The Russian State Ballet of Siberia’s version of the Snow Maiden was a rare opportunity to see a full ballet company with orchestra in Oxford. The story of the girl made of snow, who longs for the capacity to love, only to melt away when she achieves her heart’s desire, inspired a play, an opera and a ballet in nineteenth century Russia. The version brought to the New Theatre tonight, well-danced to a composite Tchaikovsky score, cleverly combines traditional effects, such as dry ice, with modern projection technology (snow falls; water ripples; the sun transforms the winter landscape into spring), to give a very enjoyable theatrical experience. (more…)

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2018 at Oxford’s New Theatre starts with the now traditional visit of the Russian State Ballet of Siberia complete with orchestra, promoted by Raymond Gubbay, bringing some last seasonal goodies to enjoy.  As well as perennial favourite The Nutcracker, RSBS are performing a much loved Russian wintry fairytale in the UK for the first time…

Protected from the outside world by Father Frost, The Snow Maiden plays innocently amongst the dancing snowflakes in the enchanted Land of Frost.  Based on a traditional folk-tale and set in the snow covered landscape of rural Russia,  this sparkling ballet follows the exquisite Snow Maiden as she dances into the human world.  (more…)

Rambert’s adventurous programme shows a commitment to new work and artistic collaboration that gloriously affirms the company’s long heritage and roots in the post-Diaghilev dance diaspora.  The evening opened with Kim Brandstrup’s Transfigured Night, followed by Didy Veldman’s The 3 Dancers, and concluded with a revival of Christopher Bruce’s Ghost Dances. Live musical accompaniment was intrinsic to the immediacy and vigour throughout.

Brandstrup’s study of painful choices as a couple’s relationship teeters on the brink of failure courageously uses the music (Arnold Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht) that Antony Tudor chose for his ballet Pillar of Fire, but his conception is original and completely different from Tudor’s. (more…)

A welcome return to Oxford’s New Theatre by the magnificent Rambert Dance Company bringing a powerful triple bill which combines one of the company’s most iconic works with two recent successes.

Christopher Bruce’s 1981 work Ghost Dances is one of the most celebrated contemporary dance pieces of its generation.  This masterpiece is an evocative tribute to the victims of political oppression in South America. It tells stories of love and compassion, as death – in the form of the iconic “ghost dancers” – interrupts the daily lives of a series of ordinary people. Visually referencing celebrations of the Day of the Dead, and driven by the bewitching rhythms of traditional Latin American songs, it’s a moving, intensely human work.  Ghost Dances returned to UK stages for the first time in 13 years in November 2016, and tours throughout 2017.

Love, desire and betrayal are the ingredients of the shocking true story which inspired Picasso’s masterpiece, The Three Dancers. Rambert springs Picasso’s painting from the canvas to the stage, bringing to life his Cubist vivid imagery and the themes of ecstasy and doom which haunt the work. Didy Veldman’s The Three Dancers, with orchestral music by leading Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin, reveals the passion within one of the 20th century’s greatest artworks.

Didy Veldman is a former Rambert dancer who has an international choreographic career. She co-founded Compagnie Alias with Guilherme Botelho in Switzerland, and has worked extensively with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal and with Cedar Lake in New York.  Elena Kats-Chernin’s original score is jointly commissioned by Wimbledon International Music Festival, Australian Festival of Chamber Music and Dancenorth in Australia, and Sitka Summer Music Festival, El Paso Pro Musica and West Bach Festival in the USA.

In Transfigured Night two lovers meet by moonlight, and a dark secret threatens to tear them apart. Created by two-time Olivier-award winning choreographer Kim Brandstrup, it is a dramatic love story, with intimate duets and spectacular ensemble dancing amplifying the beauty and romance of its Schoenberg score.  In February 2017, Kim Brandstrup won the award for Best Modern Choreography for Transfigured Night, at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards 2016.

Performances:  Wednesday to Friday 15th-17th March 7.30pm

Venue:  New Theatre, George Street, Oxford OX1 2AG

Tickets:  £13.90 – £33.40 plus £4.00 transaction fee*

Book online here

On Thursday 16th there will be a free pre-performance talk at 6.30pm

Find out more about the works and Rambert Dance Company here

Saturday afternoon at the New Theatre (5.00pm performance) was an extremely happy occasion, with an auditorium full of little girls (and one or two boys) mostly accompanied by their mothers. ENB’s cut-down version of The Sleeping Beauty is pitched somewhere between a pantomime and a ballet, the story narrated by an actress playing the adult Aurora as she watches the rest of the cast dance, mime and act out the fairy tale. An advantage of this approach is that it restores to prominence the nineteenth-century mime scenes.

The cast consisted of very young dancers from the English National Ballet School, and it is frustrating that although the programme gave their names with photographs, there was no cast list included. One of the great pleasures of the afternoon was to see so much energy and emerging talent, but I am unable to name individual dancers with any certainty. (more…)

BALLETBOYZ  brand new production Life, which received its world premiere at London’s Sadler’s Wells in April 2016, comes to the New Theatre Oxford on Friday May 13.  The show features new commissions by Javier de Frutos and Pontus Lidberg. After opening at Sadler’s Wells where BalletBoyz are Associate Artists, the production will embark on a UK tour, followed by a tour of the USA in 2017. The piece is co-produced by Sadler’s Wells in association with artsdepot.

Performed by the award-winning all-male company of ten dancers, the show features an original score and the evening takes an elegant, powerful and provocative look at life and death, presented in BalletBoyz’ inimitable style. (more…)

My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty is an enchanting version of the fairy tale ballet created especially for children aged three upwards.

As a baby, Princess Aurora is cursed by the evil Carabosse: on her 16th birthday, she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die. Her godmother the Lilac Fairy alters the spell so Aurora will not die but will sleep for 100 years, only to be awoken by true love’s kiss.  From Aurora’s christening in the grand hall of the palace, to her jubilant wedding celebrations, the popular fairy tale comes alive on stage.

Since its creation in 2012, over 150,000 people have enjoyed our My First Ballet series, a collaboration between English National Ballet and English National Ballet School that offers an introduction to the beauty of ballet, and a fantastic family day out.  With a narrator to help the young audience follow the story, and a shortened version of Tchaikovsky’s gorgeous music, My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty is created by English National Ballet’s Associate Artist George Williamson and performed by second year students from English National Ballet School.

**** ‘A pocked-sized delight’
Times on My First Ballet: Swan Lake

Performances:  Saturday 30th April 11.00am, 2.00pm and 5.00pm, Sunday 1st May 11.00am and 3.00pm

Venue: The New Theatre, George Street, Oxford OX1 2AG

Tickets:  £12.90 – £28.90 plus £4 transaction fee

Book tickets here

Running time:  1 hour 30 mins

Read Susie Crow’s review of My First Cinderella here