Late Shift Extra: In Parenthesis


‘you scramble forward and pretend not to see,

but ruby drops from young beech-sprigs –

are bright your hands and face’

The National Portrait Gallery in partnership with the English National Ballet, present a dance performance at the Gallery inspired by David Jones’ seminal poem of the First World War, In Parenthesis.

Choreographed by George Williamson, the performance includes ballet and contemporary dance performed across the Gallery.

A poet and painter, In Parenthesis was David Jones’ first literary publication – a rich, beautiful and complex book-length poem that took him 20 years to write. It was published by Faber and Faber in 1937 with an introduction by T.S. Eliot who called it as a ‘work of genius’. It describes Jones’ experience of life on the front during the First World War.

Jones enlisted in the Royal Welch Fuesiliers and served on the Western Front from December 1915 to March 1918. Like Jones, John Ball, the protagonist of In Parenthesis, served on the Western Front during the war and both were wounded in the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Jones draws on his Welsh literary heritage in In Parenthesis, uses images from Shakespeare’s history plays and T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, and fuses them with soldiers’ slang from the war. The vision he creates is dense, fractured and intimate. It explores physical destruction, spiritual outrage and how to find goodness in a hateful life.

George Williamson - Associate Artist, English National Ballet

Whilst at English National Ballet School George won the Choreographic Competition for three consecutive years and the CTRL-ALT-SHIFT Award. Ballets created included, Round the Corner (2009) presented at the Peacock Theatre and the City of London Festival. In 2010 he created Ana-Chro-Po for English National Ballet School’s Summer performance. For Polish National Ballet he created Animus in 2011. For New English Ballet Theatre he created Threefold in 2012. Firebird was his first commission for English National Ballet which received its world premiere at the London Coliseum in March 2012. My First Cinderella, premiered at the Peacock Theatre on 27 March 2013 presented by English National Ballet and English National Ballet School. In 2013 George received a nomination for the Benois de la Danse Award for his creation of Firebird and created Tempus for The Queen’s Coronation Festival in the Gardens of Buckingham Palace. For Dutch National Ballet’s Junior Company he created Dawn Dances and most recently with the New York Choreographic Institute creating Four On The Floor. Future projects include My First Ballet: Coppélia on a national tour of the UK.

Venue Details & Map

National Portrait Gallery

St Martin's Place
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