The programme started with the 1928 masterpiece Apollo by George Ballanchine with music by Stravinsky. Federico Bonelli was awe-inspiring as Apollo, particularly with the flowing elaborate dances with each of the muses featuring incredible lifts. Bonelli projected a perfect balance between strength and grace embodying the archetypal classical god. The set design was bold yet serene with a calming deep blue backdrop and a dark platform which provided a perfect spotlight, especially at the cinematic end where Apollo heroically leads the muses to Parnassus.
Next came 24 Preludes by Alexei Ratmansky. The music is an orchestration of Chopin’s work of the same title. This production is Ratmansky’s first ever commission by The Royal Ballet and comprises of short narratives flowing one after the other, mixing romantic whimsy with a touch of drama. In shimmering costumes of greys and pastels, the dancers interpreted interwoven short tales of love, fall outs and mischief. Plenty of comedy turns such as a male using his strength to exit the stage carrying and dragging the weight of two enamoured girls clinging onto him. 24 Preludes is like a chocolate box selection but with a little more depth and less overwhelming sugary content.
Finally, Aeternum - choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon to mark Benjamin Britten’s birth centenary. A stark beginning with a small crowd pulling away with a gasp to reveal a lone figure in a foetal position on the ground as played by Claire Calvert. From that moment, we are taken on a dark and dramatic journey. Figures rise, fall, elaborately cluster and leap while a suspended driftwood sculpture, brilliantly designed by Jean-Marc Puissant, slowly unfolds and towers over menacingly. Notable solos came from Calvert and Marcelino Sambé. The final ends with calm after the apocalyptic storm. Calvert is joined by Ryiochi Hirano and together, with beautiful mirroring leg lifts, they slowly move towards the sunset. A tender, fragile yet peaceful ending.
Until 14th March. http://www.roh.org.uk