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?
I was also at the premiere of Chroma and can’t say the audience looked that much different from any other night. From my seat in the amphi I could look down and see the usual scattering of empty seats in the stalls where (as usual) the corporate patrons simply hadn’t bothered to turn up. The ballet regulars appeared to be out in force as it was a first night, but the ROH actually has a very small regular ballet audience, probably no more than about 5% - 10% of the house.
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.
Speaking as someone who could never be called a ‘younger member of the audience’ and whose ballet going pals are in the main as long in the tooth as I am, I can put my hand on my heart and say we all loved Chroma and until reading Leonid’s post I thought that the audience reaction had been 100 per cent positive. The critics (with one miserable exception) were close to ecstatic as it was a powerful work danced with commitment and obvious enjoyment by all the company members. As for it being ‘the wrong sort of direction for a classical ballet company to go in’, the RB has been dancing modern works of this kind for years now and at least McGregor engages with the company and presents the dancers in a positive way unlike those dreadful acquisitions from Forsythe a few years back.
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.
Actually Leonid, sketchy port de bras and weak execution of steps has been an unfortunate feature of the Royal ballet’s performances for a number of years now and the slipshod dancing you witnessed is fairly standard with or without new ballets by Wayne McGregor.
Chroma was a terrific addition to the RB repertoire, but I have serious reservations about McGregor being resident choreographer, he is a choreographer of undeniable brilliance but one that I imagine does best with a group of dancers dedicated to his works – exactly what he has at present with his Random Dance company, in the long run I don’t think this appointment will benefit the RB, Random Dance or McGregor himself.