On Thursday 8th November, a triple bill programme of Viscera, Infra and Fool’s Paradise was performed by The Royal Ballet with the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House at the Royal Opera House.
The first ballet of the evening was Viscera. Liam Scarlett choreographed a powerful ballet, capitalising on the rhythmic drive and anticipation created by the accompanying music, composed by Lowell Liebermann. Centred on the use of the piano in the musical ensemble, the ferocity and urgency of the music was reflected in the ballet performances; accented movements rhythmically incorporated into the choreography.
Viserca was originally commissioned by Miami City Ballet and first performed in January 2012, however perhaps this ballet was the most isolated piece of the programme. The music felt overpowering from the performance on stage and my attention was continually drawn towards the orchestra (and particular the sheer difficult piano part, executed brilliantly by Robert Clark).
The central piece of the programme, Infra, was certainly a ballet not to miss. Max Richter’s scoring of Infra was an idiom to his style; simplistic, contemporary, and non-imposing on the audience. The use of electronic sounds were complemented by Richter’s scoring for string ensemble and piano, who added warmth and musical development to the continuous sound throughout.
Wayne McGregor, delivered a ballet that was both technically difficult for the performers but absolutely engaging for the audience. Throughout, the music was emotionally reassuring to the lyrical, sublime narrative of the ballet. Lighting was effectively used, in particular a climatic moment while six narratives were all explored in segregated lighted rectangles on stage; dramatic and riveting. A contrast between the colours of costume; grey and black separating both dancers in each narrative which was also particularly effective.
Julian Opie, set designer of Infra, designed an interesting concept; an electronic graphic display with people walking from one side to the other during the course of the ballet. Opie’s visual electronic art complemented McGregor’s choreography by depicting the passing nature and ignorance of each independent narrative on stage by the population walking by.
The final performance of the evening was Fool’s Paradise, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and music by Joby Talbot. The ballet was humanistic and evoked a perfect emotion and balance to close the evening’s performance.
From the opening moments of the ballet with three dancers forming a triangle while glitter descended from above captured the nature and delicacy of Wheeldon’s choreography. With specific dancers from New York City Ballet and Royal Ballet in mind during the ballet’s creation, Fool’s Paradise requires versatile dancers who are able to shift between independent lyricism and traditional ballet training. The nude costumes of the dancers depicted a natural quality to Wheeldon’s ballet; simple and human, in addition to light being sparingly but effectively used emphasising evocative, abstract moments.
The ballet repertoire performed this evening reflected the diversity of contemporary ballet. As a programme, the ballets were successfully balanced, moving from harsh, rhythmic pace in Viscera to gentle, abstract moments in Fool’s Paradise. Throughout, the minimal staging and lighting captured the audience’s attention towards the lyrical ballet movements, allowing each member to interpret the narrative of the performance in their own ways. A special recommendation to Infra, a fantastic piece of ballet, engulfing the audience’s emotions and questioning their perceptions.