5 things about Stravinsky
1. Riot! On the dance floor
Picture a perfect evening in Paris, 29 May 1913 – the world premiere of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Turns out it didn’t go quite so perfectly as planned. Its pulsating rhythms were considered so outrageous and avant-garde that it caused a riot in the auditorium. There was complete pandemonium and it’s rumoured the police were even called to calm the enraged crowd.
Christopher Hampson’s The Rite of Spring may not have caused a riot, but it certainly made waves with audiences and critics alike. The Herald says “go see for yourself how he [Hampson] uses the familiar Stravinsky score to power a bruising broth of sibling rivalry.”
2. A league of their own
A ballet great, Donald MacLeary joined us live on Facebook from rehearsal of The Fairy’s Kiss.
Donald was a long-standing dancer with The Royal Ballet and originated the role of the Young Man when MacMillan created it on him in 1962. We’ve been lucky enough to have him in the studio coaching the dancers in the lead up to opening night.
During the live stream, we found out that he and only one other dancer has ever performed the lead role in this treasured work. In our Stravinsky season, a few of our own men will join a league of extraordinary gentlemen.
3. Short on time, long on… everything!
Kenneth MacMillan’s The Fairy’s Kiss only had 33 performances since it was created in 1960. The last of which was in 1986. This is due to one small problem – for a short, one act ballet, it’s large in every other way possible.
The Fairy’s Kiss requires a full orchestra, a full company, and the original production also required a considerably large set. That made it difficult, near impossible, to perform any other works alongside it on the same evening. Thanks to an ingenious new design by Gary Harris and a Company of 40 dancers strong, we hope to keep The Fairy’s Kiss in our touring repertoire for years to come.
4. Not another fairy tale…
‘I’m sick to death of fairytales’ Kenneth MacMillan once told The Times. But it was the richness and complexity of Stravinsky’s score that lured him in.
Musically, The Fairy’s Kiss is a tribute to Stravinsky’s constant source of inspiration, Tchaikovsky (Swan Lake, The Nutcracker). Stravinsky once reflected that he himself eventually found it difficult to determine which sections were completely new and which had been re-imagined from Tchaikovsky’s originals.
5. Not a frog in sight
The Fairy’s Kiss isn’t quite like other fairy tales. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s enticingly dark fairytale The Ice Maiden, it tells the story of a boy cursed with a kiss, destined for immortality.
The Fairy herself is a strong and sensual character, far from a shy princess pining for her handsome prince. ‘She can be sharp, but at the same time, seductive’ says Principal Sophie Martin. ‘There’s something natural and raw to it…’
Hear her talk about the role in our latest behind-the-scenes video.