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Watch: How corps de ballet dancers learn and rehearse complex crowd scenes

Works like Kenneth MacMillan's Manon are full of rich detail.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

4 May 2018 at 3.31pm | 8 Comments

Kenneth MacMillan's Manon is one of The Royal Ballet's great showcases, offering audiences a chance to see the scale of Britain's largest ballet company, thanks to the number of scenes featuring the corps the ballet – the large group of dancers who perform as a backdrop to the Principal dancers.

During the Company's recent live cinema relay, dancers Beatriz Stix-Brunell and Yuhui Choe revealed the painstaking detail required to perform one of these supporting roles, as they welcomed former Company Principal Darcey Bussell into rehearsal.

'They're such fun characters', said Darcey of Kenneth MacMillan's creations. 'That was exactly what he wanted'

'The steps speak for themselves', said Beatriz of the roles' layered nuances. 'If you show the clarity of the steps, with the little embellishments that MacMillan put in, then that always comes across'

'It's all about setting the scene. That's one of the things that MacMillan is so genius with: everything is right there for you. It all makes sense straight away'

Manon runs until 16 May 2018. Tickets are still available. 

Encore screenings of Manon will take place at select cinemas around the world. Find your nearest cinema and sign up to our mailing list.

The production is staged with generous philanthropic support from Sarah and Lloyd Dorfman, John and Susan Burns, The Gerald Ronson Family Foundation, Lindsay and Sarah Tomlinson and the Friends of Covent Garden. Original Production (1974) made possible by The Linbury Trust.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

4 May 2018 at 3.31pm

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged by Kenneth Macmillan, cinema, Manon, Production

This article has 8 comments

  1. Stevie responded on 5 May 2018 at 12:41pm Reply

    Just to wish Yuhui an early recovery. You obviously had her absence well covered, but still, no one wants illness.

  2. My Campbell responded on 5 May 2018 at 1:47pm Reply

    Watched this fantastic ballet streamed live in Denia, Spain. The hard work and dedication the dancers and the whole team put in, is truly amazing. The character performances were so convincing you really believed the dancers really were tbose people. Well done all round.

  3. Judy Cornfield responded on 6 May 2018 at 8:36am Reply

    Enjoyed watching these extracts so much especially seeing my nephew Philip Cornfield accompanying. Takes me back when I used to accompany his Mum and Dad (Allan and Deirdre) to performances of all the RB ballets. Sadly Allan passed away 4 years ago this month and Deirdre is in an EP home in Swindon so rely on cinema visits now to see the ballets. Especially fond of 'Manon' as Philip cossies up sometimes to appear on stage playing the piano in one scene! Gutted I was too ill to go to the cinema this time but hoping v much can make a visit for your next performance. Live in Manchester so visits to ROH difficult now. Wonderful wonderful to see these rehearsals on line. Thank you so much.

  4. CJC responded on 6 May 2018 at 10:13am Reply

    Some of the captiona for this video require editing - it's showing 'man on' for Manon, and something weird is coming up for Mayerling too. Please can you fix these, to improve the experience of people who need the captions.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 8 May 2018 at 10:12am

      Thanks for your feedback.

      These captions are autogenerated by YouTube/Google. We're aiming to add accurate captions in due course

      Best wishes,


  5. CJC responded on 6 May 2018 at 10:37am Reply

    Sorry, that should be 'captions'!

  6. Beryl M Beattie responded on 6 May 2018 at 8:12pm Reply

    Loving the way in which Social Media is subtly opening up a world of ballet to many people who are perhaps not initiated into classical dance. As a former dancer, I totally applaud this method of advertising to the world who can learn a little bit about the hard work which goes into staging a production.Adored seeing a piece in rehearsal. Brings back happy student day memories...Thank you for sharing.

  7. Anne Harrison responded on 8 May 2018 at 12:46pm Reply

    The title is "Watch how the corps de ballet rehearse complex crowd scenes" what we get is delightful, but is two first soloists rehearsing a duet section. I'd like to watch the titled video if it exists.

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