Raven Girl – a new fairytale ballet

The Raven Girl

So, now to tell you about the ballet that I went to. The Raven Girl is a new ballet by choreographer Wayne McGregor. What makes it special is that it is based on a fairytale written by Audrey Niffenegger (author of the Time Travellers Wife). A modern fairytale ballet – what more can you ask for? Well, quite a lot as it turns out.

The basic story is boy meets raven, boy and raven fall in love. Boy and raven then hatch a raven girl who is then trapped between the world of humans and the world of birds never fitting into either. Such potential.

The dancing was fantastic as expected. Yes I got a little sick of the awkward bird movements, but overall it was a style that was magical and new.

There were two things wrong with the ballet. First was that the entire thing was in black and white. Stylish yes, but it made it really hard to make out the dancers at points – and that was from the front row! Also, they had the screen down in front of the dancers the entire time so that images could be projected against it. Great use of technology, but it made it that much harder to appreciate the subtle birdlike movements.

But the biggest issue, and the one that I just cant get past, is that I didn’t understand the story. To me (someone who has not read the book that it is based on) the ending was rushed, random and a big surprise. This is because a few crucial factors were never explained e.g. that the original raven was a princess whos parents (the King and Queen raven) never stopped looking for her. All I got was that all of a sudden the Raven Girl met a Raven Prince out of nowhere and then the ballet ended.

You can half explain a story that everyone knows (you can play all sorts of games with Sleeping Beauty), but for a new fairytale you have to start at step one. And put some damn colour in it.