Woolf Works opens with a recording of Virginia Woolf herself reading from her lecture On Craftsmanship, “Words, English words, are full of echoes, memories, associations …”. If the purpose of ballet is ultimately communication, Wayne McGregor has set himself a problem: how is it possible to add to what Virginia Woolf has already said with words in the three books that inspire the ballet? The depth and density of Woolf’s writing as she moves in and out of the minds of her characters cannot be directly replicated in dance, but by taking themes in the novels as a jumping-off ground, McGregor and his dancers are able to use movement to delve into the human psyche. (more…)

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On Sunday 5th May I joined a long queue outside Oxford’s New Theatre; lots of little girls, many in pastel princess dresses and net petticoats, with their mothers.  Inside the auditorium much excitement finding seats, fidgeting to get comfy, sweets and fruit drinks, plastic tiara and fluffy glow wand merchandise.  For this was one of a weekend clutch of performances of My First Cinderella, English National Ballet’s latest initiative to catch a new young and family audience.

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Royal Ballet Nutcracker, broadcast live to the Phoenix Cinema, Oxford. Thursday 13 December 2012

This was the most enjoyable ROH – to- cinema transmission that I’ve seen. The children among the regular ballet audience gave the auditorium the buzz that’s sometimes lacking, and it was fun to be able to see detailed acting in the party scene close-up (not to mention Drosselmeyer’s magic tricks, which for the slightly myopic work better on screen than from the back of the Amphitheatre). (more…)

Last minute warning – another live transmission from the Royal Opera House coming up this week at Oxford’s Phoenix Picturehouse, this time of the wholly delightful La Fille mal gardée.

Frederick Ashton’s final full-length ballet is one of his most joyous creations, imbued with his love for the Suffolk countryside. It is based on an 1828 French ballet and the music was adapted by John Lanchbery from Ferdinand Hérold’s original score. La Fille mal gardée was a resounding success on its premiere in 1960 and it has remained a firm part of The Royal Ballet’s repertory since. The title translates as The Wayward Daughter.

Ashton’s choreography calls for a high level of virtuosity from its principals – the youthful passion of Lise and her lover, Colas, is expressed in a series of energetic pas de deux. The ballet is laced with good humour and a whirl of dancing chickens, grouchy guardians and halfwit suitors take to the stage. Ashton affectionately incorporated elements of national folk dance into his choreography, from a Lancashire clog dance to a maypole dance, making La Fille mal gardée (despite its title) The Royal Ballet’s most emphatically English work. Osbert Lancaster’s colourful designs reinforce the robust wit of the production.

Taking the lead at this performance are Roberta Marquez as Lise and Stephen McRae as Colas – not to be missed!

Performance:  Wednesday 16th May 2012, 7.15pm

Booking information: Book online by selecting a time or call the Box Office:
0871 902 5736 (10p a minute from a landline)

http://www.picturehouses.co.uk/cinema/Phoenix_Picturehouse/film/Roh_Live_La_Fille_Mal_Gard_E/show/d90p03/