Nick Higham’s interview with Darcey Bussell in the Sheldonian Theatre was the only dance-related event in this year’s Oxford Literary Festival, and it was sold out. I was sitting right at the top, next to a family with two small girls, who were very anxious about whether they would be able to see. Happily, we turned out to be on the best side of the Gallery, and had a good view of Bussell, who seemed to be channelling her inner Audrey Hepburn, in slacks, pumps and a polka-dot blouse.

Higham opened the discussion by talking about her book Darcey Bussell: Evolved, which is a collection of images of Bussell in locations ranging from the top of the Albert Memorial to the London Eye. Higham asked what it is like to be a photographer’s muse, to which Bussell replied that it is part of the job of promoting her art form. (more…)

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Bolshoi Ballet: La Bayadère, transmitted live to the Phoenix Cinema, Oxford. 27 January 2013

Glamorous and spectacular, the Bolshoi Ballet’s La Bayadère is both exciting and emotive. On Sunday, the easy and graceful style of Vladislav Lantratov (Solor) was elegant and sometimes thrilling. Maria Alexandrova, a very fine dancer, made Gamzatti’s jealousy of Nikia understandable and dramatically logical, and Svetlana Zakharova conveyed the full range of emotions, from love and happiness through revulsion at the Brahmin’s advances to despair at betrayal. Zakharova was exceptionally lyrical in the third act, although she seemed just a little tense in the variation with the shawl, which might have gone better for her. The corps de ballet dancers were impeccably correct, if perhaps a little rigid, as the Shades, gleaming in the blackness that made them seem to float on air as they glided down the ramp.

The “elephant in the room”, of course was the acid attack on Sergei Filin less than a fortnight ago. (more…)

Hot on the heels of the transmission of La Fille mal gardée from the Royal Opera House comes another major classic of the ballet repertoire, this time the  Paris Opera Ballet in live transmission from the Paris Opera at the Phoenix Picturehouse, Oxford.

Choreographed by Marius Petipa, La Bayadère (The Temple Dancer) is a spectacular and lush work of late 19th century orientalism which tells the story of bayadère Nikiya and warrior Solor, who have sworn eternal fidelity to each other… (more…)