Review Roundup: A Triple Bill of The Illustrated Farewell/The Wind/Untouchable at The Royal Opera House - What Did The Critics Think?
The Triple Bill of THE ILLUSTRATED FAREWELL/THE WIND/UNTOUCHABLE runs at the Royal Opera House through November 17.
New work is as central to the repertory of The Royal Ballet as revivals of the classics are. For Director of The Royal Ballet Kevin O'Hare, contemporary choreographers and dancers are 'creating the classics of the 21st century'. In this mixed programme, O'Hare invites two choreographers to create new works for the Company - one making her long-overdue return, the other making his main-stage debut - while reviving one of O'Hare's earliest Royal Ballet commissions, first performed in 2015.
Trailblazer Twyla Tharp is one of the most prolific choreographers of our time. In The Illustrated 'Farewell' she expands her 1973 classic As Time Goes By into a new work for The Royal Ballet. Arthur Pita is a major force in British dance, best known at the Royal Opera House for his Metamorphosis based on Kafka's short story. He now creates a new work, The Wind, for the Company. Hofesh Shechter's Untouchable showed ballet taking an exciting new direction, pitting classical bodies against Shechter's signature gravity-bound physicality.
Let's see what the critics had to say!
Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times: Each of those three answers has proved perfectly valid in other ballets. These three works, however, are all problematic at best. The evening not only grows worse as it proceeds, it grows more tiresome and foolish. But it starts with "The Illustrated 'Farewell,'" which has several sequences - some extended, some fleeting - in which Ms. Tharp reminds the London audience that she is as sophisticated a choreographer as any alive today. Her vocabulary is eclectic and large, her grammar arrestingly idiosyncratic, her skill at group organization often superlative.
Laura Freeman, The Evening Standard: Hofesh Shechter's Untouchable is dark, smoky, slow-building. Figures mass and disperse. They slope, slide, pound their chests. It is atmospheric, but directionless. Matches are struck, the fire never lit.
Debra Craine, The Times: The storytelling [in The Wind] (the narrative is set in the 1880s), is intensely theatrical and perhaps too compressed, while the choreography doesn't go quite far enough in explicating Pita's theme, although he's good at suggesting the harshness and male aggression of Letty's cowboy world and the emotional frenzy that engulfs her.
Jenny Gilbert, The Arts Desk: Choreographically, Pita has resisted the temptation to simplify. The women's leaping turns in flounced, frilled and layered frocks are already difficult enough to execute. Add the constant blast of two onstage wind machines (built to look like 1880s threshing plants) and the dancers resemble twirling balls of rags... In truth, what's coming is neither disruptive nor shocking. Tharp's signature jazz elements - shoulder rolls, shimmies, locomotive hands - appear as a light sprinkling of chili flakes, only enhancing the general flavour. Graciousness rules.
Graham Watts, Bach Track: But, as they say, "there's many a slip between cup and lip"; and somehow the sum of all the many parts that make up The Wind fails to galvanise the brilliance that we have come to expect from this fast-rising choreographer.... The triple bill had opened with another new, or rather, refurbished work in Twyla Tharp's The Illustrated 'Farewell'... As ever, [McRae and Lamb] make a delightful pair and their marathon duet poses no problem of endurance, as Tharp mixes lyrical classical movement with quirky gestures (there's even a "high five") that sits especially well on the natural insouciance of McRae.