“Have you heard? There is a rumour at court…”

Posted on by

Categories: Dance is the Word

Tags: , ,

“Have you heard? There is a rumour at court…” with these words opened the performance event Court Whispering at the Banqueting House on Wednesday 16th April. This partnership between Historic Royal Palaces, Open Age Westminster and English National Ballet, produced a promenade performance for a celebration of the 300-year anniversary of the ‘Glorious Georges’, which plunged us directly into the heart of the Georgian court. The rumours started early as outside the building a large crowd gathered in front of the gate, including a few curious tourists.

Go to photo Historic Royal Palaces and Open Age. Court Whispering at Banqueting House. Photo: © Photography by ASH

The merry and jolly committee then assembled in the Undercroft where around 300 hundred people, young and old, were served tea and hot scandals on George II by Storyteller Diana Olutunmogun. The narration ended, and a fanfare with fluttering fans saluted the kings as the court moved upstairs following musicians and dancers to a sunny Banqueting Hall. The hall was filled with a mysterious soundscape of fluttering voices and gossip – created by Fastidious Android. It was here that the audience were offered a series of small appetisers, vignettes, on the Georgian’s most enigmatic aristocratic custom, the secret language of fans. The main course arrived with intricate square dance figures in minuet step and a swirling farandole that saw the audience spiralling under Rubens’ famous ceiling. Chris Tudor’s contemporary twist on the dances of the period was accompanied by Chris Swithinbank’s music, also a contemporary reworking inspired by the clean lines of classical architecture on the German sonorities of the brasses. As a sweet end, the audience could choose between several activities involving poetry reading and guided tours of the historical palace offered by the Historical Royal Palaces staff.

Go to photo Historic Royal Palaces and Open Age. Court Whispering at Banqueting House. Photo: © Photography by ASH

The event was a great opportunity to share one of the several activities delivered as part of English National Ballet’s Health and Well-being Programme with the general public, in such a beautiful historical setting. It also highlighted how in growing old one can still be active and connected.

Open Age is a charity working across Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster, engaging older people to sustain their physical and mental well-being. ENB offers classes for older people and people with Parkinson’s and dementia. For more information about Open Age visit http://www.openage.org.uk/ and English National Ballet’s Health and Well-being programme, visit http://www.ballet.org.uk/learning/health-and-wellbeing/.

By Katja Vaghik