Grandstand seats surrounded by the Coliseum’s ornate ivory, gold and purple, a rare London visit by one of Europe’s major ballet companies showing a new production set to one of the 20th century’s most ravishing ballet scores played live by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia – what’s not to like? High expectations for a summer treat.

This being well known fairy tale Cinderella, although I bought a programme I did not read the proffered synopsis before viewing. I also did not have access to a cast sheet until afterwards. A salutary test for any narrative work; what was the story made visible through the dancing and stage action? (more…)

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This book tells the extraordinary story of how Mabinty Bangura from Sierra Leone survived war, famine, cruelty and prejudice to end up dancing with Dutch National Ballet under the name Michaela DePrince.

Born in Sierra Leone, DePrince saw and suffered things that no-one, let alone a child, should experience, from the brutality and misogyny of her own uncle who virtually sold her, to witnessing the murder and mutilation of a beloved school teacher. It is sometimes hard to believe that she really remembers all the conversations that she records (she was so very young at the time), but there is an immediacy about her account that is gripping. (more…)