A black-and-white photograph of mikaela polley demonstrating a piece of choreography with her arms outstretched

In conversation with Mikaela Polley on Fast Blue – a new dynamic classical work

Performed on the magnificent Opera Holland Park and Royal Opera House stages, The Royal Ballet School’s Summer Performances are the highlight of the School year.

We sat down with Choreographic Course Coordinator and Tutor Mikaela Polley to discuss her upcoming new piece for our Summer Performance season, Fast Blue.  

Behind Fast Blue

Mikaela Polley trained at The Royal Ballet School before joining Birmingham Royal Ballet in 1990, performing in a plethora of renowned works. In 2001, Christopher Bruce invited her to join Rambert Dance Company, and in 2008 she became rehearsal director, choreographer and stager.

Creativity and musicality lie at the heart of Mikaela’s choreography. She has been the creative force behind a number of previous performances from The Royal Ballet School and is acclaimed for her ability to harness and showcase the strength of her dancers.

A dynamic piece with a strong base in classical ballet

Described as ‘playful, energetic and fast,’ Fast Blue features a cast of 19 male dancers across the three Upper School year groups. The piece will premiere on the stage at our Summer Performances, set against a vibrant and energetic string quartet soundtrack.

Fast Blue is inspired by a sense of musicality and rhythmic melodies. Much of Mikaela’s work is created in collaboration with our Upper School students, initially choreographing phrases to explore with the dancers before manipulating them in the space to understand how they are absorbed and where they take them. When asked about the inspiration for the piece, Mikaela said:

My driving point is to find something that will musically inspire the students but also drive them to dance classical ballet differently. What I mean by differently is taking it to a different level of how they execute a known vocabulary and giving it a bit of a twist. My goal is to push the boundaries of the context of the classical vocabulary to provide the students with something fun and vibrant.

In conversation with mikaela polley on fast blue – a new dynamic classical work
In conversation with mikaela polley on fast blue – a new dynamic classical work
Challenging perceptions of male virtuosity

The dancers very much influence Mikaela’s choreographic process. Her innovative choreographic style gives the students a sense of artistic freedom, allowing them to explore the endless possibilities of movement. Mikaela touched on the pure enjoyment of the choreographic process:

I enjoy the creative energy you feel in the space and the intrigue about what you envisage in your head and seeing it come to life. Sometimes that can go absolutely in the direction you imagined and sometimes it takes you on a different tangent. It can be both refreshing and challenging.

Conscious of her choreographic intent, when asked if there is something she would like audiences to take away when watching Fast Blue, Mikaela answered:

I was invited to make this piece on the male students. When thinking about it, you have the obvious assumption that it should be a completely virtuosic display of skills and tricks. But for me, virtuosity transcends the instantaneous thought of turns, leaps and jumps.

For me, virtuosity is the essence of how we dance, the energy we put into a single step, a single movement, or a single phrase. It is a full-bodied energy that I want to get across.

We are used to seeing female dancers in a corps de ballet setting. It is nice to have a large group of male dancers working as a unit, as a collaborative corps de ballet, so to speak.

Already spellbound by the growth trajectory in the student’s training and development since the beginning of this year, Mikaela applauded the students for their dedication to the choreographic process and willingness to collaborate. Along with Mikaela, we are very excited to see Fast Blue performed on stage as part of our Summer Performance season.

We’re delighted to bring you Fast Blue with generous support from Richard and Jennie Cunis.

The Royal Ballet School’s Summer Performances are sponsored by Kinoshita Group.

Find out more about Summer Performances