Setting & Costumes:
with Peter Stenhouse
Royal Ballet, Covent Garden
After the success of 2009's Olivier Award-winning Goldberg Project at the Royal Ballet, 59 is again collaborating with choreographer Kim Brandstrup on a new piece for the main stage of the Royal Opera House. Part of a quadruple-bill, the piece is based around music by leading contemporary composer Thomas Ades.
The story is loosely that of Racine's Reine Berenice, in which Titus has to abandon the love of his life, Berenice, in order to take up his reign as emperor.
"The piece is small in scale, but – like the drama it recounts – massively resonant. It is superbly judged in means, in effects and in interpretations. I think it is a major acquisition."
***** Financial Times
"Kim Brandstrup's new Invitus Invitam for the Royal Ballet cuts between a story and the process of telling it, in a whirl of absorbing dance and computer imagery... The stage is dressed with video projections. Grids dance over the walls, turning into architectural drawings. Gaining texture and shadow, they become arches, pillars, a classical city. Dancers lean against pillars that you know can't be there. It's brilliant, but it never overwhelms the dancing."
**** The Independent
"Few choreographers would choose to appear in the same programme as Frederick Ashton, Kenneth MacMillan and George Balanchine. The three giants of 20th-century dance overshadow most, but not Kim Brandstrup, the Danish choreographer whose new piece for The Royal Ballet held its own in a mixed bill that featured canonical work by all three of the mighty trio."
**** Evening Standard
"As ever, Brandstrup's chosen collaborators deliver a perfectly-judged background: Richard Hudson's sets and costumes, Lucy Carter's lighting and Leo Warner's videos - pure, mathematical lines and curves - combine to make a stage-picture as beautiful as anything we've seen on this stage in years."
"The title is intensely poignant - “invitus” meaning “against one’s will” - and it draws on a sparse Latin line of Suetonius, describing a king adulterously in love, unwillingly splitting with the woman he loved. Such spare plots are always Brandstrup’s area of expertise, joining bare dots with his soft-limned pas de deux, urging his performers to colour them richly in with emotion... an expertly moody visual setting by Richard Hudson, Lucy Carter and Leo Warner, with video magic making castles appear and disappear behind the doomed Titus and Berenice."
"It is all beautifully crafted. Thomas Ades has provided a magnificent score, based on the music of Francois Couperin; the setting by Richard Hudson, and the lighting designs and video projections by Lucy Carter and Leo Warner elegantly conjure Roman palaces out of thin air."
"Inspired by the agonised resonance of those few words, Brandstrup constructs his ballet out of three short duets. Set to Thomas Ades's Three Studies from Couperin, these are passionate, fluent exchanges between Titus (Edward Watson) and Berenice (Leanne Benjamin) in which every small inflection as well as every turbulent lift comes saturated with challenge, tenderness, despair"