Sunday, 15 June 2014

My Royal Ballet 2013/14 Season in Review

This season was the first time I managed to catch, in some form or another, every production of the Royal Ballet on the main stage, as well as a handful in the Linbury Studio Theatre. The discovery that it is actually possible to get reasonably priced tickets, as well as Live Cinema screenings and Sky Arts 2 made it possible. I loved every moment, and it's pretty hard to pick my favorites. Nevertheless, looking back over the year, there are certainly some productions that stand out in my memory.

My favorite full length production was without a doubt Christopher Wheeldon's The Winter's Tale. In fact, this season was the season I really discovered Christopher Wheeldon for myself. He has an incredible ability to make ballets that feel contemporary without distorting the art form beyond recognition. 

I also really enjoyed Giselle and was lucky enough to catch two performances, one in house with Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae, the other at the cinema with Natalia Osipova and Carlos Acosta. Seeing the same production twice with different casts was a really insightful experience for me. But my favourite casting throughout the whole season has consistently been Sarah Lamb with Steven McRae. 

Sarah Lamb in Jewels© ROH
Over Christmas I saw both the Nutcracker and Jewels. I love the tradition of going to the ballet for Christmas, and both of these productions put me in a real Christmas spirit. (I'm quite sad the Royal Ballet won't be doing the Nutcracker next season!) 

Triple Bills are always my favorite because one gets to see a variety of works. This season the Royal Ballet did four incredible triple bills. My top picks were 

Melissa Hamilton and Gary Avis
in DGV 
- the Rite of Spring, which 100 years on from it's world premier still feels ahead of its time;
- Steven McRae in Rhapsody - I will never forget those incredible jumps that made the entire audience gasp;
- Gloria, with the beautiful Melissa Hamilton;
- Serenade, which I'd actually seen performed by the Boston Ballet when they visited London last year, but loved even more this time;
- and Christopher Wheeldon's DGV - LOVED IT!!! 

The biggest disappointment was probably Wayne McGregor's Tetractys. I loved everything he did up until then, especially Infra, Chroma and Raven Girl. But Tetractys felt a bit bland. Still, I was glad I got to see it after some shows had to be cancelled due to Natalia Osipova sustaining a concussion during a performance! 

I always love going to the Linbury Studio because the productions tend to be more experimental. Liam Scarlett's Hansel and Gretel was definitely the most disturbing thing I saw at the Royal Ballet this season. Liam Scarlett has a really talent for telling dramatic stories through choreography. I am really looking forward to his new ballet, The Age of Anxiety, next season!

Northern Ballet dancers in Luminous Juncture
Emma Kauldhar
Other Linbury highlights included the Northern Ballet, especially Kenneth Tindall's Luminous Juncture, and Mayuri Boonham's The Human Edge, which she choreographed for Yuhui Choe and Kentra Kura. I also loved Draft Works, which I intend to make a regular fixture in my calendar!

Finally, an absolute highlight was getting to meet Edward Watson at a signing of his new DVD The Metamorphosis.