Live Fire Exercise

Live Fire Exercise
2011

Company
The Royal Ballet

Duration
21 minutes

Choreography
Wayne McGregor

Music
Michael Tippett

Set Design
John Gerrard

Costume Design
Moritz Junge

Lighting Design
Lucy Carter

Originally danced by
Lauren Cuthbertson, Sarah Lamb, Akane Takada, Federico Bonelli, Ricardo Cervera, Eric Underwood

Premiere date and venue
13 May 2011, The Royal Opera House, London

****
'THIS SOPHISTICATED TAPESTRY OF MOVEMENT IS STAGGERINGLY BEAUTIFUL, ITS PENSIVE, SLIGHTLY MOURNFUL MOOD ENGROSSING.'

Telegraph

Conflict is at the heart of . Slow-motion explosions by artist John Gerrard unfurl behind choreography that pushes the body to its very limit. Dancers enact a series of hyper-extended ensembles and solos in which images of war are evoked.

McGregor saw a balletic beauty in John Gerrard's frozen images of soldiers engaged in military exercises, in the instinctive physicality of their movement. The art form of ballet in fact has its origin in military exercises – Louis XIV founded his dance academy to keep his soldiers fit in peacetime. Professional ballet dancers still approach their art with militaristic discipline. The extreme contortions of McGregor's choreography further heightened the connection, with the dancers seeming almost to do violence to themselves but remaining, like soldiers in a live fire exercise, absolutely in control.

This 'trauma' of McGregor's extended choreography found a counterpoint in the by Michael Tippett – himself a devoted pacifist – in which the classicism of Corelli's theme is transformed through Tippett's modernist language. Gerrard's sculptural projections increase the sense of distortion and reimagining, appearing both real and artificial, static and dynamic.

Original image by John Gerrard, photos by Bill Cooper, ©ROH 2011.

Artist John Gerrard discusses the visual inspiration for Live Fire Exercise.