballet Principal Leanne Benjamin will coach the leading dancers in this production.
May’s mixed programme features a new one-act ballet by Royal Ballet Artist in Residence Liam Scarlett alongside work by William Forsythe, Christopher Wheeldon and George Balanchine. Scarlett’s previous work for the Company includes his award-winning Asphodel Meadows, Hansel and Gretel, The Age of Anxiety and his 2016 three-act ballet Frankenstein. William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude has not been performed by The Royal Ballet for almost 15 years. This dizzying display of speed, colour and precision is set to the final movement of Franz Schubert’s Symphony No 9. Another virtuoso showpiece is Balanchine’s Tarantella pas de deux, a new acquisition for The Royal Ballet. Completing the programme is the first revival of Christopher Wheeldon’s one-act narrative ballet Strapless, inspired by the book of the same name by Deborah Davis. With music by Mark-Anthony Turnage and designs by Bob Crowley, the ballet explores the hypocrisy and scandal surrounding John Singer Sargent‘s portrait of Madame X.
The final mixed programme in June features three of Ashton’s masterful creations: The Dream, Symphonic Variations and Marguerite and Armand. His dance adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was first performed in 1964. Symphonic Variations was created in 1946, his first ballet choreographed especially for the Covent Garden stage. The final piece in the programme, Marguerite and Armand, was created in 1963 for Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev, a showcase for the very special chemistry between these two legendary artists.
THE ROYAL BALLET SEASON 2016-2017 – IN FULL
La Fille mal gardée – Frederick Ashton
Tuesday 27 September – Saturday 22 October 2016
Anastasia – Kenneth MacMillan
Wednesday 26 October – Saturday 12 November 2016
- ROH Live Cinema, Wednesday 2 November 2016
Wayne McGregor Mixed Programme
Thursday 10 November – Saturday 19 November 2016
- NEW BALLET
- Carbon Life
The Nutcracker – Peter Wright after Lev Ivanov
Wednesday 23 November 2016 – Saturday 7 January 2017
- ROH Live Cinema, Thursday 8 December 2016
The Sleeping Beauty – Frederick Ashton
Wednesday 21 December 2016 – Saturday 4 March 2017
- ROH Live Cinema, Tuesday 28 February 2017
Woolf Works – Wayne McGregor
Saturday 21 January – Saturday 11 February 2017
- ROH Live Cinema, Wednesday 8 February 2017
Thursday 16 March – Friday 24 March 2017
- The Human Seasons – David Dawson
- After the Rain – Christopher Wheeldon
- NEW BALLET – Crystal Pite
Jewels – George Balanchine
Saturday 1 April – Friday 21 April 2017
- ROH Live Cinema, Tuesday 11 April 2017
Mayerling – Kenneth MacMillan
Friday 28 April – Saturday 13 May 2017
Thursday 18 May – Saturday 27 May 2017
- The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude – William Forsythe
- Pas de deux Tarantella – George Balanchine
- Strapless – Christopher Wheeldon
- NEW BALLET – Liam Scarlett
Frederick Ashton – Mixed Bill
Friday 2 June – Saturday 10 June 2017
- The Dream
- Symphonic Variations
- Marguerite and Armand
- ROH Live Cinema, Saturday 3 June 2017
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.