Thursday 4 January 2024

Les Noces re-imagined: New Movement Collective presents a new choreographic version of Stravinsky's ballet

Eryck Brahmania & Malgorzata Dzierzon (Photo: Jack Thomson)
Eryck Brahmania & Malgorzata Dzierzon (Photo: Jack Thomson)

Stravinsky conceived of the idea of Les Noces in 1913, when he planned a ballet score on the lines of The Rite of Spring, but by 1917 when he completed the work in short score, his ideas had changed. During the 1920s Stravinsky would move firmly towards neo-Classicism and smaller forces, but he seems to have had uncertainty about the Russian-inspired Les Noces

Six years after completing the short score, he produced the final version scored for four vocal soloists, chorus, percussion and four pianos, thus creating a unique sound-world, though during the last 50 years there have been various performances of completions of the various torsos left behind by Stravinsky, including a version for large orchestra and one for cimbaloms and pianola.

For the premiere in 1923, choreography was by Nijinsky's sister, Bronislava and like Stravinsky changing his sound-world, Nijinska's choreography embodied a very different world to her brother's ballets. Les Noces was her third Stravinsky ballet following Mavra and Renard

In 1928, Nijinska was the choreographer for Ida Rubenstein's company in Paris when a young English dancer, Frederick Ashton, joined the company, was mentored by Nijinska and danced some of her ballets. Cut to 1960s London and Ashton became director of the Royal Ballet in 1963, having previously been the company's resident choreographer. He invited Nijinska to stage her ballets at the Royal Ballet, the result was a pair of historically important stagings, Les Biches (to music by Poulenc) and Les Noces.

On 13 and 14 January 2024, the dance company New Movement Collective is presenting a reappraisal of Les Noces with new contemporary choreography and some of Britain's best contemporary dancers. The project's music director is Yshani Perinpanayagam and the performers include singers from the Opera Holland Park Chorus, musicians from the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music. 

As well as Stravinsky's ballet, New Movement Collective have additionally commissioned three contemporary composers to respond to Stravinsky’s score, Yshani Perinpanayagam, emerging RAM composer Andrea Balency-Béarn, and Beatbox Champion MC Zani. These new compositions will see choreographic explorations on the work’s themes performed by English National Ballet’s ENBYouthCo and Manchester-based Chameleon Youth.

The performances take place at Woolwich Works on 13 and 14 January 2024. Further information from the Woolwich Works website.

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