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15 Feb 2011

Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon to premiere at the Finnish National Ballet

Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s masterpiece ballet Manon is scheduled to premiere at the Finnish National Ballet on March 11.

Manon is the first ballet from the iconic dancer and choreographer Sir MacMillan to be performed in the Finnish National Ballet repertoire. In a production originally created for the Royal Danish Ballet in 2003, the Helsinki performances feature set and costume design from Mia Stensgaard and lighting design from Mikki Kunttu.

The sensuous yet realistic Manon tells the same story as the opera Manon Lescaut, as both are based on the famous novel by the Abbé Prevost. Carefree Manon falls in love with the youthful Des Grieux, but is drawn to a life of luxury that Des Grieux cannot offer. Sir Kenneth MacMillan has stated that he was moved by both the story's characters and the stark disparity between the rich and poor in 18th century pre-revolutionary France.

Sir Kenneth MacMillan is celebrated for his brilliant pas de deux scenes, in which he expertly depicts complex human relations and imbues them with emotion. The lead role of Manon will be danced by Julie Gardette, Petia Ilieva, and Tiina Myllymäki, with Barbora Kohoutková and London Royal Ballet principal dancer Tamara Rojo making appearances as guest performers. The role of young Des Grieux will be danced by Jaakko Eerola, Samuli Poutanen, and Guilherme Gameiro Alves, with Friedemann Vogel from the Stuttgart Ballet appearing as a guest performer. The production will be conducted by Martin Yates.

Finnish National Ballet performances of Manon will continue until April 8.

Romeo and Juliet and modern female energy fill out the spring programme 

This April marks the return of the beloved classic Romeo and Juliet to the Finnish National Ballet stage, after an absence of many years. John Cranko's version of this timeless love story was visualized by Susan Benson and performances will be conducted by Benjamin Pope.

The small stage will be host to a showcase of female modern dance on May 19, when three Finnish choreographers, Virpi Pahkinen, Mammu Rankanen and Johanna Nuutinen, will premiere their new works.

Currently working out of Stockholm, dancer and choreographer Virpi Pahkinen is one of the hottest modern dance names in the Nordic countries. Her dance work Korona features music from the Slovenian composer Borut Krzisnik. Mammu Rankanen has found inspiration for her work from many diverse sources, including Japanese culture, yoga and the martial arts. She has herself visualized Taivaaseen juurtunut puu (Rooted to Sky), with sound design assistance from Harri Ahponen. The third work of the evening, Finnish National Ballet dancer Johannan Nuutinen's X-it, is the first work commissioned from the promising young choreographer by the Finnish National Ballet.

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