Carlos Acosta’s recent production of Don Quixote for the Royal Ballet is full of energy, sparkle and exhilarating dancing. Even though it is from the classic Marius Petipa tradition, I didn’t know this ballet and wasn’t sure what to expect. How do you ‘balletise’ Cervantes’ 17th Century blockbuster? In some ways it is a bit like Le Corsaire with flamenco and gypsies instead of pirates: the thinnest of plots, but huge fun and an excuse for some great dancing. (more…)

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An interesting mix of performances in the flesh and on the screen last week with two cinema visits for 20th century classics and new works transmitted by the Bolshoi and the Royal Ballet framing live performance of German contemporary dance from Sasha Waltz and Guests at Sadler’s Wells. If I dislike the cinema transmissions’ overhyped introductory promos and some excessively effusive commentary, I do enjoy seeing the interiors of other theatres, and some of the informative interview and documentary material provided. Close-ups highlight intriguing details of the dance, although sometimes at a price of losing their relationship with the wider stage environment; differing camera angles risk obscuring spatial design and choreographic architecture.

The Royal Ballet’s first transmission of a mixed bill marked the final farewell of much loved Carlos Acosta from the Covent Garden main stage starring as Don Jose in his own new version of Carmen. (more…)

Enjoy four short ballets in one evening with this quadruple programme from The Royal Ballet, in a live Screen Arts transmission showing at the Phoenix Picturehouse.  Carlos Acosta focuses on the dramatic essentials of love, jealousy and revenge in his new production of Carmen. As well as choreographing the production, Acosta will dance the lead role.  Liam Scarlett has used Lowell Liebermann’s thrilling Piano Concerto No.1 as the inspiration for his similarly audacious choreography in Viscera.  Debussy’s evocative score is the inspiration for Jerome RobbinsAfternoon of a Faun, which depicts two ballet dancers as absorbed by their own reflections as they are attracted to each other.  George Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky pas de deux uses a fragment of music composed for the 1877 production of Swan Lake for a display of ballet bravura and technique.

Date:  Thursday 12th November 2015, 7.15pm

Venue:  Phoenix Picturehouse, 57 Walton St, Oxford OX2 6AE

Book tickets online here or phone 0871 902 5736

Lyndsey Winship’s very enjoyable book Being a Dancer distils the advice of 25 professional dancers and choreographers on subjects ranging from training and getting a job, through performing and choreographing, to living a life in dance. The book contains plenty of good, pithy, practical guidance, such as ‘Tips on Partnering’ and ‘Nailing an Audition’ and will be relevant to students whether they seek careers in ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, commercial theatre or the dance of non-Western cultures. If there is one clear message that runs through the book like a thread, it is that however talented a student is, hard work and perseverance are essential. (more…)

When Kevin O’Hare stepped in front of the curtain, I expected bad news, and it was:  Natalia Osipova had mild concussion following “a collision of heads” during the afternoon performance;  Thiago Soares was off too, and  so was Tetractys – the art of fugue.  Cue for groans from the audience, followed by a round of applause from some of the more expensive seats when we were promised a refund of a third of the ticket price, and told that the bars would stay open for longer than usual.  And so the triple bill became a double bill, of Rhapsody and Gloria.  Nevertheless, this was an opportunity for the Royal Ballet to showcase the work of two of the company’s most important directors and to demonstrate an understanding of two very different, yet very English, choreographic styles. (more…)

Natalia Osipova’s Giselle flings us into the maelstrom of emotion that she resolves with an aura of serene compassion and unearthly forgiveness in the second act.  Her Giselle is an utterly engaging and very human young woman;  shy but passionate, fun-loving but vulnerable, and she sweeps us along with a conviction that sometimes even makes us forget that she is dancing. (more…)

A chance to see The Royal Ballet in one of the most popular Romantic ballets of all time.  The story of Giselle brings together an engaging mix of human passions, supernatural forces and the transcendent power of self-sacrificing love.  The production by Sir Peter Wright catches the atmosphere of this great Romantic ballet, especially in the perfection of its second Act, with ghostly maidens drifting through the forest in spectacular patterns – one of the most famous of any scenes for the corps de ballet. Giselle dances with lightness and fragility, giving the impression of floating through the mist.  This is one of the Royal Ballet’s most loved and admired productions, faithful to the spirit of the 1841 original, yet always fresh at each revival.  This live transmission from the Royal Opera House at the Phoenix Picturehouse on Monday 27th January features the company’s new star dancer Natalia Osipova in the title role, partnered by Carlos Acosta. (more…)