The Royal Ballet has announced details about its forthcoming Festival of New Choreography, opening in February 2024. The Festival of New Choreography Main Stage performances will run from 15 – 21 February 2024. Dark with Excessive Bright will be performed in the Linbury Theatre from 10 – 20 February 2024.
In a series of performances, events and activities, the Royal Opera House embraces and champions new, diverse voices in choreography.
The Festival comprises:
- NEW WORKS – Four world premieres in one night on the Main Stage by Gemma Bond, Joshua Junker, Jessica Lang and Mthuthuzeli November;
- DARK WITH EXCESSIVE BRIGHT, an immersive ballet by Robert Binet in the Linbury Theatre;
- DUETS presented in the Clore Studio;
- A live-streamed INSIGHT into the creation process;
- DAZZLING DEBUTS, part of the Royal Opera House Family Sunday;
- LIVE AT LUNCH open rehearsal in the Paul Hamlyn Hall.
NEW WORKS – Four world premieres in one night brings together four international choreographers to make their choreographic debut on the Main Stage. This mixed programme features works by Gemma Bond, Joshua Junker, Jessica Lang, and Mthuthuzeli November.
Canadian choreographer Robert Binet presents the first ever immersive ballet in the Linbury Theatre, transforming the space with innovative stage, lighting design and audio-visual technology to make an intimate and immersive experience of ballet.
British choreographer and former Royal Ballet First Artist Gemma Bond makes her Main Stage choreographic debut with Boundless, a new work set to Joey Roukens' ‘In Unison' concerto for two pianos and orchestra and with designs by Charlotte MacMillan. Active in the United States in venues as The Joyce, New York City Center and the Metropolitan Opera House, Bond is the recipient of a number of choreographic accolades including a Bessie for outstanding breakout choreographer and the Clive Barnes Foundation Award for choreography. She previously presented work in the Linbury Theatre with ABT Studio Company for The Royal Ballet's choreographic platform International Draft Works.
Royal Ballet First Artist Joshua Junker will also present his first ever Main Stage work for The Royal Ballet. The Dutch choreographer choreographed for Draft Works for The Royal Ballet's gala in Doncaster in 2022, and last year created a work for Dutch National Ballet's Junior Company which garnered him a Stichting Dansersfonds ‘79 Incentive Award. The inspiration for Junker's Royal Ballet commission is drawn from the music by Nils Frahm and Vikingur Ólafsson.
American director and choreographer Jessica Lang has created ballets for companies worldwide, including American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and Birmingham Royal Ballet. Her new work for The Royal Ballet, Twinkle, recalls childhood enchantment with music featuring Brahms' Cradle Song and Mozart's twelve variations of Ah vous dirai-je, Maman, known popularly as the tune Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The English poet Jane Taylor first published the classic rhyme ‘The Star' in 1806 and this lullaby continues to be the most universal melody expressing the fascination and wonder of the night's sky.
South African-born choreographer Mthuthuzeli November is the recipient of an Olivier Award and Black British Theatre Award, among other awards for his creativity. He has choreographed internationally with an extensive portfolio of work made for Ballet Black and Northern Ballet that has been seen by Linbury Theatre audiences, including most recently Nina: By Whatever Means. His first commission by The Royal Ballet, For What it's Worth, features a new score co-created by November himself andAlex Wilson plus costume design by Yann Seabra.
In the Linbury Theatre, Canadian choreographer Robert Binet presents Dark with Excessive Bright, a new work that imagines the invisible forces of the universe in human form, capturing the growth, decay, chaos and consistency that co-exist in the world. With a score of chamber music by the American composer Missy Mazzoliand design by architect and set designer Shizuka Hariu, this work creates an immersive experience by removing the seating so that the audience can move freely through the space. All performances are accessible to Blind and d/Deaf audiences through technology that integrates the communication of poetic text through audio description and creative captioning. Binet works with his long-time collaborator Devon Healey to curate this Access experience. Dark with Excessive Bright is a co-production with The National Ballet of Canada where Binet is Choreographic Associate. He is the recipient of the Next Generation Award from Dance Collection Danse and in 2017 presented The Dreamers Ever Leave You at London's Printworks with The Royal Ballet and The National Ballet of Canada.
In the Clore Studio, dancers and choreographers from several national dance companies including The Royal Ballet will present DUETS. Three performances on the afternoon of Sunday 25 February will give emerging choreographers the opportunity to share new work with audiences in an intimate studio setting.
All the new ballets will be complemented by a programme of Learning and Participation activity happening across the Opera House. On 5 February, dancers and choreographers will come together for an Insight into the Festival, including with Joseph Toonga who undertakes this Season's Royal Ballet Choreographic Residency and will have a new work featured on the Main Stage next Season.
The House will come alive on Sunday 18 February for Family Sunday: Dazzling Debuts, an event for the whole family to explore Opera and Ballet, including work by Kristen McNally and Valentino Zucchetti of The Royal Ballet and by the differently-abled dancer and choreographer Joseph Powell-Main. The festival continues with Powell-Main in a Live at Lunch free event on Friday 23 February.
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.