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…)

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When Kevin O’Hare stepped in front of the curtain, I expected bad news, and it was:  Natalia Osipova had mild concussion following “a collision of heads” during the afternoon performance;  Thiago Soares was off too, and  so was Tetractys – the art of fugue.  Cue for groans from the audience, followed by a round of applause from some of the more expensive seats when we were promised a refund of a third of the ticket price, and told that the bars would stay open for longer than usual.  And so the triple bill became a double bill, of Rhapsody and Gloria.  Nevertheless, this was an opportunity for the Royal Ballet to showcase the work of two of the company’s most important directors and to demonstrate an understanding of two very different, yet very English, choreographic styles. (more…)

In life, Sarah Lamb’s Giselle is swift and airborne with a restrained diffidence; in death, those qualities transform her into a ghostly and ethereal apparition.  As a Wili, her cool manner enhances the otherworldly feel of her dancing, although in the first act last night she did not completely convince me that she was a peasant girl driven mad by the shock of betrayal and I wasn’t quite sure that she had actually killed herself, rather than dying of a broken heart. (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…)

For an Easter holiday treat why not take the family to see the live screeening of the Royal Ballet in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at the Phoenix Picturehouse?  Those familiar with Lewis Carroll’s literary menagerie of colourful characters will enjoy the clarity with which Christopher Wheeldon portrays them in dance in this imaginative recent ballet, a feast of colour, music and choreography. (more…)

Viscera/Infra/Fool’s Paradise Royal Ballet Mixed Bill, Saturday 3rd November 2012

This triple bill opened with Viscera, a work originally created on Miami City Ballet and presented for the first time by the Royal Ballet. Choreographed by the newly appointed Artist in Residence Liam Scarlett to Lowell Liebermann’s Piano Concerto No.1 this was a thrilling, exhilarating ballet. (more…)