(K. Brent Tomer),
CHOREOGRAPHERS have always looked to the literary canon for stories. Greek myths, Shakespeare, the great Russian novelists, the Brontes: all have been plundered to supply plots for ballets. Certain kinds of writing, though, have been left on the shelf, the works of Virginia Woolf among them. The stream of being-ness that flowed from her pen hardly shouts “stage me” to even the most determined Bloomsburyphile. Yet the wordless medium of ballet is strong on nuance, and translating the essence of Woolf’s writing into dance was the kind of challenge that appealed to Wayne McGregor.
Woolf Works, which sees its first revival on January 21st at Covent Garden, draws on elements of Woolf’s novels (“Mrs Dalloway”, “Orlando” and “The Waves”), her letters (including her suicide note), and her marriage and relationships. It also makes a bid to capture something of her writing process—which may be a first on the ballet stage. It’s typical of Mr McGregor, the Royal Ballet’s resident choreographer, to push at the boundaries of what audiences can expect to see there. It’s also typical of him to give a key role in this piece to…Continue reading