Ballet makes Glastonbury debut

By Mark Savage
BBC News entertainment reporter

image copyrightAP
image captionKhan’s work Dust is about the empowerment of women in the war, as they became the main workforce in the country

The English National Ballet has made its debut at the Glastonbury festival.

It was the first act to take to the stage on Sunday, following Metallica's headline set on Saturday.

The company performed Akram Khan's Dust, a piece commemorating the dead of World War One, and the families they left behind.

Thousands turned up to watch the early morning performance, which was introduced by folk singer Billy Bragg.

"The First World War was the most emotional thing that happened to our nation, and it was only four generations away," he said.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionMichael Eavis and his daughter Emily already have a band lined up for next year's event

"It shapes our lives even now. That stuff going on in Iraq is because of the borders drawn after the war."

Clips of soldiers and families who had lived through the war were shown on video screens as the dancers lined up in single file. Suddenly, they gave a gunshot clap, sending a cloud of dust into the air, and throwing one of their number to the floor.

As he writhed in agony, the company grasped each other by the elbow and a ripple ran through their limbs, lifting the victim towards the afterlife.

Producer Louise Shand-Brown said she hoped it would be "a moving experience" for the early audience.

"The music is very, very powerful," she said. "I think it will move people deeply and it will make them reflect that - only a few weeks away - the First World War would have started at that time 100 years ago."

image copyrightPA
image captionMetallica had been a controversial choice for the festival

Speaking before the performance, James Streeter, who played the fallen soldier, added: "It's extremely exciting. This is really big for us. Really big. And fantastic for the company to be recognised as a company that is able to stand up next to the artists that are performing.

"It's always incredible when you walk out on a stage and you feel the energy from an audience, and the power that they have.

"It can almost knock you back, off your feet."

After the ballet, the main stage gets back to a programme of pop music, with Dutch singer Caro Emerald first on the bill.

Dolly Parton is set to be a huge draw in the mid-afternoon "legend" slot, with performances also due from Ed Sheeran, James Blake, Disclosure and main stage headliners Kasabian.

Metallica played a triumphant, no-frills set to almost 90,000 people on Saturday night, becoming the first heavy metal band to headline the festival.

After the performance, which included classics such as Enter Sandman, Master of Puppets and Nothing Else Matters, drummer Lars Ulrich said: "That was sensational. I don't remember much of it... the energy was fantastic."

Speaking on Sunday morning, festival organiser Michael Eavis said he had no regrets about booking the band.

"I thought they were excellent, and they filled the slot extremely well."

Eavis, 78, confirmed that the festival would be back in 2015 and 2016 before taking a fallow year in 2017.

And he said next year's headliners were already being lined up - with one band having agreed their appearance on Saturday night.

"I had an agent on the platform watching Metallica with me last night and he said, 'My band want to play next year.' So that was done on the platform last night."

Eavis wouldn't name any names but confirmed the band were not British.

"Is it Abba? No!" he said.

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