This week, The Royal Ballet will premiere Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works, a full-length ballet inspired by the work of modernist writer Virginia Woolf. Paired with a new score by Max Richter, Woolf Works is McGregor’s first full-length piece for the Royal, and it is ambitious.
Woolf hedged a new mode of realism with her beloved texts. This bold, genre-transcendent quality of her work seems to be what has attracted McGregor. Though Woolf Works will focus on three of her novels, The Waves, Mrs. Dalloway and Orlando, along with some of her autobiographical work, McGregor is generally interested in the way “the world keeps shifting” in her writing style. It’s true - perspective shifts constantly in Woolf’s works, destabilizing concepts of time, space and narrator. We got a glimpse of how this will translate to movement in rehearsal footage released earlier this week. Alessandra Ferri and Federico Bonelli capture the fluidity of Woolf’s writing in a duet inspired by The Waves, and Edward Watson embodies the disruptive quality of her narrative style in a fast-paced solo. (Check out a run of each section in the last four minutes of each video!)