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…)

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Wayne McGregor’s Raven Girl is a brave experiment with narrative form, which springs from an exciting collaboration between author, designers, composer and choreographer.  Wonderful but subtle use of cinematic effect enhances the sepia-shaded set, and the choreography makes full use of the extraordinary technical capacity of the Royal Ballet’s principal dancers.

McGregor asked Audrey Niffenegger for a “new dark fairy tale”, and the result is a gloomy and sometimes macabre story, which includes a strong element of magic.  But magic does not make a fairy tale:  to be true to the genre, the story must, firstly, address what Bruno Bettelheim calls our “existential anxieties and dilemmas”, and, secondly, offer us a solution to them.  This, the ballet fails to do.  (more…)