The Dante Project, Royal Opera House, review: Ambitious ballet bubbles over with ideas

The Royal Ballet’s ‘Divine Comedy’-inspired show comprises three uneven acts that nonetheless brim with style and drama, writes Zoe Anderson

Zoe Anderson
Friday 15 October 2021 19:53
Comments
<p>Edward Watson and Fumi Kaneko in ‘The Dante Project', The Royal Ballet</p>

Edward Watson and Fumi Kaneko in ‘The Dante Project', The Royal Ballet

Heaven, hell, and everything in between: Wayne McGregor’s new work for The Royal Ballet has huge scale and ambition, with a rich new score by Thomas Ades. Inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, with designs by the artist Tacita Dean, it bubbles over with ideas. Each of the three acts takes us into a new realm, with a distinctive soundworld and designs by Dean.

There’s a bold energy to Inferno, the most accessible of the three. Under Lucy Carter’s gorgeous lighting, Dean’s painted backdrop seems to morph from stylised map to blood-red Dore illustration, from ice cavern to thickly painted abstract art. The dancers’ black body tights are dusted with chalk, looking both ghostly and corporeal.

Edward Watson, in his farewell to the Royal Ballet, plays Dante, with Gary Avis as Virgil, his guide through hell. They’re powerful dance actors, but McGregor gives them little space for characterisation. The drama comes from the seething souls of the damned.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in