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Introduction

Requiem presents a series of movements that explore themes of loss and grief, and the contrast between the human and spiritual worlds.

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Background

Kenneth MacMillan's Requiem was created for the Stuttgart Ballet in 1976. MacMillan knew the dancers well, which allowed him to experiment with boldly inventive movements. The company was also intimately connected with John Cranko – he had been its director at the time of his death – resulting in a work that reflects their shared loss.

MacMillan drew inspiration for his choreography from William Blake's drawings of human and sacred figures. The work begins with the entry of a group of mourners to the first section of Fauré's Requiem, the 'Introitus'. Their fists are clenched and mouths open in silent despair, and a figure is held high above their heads. The piece moves through a series of linked vignettes, the Company fluidly adopting roles of mourners and angels or spirits. There are some striking pas de deux and a touching solo that MacMillan based on watching his youngest daughter at play. The setting reinforces themes of loss and transcendence: against a spare, white backdrop, translucent pillars reach upwards, evoking the space of a church.