Three Ballets by Kenneth MacMillan

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A certain author of a certain popular history of ballet charges Kenneth MacMillan with reducing British ballet to “a grim and violent art”. Really? Well, here’s a DVD that might just turn that opinion on its head!

The vision of Kenneth MacMillan played a vital role in shaping The Royal Ballet’’s style and repertory. What better way to appreciate his art than with this rare chance to experience three contrasting works in a single performance? Abstract, dramatic, humorous – this programme gives a wonderfully varied introduction not just to MacMillan’’s work but to the beauty and dramatic power of ballet itself.

Concerto (1966), to Shostakovich’’s Second Piano Concerto, contrasts moments of exuberance and elegiac reflection. The Judas Tree (1992) places a single woman among thirteen men to enact a harrowing event that is recognizably contemporary but with biblical overtones. Elite Syncopations (1974) completes the programme with a sparkling evocation of a dance hall that brings ragtime rhythms to the dance, and a ragtime band to the stage.

For newcomers to ballet and students of the art, this is a programme of works to return to again and again as your knowledge and appreciation of ballet grows. The light-hearted fun of Elite Syncopations makes this DVD ideal for families and younger viewers, while Concerto is perfect for students and audiences discovering the beauty of abstract ballet. By contrast, The Judas Tree is a complex, deeply challenging work that often alienates on first viewing. It is, both in subject matter and design, an ‘adult’ ballet. It’s also a masterpiece. Find out more about it here.

Highly recommended by Vintage Pointe – five stars!

Recorded at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on 23 and 24 March 2010.

Region Code: 0
Format & Aspect Ratio: NTSC, 16:9
Number of discs: 1
Run time: 114 minutes
Studio: Opus Arte, OA1038D – also available as Blu-Ray disc
Release date: October 2010