Leading choreographers take inspiration from Titian to create new ballets
Seven choreographers from the Royal Ballet teamed up with composers and contemporary artists to produce new dance pieces in response to the three Titian paintings at the heart of the exhibition Metamorphosis: Titian 2012, which were performed at the Royal Opera House in July 2012.
Hear from the choreographers
Watch 'Titian in Dance', featuring interviews with Royal Ballet choreographers Will Tuckett, Wayne McGregor, Jonathan Watkins, Kim Brandstrup and Alastair Marriott, and behind-the-scenes footage from the ballet rehearsals.
Wayne McGregor: What’s fantastic about being in this room, of course you are again overwhelmed by the Titians and them all being in one place, but more than that, I think what is incredible about the room is you have these apertures where you see alternative worlds that these paintings have stimulated and resourced.
Jonathan Watkins: I love the fact that it was created so long ago and it’s still inspiring.
Will Tuckett: It’s been a real gift to work on something that allows you to look at paintings and read something in a way that you never otherwise would have done. You'd never have looked at it in that detail and thought about how you feel about it and how you want other people to feel about it.
I think for me the thing that was interesting actually looking particularly at Diana, was working with Marianela [Nuñez]; she’s goddess of the hunt and to have somebody embody that, who most of the time is not required to have that fierce fury. I think Marianela managed to embody that beautifully.
Wayne McGregor: I think what still strikes me about the actual paintings is still the power relationships and they’re more vivid in the paintings now that I see them at scale and human size.
Kim Brandstrup: Conrad was very interested in this diagonal between the big figure in the front and the little one in the back. And that it shifts from being first Diana and then Actaeon is the 'victim' as such. There is a beautiful softness, even as powerful as Diana is. And I think my take on it is this sensual softness that comes out of these paintings.
Alastair Marriott: Something that Titian is dealing with in the paintings is a similar thing to what as a choreographer we deal with, which is how you portray women.
Obviously when this was painted all those years ago it was probably painted with the idea that men would be looking at it, and so this is a man’s idea of how he wants you to see these woman. In the same way we do that with women at the [Royal] Opera House: we build ballets around them. Especially being a feminine art form, that usually the woman is at the centre of a ballet, but it’s often a man who creates the image of the woman.
Wayne McGregor: No art form is ever finished, even if it’s fixed on paint, and I think one of the fantastic things about Titian is that it’s in this constant state of flux. And so I think that in 500 years it will also be used again as the beginning of something else.
Explore more about the ballets
Watch excerpts of the ballets performed on 16 July – 'Machina', 'Trespass' and 'Diana and Actaeon'.
Read about the creative ideas behind the ballets on the Royal Opera House website [external link].