Birmingham Royal Ballet
George Balanchine, Kenneth MacMillan and Bronislava Nijinska – a heavyweight line-up of choreographers, all of whom have created a ballet to Stravinsky’s 1928 score, Le Baiser de la fée. So when British choreographer, Michael Cordor was asked to make a new version of the work for Birmingham Royal Ballet, he was understandably a tad nervous.
‘My first reaction was that I was delighted to be asked to make such a substantial piece for the company,’ says Cordor. ‘But my second reaction was all these concerns about the history of the piece.’ Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s dark tale, The Ice Maiden, Le Baiser de la fée is one of three works being performed under the banner, Stravinsky! A Celebration. The other two – The Firebird and Petrushka – are both dramatic and well-loved ballets by another choreographic legend, Mikhail Fokine.
So, not only did Cordor have Le Baiser de la fée’s heritage to contend with, but a ballet giant to share his triple-bill. An award-winning choreographer himself, Cordor has created works for some of the world’s finest ballet companies and wasn’t about to be phased by the challenge. ‘I’ve always had a very powerful connection to Stravinsky ever since I was a child,’ says Cordor. ‘I’ve always loved his music and have choreographed about six ballets to it, so I felt on strong ground. When I was first starting out I might have felt a bit intimidated, whereas now I should be able to hold my own against these people.’
The Stravinsky programme is part of a week-long visit by Birmingham Royal Ballet which also features a lavish full-length production of David Bintley’s Beauty and the Beast. Both Bintley and Cordor cut their teeth as dancers and choreographers at the Royal Ballet in the 1970s. And as far as Cordor is concerned, it served them well for what lay ahead. ‘I joined the Royal Ballet when Kenneth MacMillan was director,’ says Cordor. ‘And performed in many of his world premieres. So choreographically it was the most tremendously fertile period in the Royal Ballet’s history, and a great training ground for would-be choreographers like David and myself.’
Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue 4–Sat 8 Nov