NEWS: See three new narrative ballets in ‘Warp and Weft’ – Marylebone Theatre, June 2024

 

A trio of choreographers will weave three reimagined narratives into Warp and Weft, a new triple bill of contemporary ballet, this month.

The production, which features new works by Aaron Thao, Richard Bermange and Marika Brussel, premieres at London’s Marylebone Theatre on Saturday 22 June.

Yarn is transformed into cloth thanks to the interlacing of two sets of threads – vertical warp threads and horizontal weft threads. Warp threads are the strong and constant foundation of the textile, while weft threads are the fluid and flexible pattern-making element. Warp and Weft looks set to embody life’s rich tapestry by updating the fabric of three existing tales in ways that will resonate with audiences today.

 

Warp and Weft dancers Ryan Upton and Mayuko Suzuki in rehearsal with Marika Brussel.

 

Warp and Weft Iago v Othello / The Maids / By a Thread

 

The narratives that the three independent choreographers have opted to contribute their own threads to are Shakespeare’s Othello, Jean Genet’s Les Bonnes (The Maids) and Homer’s The Odyssey. Expect to be swept up in accessible and visceral storytelling.

 

Iago v Othello by Aaron Thao

Hmong American choreographer Aaron Thao will present a contemporary retelling of Othello in Iago v Othello, a drama set in the competitive world of corporate law. His interpretation takes the themes of manipulation, jealousy and death from the Shakespearean tragedy and applies them to today’s rat race.

In Shakespeare’s Othello, junior officer Iago is furious about being overlooked for promotion and plots to take revenge against his general, Othello. Iago manipulates Othello into believing his wife, Desdemona, is unfaithful. Othello allows jealousy to consume him. At least one person dies.

Iago v Othello promises to explore the all-encompassing seduction of revenge and consider the notion of survival of the fittest as it relates to climbing the contemporary career ladder. It centres around go-getters at a law firm who all dream of prestige, power and partnership. When loyalties are betrayed, Iago goes to extremes to bring those around her to their knees.

Ho-Shia Aaron Thao is the artistic director of Hudson Ballet Theatre. He graduated from Brown University in 2009 and continued his education at the University of Minnesota Medical School before pursuing a career in dance in 2011. He trained in New York City and performed professionally with various ballet and dance companies throughout the US before founding Hudson Ballet Theatre in 2015.

Dancers: Mayuko Suzuki (‘Iago’), Ryan Upton (‘Envy’), Isaac Bowry (‘Othello’), Maeve Nolan (‘Desdemona’), Shannon Maynor (‘Barbara’), George Leatherby (‘Michael Cassio’), Michaela Marrable (‘Bianca’), Jose Alves (‘Roderigo’), Ellie Young (‘Emilia’), Maddie Smith (‘Intern/Partner’), Johnny Randall (‘Intern/Partner’), Romy Adair (‘Intern/Partner’), Hayley Clark (‘Intern/Associate’), Sasha Gologorskaya (‘Intern/Associate’), Barbara Tosto (‘Intern/Associate’).

 

The Maids by Richard Bermange

London-based choreographer Richard Bermange will delve into complex class and power dynamics in The Maids, a dark comedy inspired by Jean Genet’s 1947 play Les Bonnes (The Maids).

Two housemaids take turns role-playing as their overbearing Mistress whenever she is out of the house. One adopts the Mistress’ authoritative attitude, while the other remains her submissive servant. The end-goal of this ritualistic game is carrying out the real murder of the Mistress, which is surely the only way the duo can free themselves and reassert their identities.

The Maids promises to be a character-led piece that will challenge expectations. As the maids concoct ever more ingenious scenarios and their emotions intensify, the line between fantasy and premeditated murder is increasingly blurred. Ultimately, this ballet will pose the question, ‘who is the real villain of the piece?’.

Richard Bermange created a production of Swan Lake for National Ballet of Ireland in 2014. He has also choreographed works for Ballet Central, London Studio Centre, National Youth Ballet and English National Ballet’s youth dance company, ENBYouthCo. He was the creative director of ENBYouthCo from 2019 to 2023 and he is the rehearsal director for London Children’s Ballet this season.

Dancers: Daisy Bishop (‘Maid’), Anna Hirst (‘Maid’), Maddie Smith (‘Maid’).

 

By a Thread by Marika Brussel

London-based American choreographer Marika Brussel will translate an ancient Greek epic for a modern audience in By a Thread, a re-envisioning of The Odyssey. Her interpretation shines a light on Odysseus’ wife, Penelope, who is known for her fidelity.

Penelope was pursued by more than a hundred suitors while Odysseus was taking his time returning home from the Trojan War. She spent her days weaving at her loom and assured them that she would choose one to marry as soon as her current project was complete. But, ever the faithful wife, each evening she would secretly unravel what she had woven that day.

By a Thread promises to put women at the centre of the story and consider what Penelope was really thinking, feeling and doing during Odysseus’ 20-year absence from her life. The ballet reimagines her as a military wife who becomes a leader.

Marika Brussel’s ballets have been commissioned by many companies, including Kansas City Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Madison Ballet and Hudson Ballet Theatre. She has used dance as a medium to explore myths, plays and personal stories. Her interest in Greek mythology began during childhood, when her parents would read the stories to her and her brother.

Dancers: Michaela Marrable (‘Penelope’), Ryan Upton (‘Odysseus’), Mayuko Suzuki (‘Athena’), Ellie Young (‘Actoris’), George Leatherby (‘Peter’/Suitor), Shannon Maynor (‘Elena’), Isaac Bowry (‘Nico’/Suitor), Tamara Hinson (‘Calypso’), Romy Adair (‘Sophia’), Kynda Ng (‘Chloe’), Philip McDermott (‘Kristo’/Suitor), Sasha Gologorskaya (‘Meli’).

 

 

Running time: Approximately 2 hours, including an interval.

 

*Featured photograph shows dancers Ryan Upton and Mayuko Suzuki in rehearsal with choreographer Marika Brussel at English National Ballet’s Mulryan Centre for Dance (as part of the ‘Shared Ground’ scheme). Photography by Rachel Cherry.

 

The Warp and Weft dancers have been rehearsing in venues across London. These include English National Ballet’s Mulryan Centre for Dance (as part of the ‘Shared Ground’ scheme), DanceWest London, Danceworks, East London Dance, The Place and West London School of Dance. The dancers have also spent a week in residency at Royal Holloway, University of London.

 

Warp and Weft is at Marylebone Theatre on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 June.

 

 

Update 25 June 2024: Read my review of Warp and Weft at Marylebone Theatre.

 

 

Preview for Culture Whisper:

 

  • Screenshot of Culture Whisper preview of the Warp and Weft triple bill at Marylebone Theatre. Written by Georgina Butler and published on 3 June 2024.

 

 

Georgina Butler is an editor, a dance writer and a ballet teacher.

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