Royal Ballet Triple: Chroma/ The Human Seasons/ Rite of Spring, Covent Garden, November 2013

The world premiere in this triple bill was the second ballet by David Dawson, making his Royal Ballet debut as a choreographer. I know someone who skipped the first item, and another who skipped the third, but both were in full anticipation of the second and neither was disappointed.

Sarah Lamb in Chroma ©ROH/ Bill Cooper

Sarah Lamb in Chroma ©ROH/ Bill Cooper

The evening started with Wayne McGregor’s Chroma, a mixture of action and contemplative moments, superbly performed by some of the finest dancers in the Company to music arranged by Joby Talbot, well conducted by Tom Seligman. After that it was Barry Wordsworth in the orchestra pit for The Human Seasons to intriguing music by Greg Haines, and a loudly enthusiastic rendering of Rite, which lacked Stravinskian coherence.

The dancing in Rite however exhibited an energy that came hugely to life when Zenaida Yanowsky made her appearance as the chosen one. When lifted by the men, her beautifully rigid posture contrasted with her wild and gloriously precise dancing, interleaved by a fine portrayal of exhaustion. This maiden is high on drugs supplied by the elders, able to undertake superhuman feats of physical action, before she dies, held aloft by four men. Utterly mesmerizing.

Rite of Spring ©ROH/ Johan Persson

Rite of Spring ©ROH/ Johan Persson

The second item, David Dawson’s The Human Seasons provided a beautiful contrast before Rite. Where Kenneth MacMillan’s work is full of vertical movements and geometric patterns, Dawson’s choreography for The Human Seasons’  gave us twirling and sideways movements, with far fewer dancers but making full use of the deep stage.

The idea is based on Keats’s poem of the same title: Four Seasons fill the measure of the year …, dealing with human life in terms of its spring, summer, autumn and winter. Superb dancing by four principal couples and five soloists was framed at birth and death by the four principal men holding their partners aloft, and with Steven McRae taking a central role throughout. The choreography  fitted beautifully with Greg Haines’ music, in which part of the summer (or was it spring?) was reminiscent of that  for the woodland animals in Janaček’s Vixen.

This is a ballet not to be missed at any cost — and the cost is very low — so no surprise that the remaining five performances are already sold out, except Student Standby for the matinee on 23rd November. Get a fake ID in preparation.

Performances continue until November 23 — for details click here.

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