MacMillan magic: a fairy’s kiss with more bite than the usual balletic fare
Le Baiser de la Fée is a fairy’s kiss with more bite than the usual balletic fare. Choreographer Kenneth MacMillan was famously ‘sick to death of fairy-tales’, with ballet full to the brim of Sleeping Beauties, Cinderellas, and Swan Lakes, and often focused his works on visceral resonance rather than folkloric classicism. In his adaptation of Andersen’s The Ice Maiden, performed by Scottish Ballet on scintillatingly exciting form as part of the celebration on the 25th anniversary of his death, MacMillan makes the fairy’s kiss the mark of something much darker and more dangerous.
Balancing, like La Sylphide, on Romantic ballet’s obsession with the Other – symbolised by the difference between the familiar earthly fiancée and the otherworldly fairy – Le Baiser de la Fée stops short of romanticising it with its striking Stravinsky score and Scottish Ballet boldly billing it alongside another Stravinsky in much starker style, the raw and riotous The Rite of Spring. Continue reading “Reflection: Scottish Ballet’s Le Baiser de la Fée”
Ballet is no Sleeping Beauty. It’s no art installation, no history in hallowed halls, no artefact kept under lock and key. Steps and concepts can be penned, but can’t be captured in a still frame like film, composed on staves like music or printed on paper like poetry. It’s ephemeral, like theatre, existing only for a moment, but, unlike theatre, that moment – or movement – exists only on the body that embodies it. Ballet lives and breathes.
No one understood this more instinctively, or intensely, than Kenneth MacMillan; a master choreographer of the Royal Ballet and beyond whose life and work is being celebrated by the best of British companies, as well as around the world, to commemorate 25 years since his death. MacMillan had a heart attack backstage at the Royal Opera House in 1992 during a revival of the emotionally arresting Mayerling, but while the creator’s heart may have stopped, the heart of his creations go on beating and breaking on ballet stages around the world as wards of his widow, Lady MacMillan.
Most of the works in the celebration, performed by a mix of dancers from six world-class companies from around the UK, are composed of three short, one-act works to showcase the diversity and depth of his choreographic style. Continue reading “Essay: Kenneth MacMillan – Master Choreographer”