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Britain’s Royal Ballet returns with two different weekends that demonstrate this isn’t the polite British company that last visited 25 years ago.

First up, sex, drugs and pointe shoes in Kenneth MacMillan’s Mayerling. Like his well-known Romeo & Juliet, Mayerling is entangled with palace politics, this time the sumptuous Hapsburg court of the Austro-Hungarian empire, but unlike R&J’s tragic innocents, Mayerling’s protagonist is crown prince Rudolf, a syphilitic sexual predator, drug-addicted and death-obsessed, who prowls the stage for three acts dancing a marathon of ferocious, emotional, erotic pas de deux that culminates with a double death. Yet somehow Rudolf elicits a modicum of sympathy, a masterful MacMillan accomplishment.

Lamb McRae and Alice Pennefather in Mayerling (Alice Pennefather)

Next weekend, the company displays its contemporary chops in Adès & McGregor: A Dance Collaboration with the company’s resident choreographer Wayne McGregor melding with new music composer/conductor Thomas Adès.

 

Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; musiccenter.org.

Mayerling: Fri.-Sat., July 5-6, 7:30 p.m., Sun., July 7, 2 p.m., 

Adès & McGregor: Fri.-Sat., July 12-13, 7:30 p.m., $38-$138.

Cuthbertson Soares and Helen Maybanks in Mayerling (Helen Maybanks)