David Mead

New works, new and engaging collaborations and classic revivals set the theme for the Royal Ballet Season 2014/15, which includes a first full-length ballet by Wayne McGregor and new one-act works by Hofesh Shechter and Liam Scarlett.

McGregor’s new ballet will premiere in May 2015. “Woolf Works”, based on the writings and life of English author Virginia Woolf, has a newly commissioned score by Max Richter, a long-time favourite of the choreographer. Costume designs are by Moritz Junge (“Chroma”), with lighting by Lucy Carter and film design by Ravi Deepres. Alessandra Ferri, former Royal Ballet Principal, is due to return to dance in the work.

Liam Scarlett’s latest new work for the Company forms part of a triple bill that opens in November, and will be to Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No2 (“The Age of Anxiety”), inspired by WH Auden’s 1946 poem about the lost illusions of youth. The programme also sees the London premiere of Kim Brandstrup’s “Ceremony of Innocence”, first performed at the Aldeburgh Festival in 2013. Set to Benjamin Britten’s “Variation on a Theme of Frank Bridge”, it’s a response to the composer’s final opera, “Death in Venice”, which Brandstrup recently worked on at the London Coliseum. The programme is completed by Christopher Wheeldon’s “Aeternum”, also set to music by Britten.

Hofesh Shechter’s first commission for The Royal Ballet comes in March in a programme that also includes Balanchine’s “The Four Temperaments” and MacMillan’s “Song of the Earth”.

Other full-length ballets in the new season are Carlos Acosta’s “Don Quixote”, with Acosta again in the lead role of Basilio with Marianela Nuñez as Kitri; Wheeldon’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”; Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée; John Crnako’s “Onegin”; Anthony Dowell’s production of “Swan Lake”; and MacMillan’s “Manon”, which will be celebrating its 40th anniversary. “Manon”, “Fille”, “Swan Lake” and “Alice” will all also be screened live in cinemas.

An all-Ashton quadruple-bill includes “Scènes de ballet”, the choreographer’s own personal favourite amongst his works; “Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan”; “Symphonic Variations”, the first ballet that Ashton created for the Sadler’s Wells Ballet after the Company moved to Covent Garden in 1946; and “A Month in the Country”.

A final mixed programme features Jerome Robbins’ “Afternoon of a Faun” and “In the Night”, and MacMillan’s “Song of the Earth”.

In summer 2015 the Company will return to New York for the first time in 11 years as part of a North American tour which also includes Washington and Chicago.

There’s plenty of new work downstairs in the Linbury Studio Theatre, with new commissions from ZooNation, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company and Royal Ballet First Artist Ludovic Ondiviela, who will choreograph his first commissioned ballet for Royal Ballet and guest dancers.

Ondiviela’s “Cassandra” will explore themes of mental illness and is based on the Greek myth of Cassandra who had the power of prophecy and the curse of never being believed. Singer Ana Silvera will also appear in the work. Ondiviela, who has previously made work for Ballet Black and is a regular in the Royal Ballet’s Draft Works programme, has taken a sabbatical from dancing to create his new work.

At Christmas, ZooNation will premiere their version of “The Mad Hatter’s T Party”, placing it in an antiquated mental asylum in Wonderland where madness is a fact of life. The work follows Ernest, a young psychotherapist who hosts a special T Party (‘T’ standing for therapy), and who invites the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter and Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum turn the party into an afternoon of outrageous escapades.

Phoenix Dance Theatre return with two works being seen in London for the first time; “Mapping” by Darshan Singh Bhuller, and a new piece by Christopher Bruce, alongside “Document”, a dark portrait of emotions by choreographic duo Ivgi and Greben.

Linking in with classic ballets, Shobana Jeyasingh will present “Bayadère Project”. As its name suggests, this is to centre on “La Bayadère”, and explore the way in which Indian temple dancing, or a fantasy of this style, was presented as a soft-focus India of maidens and high-leaping gods. Aakash Odedra will also present new work in a mixed bill.

One that looks like it will be especially worth waiting for is a Royal Ballet/Joyce Theatre Foundation evening of commissioned work for Wendy Whelan and Edward Watson, to be premiered in 2015. This will tour to New York and North America in spring 2016.

Also coming to the Linbury are The London International Mime Festival, Ballet Black, and a mixed bill by Northern Ballet. Northern are also to dance “The Elves and the Shoemaker”, the latest in their short ballets for younger audiences.

The main stage season at a glance:

Manon: 26 September – 29 October 2014

Ashton Mixed Bill: 18 October – 12 November 2014

Brandstrup/Scarlett/Wheeldon Triple Bill: 7 – 17 November 2014

Don Quixote: 25 November 2014 – 22 January 2015

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: 6 December 2014 – 16 January 2015

Onegin: 24 January – 27 February 2015

Swan Lake: 10 February – 9 April 2015

Balanchine/Shechter/MacMillan Triple Bill: 27 March – 14 April 2015

La Fille mal gardée: 16 April – 5 May 2015

Woolf Works: 11 – 26 May 2015

Robbins/MacMillan Triple Bill: 29 May – 4 June 2015

The Linbury season at a glance

BalletBoyz / The Talent: 16 – 27 September

Cassandra (Ludovic Ondiviela): 30 October – 1 November

Phoenix Dance Theatre: 25 – 29 November

The Mad Hatter’s T Party (ZooNation): 6 December – 3 January 2015

London International Mime Festival: 12 – 20 January 2015

Murmur and Inked (Akash Odedra): 23 – 24 January 2015

Ballet Black: 10 – 14 February 2015

Draft Works (Royal Ballet dancers): 24 – 26 February 2015

Bayadère Project (Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company): 25 – 28 March 2015

Northern Ballet Mixed Bill: 12 – 14 May

Northern Ballet The Elves and the Shoemaker: 15 – 16 May

Springboard (showcase of vocational dance schools): 1 – 6 June 2015

Wendy Whelan and Edward Watson: July 2015 (dates tbc)