One of my favourite books is Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and this is probably the same for you and millions of other readers. Written as a children’s novel, its wit, imaginative creations and bizarre ideas has struck our mind like a thunderbolt and never left. The story of Alice has been transformed on stage, film and, as of 2011, The Royal Ballet introduced their own ballet with choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, music composer Joby Talbot and designer Bob Crowley.
Last Monday was the international cinema screening of the three-act ballet and by the end of it, I was beating myself over how long I had left it to see this wonderful show. It’s hard to pinpoint a favourite scene as there are so many. From the music, dance sequences to set designs, there are many things going on and clearly a large effort from all involved at the Covent Garden’s Royal Ballet company.
Woolf Works, a brand new production conceived out of the works of 20thcentury novelist Virginia Woolf, received an outstanding roar of applause and standing ovations at its premier last night. The Royal Ballet’s own resident contemporary choreographer, Wayne McGregor was inspired to fulfil Woolf’s dream of combining her stylistic prose which defied the writing rules of her era with the transformative and emotional powers of dance. McGregor worked tirelessly with Uzma Hameed as the production’s dramaturg to unravel ‘the luminosity, sonorousness and poignancy of [Woolf’s] world.’
With an array of the best principal dancers from the Royal Ballet including Natalia Osipova, Federico Bonelli, Edward Watson and former ballet principal Alessandra Ferri (now aged 52, can you believe?), Woolf Works brings together the flair and multiple perspectives of the author’s non-linear writing through three of her best loved novels – Mrs Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves.
Impressed by the 22 year old Francesca Hayward‘s impish bird dance at the Royal Ballet’s earlier production of Sleeping Beauty, I was naturally curious to see her perform again but as a lead in a tragic tale. This season of the Royal Ballet introduced the loving and disturbing tale of Manon, a ingénue whose struggle for love and material greed lead to her inevitable demise.
Its music is written by Jules Massenet, which recounts the sensualness and naivety of Manon’s flawed character, which has been produced into various historical operas and plays from the original 1731 novel by Abbé Prévost. Created by Kenneth MacMillan in 1974, the English ballet was a delight to watch in its efforts to portray a never-ending spiral bridging two lovers, Manon and Des Grieux, that are tangled in forces beyond their control; finance, feelings and, life and death situations. Yet I have to admit, that I have seen fancier and riskier ballets that show more flair and technique, than this one. There was unmistakably a lot of talent, much leaping, lifts and beautiful movement that ingratiated the stage, as designed by Nicholas Georgiadis, and without putting down the strength and physical prowess of its dancers, I felt, the ballet’s choreography, as a whole, was a level below from the, more, grander and, more, popular ballets.
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