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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Woolf Works opens with a recording of Virginia Woolf herself reading from her lecture On Craftsmanship, “Words, English words, are full of echoes, memories, associations …”. If the purpose of ballet is ultimately communication, Wayne McGregor has set himself a problem: how is it possible to add to what Virginia Woolf has already said with words in the three books that inspire the ballet? The depth and density of Woolf’s writing as she moves in and out of the minds of her characters cannot be directly replicated in dance, but by taking themes in the novels as a jumping-off ground, McGregor and his dancers are able to use movement to delve into the human psyche. (more…)

A welcome opportunity to see The Royal Ballet in a ballet which has established itself as one of the great 20th century narrative works.  The Phoenix Picturehouse will be showing a live transmission of  Kenneth MacMillan‘s Manon from the Royal Opera House on Thursday 16th October.

Manon Lescaut is a beautiful young woman who falls prey to the moral corruption of 18th century Paris.  Set to music by Jules Massenet, MacMillan’s ballet brings Manon’s story vividly to life, evoking the brutality and decadence described in the Abbé Prévost’s infamous novel, as well as the feckless character of Manon herself – torn between love for the poet Des Grieux and her desire for money and attention. The cast of complex characters includes the callous Monsieur GM, the swaggering Jailer, Manon’s roguish brother Lescaut and his coquettish Mistress; but at the ballet’s heart are the duets MacMillan created for Manon and Des Grieux, which are among the most emotionally intense and erotically charged ever choreographed. (more…)

Royal Ballet Nutcracker, broadcast live to the Phoenix Cinema, Oxford. Thursday 13 December 2012

This was the most enjoyable ROH – to- cinema transmission that I’ve seen. The children among the regular ballet audience gave the auditorium the buzz that’s sometimes lacking, and it was fun to be able to see detailed acting in the party scene close-up (not to mention Drosselmeyer’s magic tricks, which for the slightly myopic work better on screen than from the back of the Amphitheatre). (more…)