The Joyce Theater to Welcome The Royal Ballet
The Joyce Theater Foundation presents the long-awaited NYC return of the UK's Royal Ballet - first time in over 11 years - at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center beginning with a gala performance on June 23, followed by two mix-billed programs of works by Frederick Ashton, Kenneth MacMillan, Wayne McGregor, Liam Scarlett and Christopher Wheeldon through June 28. Tickets for The Royal Ballet can be arranged online at www.DavidHKochTheater.com or by calling (212)-496-0600.
Linda Shelton, Executive Director of The Joyce Theater, said, "I take great delight in The Joyce's success in presenting extraordinary international companies at the Koch Theater over the past three years, and I am thrilled that the tradition will continue with this engagement of The Royal Ballet. It is especially exciting to welcome the company back to New York after a more than ten year absence and to give audiences the chance to experience dance created and performed by some of the finest artists in the world."
Director of The Royal Ballet, Kevin O'Hare, said, "Since The Royal Ballet, known at the time as the Sadler's Wells Ballet, first visited New York in 1949, we have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with audiences there. We very much look forward to returning this year after an 11 year absence at the kind invitation of The Joyce Theater. We will be celebrating the talents of the Company's current dancers and the wealth of its choreographic achievements past and present with 20th century classics from Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan and recent works from Wayne McGregor, Christopher Wheeldon and Liam Scarlett."
From June 23 through 28, The Joyce Theater Foundation will proudly present The Royal Ballet in its first New York appearance since 2004. The engagement opens with a gala performance of Frederick Ashton's 1964 classic ballet The Dream, inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and created to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth. For its premiere, Ashton cast two young dancers, Anthony Dowell and Antoinette Sibley, as Oberon and Titania and it proved to be the start of one of the most celebrated partnerships of 20th century ballet. This engagement also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first performance of The Dream in the USA.
The New York engagement also includes two programs celebrating the work of British choreographers closely associated with The Royal Ballet. Program One features Kenneth MacMillan'spowerful Song of the Earth which was created in 1965. Set to Gustav Mahler's great song cycle, MacMillan explores the fragility of human life and features six episodes which are atmospheric rather than literal interpretations of the text. Song of the Earth will be performed with Frederick Ashton's The Dream from June 24 - 26.
Program Two is a mixed bill comprised of Infra by Royal Ballet Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor, The Age of Anxiety by Royal Ballet Artist in Residence Liam Scarlett, and highlights from The Royal Ballet's repertory, or Divertissements, including the central pas de deux from Royal Ballet Artistic Associate Christopher Wheeldon's award winning Aeternum.
Infra, meaning "below," premiered at the Royal Opera House in 2008. McGregor collaborated with artist Julian Opie who created digital images of walking figures below which McGregor's choreography unfolds through solos, pas de deux and group ensembles as dancers meet, pass and move on. The haunting electronica score by Max Richter sets the tone of an impersonal cityscape. The ballet is about people, a fragmented narrative exploring partial views of humanity and emotion.
Liam Scarlett's most recent work for the Company takes its name from Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No2 The Age of Anxiety, and is inspired by WH Auden's 1946 poem of the same name. John Macfarlane's lavish set and costume designs create a backdrop of 1940s wartime New York against which four disparate characters meet in a bar and try to make sense of their shifting worlds.
The Joyce Theater Foundation's presentation of The Royal Ballet marks a continued presence of programming by The Joyce Theater Foundation at Lincoln Center. Since April 2012, The Joyce has successfully presented annual week-long engagements at the David H. Koch Theater, beginning with Sylvie Guillem's 6000 miles away. Nederlands Dans Theater followed in 2013, Ballet Preljocaj's Snow White last April (2014) and the National Ballet of Canada's production of Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in September 2014. The Joyce plans to continue to present at the Koch Theater, helping to ensure that New York City experiences a diversity of outstanding large-scale dance productions while increasing The Joyce's capacity to engage new audiences.
Kevin O'Hare is Director of The Royal Ballet. Appointed in July 2012 following the retirement of Monica Mason, he is responsible for driving the artistic direction of the Company. He is committed to the promotion of outstanding creativity and artistic excellence, developing talent and widening the Company's performing platform. O'Hare was born in Yorkshire, England. He trained at The Royal Ballet School and, through an exchange program, with the Royal Danish Ballet. He began his performing career with The Royal Ballet's sister company Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet, and stayed with that company as a Principal during its transformation to Birmingham Royal Ballet. During this time he performed extensively in the UK and internationally, including as a guest artist with many leading companies. His repertory included all the leading classical roles, such as "Prince Siegfried" (Swan Lake), "Prince Florimund" (The Sleeping Beauty), "Albrecht" (Giselle) and "Romeo" (in BRB's first performance of Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet). O'Hare has worked with many leading figures in the ballet world, including Ninette de Valois, Peter Wright, Frederick Ashton, MacMillan and David Bintley, and created several roles, including "Amynta" (in Bintley's Sylvia). He also produced many galas and choreographic evenings. O'Hare retired from the stage in 2000, entering into a traineeship in company management with the Royal Shakespeare Company. This led to the post of Company Director with BRB in 2001, and in 2004 he joined The Royal Ballet as Company Manager. He was made Administrative Director in 2009 before being appointed to his current role. In 2013 he was appointed to the board of Dance UK.
Kenneth MacMillan (Choreographer) (1929-1992) was one of the leading choreographers of his generation. His close association with The Royal Ballet began when he joined The Sadler's Wells School (now The Royal Ballet School) at age 15. He was Director of the Company 1970-1977 and Principal Choreographer 1977-1992. His ballets are distinguished by their penetrating psychological insight and expressive use of classical language. These qualities are demonstrated in his many works for the Company, which include Romeo and Juliet, Gloria, Manon, Mayerling and Requiem. MacMillan was born in Dunfermline, Scotland and discovered ballet while evacuated to Rutford during World War II. At age 15, he forged a letter from his father to Ninette de Valois requesting an audition. He joined Sadler's Wells School on a full scholarship, later entering the Company. He created his first major work, Danses concertantes, in 1955 and went on to become one of the world's leading choreographers. Positions away from the Company included Director of Deutsche Oper Ballet Berlin (1966-1969) and Associate Director of American Ballet Theatre (1984-1990). He continued to create masterpieces throughout his life, including The Prince of the Pagodas (1989) and his last work, The Judas Tree, in 1992. He died backstage at the Royal Opera House during a revival of Mayerling. Some of MacMillan's most significant muses included Lynn Seymour, Christopher Gable, Monica Mason, Marcia Haydée, David Wall, Darcey Bussell and Irek Mukhamedov.
Frederick Ashton (Choreographer). Founding Choreographer of The Royal Ballet Frederick Ashton (1904-1988) was one of the most influential dance figures of the 20th century. In his work with the Company, he developed the distinctive "English style" and left a vast corpus of works that are regularly performed by The Royal Ballet and companies around the world, among them La Fille mal gardée, Marguerite and Armand and Symphonic Variations. Ashton was born in Ecuador to British parents. He first saw ballet when Anna Pavlova performed in Lima in 1917, later claiming, "From the end of that evening I wanted to dance." In England, Ashton was tutored by Leonid Massine and made his choreographic debut for Marie Rambert in 1926. After working with Rambert and Ida Rubinstein he was appointed principal choreographer of Vic-Wells Ballet (later The Royal Ballet) by Ninette de Valois in 1938. With De Valois Ashton played a crucial role in determining the course of the Company and The Royal Ballet School. In 1963 he took over from De Valois as Director of the Company and introduced several significant works, including Nijinska's Les Noces and Balanchine's Serenade, and commissioned MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet. He retired in 1970 but continued to choreograph throughout his life, producing his last major work, Rhapsody, in 1980. Ashton's style is distinctive for its épaulement (the way the head and shoulders are held) and fleet footwork. All are notable for their combination of elegance and breathtaking technical demands.