English National Ballet Presents First World War Themed Premiere at the National Portrait Gallery Today
English National Ballet will present a First World War themed world premiere at the National Portrait Gallery today, 16 May for one night only as part of Museums at Night and the Gallery's Late Shift programme.
The site-specific dance performance is inspired by David Jones's seminal First World War poem In Parenthesis and ischoreographed by English National Ballet Associate Artist George Williamson. The work which will make use of several gallery spaces evokes the poet's experience of life on the front during the First World War.
The evening, which is free admission, is part of the Gallery's four-year programme of events commemorating the centenary of the conflict which includes the free exhibition The Great War in Portraits.
In Parenthesis, which includes the line 'you scramble forward and pretend not to see, but ruby drops from young beech-sprigs - are bright your hands and face' was poet and painter David Jones' first literary publication. A rich, beautiful and complex book-length poem which took 20 years to write, it was published by Faber and Faber in 1937. With an introduction by T S Eliot, who called it a 'work of genius,' it describes Jones' experience of life on the front during the First World War.
Jones enlisted in the Royal Welch Fusiliers and served on the Western Front from December 1915 to March 1918. Like Jones, John Ball, the protagonist of In Parenthesis, served on the Western Front during the war and both were wounded in the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
Jones draws on his Welsh literary heritage in In Parenthesis, uses images from Shakespeare's history plays and T S Eliot's The Wasteland, and fuses them with soldiers' slang from the war. The vision he creates is dense, fractured and intimate and explores physical destruction, spiritual outrage and the search for goodness in a hateful life.
English National Ballet Dancers: Jia Zhang, Daniele Silingardi, Joshua McSherry-Gray, Dynott, Stephen Wilson, PedroLapetra, Laurretta Summerscales, Max Westwell, Van Le Ngoc, Anton Lukovkin, Nicola Henshall, George Williamson. Choreography: George Williamson.
LATE SHIFT EXTRA: IN PARENTHESIS
National Portrait Gallery, Friday 16 May 2014 Performance 18.00 - 20.40, Gallery activities until 22.00, Admission free
Photo Credit: English National Ballet's Anton Lukovkin dances in front of 'General Officers of World War I' by John Singer Sargent at the National Portrait Gallery (c) Jorge Herrera