“What I wanted to put on stage had to have more reality than much of what I was seeing in the 1940s and 50s … Little of what I was seeing then had any contact with a real world of feeling and human behaviour. Ballet looked like window-dressing. I wanted to make ballets in which an audience would become caught up with the fate of the characters I showed them.” – Kenneth MacMillan
To mark the 25th anniversary of Kenneth MacMillan’s death, the Royal Opera House has put together a mixed bills programme of his works to be performed by members of six leading British ballet companies:
- Concerto / Le Baiser de la fée / Elite Syncopations – 18 | 19 October at 7.30pm
- The Judas Tree / Song of the Earth – 24 October at 7.30pm and 1 November at 7.30p
- Gloria / The Judas Tree / Elite Syncopations – 26 | 27 October at 7.30pm
- Jeux – 18 | 19 | 24 October at 6.30pm
“Kenneth revealed himself by what he did on stage more than he ever did in life … He was a quiet, even taciturn man, very subtle in his responses. But his understanding of people and how they react to one another still astonishes me. He believed you could do and say anything through dance” – Lady Deborah MacMillan
The performances have been getting rave reviews and it is a rare opportunity to see pieces that are rarely included in the repertoire, which are now being performed by the most talented dancers in Britain.
In addition to the performances, other in-house events are also taking place. These include insights on the music, settings, costumes design and the participation of his widow Deborah and daughter Charlotte MacMillan who will be talking about how they preserve his legacy.
Some of these sessions have already taken place, and some tickets have been sold out. However, some places are still available, so it is worth checking it out.
Find out about the full programme and cast on the Royal Opera House website.
An insight on MacMillan’s work
Kenneth MacMillan became a world-renowned choreographer, and alongside Frederich, Ashton brought a huge contribution in shaping up the identity of the Royal Ballet. And it is common to hear from dancers that performing his ballets has been a unique experience as professionals and human beings.
The truth is that MacMillan was not only an exquisite choreographer. He was a rare observer and a great expert on the human soul vulnerabilities. He understood, like a few, the dualities and the multiple facets of the human personality makeup. His creations are way different from the ethereal Sylphides and the purity found in Petipa’s princesses.
Instead, his characters, are real, current and fallible. They could easily succumb to rape, bribery, drugs and at the same time show some humanity and affection towards others. Yes, seeing life as it is: raw, brutal intense, why not say beautiful and sublime. And he did it all with so much beauty and sensitivity, that he managed to bring to the stage themes that were once unspeakable in the ballet world such as complex familial relationships and repressed sexuality.
His productions were and are still impeccable. Costumes are sumptuous, the music is magnificent and the choreography is unique. His style is easily recognisable in the lifts, promenades and the way the dancers are required to move their torsos. And the unconventional way that Manon and De Grieux finish the bedroom pas de deux, only shows that he will always be the prince of pas de deux.
His creative capabilities go beyond the classical technique plasticity. His pieces are great theatrical plays. which give dancers the opportunity to develop their acting skills and make the roles their own. To the dancer is given the chance to explore emotions and memories often sitting quietly in the depths of their subconscious minds, and the magic happens when these emotions are shared with the audience leading them into a rewarding self-discovery journey.