English National Ballet return to the New Theatre Oxford this Autumn with Coppélia, one of the great nineteenth century ballets, here in Ronald Hynd’s production with choreography after Marius Petipa, with colourful designs by Desmond Heeley, and set to Delibes’s irresistibly melodic score performed by English National Ballet’s full orchestra.

Dr Coppélius, the toymaker, has created the lifelike Coppélia doll and wishes for nothing more than to bring her to life. He thinks his dream has finally come true, but he has merely been caught up in Franz and Swanhilda’s lovers’ tiff.  Love triumphs over all in this comedy of mistaken identity and the finale is a breathtaking celebration of the lovers’ marriage.  Coppélia is an enchanting, effervescent family ballet, perfect for young and old alike. (more…)

Advertisements

First staged in St Petersburg in 1890, The Sleeping Beauty is regarded as the pinnacle of classical ballet: a perfect marriage of Petipa’s choreography and Tchaikovsky’s music, and a glorious challenge for every dancer on stage. It is also the Royal Ballet’s signature work.  To mark the company’s 75th birthday in 2006, Monica Mason and Christopher Newton revitalised its landmark 1946 production, which re-established Petipa’s choreography as recorded by Imperial Ballet régisseur Nicholas Sergeyev, to a scenario and staging developed by Ninette de Valois, founder of the Royal Ballet.  With Oliver Messel’s gorgeous original designs wonderfully reimagined by Peter Farmer, and additional choreography by Anthony Dowell, Christopher Wheeldon and Frederick Ashton, today’s The Sleeping Beauty not only captures the mood of the original but shows that this is very much a living work for the Royal Ballet, growing and changing with the company while celebrating its past. (more…)

A Christmas treat for ballet-lovers – and in the wake of the recent court case convicting the attackers of director Sergei Filin, a welcome chance to be reminded of the on-stage presence of one of the world’s great ballet companies.  Oxford’s Phoenix Picturehouse will be retransmitting a 2011 performance by the Bolshoi Ballet of the  The Sleeping Beauty.

Cursed at birth by the evil fairy Carabosse, Princess Aurora descends into a deep slumber on the day of her 16th birthday. Only the kiss of a prince will awaken her.  Based on Charles Perrault’s classic fairy tale, The Sleeping Beauty has been hugely successful since its premiere in 1890. Marius Petipa’s masterpiece set to Tchaikovsky’s majestic score is one of the most popular and accomplished choreographic works in the classical repertoire. This recent version by veteran choreographer Yuri Grigorovich will captivate fairy-tale lovers and the whole family during the Christmas season, and features two of the company’s top principal dancers. (more…)

Another 19th century narrative ballet from the Russian tradition for viewing in Oxford this autumn; the Royal Ballet’s brand new production of Don Quixote will shortly be transmitted live at the Phoenix Picturehouse from the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.  The adventures of Cervantes’ bumbling knight are the inspiration for one of Marius Petipa’s best known ballets, with music by Ludwig Minkus, containing emotion, drama and vivid characters as well as vivacious and spectacular classical dance with a Spanish flavour.  Royal Ballet Principal Guest Artist Carlos Acosta has danced the virtuoso role of Basilio many times. So it is especially appropriate that he has mounted this production for the Royal Ballet, with designs by Tim Hatley giving a modern edge to a broadly traditional staging.
Another Boshoi Ballet transmission of one of the popular staples of 19th century ballet repertoire; a prerecorded performance of Le Corsaire on view at the Phoenix Picturehouse on Sunday 17th November.  Inspired by Lord Byron’s poem, Marius Petipa’s version of the ballet was part of the Bolshoi’s repertoire until the beginning of the 20th century.  In 2007 Alexei Ratmansky and Yuri Burlaka presented a sumptuous new choreographic version for the company.  In the marketplace of Adrianople, the beautiful Medora is sold to Pasha by a slave dealer; but a pirate, hidden among the crowd with his companions, decides to ravish her… Thrilling suspense is at the core of this lavish exotic fable, an amazing production complete with pirates, kidnapping, a shipwreck, and a record 120 dancers on stage.  An intriguing opportunity to compare it with English National Ballet’s new production. (more…)

English National Ballet bring their new production of the popular 19th century ballet Le Corsaire to Oxford’s New Theatre this autmn.  Le Corsaire (The Pirate, inspired by Byron’s poem) tells the story of Conrad, a dashing pirate, and his love for Medora, a beautiful harem girl. It is a swashbuckling drama of captive maidens, rich sultans, kidnap and rescue, disguise and conspiracy, love and betrayal, culminating in a shipwreck which is one of the most breath-taking spectacles in ballet. English National Ballet is the first UK Company to perform the complete work which showcases some of the most bravura male dancing in the ballet repertoire. (more…)

This appeared originally online as part of a series of ongoing reflections on the process of making and performing work for Jennifer Jackson’s mature dancers’ project Dancing the Invisible, which showed work in performance last year at University of Surrey’s Ivy Arts Centre, and at the Michaelis Theatre at Roehampton University.  In a recent blog post Susie wrote:

Ashton used to say that watching The Sleeping Beauty was like having a private lesson in the art of composition in classical ballet (Kavanagh 1996, p.309).  The richness of Petipa’s choreographic text (despite its mutability and variation from one production to another) and the particular poetic and historic symbolism of the work, give it layers of significance and the potential for depth in individual artistic interpretation; to my mind according it the equivalence in status of such canonical musical masterpieces as the Bach cello suites, which invite artists to measure themselves and make a definitive personal statement of their understanding through their performance of the work. (more…)