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Checkmate   Checkmate   Checkmate   Checkmate   Checkmate   Checkmate

Nao Sakuma as the Black Queen and Iain Mackay as the Red Knight; photo: Bill Cooper


Checkmate Checkmate Checkmate Checkmate Checkmate Checkmate Checkmate Checkmate Checkmate Checkmate Checkmate 

What's on


Click here for full diary of performances of Checkmate and links for how to book.

Other show diaries

Company Class
First Steps: a child's Swan Lake
North tour spring 2015
Pre-performance talk
South tour spring 2015
Swan Lake
The King Dances / Carmina burana
Variations triple bill (tour)

Full performance diary

Click here for performance listings.


Ninette de Valois' choreography for Checkmate brings to life a dramatic and stylized war of lust, trickery and betrayal.

A gallant Red Knight, devoted to his king, is seduced and destroyed by the ruthless Black Queen in this allegorical story of a game of chess between love and death. Left defenseless, the Red King is no match for the merciless Queen as she brings the full force of her weapons and her femininity to bear.

Brimming over with classic 1930s style, truly inventive choreography, a powerful score from Sir Arthur Bliss, composer of the BBC Proms television theme, and iconic designs by E. McKnight Kauffer, Checkmate prophetically anticipated the merciless savagery of World War II. At nearly 75 years old, it is deservedly one of the earliest English ballets to still be in the repertory.

'Unforgettable images and plenty of theatrical vigour that doesn't seem to age'
The Times

'A grand and still relevant ballet'
The Financial Times

'Almost like an ultra-sylised film noir'
The Telegraph

'Visually striking throughout'
The Scotsman

Performance length

Approx 0 hours and 46 minutes

Image gallery

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Music Arthur Bliss
Choreography Ninette de Valois
Design E. McKnight Kauffer
Lighting John B. Read

World premiere

Vic-Wells Ballet, 15 June 1937,


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