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Wayne McGregor created Obsidian Tear in 2016, his tenth year as The Royal Ballet’s Resident Choreographer. He was inspired by the brooding symphonic poem Nyx by Finnish composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, paired in the ballet with Salonen’s virtuoso violin solo Lachen verlernt. McGregor boldly choreographed the work for an all-male cast – a self-imposed restriction that yielded physical imagery of remarkable invention and expression.

The imaginative world of the ballet is both archaic and futuristic in its exploration of the tribal behaviour of its all-male group. From the ballet’s opening duet, tender and innocent, the dancing becomes darker and more turbulent as the group plays out a dynamic of conflict and challenge, loyalty and rejection. Obsidian Tear was widely praised on its premiere: the New York Times wrote, ‘with its echoes of narrative and myths, its mysterious gestural language and powerful physicality, [Obsidian Tear is] forcefully resonant’.

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