Posted on April 5, 2017
The Royal Ballet has announced its plans for the 2017–18 season, including a new production of Swan Lake by Liam Scarlett, a celebration of Kenneth MacMillan and new ballets by Twyla Tharp, Arthur Pita, Wayne McGregor and Christopher Wheeldon.
Twyla Tharp’s The Illustrated “Farewell” has its world premiere on November 6, as part of a triple bill with Arthur Pita’s new work and Hofesh Shechter’s Untouchable. Tharp’s piece extends her 1973 ballet As Time Goes By, using the whole of Haydn’s “Farewell” symphony, where the first version used only the last two movements. The new work will feature an extended duet for Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae.
Pita’s new work is inspired by The Wind, a 1920s novel by Dorothy Scarborough that was adapted as a silent movie starring Lillian Gish. With designs by Jeremy Herbert and a commissioned score by Frank Moon, it tells the story of a young woman who moves to a rural community, where her mind unravels in the face of the unrelenting wind.
In March 2018, the company marks the centenary of the birth of composer Leonard Bernstein with a revival of Liam Scarlett’s The Age of Anxiety and new works by Wayne McGregor and Christopher Wheeldon. McGregor’s new ballet has designs by author and ceramicist Edmund de Waal, best known for his memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes. Wheeldon’s work will have costumes by fashion designer Erdem Moralioglu.
Scarlett’s new Swan Lake will end the season, having its premiere on May 17. Scarlett will create some additional choreography, but will remain faithful to the traditional 1895 production by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. At the press conference, artistic director Kevin O’Hare emphasised that this will be “a very Royal Ballet” Swan Lake. The new production will be designed by John Macfarlane.
2017 is the 25th anniversary of the death of Kenneth MacMillan, one of The Royal Ballet’s defining choreographers. Kenneth MacMillan: A National Celebration brings Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet and Scottish Ballet to join The Royal Ballet for three programmes of one-act ballets, including a joint performance of Elite Syncopations by all five companies. The celebration will also include a series of talks and insight sessions. Running from October 10 to November 1, 2017, the celebration will include Concerto (Birmingham Royal Ballet), Le Baiser de la fée (Scottish Ballet), The Judas Tree (The Royal Ballet), Song of the Earth (English National Ballet) and Gloria (Northern Ballet).
In October 2017, artists of The Royal Ballet and Yorke Dance Project will dance MacMillan’s Sea of Troubles and Jeux, his reconstruction Vaslav Nijinsky’s lost 1913 ballet, in a version completed by Wayne Eagling in 2012. MacMillan’s Manon will also be revived this season, with performances from March to May 2018.
The season opens with a revival of Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with Frederick Ashton’s Sylvia returning in November, followed by Peter Wright’s productions of The Nutcracker and Giselle. Wheeldon’s The Winter’s Tale returns in February 2018, while in April 2018 there will be a triple bill of McGregor’s Obsidian Tear, Ashton’s Marguerite and Armand and MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations.
Picture, top: Laura Morera and Steven McRae in The Age of Anxiety. Photograph: Bill Cooper, courtesy of The Royal Opera House