Life & Culture

Dance review: Royal Ballet

Contemporary works for a come-back show


A scene from the Triple Bill, Within The Golden Hour, Medusa and Flight Pattern by The Royal Ballet @ ROH (Taken 03-05-19)

The Royal Ballet has made a welcome return to the Opera House stage with an intriguing mix of contemporary works. Within the Golden Hour by Christopher Wheeldon kicks off the evening, and what a gem of a ballet it is. The dancers, in shimmering costumes by Jasper Conran, rise and fall in beautiful patterns, to music by Ezio Bosso and Vivaldi. Wheeldon works within the classical vocabulary but there is always room for surprise: feet suddenly flex; arms become angular – it is original and familiar at the same time. Praise should go to Peter Mumford, for the wonderfully atmospheric lighting.


The programme continues with Optional Family: A Divertissement by Kyle Abraham. Before the curtain rises, the audience hears a couple talking, and it is not very complimentary: “You bore me”, “If only I’d listened to my mother and married someone of substance”. We then see the dancers: Natalia Osipova (speedy and intense), Marcelino Sambe and Stanislaw Wegrzyn at some sort of relationship crossroads. The work poses more questions than it answers.


After the interval (and an overpriced minuscule tub of ice-cream at four pounds – come on, guys, that is ridiculous), the rest of the evening is devoted to two works by Crystal Pite. The Statement is a witty but sinister work using four dancers around a long, boardroom table. They move at speed, while four actors’ voices are broadcast at the same time. The words the actors speak: “The situation is escalating”, “We didn’t know the whole thing would blow up” imply a sudden crisis, a conflict which needs resolving and blame being apportioned. It is interesting and comic in a very dark way.


Solo Echo is the final ballet. It is a dark work in many senses: dark costumes, a dark mood and not much lighting. Although it is moving, it is all rather bleak (Pite seems to specialise in bleak) and overlong. But it is danced with conviction, with Mayara Magri (newly promoted to Principal) in a standout performance.


21st Century Choreographers is at the Royal Opera House until 30 May. It will be available to watch on demand until 27 June. 

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