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New resident choreographer for Royal Ballet


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#1 Jane Simpson

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 05:51 AM

The Royal Ballet announces the appointment, as from today, of Wayne McGregor as its resident choreographer.

Interesting. McGregor's Chroma has been a big hit in the RB's latest triple bill but he works outside the classical tradition. He's also scheduled to make a piece for POB soon.

#2 ami1436

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 06:11 AM

I just heard about this about an hour ago and still haven't fully got my mind around it. I liked Chroma, and do like what I've seen of Qualia... but it's all just so...well, for the Royal, out there.

I don't think that it should be read as a huge statement about the future of the Royal Ballet, as in some sort of abandonment of the past or so - I'm sure we'll have a huge number of Sleeping Beauty performances in all the years to come. But at the same time, I do wonder how much of an impact it will have on style - Qualia and Chroma highlight and *require* hypermobility... And (as those who know me know!), that's not a 'pathway to the future' or 'mark of the modern' that I'm even remotely happy with.

I do think it's an interesting, provocative, and exciting announcement. Beyond that, I'm still trying to figure out what I think of it!

#3 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 07:14 AM

Chroma was an interesting novelty and worth doing, but what benefit does the Royal get from this arrangement that they weren't getting from individual commissions?

#4 Helene

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 07:42 AM

When I first saw the title of this thread, I thought it would be Wheeldon. From an outsiders point of view, I hadn't read enough about McGregor's work with the RB to suggest that the relationship was long or strong enough to predict this appointment.

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 08:13 AM

Chroma was an interesting novelty and worth doing, but what benefit does the Royal get from this arrangement that they weren't getting from individual commissions?


Exactly. And if he really does serve as a resident choreographer -- not just making one ballet a year, but making a lot of ballets and working with the dancers on a regular basis, which is what a resident choreographer like, oh, say, Ashton or MacMillan, did -- what this means is that within a few years, all of the ballets in the repertory will begin to look like McGregor ballets and he'll change the style. Why else have a resident choreographer? His works should be the native language of the company.

#6 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 08:40 AM

After re-reading the press announcement, I get the feeling that Mason does plan for McGregor to have a broad role, but not one in line of Ashton or MacMillan. The things mentioned prominently are education, technology and collaboration. It's a guess, but I think she sees him as a one-man experimental wing for the company who can also serve as a liason between the main company and activities at the Linbury and Clore as well as the wider British dance community. The idea of McGregor assuming the role of even an Ashley Page doesn't thrill me (not that Page did it better than McGregor would) but Mason's done more things right than wrong so far; I'm willing to wait and see what actually happens.

#7 Jane Simpson

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 08:46 AM

The full press release is now up on the Royal Opera House website at

http://info.royalope...ex.cfm?ccs=1109

#8 Mashinka

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 09:08 AM

His works should be the native language of the company.


I ‘m not sure whether the company actually has a native language anymore as the old Royal Ballet style has all but disappeared. Chroma was a massive box office hit, but its worth asking if those long queues for tickets were made up of people eager to see the new Wayne McGregor or whether it was the affordable ticket prices being charged for that particular programme that was causing a stampede. One way or another though, Chroma was a massive hit and perhaps the RB management thinks its struck box office gold at last.

The RB has been flirting with McGregor for some time now starting off with a programme with some of the company along with dancers from his own group at the ROH's smaller auditorium, the Lindbury, before creating work for the main house. I'm wondering if this is a first move away from classical ballet and towards the POB model. The dearth of classical choreographers is nothing less than a global crisis and new work has to come from somewhere. Also there are now dancers within the RB, e.g. Watson, Galeazzi, Yanovsky, that are more impressive in the modern rep than the classical and several more that excel in these crossover works.

I would have put money on Christopher Wheeldon getting this particular job - shows how much I know.
:blush:

#9 Azulynn

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 01:03 AM

He's also scheduled to make a piece for POB soon.


Jane, is he really going to work with the POB ? Next season perhaps ? That would be interesting news, as I've been curious about his style, and it seems like a safer bet for the POB than most of the choreographers they invite (lately, Benjamin Millepied, whose work was not very good IMO).

#10 Jane Simpson

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 05:06 AM

Jane, is he really going to work with the POB ? Next season perhaps ? That would be interesting news, as I've been curious about his style, and it seems like a safer bet for the POB than most of the choreographers they invite (lately, Benjamin Millepied, whose work was not very good IMO).


Well, the press release says 'His plans include a new work for Paris Opéra Ballet', but that's all I know!

#11 bart

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 07:40 AM

From the press release Linked by Jane:

Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House added, "This is a great appointment. [ ... ] The critical and audience acclaim for [ the Chroma program ] proves once again that The Royal Ballet is one of the finest and most versatile ballet companies in the world." [My italics.]

Note the importance assigned to versatility. The Royal seems to be expanding its product line, not unlike POB over the past years and NYCB under Martins. Mashinka refers to deep discounts in ticket prices for Chroma. Perhaps ROB is considering variable pricing as well. (That WOULD be a good idea.)

All of this seems to be a reasonable strategy in business terms. My concern, already expressed by others, is that changes in education, teaching, and coaching may move the company -- intentionally or not -- towards a new approach to movement that undermines its ability to preserve (and even expand, in the sense of encouraging new work in a classical manner) its own classical style.

#12 leonid17

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 12:28 PM

From the press release Linked by Jane:

Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House added, "This is a great appointment. [ ... ] The critical and audience acclaim for [ the Chroma program ] proves once again that The Royal Ballet is one of the finest and most versatile ballet companies in the world." [My italics.]

Note the importance assigned to versatility. The Royal seems to be expanding its product line, not unlike POB over the past years and NYCB under Martins. Mashinka refers to deep discounts in ticket prices for Chroma. Perhaps ROB is considering variable pricing as well. (That WOULD be a good idea.)

All of this seems to be a reasonable strategy in business terms. My concern, already expressed by others, is that changes in education, teaching, and coaching may move the company -- intentionally or not -- towards a new approach to movement that undermines its ability to preserve (and even expand, in the sense of encouraging new work in a classical manner) its own classical style.


At the premier of 'Chroma' the audience was arguably not a typical RB audience.Top price seats
were approx 67US dollars as opposed to approx 160US dollars for Sleeping Beauty, so who is surprised?

Younger members of the audience welcomed McGregor's dance work, I did not as I thought it was completely
the wrong sort of direction for a classical ballet company to go in. Chroma was also in my opinion not a very good dance work when a new 'ballet' of quality was really was required.

On the same programme Christopher Wheldon's new work was a ballet and a choreographically successful one at that, spoilt only by the relentless second- rate music of Michael Nyman.

Truthfully for me, the evening was only saved by a rather good performance of Balanchine's 'The Four Temperaments.'

You are quite right Bart to raise the question of whether such works might undermine the RB's style and
after watching last night's performance of 'The Sleeping Beauty' I was considering if in such a short time it had already done that. Port de bras were sketchy and free, execution of steps by corps and soloists were weak and it was if the die had already been cast. An under par performance by Cojocaru and Bonelli did not help and only Marinella Nunez as the Lilac Fairy and Sarah Lamb as Princess Florine in my opinion should have gone home happy with their performances.

#13 bart

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Posted 03 December 2006 - 01:15 PM

I want to thank leonid for posting (on today's Links) an article in wihch Monica Mason explains and defends the appointment. For those who haven't seen that Linkn, here's a quote:

His appointment will appease critics who have accused the Royal Ballet of becoming a "museum company" dedicated to preserving an ageing repertoire but it will also worry some of the more traditional ballet enthusiasts.

Ms Mason attempted to reassure them last night: "It is not my intention to turn the Royal Ballet into a contemporary dance company," she told The Times. "But as I said to the dancers this morning you always have to try to keep pushing the boundaries . . . [Ballet] is an artform that is only kept alive by being bold and daring and exploring new territory."

For all their classic status today, Ashton and MacMillan did exactly this, she said.

"They created a wonderful roster of work for us but none of it was created comfortably. We rely on these people to make audiences sit up and take notice and that’s what Wayne did with Chroma." McGregor said: "As the newest member of this exceptional collaborative team I look forward to sharing a rich and stimulating artistic future."

It's very clear that Mason considers McGregor's role part of a line of succession that runs from Ashton and MacMillen.

The complete article is here: http://www.timesonli...,2-2482593.html

#14 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 03 December 2006 - 08:40 PM

I hope those quotes were taken out of context. Otherwise, I look forward to Mr. McGregor's new version of La Fille Mal Gardee.

#15 sandik

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Posted 03 December 2006 - 09:15 PM

Golly, this is a shock. I can certainly understand why the RB might want to have an ongoing relationship with an artist like McGregor, especially given his work with new technologies, but somehow the title resident choreographer makes it sound like a different kind of aesthetic shift.

Any idea what will happen with Random Dance -- is he still going to direct?


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