Karolina Kuras

Things To Do

Hattie Lloyd 01/02/24

Dark with Excessive Bright

Despite being in a nation of introverts who’d typically love nothing more than to sit in a darkened room with an excuse not to talk to other people, London’s appetite for immersive experiences shows no signs of slowing.

And now that theatre, film, even concerts, art and advertising have all been given the immersive treatment, it’s finally the turn of that grand old dame: ballet.

Keen to prove that it’s not merely a home for world-class traditional performances (although it’s very much worth a visit for those too), the Royal Opera House is staging some cutting-edge new work as part of its Festival of New Choreography this February. And the headline show is Dark with Excessive Bright, a 45 minute promenade ballet where you’ll get to follow the dancers and choose your own adventure.

Fittingly, it’s not going to be staged in the gilded main auditorium, but in the Linbury Theatre – a much newer, and more intimate, performance space downstairs. And unusually, they’ve taken out almost all the seats, instead encouraging you to move around the space however you want, whether it’s watching the dancers from a metre away, or looking down at the big picture from the balcony.

The show takes its title from its soundtrack: a string composition by Missy Mazzoli, an acclaimed Brooklyn composer who’s been hailed as a “post-millennial Mozart”. Bright with Excessive Dark (which is itself named after a quote from Paradise Lost) is a vigorously dynamic piece that veers from ghostly suspensions and skittering strings to racing rhythms on the cello that seem to run themselves into the ground. Perfect dance music, basically. And as it fills the studio with its haunting, cinematic strains, it’ll serve to draw you towards different performers and scenes.

And those performers, it goes without saying, are phenomenal. They’re all members of the Royal Ballet, arguably the most prestigious dance company in the country. And for once, they’re able to improvise a little on-stage, making in-the-moment decisions to switch sections of the choreography to respond to audience members, the music, and each other – meaning the show will never be the same twice.

So if you want to dip a toe into ballet without committing to a three-hour sit-down extravaganza…

…this is the way to duet.


NOTE: Dark with Excessive Bright runs at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre from 10th – 20th February. Tickets cost £20, and are selling fast – book yours HERE.

Dark with Excessive Bright | Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House, Bow Street, London WC2E 9DD

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Dark with Excessive Bright

Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 9DD