balletLORENT’s Rumpelstiltskin, is an engrossing story of love, parental betrayal and redemption. Rumpelstiltskin, a little boy rejected by his father the King following the death of the child’s mother, is cast out to live in the woods and hedgerows. Only the Shepherd’s Daughter is kind to him. They grow up, and when the Shepherd foolishly boasts that his daughter (Natalie Trewinnard) can spin straw into gold, the miserly King sets her to work, threatening to slaughter their sheep if she fails. (This is particularly poignant as the sheep are played by small children on all fours with sheepskins on their backs). Rumpelstiltskin (Gavin Coward) appears and for three long nights spins the straw into gold, in exchange for a ring, a kiss, and finally her first born child when she marries his father. When Rumpelstiltskin comes to claim the baby (there is an implication that the child is his), she breaks the contract by guessing his name. The outcast prince is re-united with his father, who conveniently dies, enabling the couple to marry. (more…)

Sleeping Beauty by Let’s All Dance was a joy to watch. The cast of seven dancers delighted their audience of small children from the start with a brief introduction to ballet gestures for them to try for themselves and look out for during the performance. The story was slightly modified: Carabosse becomes wicked because King Florestan breaks her heart by marrying Queen Celeste but they all forgive each other at the end.

This was a delightful introduction to the ballet, which retained plenty of choreographic references to Petipa’s text. Rosy Nevard delivered Aurora’s Act One solo with speed and attack, and Synanne Day’s Lilac Fairy included the huge developpés with ronds en dedans. There was even a Rose Adagio, albeit with only one prince (whom Aurora definitely did not want to marry), played by James Aiden Kay. (more…)

Following the success of Rapunzel and Snow White, award winning balletLORENT returns to Oxford Playhouse with the final show in their trilogy of fairytales, Rumpelstiltskin, directed by Liv Lorent.  Full of action and humour, this emotionally rich story retold by Carol Ann Duffy is set in a rural world of sheep, straw, wool and spinning; where the alchemist Rumpelstiltskin is outcast until he is revealed to be ‘the true prince that he was’.  With choreography by Liv Lorent and the company involving a local intergenerational cast, a score by Doctor Who composer Murray Gold, costumes designed by Michele Clapton (Game of Thrones), narration by actor Ben Crompton, this is dance theatre for 21st Century family audiences.

Phil Eddolls (set design) and Malcolm Rippeth (lighting design) once again join the world class collaborators team, along with associate lighting designer Michael Morgan, to create a visually stunning setting for Rumpelstiltskin.

“It is a thing of magic and beauty, not so much a cautionary tale but one of hope and reconciliation.” David Whetstone, Newcastle Evening Chronicle (*****)

“It’s a fitting, sumptuous and beautifully realised production to bring the five years of the trilogy to its culmination and well deserved the enthusiasm and standing ovation with which it was greeted.” Peter Latham, British Theatre Guide

“Fabulous show – beautiful to watch, wonderful storytelling and choreography; a very special evening..” Northern Stage Audience Member

“I haven’t enjoyed a show so much for a long time. I was delighted and left in tears by your production.” Northern Stage Audience Member

Performances:  Friday 1st June 7.00pm, Saturday 2nd June 2.00pm & 7.00pm

Venue:  Oxford Playhouse, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2LW

Tickets:  £10-£21, book online here or call the Box Office on 01865 305305

Duration:  Approximately 1 hour 40 minutes with interval

Age guideline:  7 plus

Find out more about the company and the production here

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…)

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

Dance? Mime? Theatre? Peut-Etre . . .

When I was asked to review a children’s show called Tidy Up, I immediately anticipated an hour or so of theatrical fun. I also gleefully anticipated that my children, aged five and nine, would receive a subliminal message that tidiness is COOL! I was not disappointed.

The three Tidy Up performers had a giggling North Wall audience in the palms of their hands from the very beginning, accompanying the slapping of their hands on their bottoms with cheeky, over the shoulder winks. With the performers enjoying themselves, the fun was infectious. (more…)

Much loved Oxford dance community Tac-au-Tac and highly respected dance artist/teacher Joëlle Pappas return to Pegasus Theatre with a family dance showcase performed by children and young people, featuring a guest appearance from Oxford Youth Dance Company.  What the Wind Told the Tree Tops is a collection of short dances which celebrate young people’s imagination, creativity and love of dance.

Suitable for all ages.

Performances:  Saturday 13th May 3.30pm & 7.00pm

Venue:  Pegasus Theatre, Magdalen Road, Oxford OX4 1RE

Tickets:  £12, £8 concessions

Book online here, or call the Box Office on 01865 812150

Find out about Tac-au-Tac Dance Theatre and activities here