The Royal Ballet, in its 90th anniversary year, is mounting a broad range of classics and new work during this season and into the next. In honour of the company's founder, Dame Ninette de Valois, whose vision was to “respect the past, herald the future, but concentrate on the present”, the Beauty Mixed Programme features work across the generations from the third act of The Sleeping Beauty by, ‘Madam', (as she was known) to a world premiere by one of the company's choreographers.
The programme opens with the world premiere of Anemoi by First Soloist Valentino Zucchetti who has developed his previous ballet Scherzo created for the youngest members of the company. It was streamed to critical acclaim last autumn. It is inspired by Greek mythology where Anemoi gods rule over the winds, and here the new work ushers in brighter times with positive winds of change and the warm arrival of spring.
The central section of the programme comprises a series of evocative duets from the two choreographers who shaped the Company's early history, Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan, and current voices in dance today. Ashton's Voices of Spring and the ‘farewell' pas de deux from MacMillan's Winter Dreams are joined by works by The Royal Ballet's Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor, Royal Ballet Artistic Associate Christopher Wheeldon and choreographer Mats Ek.
Wayne McGregor's Morgen premiered during the pandemic last June as part of the Royal Opera House Live from Covent Garden digital stream, a touching moment of hope for better times conveyed in Richard Strauss's setting of John Henry Mackay's poem. This revival will be its first performance with a live audience.
Christopher Wheeldon's touching pas de deux from After the Rain created for New York City Ballet in 2005 makes a return, and the programme also includes the UK premiere of woman with water, a work new to The Royal Ballet by Mats Ek, which was originally created for the Royal Swedish Ballet in 2020.
In tribute to Ninette de Valois, the programme finishes with the third act of The Sleeping Beauty, a signature classic for The Royal Ballet and the production she selected for the reopening of the Royal Opera House when the Company made its home there in 1946, 75 years ago. The revival has been restaged by Monica Mason and Christopher Newton, marking not only the production's 75th anniversary but also the exuberant mood of the company's return to the stage in 2021, as it was on the reopening after the second world war.
The event will be broadcast live via the Royal Opera House website on Friday 9 July at 7.30pm BST (20.30 CEST), priced at £16.00 per household and will be available to watch on-demand until 10 July. Further details here: Beauty Mixed Programme – Beauty Mixed Programme – Royal Opera House Stream (roh.org.uk)
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.