UK festival announces Wayne McGregor as director of dance

Michael Chance, Wayne McGregor, Ed Watson. Photograph © Jane Hobson
Michael Chance, Wayne McGregor, Ed Watson. Photograph © Jane Hobson

The Grange Festival in Northington, Hampshire, has announced it is to partner Studio Wayne McGregor to become the UK’s first country house opera festival to appoint a director of dance.

The choreographer will oversee the artistic direction of Dance @ The Grange each year, inviting an acclaimed dance artist to work alongside him to co-curate a programme with world-class dancers exclusively for audiences at The Grange from June 2018.

Said McGregor: “It has been a long-held dream of mine to curate an evening of iconic classical and modern ballet alongside incredible contemporary dance whilst at the same time trying to avoid the traditional ‘gala’ format.

“I would like to create an evening that places seminal pieces of our heritage repertory with newly-created work of innovative intensity, where physicality flows seamlessly together and where each of the works is individually distinct and opens the audiences’ eyes to the diversity and thrill of the human form. An evening then of immersive expression, passion and virtuosity, seen through the lens of the dancing body and its relationship to excellent music, all performed by elite dancers at the very top of their game.”

The inaugural dance season will feature Edward Watson, principal dancer with The Royal Ballet, who will co-curate with McGregor two performances on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 June 2018. It will include excerpts from McGregor’s Atomos, created by Company Wayne McGregor, and featuring a score by neo-classical ambient composers, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, alongside classical iconic ballet pieces.

Added McGregor: “In this first year, I have invited Edward Watson – principal dancer with The Royal Ballet to co-curate the evening with me. He will steer the classical repertory choice and perform himself. I have chosen Edward, because he is a phenomenal dancer and incredible artist, and has an enquiring mind. We have worked together for over 16 years and this project seems like a perfect moment to join forces and explore a new direction.”

Founded in 2015 to continue opera at Grange Park in Northington, the festival takes place at a hidden estate in

The Grange © Joe Low
The Grange © Joe Low

beautiful countryside on the southern coast of England. The venue is known for its Greek Revival architecture and lakeside setting, completed by its award-winning theatre.

Michael Chance, artistic director of The Grange Festival, said: “Few choreographers have been as inventive and inspiring as Wayne, so we couldn’t be more excited about our collaboration with him, his company, and Edward Watson from The Royal Ballet. Dance and opera have always been interlinked, not just with dance being an integral part of many operas but for their shared use of music, movement and the human body to express profound emotions.”

The inaugural season of The Grange Festival opens on 7 June 2017 with a new production of Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, with musical direction by Michael Chance, directed by Tim Supple; Bizet’s Carmen, conducted by Jean-Luc Tingaud and directed by Annabel Arden; and Britten’s Albert Herring, conducted by Steuart Bedford and directed by John Copley. |

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