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The Royal Ballet: “After the Rain”, c. Christopher Wheeldon (ph. T.

Kenton)

sic’. The Royal Ballet has been waiting a very it or diminish its impact. This is a work inspired as the sombre musical base for this
long time indeed for such a ballet, commis- which could apply equally to the gulags of remarkable ballet. Similarly, the two stark,
sioning new work but rarely receiving any- Siberia, the camps of Nazi Germany or to grey walls which move to create a claus-
thing better than the pedestrian; it has finally any number of displacements that religion, trophobic interior and open to reveal the vast
been rewarded with Crystal Pite’s Flight politics or war have imposed upon human- expanse of the Covent Garden stage, pro-
Pattern. This is the choreographer’s response kind. vide the ideal setting; dancers clad in plain
to the current refugee crisis, but it possesses In her first work for the company, Pite overcoats and simple shirts and trousers in
such universality and deep humanity, that sets 36 dancers in an extraordinary deploy- subtly different shades of grey evoke the
it avoids any specifics which could either date ment of mass movement, from which indi- right atmosphere. Theatrical effect, shafts
viduals emerge and into which or dapples of light or the onset of snow-
they are again subsumed. Her fall, is used sparingly and thereby all the
vocabulary is varied and sub- more tellingly.
tle, ranging from the shuffling Pite is also spare and precise in her use
gait of the exhausted to a of narrative pose and movement – when a
more exultant, open quality in female dancer cradles her coat and rocks back
a central passage of greater and forth, we see a mother and her baby;
optimism. Flight Pattern is, when she unravels the coat to reveal noth-
crucially, an example of ing there, we understand the loss of the
wholly successful child. We witness the Pietà as all the other
Gesamtkunstwerk with each dancers pile their coats onto her outstretched
element – dance, setting, cos- arms as she walks slowly back upstage to
tume and lighting – coming to- the first strains of the soprano solo inton-
gether to create a whole which ing the words of the Virgin Mary to her dying
is greater than the sum of its son. Nothing is overstated, yet all is clear
parts. Thus the choice of and comprehensible.
Henryk Górecki’s Third Sym- And it is in this that Pite’s success is total.
phony, the Symphony of Sor- She has created a powerful and intense work
rowful Songs, with its heart- which transcends the specifics of its inspi-
rending soprano solo, is ration to attain the level of the universal.
In that, she achieves something rare indeed
in dance: the art form easily depicts love
and emotion between individuals, transports
of personal joy or despair, but less so so-
cial comment. The 30 minutes of Flight Pat-
The Royal Ballet: tern pass by in a collective holding of breath
“Flight Pattern”, – it is beautiful, striking, disturbing and pro-
c. Crystal Pite foundly moving. It is a notable achievement.
(ph. T. Kenton) Gerald Dowler

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