April 2018


As a long-time fan of the ballet Swan Lake, I eagerly anticipated sharing it with my children (aged five and nine), at the English National Ballet’s My First Ballet series.  These shortened versions of traditional ballets aim to introduce young audiences (3 years plus) to classical ballet in a fun and accessible way. For us, it mostly succeeded.

The audience at the 5pm performance was – not unexpectedly – 95% mums and little girls, so my five-year-old son’s game of spotting dads and boys was rather short-lived! There was an audible buzz of excitement throughout the auditorium, which the young ones minimised as the lights dimmed and their necks craned forward in anticipation. “Hello!” The greeting came from our jolly and personable narrator for the afternoon, who stood centre stage in modern dress and gym boots.  In wide-eyed wonder and an animated voice, she led us through a story of friendship and loyalty, love and forgiveness.  Without being intrusive or obstructing the dancing, she helped transfix the young audience to the stage action.  Top marks! (more…)

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Following previous success with Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty, English National Ballet‘s My First Ballet: Swan Lake comes to Oxford’s New Theatre this weekend, a new version of one of the most famous ballets of all time, adapted for children aged three upwards.

The magician Rothbart has turned the princess Odette into a swan; only at night can she return to human form. Will Prince Siegfried be able to save her or will he fall for Rothbart’s sorcery? Featuring choreography by Antonio Castilla, English National Ballet’s Ballet Master and Repetiteur, this new version follows the familiar story from a different point of view.  With a narrator to help the young audience follow the story, and a shortened version of Tchaikovsky’s wonderful music, this is the perfect introduction to the magic of ballet, promising a fantastic family day out.

This unique collaboration between English National Ballet and English National Ballet School is performed by students of English National Ballet School.  Since its creation in 2012, over 250,000 people have enjoyed our My First Ballet series.

★★★★
‘A pocket-sized delight’
The Times

★★★★
‘It is a clever, instructive and entertaining device’
Daily Express on My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty

Performances:  Saturday 21st April at 11am, 2pm, 5pm and Sunday 22nd April at 11am and 3pm

Venue:  The New Theatre Oxford, George Street, Oxford OX1 2AG

Tickets:  £13.40-£29.40 plus £4 transaction fee.

Book online here, or call the ATG booking line on 0844 871 7615

“Spring is coming…” I wrote in posting an advance round-up of performance and other events for this year’s edition of Dancin’ Oxford Festival 1st – 11th March 2018. It would perhaps have been more appropriate to post “Winter is coming…” as the arrival of the “Beast from the East” took some casualties in the first weekend of programming. Heavy snowfall and consequent travel disruption led to the postponement to a later date (to be announced) of the one day Dance and Academia conference, with several guest speakers unable to get there. That same day (Saturday 3rd March) Company Chameleon’s performance at Pegasus Theatre was also cancelled.

Other companies who had arrived in Oxford a day or two earlier before the snow were able to continue with scheduled performances in true “the show must go on” style, and with encouragingly healthy audiences. At the end of Theatre Ad Infinitum’s Friday evening performance of Odyssey at The North Wall, performer George Mann gave a heartfelt thanks to those that had made it. I found this lively retelling of Homer’s great story of journey and homecoming well worth crunching through silent snowy streets for. (more…)