Rehearsals are underway for Symphony of Psalms and Chroma. They will soon be part of the Bolshoi Ballet repertoire!

21.07.2011

The Bolshoi Ballet continues its assimilation of a state-of-the-art ballet repertoire. At the end of last year it presented a program of one-acters in which the 20th century was retrospectively represented: George Balanchine’s Serenade (1935), Rubies (1967) also a Balanchine ballet and Herman Schmerman by William Forsythe (1992).

The brilliantly syncopated Rubies has migrated to the present program. But in this retrospective 1967, the year the ballet was created, is taken as the starting point. It is followed by Jiri Kylian’s Symphony of Psalms (1978) and finally a ballet created in the 21st century, just five years ago — Wayne McGregor’s Chroma (2006).

The ballet world believes that Jiri Kylian is one of the choreographer-cornerstones of the 20th and early 21st centuries. An active participant in the Prague spring, he was among those of his compatriots who refused to come to terms with its defeat and decided to build a life and a career for themselves in the West. Having based himself in Holland, Kylian managed to make the Hague into a contemporary dance Mecca. Among the regular visitors to the Nederlands Dans Theatre, of which Kylian is leader, are the Queen of the Netherlands and many balletomanes from different corners of the world where the NDT has been on tour.

Symphony of Psalms, mounted to Stravinsky’s choral symphony of the same name — is one of the choreographer’s highest achievements. There are constant revivals at NDT, which has presented it on tour throughout the world and from time to time it enters the repertoire of other famous ballet companies.

As a result of his production of the dance piece Chroma, Wayne McGregor — at the time (2006) the thirty-six-year-old energetic leader of his own company (which is still going strong) — was appointed resident choreographer of London’s Royal Ballet. Covent Garden’s academically trained dancers and orchestra were presented from an unexpected angle, their transformation astonishing both audiences and critics. The piece caused a furore — and McGregor, to his surprise, became the first ever resident avant-garde choreographer to be appointed in Royal Ballet history. And though before he could not complain of lack of attention, now he became extraordinarily in demand: he was invited to do productions at the Paris Opera, La Scala, NDT (see above), Balanchine’s New York City Ballet etc., and also by The National Ballet of Canada (Toronto) and Ballet San Francisco — in the case of the last two in fact, he was invited to produce Chroma.


Photo from the rehearsals by Damir Yusupov

"As a result of his production of the dance piece Chroma, Wayne McGregor — at the time (2006) the thirty-six-year-old energetic leader of his own company (which is still going strong) — was appointed resident choreographer of London’s Royal Ballet. Covent Garden’s academically trained dancers and orchestra were presented from an unexpected angle, their transformation astonishing both audiences and critics. The piece caused a furore — and McGregor, to his surprise, became the first ever resident avant-garde choreographer to be appointed in Royal Ballet history. And though before he could not complain of lack of attention, now he became extraordinarily in demand: he was invited to do productions at the Paris Opera, La Scala, NDT (see above), Balanchine’s New York City Ballet etc., and also by The National Ballet of Canada (Toronto) and Ballet San Francisco — in the case of the last two in fact, he was invited to produce Chroma.

McGregor is not like Forsythe, though they have a lot in common. For example, their research into the potentials of the human body which come to light during the performance of exercises which push the body to its limits. McGregor has extended his interest to embrace the interrelationship between a dancer’s body, mind and nervous system and, as Research Fellow of Cambridge University’s Neuroscience Department, his experiments in this field have genuine scientific grounding.

Chroma carried off London’s three top theatre awards. The choreographer’s triumph was shared by other members of the production team — Moritz Junge (costume designer, winner of the 2001 Linbury prize — Great Britain’s most prestigious award for scenography) and Lucy Carter ho won The Knight of Illumination Award for her lighting design for Chroma. John Pawson, one of the most famous contemporary architects, “the father of minimalism architecture”, joined the production team as scenographer. This is his first experience of working in this capacity.

“... she (Monica Mason) made one radiantly leftfield decision when, in 2006, she appointed Wayne McGregor as resident choreographer, the first artist from a modern dance background to be put into the post. The appointment came shortly after the premiere of McGregor’s ballet Chroma, a 21st-century answer to Ashton’s Symphonic Variations whose minimalist design and abstract choreography resonated with a passionate, wayward romanticism. People queued for tickets with minimal sight lines, simply to share the buzz”.
Judith Mackrell
Guardian, 12/7/2009

“What a night. Two world premieres on the same bill and both of them dynamite. Thanks to Wayne McGregor and Christopher Wheeldon, the Royal Ballet has a pair of new ballets that shake the Opera House to its rafters. If you don’t rush to see them (or, indeed, Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, also on this triple bill), it’s your loss.

McGregor’s Chroma is ravishing on all fronts, choreography, music and design. The latter is what hits you first, an enormous light box brilliantly designed by John Pawson. Stark and white, it’s a breathtaking void out of which dancers mysteriously emerge, while Lucy Carter’s lighting plays scintillating games with the wondrous sense of space.

The effect is equally striking in Joby Talbot’s gorgeous score, which comprises his compositions along with his orchestral re-imaginings of three tracks by the White Stripes. The stridency of the latter is contrasted by the lush chill-out melodies of Talbot’s own music, played vibrantly by the ROH Orchestra under Richard Bernas.

McGregor’s driving, volatile choreography is so hyper-limber that it almost seems to occur at the cellular level. Every part of the body is disrupted with a scientific thoroughness, yet the mood shifts with the music, tough and ferocious one minute, tender and voluptuous the next. All the while an emotional current beats within the fevered muscles. Chroma may transport its ten dancers to an alien landscape, but it allows them to retain their human vulnerability when they get there. Among the cast, Alina Cojocaru and Federico Bonelli are transformed; Edward Watson astounds”.
Debra Craine
The Times, 11/21/2006

"For the past couple of seasons, the Royal has tended towards a nostalgia-fest of anniversary celebrations and classic revivals. But on Friday, two new works premiered by Christopher Wheeldon and Wayne McGregor made this company the most exciting place to be.
Advance reports made a fuss over McGregor’s Chroma, which was to feature three songs by the White Stripes. In fact, it is Joby Talbot’s orchestration of these songs, along with his own music, that has the audience pinned to their seats. John Pawson’s designs pare the stage down to a pristine, glowing cube, within which the music seems to ricochet, causing the dancers to fight for their lives to try to find a point of stasis. From the opening section, in which Alina Cojocaru and Edward Watson batten around each other in a duet, through to the finale, the tension between chaos and minimalism is extreme."Judith Mackrell
Guardian, 11/20/2006

The first night series of performances will be on 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25 July.

 

 
General sponsor of the Bolshoi Theatre is Credit Suisse bank
General partner of the Bolshoi Theatre is investment group Absolute
Privileged partner of the Bolshoi Theatre is GUM