Royal Ballet to return with real-life couple bubbles performing duets

23 September 2020, 13:28 | Updated: 23 September 2020, 14:18

Duets to play major role in Royal Ballet’s return to live performance
Duets to play major role in Royal Ballet’s return to live performance. Picture: Royal Ballet

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Couple bubbles allow dance to return to Covent Garden, as members of the Royal Ballet will soon congregate for the first time since March.

It’s been a challenging time for the arts, since the coronavirus pandemic shut down theatres and opera houses in March. And now the Royal Ballet has found a way to return, in full virtuosic force, for a live-streamed celebration performance on 6 October.

The wider company will be joined by a full orchestra for a number of socially distanced routines and dance duets, from couples who have already been placed in bubbles.

Some pas de deux will come from real-life couples within the Royal Ballet, which include Mayara Magri and Matthew Ball, Francesca Hayward and Cesar Corrales, and Fumi Kaneko and Reece Clarke.

Seven other couple bubbles have been formed in time for rehearsals, including star duo Marianela Nuñez and Vadim Muntagirov (pictured above); Sarah Lamb and Ryoichi Hirano; Yasmine Naghdi and Nicol Edmonds; and Akane Takada and Federico Bonelli.

“We are so excited about the full Company returning to their home stage,” says director Kevin O’Hare, who has curated the event. “The dancers have sorely missed performing and connecting with their audiences these past few months and I have been deeply impressed by the grace and tenacity they have shown during these challenging circumstances.

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The celebration performance will be at the Royal Opera House
The celebration performance will be at the Royal Opera House. Picture: Royal Ballet

“I hope this performance will be a chance for everyone to be reminded of all that makes The Royal Ballet and the amazing teams at the Royal Opera House so special.”

It’s been an age since the dancers have performed together. O’Hare remembers their last, emotional performance of Swan Lake in March: “That’s a day etched into my brain,” he tells The Guardian.

“Even though the government hadn’t announced [it], we all knew it would be the last performance. The audience knew it as well and they were all standing and cheering like they didn’t want us to leave. It was extraordinary.”

The two-and-a-half-hour show will celebrated both traditional and 20th century classics including excerpts by Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov and Frederick Ashton, and will culminate in a group finale number involving double the usual number of dancers in MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations.

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It will be livestreamed around the world on Vimeo, for £16 a ticket, and will be available for 30 days from 6 October. “We have to charge, we have had no ticket income,” says O’Hare.

“I would say £16 is a real bargain … to have every principal of the Royal Ballet, the rest of the company and the orchestra, it will be extraordinary.”

Currently, the company plans to have a special live guest list, including students and health workers, who will all be socially distanced in the auditorium.