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…)
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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…)

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…)