Royal Ballet at the Apple Store
Watching The Royal Ballet in the splendour of the Royal Opera House is a unique experience. It is often hard to equate the perfection on stage with the hours and hours of rehearsal – harder still to understand the process of how the dance was created and taught. Royal Opera House Insights offers audiences the chance to step through the proscenium arch and witness artists creating new work behind the scenes. Last Saturday, we had the chance to take over the largest Apple Store in the world, in London’s Covent Garden. We set out to reveal the process of choreographing new work in a bold and public setting – amid the iPads and iBooks and before a crowd of weekend shoppers, out to enjoy the sunshine.
Kristen McNally, First Soloist and exciting young choreographer from the Company, used music from the American rapper Kanye West‘s latest album My Dark Twisted Fantasy to direct five Royal Ballet dancers, Thomas Whitehead, Jonathan Watkins, Ryoichi Hirano, Yasmine Naghdi and Jacqueline Clark. She was inspired, in part, by seeing the singer’s use of ballet dancers in an acclaimed video for the piece. Assisted by her colleague David Pickering wielding an iPad 2, they were able to involve the audience by getting them to draw shapes on the screen. Kristen then used these shapes as a creative springboard, taking the choreography in exciting directions.
It felt immediate and exhilirating. The speed with which the dancers converted new moves to memory was astounding. As one blogger put it, “you could literally see the ballet expand and evolve before your eyes.” I can’t think of another art form where it’s possible to see the creative process at such a raw stage; it’s impossible to take a tour of a composer’s brain, a painter’s studio is sealed off from the public and the study of a novelist is a solitary space.