The Royal Ballet celebrates acclaimed choreographer Christopher Wheeldon with this mixed programme of three one-act ballets, including one world premiere. This mixed programme includes two Wheeldon works commissioned by other companies, which enter The Royal Ballet’s repertory for the first time this Season. Wheeldon made After the Rain for New York City Ballet in 2005. Set to music by Arvo Pärt, it quickly won popularity and is now arguably one of Wheeldon’s best-loved works. Within the Golden Hour was created for San Francisco Ballet in 2008. With its pulsing drive and energy it too has been acclaimed as one of Wheeldon’s finest works. Complementing these two works is a world premiere for The Royal Ballet, Strapless, set to music by Mark-Anthony Turnage.
59 Productions have been commissioned to create the lighting and video design for After the Rain and Within the Golden Hour for their premiere at the Royal Opera House.
Wheeldon created After the Rain for New York City Ballet’s 2005 New Combinations Evening, an annual celebration of the company’s founder George Balanchine. The original ballet is in two parts, with the first for three couples. The second part of After the Rain, a pas de deux set to Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel, has struck a deep chord with audiences and is now one of Wheeldon’s most famed works. In 2013, the extract was performed by NYCB principals Maria Kowroski and Ask la Cour on the 57th floor of 4WTC, the skyscraper that stands on one corner of Ground Zero in New York.
Wheeldon created Within the Golden Hour for San Francisco Ballet in 2008, as part of their New Works Festival in celebration of the company’s 75th anniversary. Italian minimalist composer Ezio Bosso created the original score for strings, incorporating music by Vivaldi. The work was acclaimed on its premiere by the San Francisco Chronicle as ‘one of Wheeldon’s best works and one of the company’s finest hours’.
Wheeldon structured Within the Golden Hour into clear sections, accentuated by Martin Pakledinaz’s simple set designs. Pakledinaz’s costume designs paint the dancers in muted hues of greens, browns, blues and purples, suggesting an autumnal sense, or the bright orange light of the ‘golden hour’ before the sun sets. Around the three central pas de deux the ballet exhibits Wheeldon’s now characteristic complex handling of ensembles, creating intricate lattice works that shift and mutate.
Video and lighting design by 59 Productions further complement this theme through a series of rich abstract artworks created specially for the show.