Classical ballets (think The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, The Nutcracker) are not my favourite. This is because with most classical ballets the plot is covered pretty quickly, so to create a full length performance, they need to be padded out with extra bits of dancing. Usually this is done in a party scene, where various guests perform solos and group dances (called "pas-de-insert-french-number"). These scenes always irritate me a little, as they seem really random, especially when the guests are cats or suits of cards... Often these scenes occur at the very end of a ballet when the story is basically over and one could leave feeling satisfied but instead is forced to sit for another half hour while the performance drags on... (At least with classical ballets like Swan Lake and Giselle the party scenes are at the beginning and so end on a dramatic high). But this article from the Royal Ballet website sheds some light on these so-called divertissements, which has made me reconsider their value. So I am looking forward to seeing the Royal Ballet's The Sleeping Beauty in the cinema on March 19th!
Monday, 24 February 2014
Wednesday, 19 February 2014
I went into Wayne McGregor's latest piece, Tetractys - the Art of Fugue - feeling rather confused. I'd planned to do some light background reading in preparation for this performance. This reading turned out to be a lot more difficult that I expected...
As the subtitle suggests, Tetractys is based on Bach's The Art of Fugue. Composed in the last decade of his life, it is considered by many to be Bach's greatest achievement. Consisting of 14 fugues, it is an extremely complex piece of counterpoint, mirror counterpoint and retrograde counterpoints (and if you want to learn more about this, Radio 3's Early Music Show recently did a really interesting program about it).
But McGregor dug deeper, unearthing theories concerning geometry, numerology, and the Pythagorean theory of numbers. This is where the idea of the tetractys comes in. A tetractys is a triangular figure consisting of ten points arranged in four rows like a pyramid. It is a mystical symbol that was important in the secret worship of the Pythagoreans. It represents unity, power, harmony and kosmos. This is about where I started to get lost...
|Natalia Osipova and Edward Watson|
|Paul Kay, Steven McRae and Sarah Lamb|
© ROH / Johan Persson 2014
Friday, 7 February 2014
Today I found this documentary about the Mariinsky Ballet. It really shows how tough being a ballet dancer can be!