Swan Lake remains at the heart of the classical ballet repertoire. Its choreography by Marius Petipa and music by Tchaikovsky have ensured its place in any dance company worth its claim to pre-eminence. And the music’s 19th century blend of the classical with the romantic has ensured audiences with a love of great music if only a passing interest in dance. Nevertheless, it has to be said that the growth of contemporary choreography and the increased number of smaller dance companies have rather reduced the appetites of both dancers and audiences for this extremely demanding, long, old, and often tired ballet. I include myself among those who have felt they had seen enough Swan Lakes to happily miss the next one. It is with this in mind that I say how suddenly I have been swept off my feet and made to believe again in the evergreen nature of the work, its music, its potential for surprise. (more…)

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The Royal Ballet’s Artist in Residence Liam Scarlett has become known for ballets that marry highly expressive movement, sophisticated musical response and dark psychological depth – in such works for The Royal Ballet as Asphodel Meadows, Sweet Violets and The Age of Anxiety on the main stage, and Hansel and Gretel in the Linbury Studio Theatre. Now he creates his first full-length work for the main stage with Frankenstein, a period adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Gothic tale of morality and our craving for love, companionship and understanding.  Wednesday 18th May’s performance will be relayed live from the Royal Opera House to national and international cinemas, including Phoenix Picturehouse and Odeon Magdalen Street in Oxford.

For this new work Scarlett has assembled a number of regular collaborators. American composer Lowell Liebermann, whose First Piano Concerto provides the music for Scarlett’s Viscera, composes a new score.  John Macfarlane (Asphodel Meadows, Sweet Violets, The Age of Anxiety) creates the designs, while David Finn provides lighting design.  Dancers include Federico Bonelli, Laura Morera and Steven McRae.

Performance:  Wednesday 18th May 2016, 7.15pm

Phoenix Picturehouse, 57 Walton Street, Oxford OX2 6AE:   Tickets £8-£20  bookable online here

Odeon, Magdalen St, Oxford OX1 3AE:  Tickets £12.50-£15  bookable online here

Find out more about the production here

 

 

The Language of the Soul by photographer Rick Guest features images from his 2014 Exhibition at The Hospital Club Gallery, as well as many more in the series.  Working in collaboration with stylist Olivia Pomp, and featuring such luminary dancers as Edward Watson, Tamara Rojo, Marianela Nuñez, Steven McRae, Sarah Lamb, Sergei Polunin, Zenaida Yanowsky, Nehemiah Kish and Melissa Hamilton, it also includes portraits of Wayne McGregor, Kevin O’Hare, Liam Scarlett and Christopher Wheeldon.  With a foreword by Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet, this book is in a limited first run of 1000 copies, exquisitely printed by PUSH Print, and is in a large format, 300mm x 370mm.

Rick Guest writes:

“Ballet as an art form has always been a collaborative medium, whereby composers, orchestras, choreographers, dancers, artists and impresarios have come together to create something new, something greater than the individual elements. With this in mind, I have deliberately turned away from using photography to document dance as it’s staged for the audience, as important as that is. Instead, I have concentrated on the bringing together of three separate disciplines, that of photography, fashion and dance, in an attempt to create something new and singular.
Away from the constraints of stage, role and costume, the dancers are able to demonstrate their breathtaking capabilities in an uninhibited atmosphere, one that ultimately leads to a purer portrait of the dancers themselves. These images aim to illustrate the key tenets of balletic technique; balance, strength and poise. They are lit and photographed to enhance each dancers’ power and beauty, both physical and emotional, and the images are infused with a fashion edge that is at the same time evocative and playful.”

The Language of the Soul is available from the 15th December 2015 from rg-books.com

Further work can be viewed at rg-dance.com

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

Thrilling, innovative and original, the programme Lest We Forget marks another exciting advance for English National Ballet under Tamara Rojo’s leadership. Following last autumn’s production of Le Corsaire, she has now showcased the company further with an evening that included three new works, each by a different choreographer.  Marking the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, Liam Scarlett, Russell Maliphant and Akram Khan’s contrasting approaches range from the almost literal and ballet-based (Scarlett) through the largely abstract and contemporary (Maliphant) to the intensely personal and culturally eclectic (Khan). (more…)

A one night visit to the New Theatre by the BalletBoyz provided an opportunity to see the youthful male dance talent that they are nurturing in theTALENT, a double bill of works specially created for them.  Marcella Vigneri took her 10 year old son Ravi; here are their impressions.

Marcella writes:

It has been a wonderful evening of male-only dance performance, an event divided into two new works, Serpent choreographed by Royal Ballet Liam Scarlett and Fallen by Sadlers Wells Associate Artist Russell Maliphant.  Overall, what really impressed me was the perfect balance between musicality and strength in movement: both works offered an amazing presence of stage with 10 Ballet Boyz dancers (not all with a classical dance training) offering stylised lines, boldly constructed shapes, dynamic lifts and athletic jumps effortlessly performed off each others’ bodies. (more…)