26 June 2014 at 12.52pm | Comment on this article
Already we’re into the second week of The Royal Ballet’s annual international tour and looking forward to opening the first of our four performances of MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet in Taipei on Friday night. All four performances are already sold out and we’ll also be making history being the first company ever to relay ballet live on Big Screens across Taiwan with one performance going to three outdoor venues, one in Taipei near the theatre, one in Jiayi and the other in the south of Taiwan - Pintung - a rural area where many will be having their first taste of ballet. More than 22,000 people are expected to be watching across the country.
Friday’s performance in Taipei will come just five days after our final Manon on the Bolshoi stage in Moscow where we were overwhelmed by the support and appreciation of our Russian audiences at the sold out performances. For our dancers, dancing on the huge stage in the recently renovated Bolshoi Theatre, it was a week they will remember for the rest of their lives. There is so much history in that theatre with some of the greats of ballet having commanded the stage, and so much expectation from the knowledgeable audience. And our dancers really gave their all in the two programmes of works by choreographers that have helped to shape us: Frederick Ashton, Kenneth MacMillan, Wayne McGregor and Christopher Wheeldon. There were two performances of the Triple Bill of Rhapsody, Tetractys and DGV: Danse à grande vitesse, followed by four performances of Manon with four different casts, each bringing their own interpretation to the roles.
It’s been great to see the reaction of critics and audiences alike to a different style of dance, and Ismene Brown has translated some of the reviews in the Russian press, capturing the impact that the tour has had. While we drown our World Cup sorrows, it’s heartening to see British ballet is still on the top of its game on a world stage.
Obviously political events have sparked some discussion about whether The Royal Ballet should have performed in Moscow. Our view is that cultural exchange between artists, and sharing the values and distinctive qualities of our great company with audiences across the world is hugely important, perhaps even more so at a time of political difference. We experienced enormous warmth and positivity from the Russian public and are hugely appreciative of the very warm welcome we received at the Bolshoi Theatre and the Moscow audiences who gave standing ovations after each performance. And we always enjoy having our much valued tour supporters accompanying us on our travels too – a big thank you to them for their wonderful support.
So for us, after Taipei comes Shanghai where we will present Carlos Acosta’s production of Don Quixote - on tour for the first time. We then look forward to our summer break before coming back for the start of the new Season in September when we hope to see you in the theatre or through our cinema screenings wherever you are in the world.
The Royal Opera House would like to thank Aud Jebsen for her support of the Royal Ballet touring programme, corporate sponsors Vitol, Coutts and the Tsukanov Family Foundation for their support in Moscow and Alta Advisors in Shanghai, and all tour supporters: Geoffrey & Judith Batchelar, Linda and Tania Bennett, Jill Bowen, Janine Roxborough Bunce, Fiona, Lucinda and Annabel Cruddas, Graham Fletcher, Lady Shauna Gosling, Geoffrey Griffiths, Nigel Grimshaw, David & Diana Pilling, Lady Barbara Pitman, Kristina & Isabella Rogge and Eric Tomsett.