Tonight, Friday 4 June, the Royal Ballet opens a new evening of dance dedicated to George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins with Apollo, the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, and Dances at a Gathering.
American ballet is celebrated in classic works by two choreographic giants of the 20th century. Apollo brought Balanchine together for the first time with composer Igor Stravinsky with the original creation being for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1928. Balanchine's Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux gave life to a long-forgotten movement from Tchaikovsky's original score for Swan Lake. It was created in 1960 for virtuoso New York City Ballet dancers Violette Verdy and Conrad Ludlow – its thrilling technical challenges remain a test for performers today.
Jerome Robbins, who played a crucial role in the development of American ballet as well as American musicals, created Dances at a Gathering in 1969. With music by Chopin, is an ode to pure dance. Robbins said,
There are no stories to any of the dances in Dances at a Gathering. There are no plots and no roles. The dancers are themselves dancing with each other to that music in that place.
While plotless, the ballet's intimacy creates a powerful sense of community, which promises to resonate with audiences and dancers again following its revival in 2020 just before lockdown.
Reviewing a 2020 performance, Teresa Guerreiro for CultureWhisper wrote,
Robbins' choreography, unforced, flowing, at times like the finest lace, as fleet-footed dancers cross each other's paths creating dazzling patterns, is a delight. Watching it you feel, in a mysterious way, truly blessed.
The programme will be streamed live on Friday 11 June and will remain available to watch on-demand for one month. The cast for that performance is as follows:
Tchaikovsky Pas de deux
Marianela Nuñez, Vadim Muntagirov
Dancers at a Gathering
Yasmine Naghdi, Mayara Magri, Anna Rose O'Sullivan, Romany Pajdak, Fumi Kaneko,, Marcelino Sambé, Reece Clarke, Téo Dubreuil, Benjamin Ella, James Hay
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.