Narrative Aspects of Kenneth MacMillan’s Ballet The Invitation

  • Maria Cristina de Lucas Olmos

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The British choreographer Kenneth MacMillan (1929-1992) has a prominent place in the narrative tradition of the Royal Ballet. As a major storyteller in the history of the company, his ballets with intense, dramatic stories are an important part of the dance heritage of British ballet. This thesis focuses on one of MacMillan’s first narrative achievements, the one-act ballet The Invitation (1960), and studies the main thematic concerns and stylistic strategies that it deploys. The methodology that shapes the investigation is dance narratology, an underexplored discipline with roots in narratology and dance studies. The first extensive methodological approach proposed here blends the main tenets and principles of narrative theory (and transmedial narratology, in particular) with dance, multimedia and choreomusical analysis. The argumentation is thus structured around six central narrative categories (story, plot, narration, time, space and characters) and interwoven with analytical and theoretical practices from dance research. It also includes notions from other academic fields, such as discourse analysis, semantics, drama and film theory, and is illustrated with frequent dance examples. The discussion framed by those concepts exposes MacMillan’s most significant narrative strategies in The Invitation, suggests the artistic influences behind them, highlights the role of choreography, music (by Mátyás Seiber) and design (by Nicholas Georgiadis) in the narrative, and proposes some narrative solutions to the main flaw in the ballet, the widely contested Carnival interlude. The thesis closes with a contextualization of the ballet, placing MacMillan’s narrative choices in their most immediate artistic contexts, namely those of the Royal Ballet and British post-war drama.
    Date of Award13 Feb 2017
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SupervisorGeraldine Morris (Supervisor), Helena Hammond (Supervisor) & Stephanie Jordan (Supervisor)

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