Ballet News Reviews | Ravel Girl by Audrey Niffenegger
This story is the beginning point for Wayne McGregor’s next premiere for The Royal Ballet. All the ingredients for a new fairytale are here : transformation, medicine, unlikely lovers, technology and a Prince. Suspend reality for half an hour and you’ll unearth the fairytale you may (not) have dreamed of.
Audrey Niffenegger is best known for her debut novel, The Time Traveller’s Wife, which sold seven million copies worldwide and has been translated into forty languages. For the illustrations in Ravel Girl, her longest illustrated story to date, Niffenegger uses a 17th century technique called aquatint. This brings together metal, acid, wax and rosin (just like the dancers use on their shoes for extra traction) to produce very intricate work.
Ravel Girl tells the story of a suburban postman who falls in love with a raven. A Special Delivery letter to an address he hasn’t seen before sparks an adventure he’s been longing for, as he’s been a postman for a long time and has occasional nightmares about e-mail. Arriving at the address, all he could see was a nest filled with ravens. None of the birds had ever seen a person before, and mistook the postman for a cat. Cats assume great significance later in the story, but for noe we understand that they are not trusted by the birds.
Taking the raven home, the postman gradually charmed her and she developed a liking for television and junk food. Over time, the Raven began performing little tasks around the house – stirring soup or finishing jigsaws, and the postman liked her intelligence. The pair fall in love, and when the time comes for the ravel to fly away, instead she stretches her wings and flies back. An egg arrives, which hatches into a baby girl, squawking like a bird.
The ravel girl grows up to speak raven, never speaking words, and goes to school without ever fitting in, followed by University. Even the other birds in the city ignored her; fearing her. She built a nest on top of her bed. She meets a doctor who she enlists to help her turn into a raven, with tragic consequences for him.
Ravel Girl is available from May 2013 and can be ordered in advance by following this link :
Wayne McGregor’s ballet of the same name, for The Royal Ballet, will premiere on 24th May at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Described as “a unique modern fairytale” McGregor has collaborated with Niffenegger and this ballet is paired with Symphony in C. The performance lasts for 2 hours and 20 minutes with two intervals.
Booking for Ravel Girl/Symphony in C opens on 9th April at 10am for the general public and earlier, on 12th March at 10am for the Friends of Covent Garden.
Casting for the ballet has been announced as : Sarah Lamb, Akane Takada, Edward Watson, Paul Kay, Thiago Soares and Eric Underwood.