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  • Ballet Essentials: The Human Seasons / After the Rain / Flight Pattern

Ballet Essentials: The Human Seasons / After the Rain / Flight Pattern

Our quick introduction to The Royal Ballet’s mixed programme of compelling contemporary ballet.

By Paul Kilbey (Content Producer (Ballet))

2 March 2017 at 10.00am | Comment on this article

The breadth of contemporary ballet

The range of contemporary ballet comes to the fore in The Royal Ballet’s latest mixed programme. Works by David Dawson and Christopher Wheeldon are performed alongside a world premiere from Crystal Pite, making her Company debut.

The Human Seasons: an emotional kaleidoscope

David Dawson describes The Human Seasons, his 2013 choreographic debut for The Royal Ballet, as ‘a kaleidoscope of human emotions, which embodies a year of seasons and temperament’. He draws on John Keats’s sonnet of the same name, which describes ‘four seasons in the mind of man’, to create a sweeping, elegant work for 13 dancers.

After the Rain: a contemporary classic

Three couples perform together in the cool, inventive first section of Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain, set to Arvo Pärt’s Tabula rasa. The pas de deux that follows, set to Pärt’s limpid Spiegel im Spiegel, has become a contemporary ballet classic. The duet was originally created for New York City Ballet’s Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto, but it takes on a different life with every new couple who interprets it.

Flight Pattern: a timely new work

‘What is it like to be at a border – a checkpoint – a holding area – a waiting room – a shelter – a camp?’ asks Crystal Pite. ‘To have left one life but to have not yet entered another?’ Pite’s debut work for The Royal Ballet uses a large group of dancers to explore one of the key issues of our time: the refugee crisis. With designs by Pite’s regular team of Jay Gower Taylor, Nancy Bryant and Tom Visser, Flight Pattern uses the first movement of Henryk Górecki’s moving ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’.

Music for maximal emotional impact

After the Rain and Flight Pattern both use some of the most popular classical music to be written in the past half-century: Arvo Pärt’s Tabula rasa and Spiegel im Spiegel, and the first movement of Henryk Górecki’s ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’. Both composers use relatively simple musical means to create maximal emotional impact. Greg Haines is a regular collaborator with David Dawson, and his beautiful score for The Human Seasons was an original Royal Ballet commission.

The Human Seasons / After the Rain / Flight Pattern runs 16–24 March 2017. Tickets are still available.

The mixed programme is staged with generous philanthropic support from the Taylor Family Foundation.
Flight Pattern is staged with generous philanthropic support from Richard and Delia Baker and Sue Butcher. After the Rain is staged with generous philanthropic support from Kenneth and Susan Green.

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