Wheeldon's "Winter's Tale"

Reimagining Shakespeare at The Royal
Published in the April/May 2014 issue.

Photography by Andrej Uspenski


This year, ballet companies around the world are honoring Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. The Royal Ballet will mark the occasion with the premiere in April of Christopher Wheeldon’s first work based on a Shakespeare play—The Winter’s Tale. A co-production with the National Ballet of Canada, the story veers from psychological drama to near-slapstick comedy. Shakespeare’s text also poses numerous choreographic challenges—among them the fact that the heroine, Queen Hermione, is pregnant for much of the first act. Pointe went inside a Winter’s Tale rehearsal with Wheeldon and several members of his lead cast.

Wheeldon talks Edward Watson (Leontes) and Lauren Cuthbertson (Hermione) through an intimate moment.

Watson dances Leontes, the poisonously jealous king of Sicily.

Cuthbertson is Hermione, Leontes’ virtuous wife.

The pair rehearse an emotionally fraught pas de deux.

Federico Bonelli (partnering Cuthbertson) dances Polixenes, the king of Bo­­he­mia and one-time best friend of Leontes. Behind, the second-cast Leontes and Hermione, Thiago Soares and Marianela Nuñez, look on.

The role of Mamillius, Leontes and Hermione’s ill-fated son, is a remarkable opportunity for young Royal Ballet School student Joe Parker.

"The Winter’s Tale" is a story of passion, jealousy and suspected betrayal.