Attention #dancenerdz! You know Wayne McGregor? The uber-cool British contemporary ballet choreographer whose movement turns dancers into gumby superheroes? And maybe you've heard of Virgina Woolf, the British modernist writer who basically defined the genre and helped change the course of writing in the English language? Try to imagine those two towering artistic forces combined and you'll get McGregor's first-ever full-length ballet, Woolf Works, which is set to premiere at The Royal Ballet tomorrow!
Though McGregor's work is decidedly contemporary and Woolf's writing is at the heart of modernism (remember, in art history "contemporary" and "modern" don't mean the same thing), the choreographer isn't one to shy away from stylistic challenges. McGregor is following in the grand tradition of ballets inspired by literature, but he's also putting his own spin on it.
By choosing Woolf's writing, which often purposefully lacks a narrative arc, he set himself a clear goal: How do you make a full-length ballet that doesn't necessarily tell a story from beginning to end? How do you keep the audience interested? Even though Woolf Works is based on three of Woolf's novels (Orlando, Mrs. Dalloway and The Waves), it won't be a story ballet.
Nicol Edmonds and Olivia Cowley rehearsing Woolf Works, photo by Holly-Marie Cato
It's a lot to try and understand, but fortunately the dream team over at The Royal Ballet put together a nifty package of videos and photos to help you get a feel for McGregor's ambitious project. You can get a quick background on Virginia Woolf, learn about how McGregor is using each novel to inspire its own act in the ballet and watch rehearsal videos featuring McGregor working with Royal Ballet principals. Enjoy, and let's hope this becomes part of the Royal Ballet in Cinema repertoire for 2016!