Monday, 29 October 2012

Kenneth MacMillan

20 years ago today, British ballet genius Kenneth MacMillan died. He was a controversial choreographer who displayed the harsh realities of life in his works and frequently clashed with the ballet institution. But his works are compelling, emotive and powerful, and when performed with the passion and style he intended, are incredibly beautiful (and my favourites) to watch.

Edward Watson in Mayerling
Photo: Johan Persson
MacMillan is best-known for his full-length ballets, notably Romeo and Juliet, Manon and Mayerling (pictured), and dancers typically love the dramatic challenges they present. For example, Crown Prince Rudolf in Mayerling is a society misfit who rapes his wife on their wedding night and dies in a suicide pact with his mistress – a far cry from the classical prince roles of most ballets. Royal Ballet principal, Marianela Nuñez, describes forgetting about real life for three hours when she dances Juliet: “It’s amazing what you can feel doing a MacMillan role. You can use your own life experiences – his works are so real, so human. His ballets touch your soul and make you grow as an artist.” MacMillan also created a diverse range of one-act pieces – from the wit and playfulness of Elite Syncopations to the darkness and betrayal of The Judas Tree.
The choreographer once stated: “I have to do what I have to do, and I hope the public will like it. If I ever stopped to consider what people wanted, or what I thought they'd like, I'd never do a thing.” As MacMillan is remembered today, I want to thank him for putting his incredible vision into ballets that continue to inspire and delight.

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