The Royal Ballet present George Balanchine’s brilliant evocation of the sparkle of emeralds, rubies and diamonds in his full length ballet Jewels at the Royal Opera House, showing in live transmission at Oxford’s Phoenix Picturehouse.

Balanchine’s glittering ballet was inspired by the beauty of the gem stones he saw in the New York store of jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels. He went on to make history with this, the first abstract three-act ballet, first performed in 1967 by New York City Ballet.  Jewels was performed in full by The Royal Ballet for the first time in 2007, using costume designs from the original NYCB production and new set designs by Jean-Marc Puissant.

Each of the three movements draws on a different stone for its inspiration and a different composer for its sound. The French Romantic music of Fauré provides the impetus for the lyricism of Emeralds.  The fire of Rubies comes from Stravinsky and the jazz-age energy of New York. Grandeur and elegance complete the ballet in Diamonds, with the splendour of Imperial Russia and Tchaikovsky’s opulent Third Symphony.  Each section salutes a different era in classical ballet’s history as well as a distinct period in Balanchine’s own life. Through it all, Balanchine displays his genius for combining music with visionary choreography.  Jewels is a masterclass in the many luminous facets of classical ballet and indeed of The Royal Ballet itself, the intensity of the soloists and the precision of the entire Company.

Performances:  Tuesday 11th April 7.15pm, and Encore repeat showing Tuesday 18th April 12.00

Venue:  Phoenix Picturehouse, 57 Walton Street, Oxford OX2 6AE

Tickets:  Tuesday 11th screening Adult £22, Child £10, Student or Retired £17.50, Family x4 £64

Tuesday 18th screening Adult £17.50, Child £10, Student or Retired £15, Family x4 £55

Book online for Tuesday 11th screening here and Tuesday 18th screening here

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Another transmission of The Nutcracker offered by Oxford’s Phoenix Picturehouse for the festive season, this time a live recorded performance by the Bolshoi Ballet from 2014.  Christmas would not be complete without the enchanting tale of young Marie and her nutcracker prince! Danced by the Bolshoi’s principals, Russian ballet master Yuri Grigorovich’s staging of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s fairy tale will transport children and adults alike to a world of magic and wonder for the holiday season.
On Christmas Eve, Marie’s wooden nutcracker doll is transformed into a beautiful prince who takes her on a magical journey. Before they leave, they must confront the Mouse King, whose army is threatening Marie…

Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Choreography: Yuri Grigorovich
Libretto: Yuri Grigorovich (after E. T. A. Hoffmann and Marius Petipa)

Cast: Denis Rodkin (the Nutcracker Prince), Anna Nikulina (Marie), Andrei Merkuriev (Drosselmeyer), Vitaly Biktimirov (the Mouse King) and the Bolshoi Corps De Ballet

Date:  Sunday 18th December, 3.00pm

Venue:  Phoenix Picturehouse, 57 Walton St, Oxford OX2 6AE

Tickets:  Book online here or call 0871 902 5736

A traditional Christmas treat in live transmission at Oxford’s Phoenix Picturehouse.  The Royal Ballet‘s glorious production of The Nutcracker, created by Peter Wright in 1984, is the production par excellence of an all-time ballet favourite. It is Christmas Eve and Drosselmeyer the magician sweeps young Clara away on a fantasy adventure in which time is suspended, the family livingroom becomes a great battlefield, and a magical journey takes them through the Land of Snow to the Kingdom of Sweets.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker score was commissioned by the director of the Russian Imperial Theatres, following the resounding success of The Sleeping Beauty in 1890. Marius Petipa created the scenario, which is based on a fairytale by E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Lev Ivanov provided the choreography. The Nutcracker was first performed in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. It initially had a poor reception, but its combination of enchanting choreography and unforgettable music has since made it one of the most loved of all ballets.

In Peter Wright’s classic production for The Royal Ballet, the stage sparkles with theatrical magic – a Christmas tree grows before our eyes, toy soldiers come to life to fight the villainous Mouse King and Clara and the Nutcracker are whisked off to the Kingdom of Sweets on a golden sleigh. Tchaikovsky’s score contains some of ballet’s best-known melodies, from the flurrying Waltz of the Snowflakes to the dream-like Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy – all brilliantly set in Wright’s choreography. Julia Trevelyan Oman’s designs draw upon 19th-century images of Christmas, making this magical production perfect for the festive season.

Date:  Thursday 8th December 7.15pm

Venue:  Phoenix Picturehouse, 57 Walton St, Oxford OX2 6AE

Tickets:  Book online here or call 0871 902 5736

This transmission will be repeated on Monday 12th December at 12.00, book online here

The Royal Ballet presents a major revival of a work by Kenneth MacMillan in the run-up to the 25th anniversary of his death next year.  An identity in crisis, a country in revolution;  Anastasia is a ballet about one of the great historical mysteries of the 20th century, only recently solved. At the height of the Russian Revolution the royal family were executed, but afterwards a young woman appeared – apparently a surviving royal princess, the Grand Duchess Anastasia. Known as ‘Anna Anderson’, she couldn’t remember her past and she was presumed to be an imposter. Many wanted to forget the massacre and the Revolution; many believed, or hoped, that a princess could have survived, a remnant of the old world.  Originally a one-act ballet made for the Deutsche Oper Ballet in Berlin, one of Kenneth MacMillan’s first creations on becoming Director of The Royal Ballet in 1970 was to expand his expressionist Anastasia into a full evening work.  Anastasia is a dramatic and haunting exploration of Anna’s nightmare of memory and identity.  To music by Tchaikovsky and Martinů, we follow the events leading to the murder of a family, and Anna’s confused dreams – or memories. A powerful, psychological challenge for the principal ballerina, this is a rare opportunity to see a landmark ballet by a major choreographer, here at the Phoenix Picturehouse in live transmission from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Date:  Wednesday 2nd November 7.15pm

Venue:  Phoenix Picture House, 57 Walton St, Oxford OX2 6AE

Tickets:  £22 adults, £17.50 retired or student, £10 child (reduced rates for members and family ticket also available)

Book online here or by phone: 0871 902 5736

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

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…)

The ultimate Christmas ballet treat coming up this week as Odeon Plus Culture programmes a live transmission by The Royal Ballet from the Royal Opera House.  From the very first notes of Tchaikovsky’s overture to The Nutcracker, a sense of mystery and magic pervades the theatre as Herr Drosselmeyer sets in train the events that will see his beloved nephew, Hans Peter, freed from the enchantment of the evil Mouse King by the resourceful Clara.  Peter Wright‘s classic production, first seen at Covent Garden in 1984, is an essential part of Christmas for audiences of all ages. (more…)