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Royal Ballet - 'Polyphonia', 'Castle Nowhere', 'Requiem'

by Ana Abad-Carles

April 12, 2006 -- Royal Opera House, London

The Royal Ballet continued their annual season with a triple bill that included a world premiere and two revivals.

“Polyphonia” was created by Christopher Wheeldon for New York City Ballet. London saw this work for the first time when a touring group from NYCB presented the work at Sadler’s Wells Theatre a few years ago. “Polyphonia” is Wheeldon at his most inventive in a post-Balanchinean way. Echoes to the great choreographer can be found in this work very easily and, yet, there is a freshness and directness of approach to the material that Wheeldon uses and revisits, which makes the work interesting to watch. Royal Ballet dancers seemed to enjoy the challenges posed by Wheeldon in his choreography, but there was something lacking in their interpretation: a sense of purpose, a sense of fun at times. Still, “Polyphonia” still looks inventive and fresh and, to this day, remains as Wheeldon’s best work. One could only wish that he revisited Ashton’s approach to choreography in the same way as he did with Balanchine’s.

The second ballet of the evening was a premiere, “Castle Nowhere”, by Matjash Mrozewski. Using Arvo Pärt’s atmospheric music, Mrozewski’s choreography showed what looked like a ball in which a main couple –Laura Morera and Ricardo Cervera- meet and develop some sort of relationship among other couples. The ballet was very reminiscent of Tudor’s “Lilac Garden” in terms of vocabulary and atmosphere, but as with Wheeldon’s piece, this was not detrimental to the work, but rather a bonus. The choreographic language was fluid and restrained at the same time, and it looked extremely musical. Though there was no story as such, there were obvious echoes and hints at characters, and it is interesting to see choreographers revisiting their choreographic heritage in search of new means of expression. Hardly ever does the Royal Ballet produce such a successful premiere of a piece that both manages to capture the company’s strengths and yet challenges them in new ways.

The final ballet of the evening was Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s “Requiem”. A most welcome revival, it was beautifully danced by the whole company who grasped the depth and beauty of the work. Tamara Rojo as the Pie Jesu dancer was simply glorious. Her sense of otherworldliness was outstanding. She managed to suspend herself in time and space and her performance seemed to act as a catalyst for the rest of the company, who seemed to respond to MacMillan’s choreography with the same sense of purpose.

A very good evening that seemed to explore choreographic connections between the past and the present repertoire. The company seemed to enjoy the challenge and it offered very good performances that highlighted the importance of preserving a heritage in order to move forwards into the future.

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