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Elite Syncopations

Music by Scott Joplin and others inspires Kenneth MacMillan to virtuoso heights of sexy psychedelia in his frothy ragtime ballet.

Most recent performance

There are currently no scheduled performances of Elite Syncopations. It was last on stage 14 April—11 May 2018 as part of the Autumn 2017/18 season.


A dozen dancers shimmy and saunter through 12 rags, with a touch of Charleston and a hint of cakewalk, all to the upbeat accompaniment of a 12-piece onstage band.


In 1974 Kenneth MacMillan created the perfect antidote to the blues with Elite Syncopations – as he told the New Yorker at the time, ‘Something short and light and funny’. The resulting 35-minute ballet, using onstage music from ragtime composers including Scott Joplin, is as luridly lewd as it is sassily sophisticated, and has become a staple of the repertory.

Costume designs by Australian artist Ian Spurling are wacky skin-tight evocations of 1920s vaudeville, reimagined in the unmistakably acid colours of the 1970s. MacMillan’s choreography also spans the decades, melding 1920s social dances – Black Bottom, Charleston and others – and virtuoso classical ballet. MacMillan introduces characters as loud as their costumes, in a ballet which sees MacMillan at his wittiest and most nonchalant.

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