balletLORENT’s Rumpelstiltskin, is an engrossing story of love, parental betrayal and redemption. Rumpelstiltskin, a little boy rejected by his father the King following the death of the child’s mother, is cast out to live in the woods and hedgerows. Only the Shepherd’s Daughter is kind to him. They grow up, and when the Shepherd foolishly boasts that his daughter (Natalie Trewinnard) can spin straw into gold, the miserly King sets her to work, threatening to slaughter their sheep if she fails. (This is particularly poignant as the sheep are played by small children on all fours with sheepskins on their backs). Rumpelstiltskin (Gavin Coward) appears and for three long nights spins the straw into gold, in exchange for a ring, a kiss, and finally her first born child when she marries his father. When Rumpelstiltskin comes to claim the baby (there is an implication that the child is his), she breaks the contract by guessing his name. The outcast prince is re-united with his father, who conveniently dies, enabling the couple to marry. (more…)

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Sutra is one of Sadler’s Wells’ most exhilarating productions and has toured around the globe to sell-out audiences and mass critical acclaim.

The award-winning collaboration between choreographer Cherkaoui, sculptor Antony Gormley and 19 Buddhist monks from the Shaolin Temple in China has been seen by over 160,000 people worldwide, achieving standing ovations wherever it has been seen.  This breathtaking spectacle of athleticism explores the philosophy and faith behind the Shaolin tradition and its relationship with kung fu within a contemporary context.

With Antony Gormley’s striking set of 21 wooden boxes and Polish composer Szymon Brzóska’s specially commissioned score performed live, Sutra is an incomparable work that has captured the hearts and imaginations of people the world over, as one of the stage’s most sophisticated productions and a true work of art.

★★★★★
Exceeds even out highest expectations
The Times

★★★★★
This unique, profoundly imagined show takes the concept of cultural exchange to a whole new level
The Guardian

Performances:  Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th March, 7.30pm

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

Tickets:   £11.90-£34.90 plus £4 transaction fee; book online here

This is ‘not a conventional autobiography’ but it is a fascinating and inspiring account of 75 years of work in dance and theatre. Immensely humorous, Wright seems to have known almost everybody in the ballet world, and he conjures up vivid images of dips in the freezing January sea with Henry Danton at Eastbourne in the 1940s, Princess Margaret backstage at the Birmingham Hippodrome holding her breath to avoid the whiff from the gents’ loo, or of Michael Somes who could be ‘very difficult’, ‘particularly at full moon’.

For those of us outside the professional ballet world, the book sometimes ‘joins the dots’, and fills the gaps that other, more discreet, accounts have left in obscurity. I imagine that Wright’s colleagues and acquaintances will have looked for their names in the index with some trepidation, for he is almost as frank about the living as he is about the dead. (more…)

Natalia Osipova’s specially commissioned programme of contemporary dance at Sadler’s Wells was an opportunity to see one of the greatest dancers of her generation in new works by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant and Arthur Pita.

In Cherkaoui’s Qutb (meaning ‘axis’ or ‘pivot’), Osipova, Jason Kittelberger and James O’Hara experimented with ways of moving together, testing the limits of gravity and their contrasting techniques as they used their own weight to support, balance and counterpoise each other. Changes in the music, which included Sufi vocals, gave an episodic structure to a work so packed with possible interpretations that its meaning was ambiguous: suggestions in the programme included, among other ideas, the aftermath of a natural disaster, the interaction of celestial bodies, or a rite of passage. It was sometimes hard to see clearly the complex entwining movement of the dancers on the darkened stage; the work would benefit by being performed in a smaller and more intimate space. (more…)

Northern Ballet has a longstanding repertoire tradition of narrative ballets, often based on iconic works of literature, and David Nixon’s 2013 realisation of Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby has coincided happily with a wider audience’s hunger for the nostalgic glamour of this perennial classic generated by the film version starring Leonardo di Caprio.   This production returned this week to Sadler’s Wells following its first sell-out run and garlanded with award nominations. Having missed it the first time round I seized a last minute opportunity to catch up with this popular company’s doings. (more…)

The 18 years since the first performance of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake have seen changes to the social and legal environment for homosexual relationships.  There is still plenty of prejudice among some people, but the open portrayal of a same sex relationship on stage lacks the power to shock the sort of audience that goes to Sadler’s Wells today.  All the more credit then to Matthew Bourne, for a creation that still stands as a strong dramatic dance work, and which tells a story on two levels; the narrative and the psychological. (more…)

Two love triangles, one man obsessed with another’s wife, death, murder and endless parties:  what could possibly go wrong?  Northern Ballet’s production of The Great Gatsby shows how difficult it is to construct a narrative ballet.

There was plenty to enjoy: not least the dancers’ vibrant energy, secure balances, zippy turns, sharp footwork and yearning adagio.  There were glorious moments, when Martha Leebolt (Daisy) rippled across the stage in whirling chainés turns, or Tobias Batley (Gatsby) and Giuliano Contadini (Carraway) tossed her into the air so that she flew between them like a bird, her feet beating the air. (more…)