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Las Hermanas

The Royal Ballet

Themes of repression and sensuality are explored through groundbreaking choreography in Kenneth MacMillan’s ballet. It is based on a play by Federico García Lorca.

Introduction

Five unmarried sisters live under the rule of their oppressive mother. When the younger sister seduces the eldest sister’s fiancé, there are devastating repercussions.

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Background

Las Hermanas, first performed in 1963, was the first of six works that Kenneth MacMillan made for the Stuttgart Ballet. It is based on Federico García Lorca’s 1945 play La casa de Bernarda Alba and set to Frank Martin’s Concerto for Harpsichord and Orchestra.

MacMillan creates a powerful exploration of sexuality, repression and familial jealousy. The sisters' contrasting temperaments are communicated through their movements: the eldest, introverted sister dances with clenched fists and her pas de deux with her fiancé is rigid and inhibited. By contrast, the sensual younger sister dances with abandon. MacMillan pushed classical choreography to new limits with Las Hermanas, not least in its shocking final scene. Nicholas Georgiadis's stark, prison-like set and Frank Martin’s score combine to create an atmosphere of unsettling claustrophobia.