When to see it
This work is being performed as part of a mixed programme:
Leading UK dance companies perform three ballets that show the range and versatility of MacMillan’s muse, in the third and final programme of Kenneth MacMillan: a National Celebration.
Kenneth MacMillan’s Gloria is a haunting lament for the generation lost in World War I. It was inspired by Vera Brittain’s autobiography Testament of Youth, which recounts the author’s wartime experiences and grief at the loss of her fiancé and brother. The book resonated strongly with MacMillan, whose own father was gassed at the Battle of the Somme. Gloria was created for The Royal Ballet in 1980 and is a major work of the repertory; its depiction of the futility of war is as relevant and painful today as at the time of its creation.
The ballet is set to Gloria in G major by Francis Poulenc – a beautiful score for orchestra, chorus and solo soprano. Against Andy Klunder’s no-man’s-land set, MacMillan’s choreography depicts the brutality of conflict: the dancers lower their heads and cover their faces in grief, or fling legs and arms into tortured shapes as if caught in a bomb blast. The work also contains moments of sublime beauty – a pas de quatre seems to recall happier, more hopeful times – providing a counterpoint to the anguish of the principal trio.
News and features
30 March 2015
The great 20th-century choreographer broke all kind of taboos, including depicting death and loss – creating some of ballet’s most moving, and uplifting, works.
8 February 2014
What did you think of the Ashton / McGregor / MacMillan mixed programme?
3 February 2014
A guide to The Royal Ballet's mixed programme featuring a new work from Wayne McGregor and two masterpieces by Ashton and MacMillan.
29 January 2014
How the wartime experiences of MacMillan's father influenced his haunting tribute to the fallen.