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When to see it

Introduction

A dozen dancers shimmy and saunter through 12 rags, with a touch of Charleston and a hint of cakewalk, all to the upbeat accompaniment of a 12-piece onstage band.

Background

In 1974 Kenneth MacMillan created the perfect antidote to the blues with Elite Syncopations – as he told the New Yorker at the time, ‘Something short and light and funny’. The resulting 35-minute ballet, using onstage music from ragtime composers including Scott Joplin, is as luridly lewd as it is sassily sophisticated, and has become a staple of the repertory.

Costume designs by Australian artist Ian Spurling are wacky skin-tight evocations of 1920s vaudeville, reimagined in the unmistakably acid colours of the 1970s. MacMillan’s choreography also spans the decades, melding 1920s social dances – Black Bottom, Charleston and others – and virtuoso classical ballet. MacMillan introduces characters as loud as their costumes, in a ballet which sees MacMillan at his wittiest and most nonchalant.

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On Wikipedia

Elite Syncopations is a one-act ballet created in 1974 by Kenneth MacMillan for The Royal Ballet.

Abstract taken from the Wikipedia article Elite Syncopations (ballet), available under a Creative Commons license.