Radiohead Ballets: Watch Ballets Choreographed Creatively to the Music of Radiohead

Since Radiohead’s last release, A Moon-Shaped Pool, mem­bers of the band have been absorbed in oth­er projects. They’ve turned their band’s web­site into an archive for their discog­ra­phy and a library for rar­i­ties and ephemera — send­ing not-so-sub­tle sig­nals their time togeth­er has reached a nat­ur­al end, even if drum­mer Phil Sel­way said in 2020 “there are always con­ver­sa­tions going on…. We’ll see. We’re talk­ing.”

Two of the band’s most promi­nent mem­bers, gui­tarist Jon­ny Green­wood and front­man Thom Yorke, devot­ed their tal­ents to film scores, a medi­um Green­wood has explored for many years: in the the­atri­cal vio­lence of There Will Be Blood, for exam­ple, the hor­rif­ic after­math of We Need to Talk about Kevin, and the almost bal­let­ic blood­i­ness of You Were Nev­er Here. Yorke, mean­while, scored Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Dario Argento’s Sus­piria, a film in which bal­let dancers’ bod­ies are bro­ken and blood­ied by black mag­ic.

Green­wood, Yorke and com­pa­ny excel at con­jur­ing atmos­pheres of dread, despair, and dis­ori­en­ta­tion, traits that suit them well for art­house film. They might not have seemed a nat­ur­al fit, how­ev­er, for bal­let. And yet, Jason Kot­tke reports, the two are “togeth­er at last” — or at least as of 2016, when chore­o­g­ra­ph­er Robert Bon­dara toured Take Me With You, a piece scored to sev­er­al Radio­head songs, includ­ing In Rain­bows’ “Reck­on­er,” which you can see inter­pret­ed above by two dancers from the Pol­ish Nation­al Bal­let.

The per­for­mance is an ath­let­ic response to a kinet­ic track, in chore­og­ra­phy not unlike pairs fig­ure skat­ing at times. It is not, how­ev­er, the first time the band has inspired a bal­let. In 2005, Roman­ian dancer and chore­o­g­ra­ph­er Edward Clug cre­at­ed a mod­ern inter­pre­ta­tion of Shake­speare set to songs from OK Com­put­er and Kid A. Radio and Juli­et debuted in Slove­nia, toured the world, cel­e­brat­ed its hun­dredth per­for­mance in 2012, and was sched­uled to open in Moscow in 2020.

Clug drew on a pri­or con­nec­tion: OK Com­put­er’s “Exit Music (For a Film)” was writ­ten for, but not used in, the 1996 Baz Luhrmann film adap­ta­tion of Shakespeare’s play. After Radio and Juli­et, Clug once again drew inspi­ra­tion from his favorite band (“They are the sound­track to my oth­er side; lis­ten­ing to them feels like I’m find­ing a self that I haven’t met yet.”) Clug’s piece “Proof” (pre­view above), set to “Fer­al” from The King of Limbsdebuted in 2017, his first for the Ned­er­lands Dans The­ater. If we are to have no more Radio­head, here’s hop­ing at least we’ll see more Radio­head bal­lets.

via Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent:  

Intro­duc­ing The Radio­head Pub­lic Library: Radio­head Makes Their Full Cat­a­logue Avail­able via a Free Online Web Site

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke Per­forms Songs from His New Sound­track for the Hor­ror Film, Sus­piria

Clas­sic Radio­head Songs Re-Imag­ined as a Sci-Fi Book, Pulp Fic­tion Mag­a­zine & Oth­er Nos­tal­gic Arti­facts

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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  • Ken Tabachnick says:

    And in 2007, Stephen Petro­n­io cre­at­ed “Ride the Beast” for the Scot­tish Bal­let that includ­ed Radio­head songs.

  • Jeff says:

    Ani­ma is anoth­er piece of work by Yorke that I watch over and over again.

  • Larry says:

    One essen­tial work radio­head cre­at­ed was for the Mer­ce Cun­ning­ham dance com­pa­ny, one of two works pre­miered on the same night (the oth­er was with a score by Sig­ur Ros.)

    Both bands played live and was a piv­otal expe­ri­ence for those who were there.

    I think var­i­ous rights issues have kept it from being seen again, but I am not sure about that.

    Lar­ry Lar­son
    Dig­i­tal Direc­tor, Mer­ce Cun­ning­ham Trust and the John Cage Trust.

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