To some who saw it Ballade had afterimages of MacMillan’s Triad. The dramatic tension in both ballets is a little similar; a woman disrupting the equilibrium in male relationships.
Ballade, a chamber work with a cast of four, was created for The Royal Ballet’s New Group and premiered on a continental tour. The set is austere; white backdrop, white table, white chairs. As the ballet opens, the four dancers sit in line with their backs to the audience. They look at each other and the men look to the only woman. All move to the table as if to play a card game. What followed seemed to Peter Williams of Dance and Dancers an exercise in choreographic poker with the men making plays for the girl in a sequence of pas de deux or groups. She makes up her mind, chooses one, and the two other men leave the table.
“Out of that slender material”, wrote James Kennedy in The Guardian, MacMillan has made a fluent, gently emotional and uninterrupted kaleidoscope of dance. The setting gives it an initial flavour of stern modernism; but essentially is it a series of variations on MacMillan’s quite familiar neo-classical idiom – free and bold but very recognisably stemming from the grand tradition”.
First performance: Teatro Nacional de S. Carlos, Lisbon, 19 May 1972
Company: The Royal Ballet New Group
Cast: Vyvyan Lorrayne, Paul Clarke, Nicholas Johnson, Stephen Jefferies
Music: Gabriel Fauré, Ballade for piano and orchestra
Benesh notation score: Jacquie Hollander (1972). Working score