As of this week, English National Ballet is inviting audiences around the world to watch a selection of full-length recordings of some of the Company’s performances – not yet seen online. The Wednesday Watch Parties are part of the ENB at HOME initiative, and these performances will be premiered online – and free – on both Facebook and YouTube – every Wednesday evening for the next month, with each recording available for the following 48 hours.
The first of these premieres is Broken Wings, inspired by the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, perhaps one of the best-known artists of the 20th century. Choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Broken Wingsfeatures ENB’s Artistic Director and Lead Principal, Tamara Rojo, in the role of Kahlo, and her husband – muralist Diego Rivera – is portrayed by the popular Russian-born dancer, Irek Mukhamedov. Broken Wings, recorded at Sadlers Wells in 2016, formed part of a programme entitled She Said – English National Ballet’s first triple bill dedicated to female choreography.
Frida Kahlo was possibly best known for her wonderfully colourful self-portraits which tended to focus on themes such as identity, the human body, and death. She was also known for the turbulent nature of her relationship with Rivera – whom she married in 1929, divorced 10 years later, then remarried a year after that. Kahlo taught herself to paint during her lengthy recovery from a bus accident in 1925 – a time during which she studied the Old Masters.
Following her marriage to Rivera, however, both her personal and artistic style underwent something of a change, and she took to wearing the traditional Tehuana dress with which she became identified – a loose blouse, long ruffled skirt, gold jewellery and a flowered headdress.
Choreographer Ochoa – who is part-Belgian, part Colombian – says she loves “the colourfulness” of Kahlo’s paintings and “the Mexicanismo”. “It’s very close to me, through my parents. I love that music, listening to those Rancheras.” She was also attracted by Kahlo’s personal story and tragic life – the accident, the lengthy recovery, and the miscarriages she suffered as a result of the accident – her work becoming more and more surrealist.
The score for Broken Wings is by British composer Peter Salem, who has written for film, television, theatre, ballet and concert hall, including scores for the documentary series Francesco’s Venice and Simon Scharma’s The Power of Art: Caravaggio. He has also collaborated extensively with the RSC and National Theatre.
Dutch designer Dieuweke van Reij was commissioned by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa to design the costumes for the cast of Broken Wings – which, interestingly, includes ten men dressed as Frida Kahlo, representing an extension of the artist herself and all the facets of herself that she feels or wishes for.
The second Wednesday Watch Party will feature Akram Khan’s Dust on 29th April, with the programmes on 6th and 13th May yet to be announced.
Information sourced from:
English National Ballet programme notes