Vibrant, colourful and humorous, English National Ballet’s Coppélia is a delightful entertainment. On Tuesday evening Tamara Rojo was a witty and astute Swanilda who was well aware that her fiancé Franz (Yonah Acosta) could not resist chatting up a new girl in town. Michael Coleman’s Dr Coppélius was a doddery and at times almost endearing, old man; a quack scientist whose experiments were fantastic rather than sinister. If he lived today, he would probably be manufacturing phoney diet pills for the naïve and gullible. (more…)

English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire is not to be missed when it comes to Oxford next week:  the company is dancing on dazzling form.

The work itself raises challenging questions about nineteenth century revivals and changing ethical perspectives.  People trafficking and piracy are at the heart of the story, and as Conrad and Medora escape, their companions drown in a storm at sea, in a way terribly reminiscent of recent events off Lampedusa.  The women are chattels to be bartered, pirates are romanticized and the Pasha is a stereotypical figure of fun.  The production doesn’t so much negotiate this minefield as skim the surface without pausing for long enough to make the audience uneasy, which is perhaps surprising, given the dark tone of the pre-production publicity photographs. (more…)

English National Ballet is changing: Tamara Rojo, as Artistic Director, has brought a new focus on building technique while developing younger talent. At Saturday night’s performance of The Sleeping Beauty in Oxford I noticed consistently sharper footwork and technical accuracy, although I felt that some of the cast were so concerned with precision that at times they risked becoming almost static. I was impressed by their control and stability but thought that they sometimes held their backs too rigidly upright, and that there is a need now to acquire a greater flow of movement. (more…)