British choreographer Kenneth MacMillan transformed ballet, through an extraordinary career that expanded the boundaries of the art form. To mark the 25th anniversary of his death The Royal Ballet celebrates his remarkable work with three mixed programmes that bring together the UK’s five leading ballet companies. In the second of these programmes, The Royal Ballet and English National Ballet dance two adult and complex works that show MacMillan at his most searching and ambitious.
The Royal Ballet dances The Judas Tree, created in 1992. It was MacMillan’s final ballet and is still his most controversial. It returns to themes that occupied MacMillan throughout his career – an exploration of collective guilt, and the violent consequences of a rule of fear. Song of the Earth from 1965, danced by English National Ballet, meditates on ideas of love, loss and renewal, to Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. At its premiere it was acclaimed as a masterpiece, and remains one of MacMillan’s most powerful and beautiful ballets.