Royal Ballet triple bill review – a breakthrough for Wayne McGregor

Royal Opera House, London
The choreographer’s new work, Obsidian Tear, is a dramatic standout in a programme of light and shade

The Royal Ballet’s triple bill opens with Wayne McGregor’s Obsidian Tear, a new work for nine male dancers, set to a score by Esa-Pekka Salonen. The piece opens with an extended duet for Matthew Ball and Calvin Richardson, both bare-chested. They respond to the edgy violin flourishes of Salonen’s Lachen Verlernt with liquescent arms, sinuous torsos, and restrained touching. There’s a memorable moment when Ball, his gaze softening, runs a tender hand down Richardson’s arm.

As the music builds in drama, it’s answered with fluently sprung leaps and lifts. We sense something unexpressed, then the stage fills and the music changes to Salonen’s symphonic poem Nyx. Black-robed Edward Watson is a hieratic figure, exerting a tense, brittle authority. Around him, the male ensemble enacts enigmatic rituals and forms militaristic phalanxes. Richardson, the androgynous outsider, swoops and carves the air, impelled by the music’s dreamy flutter. But in an echo of Nijinsky’s Rite of Spring, he has been marked for sacrifice and after being celebrated in pietà-like lifts, is cast to his death, leaving Ball bereft. With its emotive subtext and restrained but telling choreography, this is a breakthrough work for McGregor. Uzma Hameed is credited as dramaturg, as she was on Woolf Works; the collaboration is clearly a happy one.

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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