A big helping of MacMillan is finally coming our way after a very Ashton-heavy season. Manon, one of his most famous full-length ballets, opens at Covent Garden on Thursday for a run of 15 performances and is to return during the autumn season. Having shortlisted it as one of our new season favorites we were asked via Facebook to write a post on “why Manon is supposed to be so great”. We know J-Ho would disagree, but we find MacMillan’s adult ballets seriously appealing, so we were eager to accept the challenge.
Below, in no particular order, are “10 Reasons Why We Love Manon“. Agree/disagree? Let us know via comment:
1. The amazing Pas de Deux. They truly speak for themselves:
2. Des Grieux’s Act I solo. MacMillan found a way to use steps to convey everything about his characters. In one of the most beautiful adagios for a male dancer, Des Grieux opens up to Manon and reveals he is a romantic, a “what you see is what you get” kind of guy.
3. Manon’s coquettish signature walk en pointe.
4. The corps and character roles – the individual episodes taking place around the stage are just as interesting as the main action, so pay attention!
5. The gorgeous music by Massenet originally arranged by Leighton Lucas, now freshly reorchestrated by longtime Manon conductor Martin Yates.
6. Drama, drama, drama! It is make it or break it in this ballet. It can fall flat with the wrong cast, but great leads bring highly individual interpretations to the story.
7. The dramatic “flips ‘n’ tosses” of the last Pas De Deux, requiring Manon to take some incredible leaps of faith.
8. The costumes. Nicholas Georgiadis’s beautiful designs convey decadence in 18th century Parisian society – see for instance, Manon’s jewelry and gold embroidered dress in Act 2.
9. The complexity of Manon’s character – does she have flexible morals; or no morals at all? – How Manon is corrupted by a domineering older brother and how this all stems from MacMillan’s own personal experiences.
10. The riches to rags story. Refreshing after so many Cinderellas; not least because the underlying themes of frivolity and greed hold a mirror right back to our modern society.
And here are some of the things our tweeps love about Manon:
Thanks to everyone who contributed!