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Your Reaction: What did you think of Chroma / Multiverse / Carbon Life?

Wayne McGregor’s stellar programme celebrates his tenth anniversary as Resident Choreographer of The Royal Ballet

By Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer)

11 November 2016 at 11.46am | 54 Comments

Press Reviews:
Guardian  ★★★★
Evening Standard ★★★★
Express ★★★★
The Stage ★★★★
Financial Times ★★★
The Arts Desk ★★★
Independent ★★★
Telegraph ★★

What did you think of Chroma / Multiverse / Carbon Life?
Share your thoughts via the comments below.

Chroma / Multiverse / Carbon Life runs until 19 November 2016. A limited number of tickets are still available.

This article has 54 comments

  1. Nick Byrne responded on 11 November 2016 at 2:50pm Reply

    An amazing night. In a trumped up messed up world the wonderful combo of RB and Alvin Ailey dancers added a new power and weight to Chroma. Carbon Life was a wonderful partial ode to Michael Clark and I would love to see it in another venue. The new piece - Multiverse - is visually stunning, aurally challenging at times, and emotionally charged during the central "migrants" section which was my favourite. I wish could see it again to get a better handle on it. The dancing and the dancers' involvement were stunning.

  2. Elodie Lafosse responded on 11 November 2016 at 3:19pm Reply

    Last nights performance reminded me how brilliantly creative and diverse McGregors performances are and how many people across the arts genres he gets involved. I thought that all three pieces showed a completely different light to his range of work that he has done to The Royal Ballet.

    Most of all though, it is the dancers virtuosity that blew me away. From seeing them in such classical movement to McGregors contentemprary twisted movement was fantastic. I do not know how they did it.

    I look forward to seeing it again on Monday.

  3. Sandie responded on 11 November 2016 at 4:53pm Reply

    My favourite bit in Chroma just wasn't anywhere near as good without the wonderful Eric Underwood. Very disappointed.
    Loved Carbon Life, but Multiverse was the biggest waste of time, money and effort I've seen in a long time. Sorry guys but this one really didn't work for me.

  4. ALISON JOHNSTON responded on 11 November 2016 at 5:53pm Reply

    Fabulous triple bill general rehearsal yesterday. How blessed are we to have 5 of AADT dancers showing how it should be done! I love RB but AA is the world leader in contemporary dance in my opinion. I was so surprised and of course thrilled to see them in Chroma. And our RB had definitely lifted their game accordingly. Bravo to everyone concerned.

  5. FLOSS responded on 12 November 2016 at 10:59am Reply

    I assume that the McGregor Triple Bill was intended to reveal the wide range of his imagination and achievement. Unfortunately all it did was to reveal how very limited his dance vocabulary is.Multiverse was a real disappointment in which the projection element of the design was far more interesting than its dance content proved to be.

    Mr McGregor may believe that it is beneath his dignity to entertain his audience but he needs to engage the attention of the entire audience and not just his adoring acolytes. For me Multiverse was tedious and lacked real dance interest a bit like a bland sandwich filling with soggy lettuce.

  6. Kate Mooney responded on 12 November 2016 at 6:02pm Reply

    The strange augmented sound of Reich's tape looping in Multiverse made for an uncomfortable accompaniment where dancers performed tight fast canon sequences that mirrored the music. The dancers seems to flea in fear, linking together for support then being alone gain. Multiverse was magnificent, seeming to comment on our current troubled times.

    Chroma was beautiful and Carbon Life blew me away. I was so humbled to be amongst such prolific artists. An evening of dance I shall never forget.

  7. David C. Green responded on 13 November 2016 at 10:53am Reply

    Very disappointing. Postmodern mediocrity. I felt that dancers and musicians deserved better. Sorry ROH. Overwhelming the ears and blinding the eyes with effects is not impressive. Wayne McGregor talks the talk but fails to walk the walk!

  8. Bridie Macmahon responded on 13 November 2016 at 6:43pm Reply

    Using the wonderful RB dancers as gymnasts seems to me both inappropriate and potentially dangerous. All three works were full of steps and moves but with almost no variety or interest and conveying nothing except the physical facility of the dancers. A depressing, sterile and disturbingly self-congratulatory evening.

  9. Sally Kefi responded on 14 November 2016 at 5:28pm Reply

    I invited two friends to the Friends rehearsal in the morning having loved "Infra". None of us enjoyed any of the triple bill, I was embarrasses and quite a few in the audience walked out.

    There was no rhyme nor reason to the ballets. The music was deafeningly loud and I don't know how the dancers managed the disjointed choreography.

    I question of The Emperors New Clothes.

  10. Peter Stephen responded on 15 November 2016 at 1:28am Reply

    Monday 14/11/16
    Some of Chroma and the last five minutes of Carbon Life were pleasing and displayed a fine array of talent. Multiverse had nothing of merit that I could find. Having placed two fingers in my ears to stop the feeling of nausea from making me pass out I then closed my eyes and waited for it to end.

  11. Mr G P Kopka responded on 15 November 2016 at 3:35pm Reply

    Attended performance on 14th November.
    Chroma was wonderful.
    Unfortunately, Multiverse was a disaster and we had to leave half way through the performance. The sound was far too loud in the stall circle which made the repetitive sounds unbearable. The sight of ballet lovers with their fingers in their ears was one I never expected to see.

  12. Lesley Main responded on 15 November 2016 at 4:35pm Reply

    Perhaps I am a philistine, but McGregor's ballets are boring, boring, boring. There is nothing to capture the emotions and the dancing is a series of (albeit difficult) physical jerks. The only saving grace was Jody Talbot's joyful arrangements and music in Chroma. The first part of Multiverse was interesting but it takes dancers of enormous fitness and technical ability to pull that off and it didn't work last night (14th). Yes, ballet has to move forward and change to remain an art form, but this path is not one I will be pursuing in the future.

  13. Zilla responded on 15 November 2016 at 7:31pm Reply

    Attended opening night. Throughly enjoyed Chroma and Carbon Life, but Multiverse was hugely let down by the music despite me enjoying the visuals. Too loud and repetitive - made me feel like my ears were bleeding!

  14. Michaela responded on 15 November 2016 at 10:17pm Reply

    Went on 14/11/16 liked chroma but was wondering what was going off on multiverse, I felt anxious all the way through it, from the music through to the dance itself,the set was clever though, we didn't want to wait another 30minutes for carbon life, so very disappointed

  15. elleG responded on 16 November 2016 at 12:45pm Reply

    Unfortunately, this triple bill pales by comparison with Akram Khan's electrifying Giselle being performed by ENB at Sadlers Wells this week. Maybe McGregor was pushing at the boundaries 10 years ago but no longer. Khan knows how to make his dance vocabulary speak from the heart; McGregor's moves seem stale and meaningless whatever the programme notes might say about the narrative for Multiverse.

  16. Dorothy Freeman responded on 16 November 2016 at 4:39pm Reply

    Went to the rehearsal. Wonderful sinuous dancing, clever mise en scene but .... the accompanying "sound" didn't do the dancers justice and was painfully loud. I had to put my fingers in my ears, so did my companion!

  17. alex responded on 16 November 2016 at 8:39pm Reply

    Chroma, when first performed years ago, was a revelation, Carbon Life was fun when I saw it with Boy George, but goodness gracious me WHAT the heck was this Multiverse? Music to make your eardrums pop and the choreography boring like hell. McGregor, one of the greatest choreographers? LOL. Give me the current run of Khan's Giselle anytime, now THAT is what I call Contemporary Choreography and Khan creates emotions, and can transmit it onto the audience, something McGregor entirely lacks. Come on RB, World Class Company, you can do better! Your dancers deserve better too!!

  18. Linda Mattacks responded on 16 November 2016 at 11:12pm Reply


    I saw the rehearsal at the ROH the other day, and had just outline information about the 3 pieces. I left a comment on my thoughts about the performance on the ROH site but maybe in the wrong place, as I can't see it, so I'll have another go. I'm not an afficionado but I thought the first (Chroma) was great and the last (Carbon Life) brilliant.

    The sound accompaniment (it's a totally unbelievable stretch to my mind to call it music) to the first part of the middle piece, Multiverse, was an overblown, over-long cacophany: Surely the required background 'mood' could have been achieved without potentially frying people's ears and brains? Or maybe, reading this piece, I missed the point and the ferocity of the sound intended to vie with the dance for the audience's attention?

    Anyway. I hope folks stick with the entertainment beyond Multiverse to enjoy the (to my mind) best of the programme.

  19. Nick B responded on 17 November 2016 at 10:47am Reply

    Chroma for me is a classic. Carbon Life was stimulating and interesting. The 10 minutes (?) of horrible loud noise at the beginning of Multiverse put me off but I enjoyed the choreography in the latter part. Couldn't take my eyes off Sarah Lamb when she was on stage - so good! Overall an enjoyable evening and glad I went.

  20. Jam Dancer responded on 17 November 2016 at 5:21pm Reply

    I really wanted to like Multiverse but it just wasn't good at all. Sadly in was in the same vein of Tetractys and Live Fire Exercise. The set was interesting and the dancers's shadows on the wall but those alone did not make for a thoroughly engaging experience. As usual, the dancers were wonderful but they were not giving anything truly interesting or inventive to do.
    I love new works and I am not one to limit myself to the classics or big storied ballets so I support (in theory) what RB is trying to do with McGregor but I question if it's working or if he's really the person who can do it. Multiverse had too much stuff and not enough dance...

  21. Terry greenwood responded on 17 November 2016 at 6:14pm Reply

    Boring. His work is all the same. And the noise that Multiverse was (brilliantly) performed to was like torture .

  22. At CG last night for Wayne McG triple bill. Loved everything about Chroma - superb performances, and enjoyed range and variety - dance, music - of Carbon Life, but Multiverse....?? Painfully loud and horribly repetitive 'music' completely ruined any enjoyment which might have come from the dancers' performances. Must have been terrible for them. In future I will avoid anything with the words 'Steve Reich' in the description. An excellent double bill quite ruined by the addition of a third piece ....

  23. Mark Chapman responded on 17 November 2016 at 7:22pm Reply

    We loved Chroma and Carbon Life (good to see a troupe of dancers which wasn't predominantly white). However, Multiverse was utterly ghastly and torture for the audience. As far as I could make out everyone around me thought it was hideous and without any obvious meaning

  24. Richard responded on 17 November 2016 at 7:57pm Reply

    Multiverse - I hope the cacophony that was the first 20 minutes was quieter on the stage than in the auditorium. Otherwise I pity the underused talent left burdened with performing such a slight piece.

  25. Hazel Riley responded on 17 November 2016 at 9:32pm Reply

    Wayne McGregor never disappoints. Very brave to present such a challenging new work, equally difficult for dancers and audience. I admire his own multiverse of abstract and narrative work. I find Chroma absolutely perfect in every way, but was surprised at the difference a new cast made. The Alvin Alley dancers brought a different energy to it. I love the way McGregor collaborates with his dancers and allows them to shine.

  26. Sarah langfield responded on 17 November 2016 at 11:50pm Reply

    Loved this triple bill, especially Carbon Life which is just great fun to watch. Went twice, thank you so much.

  27. Carole Boothman responded on 17 November 2016 at 11:53pm Reply

    I went to the rehearsal of the Wayne McGragor triple bill last Thursday, I was very disappointed ,although it is always interesting to see these modern ballets danced this mornings performance was let down by terrible music. The Joby Talbat music for Chroma was good but the music for Multiverse was far too loud , discordant and very distracting I don't know how the dancers managed to dance to it . Several people walked out and they did not miss much ! The final ballet music also extremely loud and those terrible costumes made the dancers look rediculous . I have been to several triple bills and enjoyed the variety of dancing and music, I am just glad I did not pay for a full price ticket in the stalls circle.

    • Angela Redfern responded on 22 November 2016 at 4:55pm

      I couldn't agree more! Chroma was splendid, particularly the Alvin Ailey dancers. Multiverse and Carbon Life left much to be desired: Wayne McGregor seems to have run out of creative ideas completely. His later work is not a patch on Liam Scarlett's or Christopher Wheeldon's. And the music for both ballets was deafening, uninspired... tedious in the extreme, as was the choreography. A seriously disappointing evening - not worthy of ROH.

  28. Francis responded on 18 November 2016 at 7:59am Reply

    Loved Chroma as usual. Alvin Ailey dancers were superb. Multiverse was AWFUL. My eardrums hurt for hours; I simply could not even concentrate to watch. I think perhaps Mcgregor might have had some sort of breakdown, I hope he recovers!

  29. Yuri Borodulin responded on 18 November 2016 at 9:12am Reply

    Dear All

    As a lover of the classic ballet I can only congratulate everybody with grand opening of the new night club in London named Royal Opera Ballet. Sorry, i can not say more...

    Sincerely Yours
    Yuri Borodulin

  30. Sheila Richardson responded on 18 November 2016 at 9:15am Reply

    Chroma was wonderful, Carbon Life OK but Multiverse should never be performed again [other than maybe at a special showing where the audience has been warned in advance what an assault to the senses it is]. I should not be surprised if the Royal Ballet gets some claims for ear damage. I have never had such a dreadful experience at the ballet.

  31. Noelle Virginia responded on 18 November 2016 at 10:49am Reply

    Excellent dancing throughout, and also always a pleasure to see the Alvin Ailey dancers.
    I enjoyed Chroma, but the rest of the evening left me cold, not to mention the ridiculously loud uninteresting sub-Genesis band. Surely the ROH knows how to get sound levels right? An evening for the inner-circle sanctum I think. Were I one of the people that travel a long way to see dance, I would have been thoroughly fed up.

  32. Joanna butterwick responded on 18 November 2016 at 12:03pm Reply

    Terrible evening..multiverse is probably the worst ballet I've ever seen with the worst music. What a waste of the Royal Ballet.
    Three mcgregor ballets in one programme is a disaster.

  33. Jeffrey Calvert responded on 18 November 2016 at 12:38pm Reply

    Chroma is a visual masterpiece, but our evening was then destroyed by the most ghastly music we have ever encountered. Steve Reich has written much magnificent music, but his sound loop for Multiverse was truly torture. And I do mean torture - if you want me (and my wife to go mad) playing this is all you need to do. It was like white noise - you could not block it out, and after a few minutes it became almost impossible to focus on the dance. It felt interminable. Visually, the opening of Carbon Life was stunning and we started off optimistic - but we were then attacked by more over-amplified music simultaneously assaulting the ears and brains. The words sung were unintelligible so what was their point? ROH - you provide advance warnings if strobe is to be used. Please give equivalent advance warnings (when the tickets come on sale) for such aural assaults.
    I must add that the lighting and sets were absolutely wonderful as were the dancers. What could have been the ROH at its best became, because of the music, the worst artistic event we have ever sat through/endured.

  34. Simon Smith responded on 18 November 2016 at 1:12pm Reply

    Who is responsible for selecting the volume of the amplified music? Is any action being taken to lower the volume? Are ROH content that there are no health and safety concerns for dancers, musicians and the audience? As said above, I'd love to be able to appreciate the performance on Saturday but am very fearful of the noise levels.

    Please can someone reply to the various comments voiced by so many people?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 18 November 2016 at 5:52pm

      Hi Simon,

      Sorry to hear that the music volume was too loud for some members of our audience in certain parts of the theatre. Sound levels were monitored carefully and decibels had been reduced earlier in the run. The Company will look into this again for the remaining performance.



    • Noelle Virginia responded on 1 December 2016 at 12:11pm

      I used to play tenor sax in very loud rock bands. It is very easy to get the sound levels right, you just have the person on the mixing desk sort it out.
      It appears that the ROH can't cope with this simple business, but it doesn't matter because they are more interested in bigging up their questionable choreographer than providing a good evening for the audience. A lot of people around me waked out. I was shocked actually because I seldom see this happen, and on average I go to a dance performance once a week in London. There is terrific new dance pieces; this job lot wasn't in that zone.

  35. David responded on 18 November 2016 at 5:11pm Reply

    I sat in the Upper Slips for £1 per piece on Wednesday and had no complaints. It was a great vantage point to marvel at the strength and artistry of the performers (and orchestra) and I was not deafened by any music up there. It's the only ROH ballet I can remember where no-one received any flowers on stage (I know they are gifts from the audience), hopefully some were delivered backstage because while the choreography is not everyone's cup of tea the dancers must have been knackered giving their all.

  36. Stuart dixon responded on 20 November 2016 at 12:28am Reply

    Multiverse was truly awful. McGregor is a one trick pony, all this program showed was the same steps in a different order. No emotion that I could find. The noise was painful. Mr O'Hare for creative contemperary dance, with emotion check out Mr Akram and what he is doing with the ENB (including the wonderful Alina) with Giselle. Your guy needs Gymnasts not dancers. Boring, Boring, Boring

  37. Diana Barry responded on 20 November 2016 at 12:36pm Reply

    I went to the McGregor Triple last night, rather concerned about the anticipated high decibel ratings talked about, and experienced at the dress rehearsal by the friend I went with. But all was well, not an aural onslaught but a wonderful night of fabulous ballet. Thank you for listening to the comments of your audience and lowering the noise. I also very much enjoyed the earlier event in the Clore; a wonderful experience, well done to Charlotte Edmonds and Robert Binet, plus dancers, musicians etc.

  38. Joe Goodall responded on 20 November 2016 at 1:00pm Reply

    At risk of being controversial I enjoyed Multiverse more than Chroma, which I have never found that interesting. I do sympathise with people struggling with the Steve Reich accompaniment though. Over the years I have really tried to get into his music, but it still mostly sounds like listening to a heavy downpour whilst sitting in a tin shed. I suspect I largely block it out in the same way.
    When I first saw it I thought Carbon Life was one of the best things I have ever seen. A magical symbiosis of dance, music, costume and lighting which is far more than the sum of its parts. I was worried it might be a letdown this time, but needn't have been. We thought it was even better than the first time. Btw I am a 59 year old male. I agree with previous commenters that the ROH is not the most ideal venue for it though. A lifetime of going to rock concerts means I quite like my music played at that level (was it really that much louder than Lohengrin going full tilt?).
    Everything impeccably danced and played as always.

  39. Gwen responded on 20 November 2016 at 8:35pm Reply

    I loved the entire evening. I attended the insight evening for Multiverse which I found most helpful and really enhanced our enjoyment of the piece. We came to the opening night and again last week and I was totally in awe of Paul Kay and firstly Steven McRae and on the second night of Luca Acri in the opening phased sequence-amazing.
    Chroma remains a masterpiece and it was so exciting to see Alvin Ailey dancers perform with those of Royal Ballet. Carbon Life was so much fun and we left felling exhilarated.

  40. Elena T. responded on 20 November 2016 at 10:55pm Reply

    I liked Chroma/Multiverse/Carbon Life on November 16 so much that I went to see it again on November 17 and 19. I was quite impressed by all the three ballets. The Wayne McGregor's choreography is so unique, fresh and inspiring. Multiverse was quite impressive, although the first part of it was slightly overstretched, in my view, despite the superb choreography and the interesting concept. In Carbon Life I absolutely loved Andrew Wyatt's voice (I wish he sang Somebody to Love Me entirely). Lucy Carter's lighting design and Gareth Pugh's costumes lent the ballet postmodern sophistication. Mark Ronson with his guitar was missing here, though. The lyrical - a dream like - parts (especially in the beginning) in Carbon Life were the most beautiful ones, I wish they were longer. Overall, I had an enormous pleasure! Thank you!

  41. Charles N responded on 21 November 2016 at 11:57am Reply

    I went on Saturday night and thought this was one of the most varied, interesting, enjoyable, innovating and inspiring pieces of performance art of any kind that I've seen in a while. I've only seen Chroma on dvd before - my goodness, it's electric on stage with vibrant outfits, movement, lighting and a great score.

    To be controversial, I thought Multiverse was the best work of the evening. Having read some comments here and other reviews, and being familiar with Reich's work, I was wondering - can you really make a ballet out of a tape loop. Turns out you can (or certainly WM can!) and quite a fine one at that. This was really thought provoking stuff, the preacher's prophesies playing out as a fragmented reality and degenerative underworld on stage - counterpointing with a second half of euphoric fun (or denial?) in cyber space: the haves and the have nots. Not only thought provoking in today's world, but I thought also structurally very tight - Runner picking up on sonorities and structure from It's gonna rain, the choreography building on the structure of the music.

    What I love about WM's work is that he doesn't tell you what to think. He provides a framework, with vignettes or suggestions relating to the subject matter of the piece, and you find your own world and references in his work - the pieces will mean different things to different people. He's also clearly a dancer's choreographer and they visibly seem to love working with him, as do his other collaborators (the Salonen / Obsidian Tear was magnificent). So congratulations on the last 10 years and let's look forward to lots of new work.
    ... and just for the record, yes I do love all the traditional ballets as well, McMillan, Ashton et. al. but it's good to see the art form develop alongside re-interpretations of those works.

  42. Simon Smith responded on 21 November 2016 at 6:36pm Reply

    Thank you ROH for listening to the various comments about noise volumes and Chris Shipman for helpfully communicating what was happening. I very much appreciated by all accounts the much reduced volume for the Steve Reich tape. Whilst it might not be on my CD Christmas list, I thought the tape worked extremely well with the Luca Acri/Paul Kay pdd which was a highlight of the evening. I also enjoyed Steve Reich's Runner but I'm not altogether sure about the choreography for that section - I couldn't get Luke Jennings' 'la la land' description out of my mind. I'm afraid I found Carbon Life too much - too loud for my ears and pretty uncomfortable viewing, particularly the bizarre costumes and Eric Underwood having his hands around Francesca Hayward's throat. Too much seemed ugly. But the dancers' enthusiasm was infectious (Francesca and Olivia were outstanding) and the audience was clearly very appreciative. Good also to see Chroma at the start, with Alvin Ailey dancers bringing an extra dimension.

  43. Laura responded on 22 November 2016 at 2:13pm Reply

    LOVED CARBON LIFE - can we buy the score???

    Chroma is great and have seen that before. Lovely to hear the orchestra.

    Multiverse missed the mark. The ideas are good (reading McGregors vision and purpose for it) but the music makes it difficult to really enjoy.

  44. Celia responded on 22 November 2016 at 5:53pm Reply

    Like many others, I loved Chroma (which I also have on DVD) but I hated Multiverse, seen on the 19th. It was torture to sit through it - with my fingers in my ears because the deafening noise was so painful - and when I heard that Carbon Life was to be similarly loud, my friend and I didn't stay to see it. I felt sorry for the dancers (who were superb), having to endure listening to 'It's Gonna Rain' themselves. Despite the overkill on visuals, the ballet was messy, mediocre and contrived, with the same moves reappearing, repeated over and over. I won't be going to see it again (or anything with a score by Steve Reich), although in contrast I can't wait to see Woolf Works a second time. Multiverse felt like something that had been inflicted on me. Definitely the Emperor's new clothes.

  45. Judge responded on 22 November 2016 at 7:06pm Reply

    Chroma excellent, the other two awful. Even the presence of Francesca and Ryochi barely lifted our spirits. Not helped by the tedious music we had to endure. And to think there was an amazing orchestra that wasn't even used in Carbon Life. What a waste! As we overheard someone saying on our way to a much needed drink after Multiverse, it was rather like someone taking a drill to your head.

  46. A S. responded on 22 November 2016 at 9:38pm Reply

    Does anybody know why, in the customer survey about this bill, there wasn't the opportunity to rate the choreography (or the artists on stage and in the pit) as per usual?

  47. Elizabeth mann responded on 22 November 2016 at 11:30pm Reply

    I am sorry to say that I disliked these ballets. The peculiar way of moving alla Wayne Macgregor was almost farcical sometimes, I felt that the dancers had been subjected to some kind of torture, and the music definitely subjected the audience to torture. These comments are not intended for the dancers, whose brilliance shone through everything.

  48. piotr responded on 23 November 2016 at 9:58pm Reply

    Been to the performance. Brilliant! All of it The lyrical song in the beginning of Carbon Life was the most beautiful one - I wonder if anyone knows the title, band name or any details. Can you listen to this song anywhere?
    Can you buy it? post me:

  49. piotr responded on 24 November 2016 at 11:17am Reply

    Thank you so much Rose!

  50. Julia responded on 27 November 2016 at 7:29pm Reply

    The most incredible emotions of these works. You plunge into them and they carry you along on waves of emotions, feelings. The biggest impression that Carbon Life, and Chroma.

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