Becoming a ‘Friend’ of the Royal Opera House certainly has its benefits. For just £14 we were able to see the matinée final dress rehearsal of a MacMillan triple bill which was to open later the same day. The programme covered three contrasting works; Concerto, Las Hermanas and Requiem, which illustrate the variety and intelligence of one of my favourite Choreographers.
Concerto is set to music by Shostakovich who also composed the piece I am developing for work I hope to present in our school Choreographic Competition next month. Concerto is a lively and colourful ballet with dynamic theme-less patterns swiftly changing direction across the stage, relieved by a beautiful pas de deux in the second movement. I almost lost count of the ideas it inspired for my own choreography due to the similarities in musical style.
Las Hermanas, Spanish for ‘The Sisters’, is a cleverly narrated story of sensuality and repression conveyed through inventive movement that is both emotive and engaging. Tonight will mark the Covent Garden debut for this piece which MacMillen created in 1963 during his time with the Stuttgart Ballet.
Requiem was MacMillan’s tribute to his friend John Cranko and portrays the Stuttgart Ballet company as a community coming to terms with the loss of a much-loved leader. Latin for ‘Rest’ this spiritual piece was accompanied by angelic choral singing and although sombre in tone, the stage was bathed in the bright light of paradise. The depth of Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s influence on the evolution of choreography and the demands he made on his dancers’ abilities were very evident here.
You can read The Guardian’s opening night review of this trio of MacMillan’s ballets staged by the Royal Ballet to mark the 20th anniversary of his death backstage during the performance of his ballet Mayerling.
After the dress rehearsal we browsed the ballet shops nearby and were happily surprised to encounter the two latest members of our School to be offered contracts with the Royal Ballet. We shared their excitement as they explained how the Director had told them the news earlier this week, which of course had spread around our school within hours of the event. They will now leave without completing their final year at the Upper School crossing ‘the bridge’ to start with the company in two week’s time. I wish them all the best for a successful career and congratulate them for this huge achievement.
As the sun went down we discovered a lovely Italian Osteria on Drury Lane. Whilst enjoying our starter I couldn’t hold back from asking the two familiar faces sitting at the table next to us if they had anything to do with the Royal Ballet. It was soon confirmed that one gentleman was the Dance Notator who had come to White Lodge to teach us The Nutcracker Battle Scene back in 2008/9 and the other was the Orchestra Conductor of the dress rehearsal we had just seen. Both were involved in the evening performance and were having a brief meal before returning to the Opera House. They kindly signed the Rehearsal’s Cast List sheet, giving me a treasured reminder of this chanced meeting. The ‘cherry on top’ was when Mr & Mrs Bonelli, Principal and First Soloist with the Royal Ballet, stopped to wave to Mr Wordsworth through the window of the restaurant. I was tempted to rush outside to ask for their autographs too!
We ended our day by strolling through the crowded streets of London, admiring the beautiful window displays and stunning street lights; soaking up the early Christmas buzz. Such a magical city at our finger tips with so much to do and to see. I really hope to be retracing my steps here next year as a student in my final three years of ballet training in London.