Swan Lake remains at the heart of the classical ballet repertoire. Its choreography by Marius Petipa and music by Tchaikovsky have ensured its place in any dance company worth its claim to pre-eminence. And the music’s 19th century blend of the classical with the romantic has ensured audiences with a love of great music if only a passing interest in dance. Nevertheless, it has to be said that the growth of contemporary choreography and the increased number of smaller dance companies have rather reduced the appetites of both dancers and audiences for this extremely demanding, long, old, and often tired ballet. I include myself among those who have felt they had seen enough Swan Lakes to happily miss the next one. It is with this in mind that I say how suddenly I have been swept off my feet and made to believe again in the evergreen nature of the work, its music, its potential for surprise. (more…)

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The affectionate nomenclature “Bollywood” denotes films traditionally produced in Bombay (aka: Mumbai) and which employ some of the distinctive forties and fifties Hollywood narratives. As the program notes for Bring on the Bollywood explain:

“A journalist in the 1970s first coined the nickname for the Hindi film industry by replacing the H from Hollywood with the B from Bombay… which is the capital of the industry.”

The plot in a Bollywood film is filled with romance of one kind or another. Boy meets girl; they immediately fall in love but are then faced with bumpy obstacles so that they seem to fall in and out of love a few times until, finally, working through all these obstacles, they reach a happy ending which is celebrated with a HUGE party. (more…)

There are many estimable things about balletLORENT and its goals: a company committed to training young people, even children, in the art of theatre and dance movement; a company of dedicated actors/dancers, some of whom have been members for ten or more years; innovative in commissioning work from other fields within the arts – poets and actors and musicians; able to appreciate the on-going relevance of literary works like fairy tales and the eternal commentary they make on our human condition. These are reasons to admire the company and their undertaking to express through dance what is very often verbally inexpressible.

Till recent film versions, the story of Snow White has found little new expression in art forms since Walt Disney’s 1950s animation. This is a pity. A musical, opera, or ballet would do well to pick up this tale and explore its themes – particularly the knotty relationship that exists between a mother and her daughter or between any older woman and a young woman who is outstripping her with youthful energies, promise, attractiveness. There is also the problem of privilege enjoyed by some women until it becomes exploitative when power is added to that privilege. As with all fairy tales, there are innumerable themes woven together under the delightful magic of storytelling. (more…)

The Bolshoi Ballet’s production of The Lady of the Camellias was transmitted live on Sunday 7th December at the Phoenix Picturehouse in Oxford. At nearly three hours in length the ballet recounts Alexandre Dumas’ well known tale which forms the basis as well for Verdi’s La Traviata and Frederick Ashton’s Marguerite and Armand. The latter short ballet was created especially for Fonteyn and Nureyev and – when they performed it – gently reflected that late blooming relationship between the newly arrived Russian dancer and the more mature woman nearing the end of her sophisticated career. Sunday’s transmission of John Neumeier’s The Lady of the Camellias was startling in the scope of its dramatic enterprise. This was neither short, nor gentle, nor a mere showcase for two star dancers. It was a full-length novelistic narrative. (more…)

The English National Ballet Company under the artistic direction of Tamara Rojo arrived in Oxford for five days of performances at The New Theatre. Its offering was Kenneth MacMillan’s re-imagining of the great master Marius Petipa’s choreography for The Sleeping Beauty. In so many important ways the 22nd February performance I saw did not disappoint: the technical prowess of not only the principle dancers, but the well-trained corps de ballet was impressive; the Nicholas Georgiadis costumes were crisp and sumptuous; and the Tchaikovsky score paced at a galloping speed while not missing the moments of winsome beauty in waltz sequences and delicacy in moments of syncopated choreography.  But there are some caveats as well as some moments of special enjoyment. (more…)