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Ballet Essentials: Wayne McGregor’s Chroma / Multiverse / Carbon Life

Our quick introduction to this mixed programme celebrating Wayne McGregor's ten years as Resident Choreographer of The Royal Ballet.

By Paul Kilbey (Content Producer (Ballet))

7 November 2016 at 5.00pm | 6 Comments

Ten years of Wayne McGregor

Wayne McGregor is one of the most influential choreographers working today, and for the past ten years his influence on The Royal Ballet has been especially great. This mixed programme – The Royal Ballet’s first devoted entirely to McGregor – celebrates ten years since his appointment as Resident Choreographer, combining two of his classic Royal Ballet works with a world premiere.

The spirit of collaboration

Collaboration is integral to McGregor’s work. This is not confined to the usual design team required for a ballet, although his important relationships with costume designer Moritz Junge, lighting designer Lucy Carter and dramaturg Uzma Hameed are represented in this programme. Chroma’s set was designed by architect John Pawson; Carbon Life was designed by fashion designer Gareth Pugh; the set concept and design for Multiverse is by visual artist Rashid Rana. That’s not to mention the musical line-up, which includes specially commissioned works by Joby Talbot, Mark Ronson, Andrew Wyatt and Steve Reich. Furthermore, these performances of Chroma see an unprecedented collaboration between The Royal Ballet and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, five of whose members join forces with the Company’s dancers in celebration of the international reach of McGregor’s work.

Chroma: Box-fresh

McGregor’s second work for the Royal Opera House main stage was a sensation at its premiere in 2006, and swiftly resulted in his appointment as Resident Choreographer. The stark and striking architectural designs of Pawson, Junge and Carter create a startling setting for McGregor’s bold, angular choreography – and Talbot’s score combines thrilling arrangements of White Stripes song with haunting original compositions. It may be ten years old, but Chroma looks as fresh as ever.

Multiverse: An anticipated world premiere

A brand new work is at the heart of the programme. A world premiere by Reich, one of today’s leading composers, is juxtaposed with his earliest piece in celebration of the composer’s 80th birthday. Runner, a Royal Ballet co-commission, is an abstract work for orchestra, and sharply contrasts with the classic It’s Gonna Rain (1965) for tape. Reich’s use of repeating structures finds echoes in McGregor’s choreography and Rana’s set concept. According to dramaturg Hameed, the title describes the theory whereby an infinite number of universes simultaneously exist and are coming into being: ‘It’s a fascinating proposition’, she writes, ‘one that disrupts linear conceptions of time through a sense of partial views, repeating histories and possible futures.’

Carbon Life: a feast of pop and high-fashion

McGregor’s 2012 work Carbon Life is yet another startling musical collaboration. The dancers are joined on stage by a band, playing and singing a set of songs by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt. Along with Pugh’s extreme, body-morphing costumes, Carbon Life ends the evening in dazzling style.

Chroma/Multiverse/Carbon Life runs 10–19 November 2016. Tickets are currently sold out, but returns may become available, and further tickets are released each Friday at 1pm through Friday Rush.

This article has 6 comments

  1. David C. Green responded on 11 November 2016 at 12:39pm Reply

    Having attended the general rehearsal I left early during the third ballet. Why? The programme offered nothing but technical acrobatics for choreography, musically shoddy work of low quality music and over-use of hi-tec disco-like projections. A sorry low-point for all. Great praise for dancers and musicians who were sadly wasting their talents in this disappointing display of postmodern mediocrity.

  2. David C. Green responded on 11 November 2016 at 12:43pm Reply

    Why? I'm honest and very positive about Royal Ballet, not having missed any production at ROH for last five years. This programme is just all-round shoddy and a sad disappointment. Be fair and acknowledge failure.

  3. David C. Green responded on 11 November 2016 at 12:47pm Reply

    I champion excellence and avant-garde work and recognise and understand what I'm experiencing in the theatre.
    For your information, I am senior lecturer in theatre and I understand how ROH dislikes any comment on its brand image. Shame on ROH. Be honest, please and acknowledge that this programme is just poor. Thank you.

  4. David C. Green responded on 11 November 2016 at 12:52pm Reply

    Okay. I understand your reluctance in respect of my comments. But nothing ROH can do can stop audiences from disliking this programme in spite of suppressing honest feedback from knowledgeable people who wish you to know how they feel. Enough said.

    • Rachel Beaumont (Product Manager) responded on 11 November 2016 at 2:26pm

      Dear David,

      Due to the large amount of spam that is submitted to the website all comments are held for moderation. This can sometimes take a few hours, but we do publish comments unless they breach our guidelines.

      All best,

    • Gary swindle responded on 16 November 2016 at 10:13pm

      I have to agree largely with what David says. I feel that I too can differentiate populist mediocrity from work of true artistic merit.

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