Another live transmission of masterworks from the Royal Ballet‘s historic repertoire coming up shortly at Oxford’s Phoenix Picturehouse, essential viewing for ballet lovers.  This gorgeous mixed programme, part of celebrations of the company’s 70 years of residency at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, demonstrates the great creative vision of Frederick Ashton, Founder Choreographer of The Royal Ballet.  The Dream is Ashton’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s riotous comedy in which a forest sprite plays havoc, armed with a love potion.  Symphonic Variations was Ashton’s first work after World War II, and one of the Company’s first to be performed on the huge main stage of the Royal Opera House, in 1946. With six dancers performing a series of quartets, duets, sextets and solos to Cesar Franck’s brooding Variations symphoniques, this seminal masterpiece celebrates the pure beauty of movement.  Marguerite and Armand is Ashton’s beautiful and emotional retelling of a well-known story, familiar to us through Verdi’s opera La traviata.  Ashton famously created this poignant ballet on Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev in 1963.

Date:  Wednesday 7th June 2017, 7.15pm

Venue:  Phoenix Picturehouse, 57 Walton Street, Oxford OX2 6AE

Tickets:  Adults £22, student or retired £17.50, child £10, family ticket for four £64

Book online here or call 0871 902 5736

This transmission will also be screened at The Vue Cinema, Kassam Stadium, details available here and at the Odeon Magdalen Street, details here

The Royal Ballet present George Balanchine’s brilliant evocation of the sparkle of emeralds, rubies and diamonds in his full length ballet Jewels at the Royal Opera House, showing in live transmission at Oxford’s Phoenix Picturehouse.

Balanchine’s glittering ballet was inspired by the beauty of the gem stones he saw in the New York store of jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels. He went on to make history with this, the first abstract three-act ballet, first performed in 1967 by New York City Ballet.  Jewels was performed in full by The Royal Ballet for the first time in 2007, using costume designs from the original NYCB production and new set designs by Jean-Marc Puissant.

Each of the three movements draws on a different stone for its inspiration and a different composer for its sound. The French Romantic music of Fauré provides the impetus for the lyricism of Emeralds.  The fire of Rubies comes from Stravinsky and the jazz-age energy of New York. Grandeur and elegance complete the ballet in Diamonds, with the splendour of Imperial Russia and Tchaikovsky’s opulent Third Symphony.  Each section salutes a different era in classical ballet’s history as well as a distinct period in Balanchine’s own life. Through it all, Balanchine displays his genius for combining music with visionary choreography.  Jewels is a masterclass in the many luminous facets of classical ballet and indeed of The Royal Ballet itself, the intensity of the soloists and the precision of the entire Company.

Performances:  Tuesday 11th April 7.15pm, and Encore repeat showing Tuesday 18th April 12.00

Venue:  Phoenix Picturehouse, 57 Walton Street, Oxford OX2 6AE

Tickets:  Tuesday 11th screening Adult £22, Child £10, Student or Retired £17.50, Family x4 £64

Tuesday 18th screening Adult £17.50, Child £10, Student or Retired £15, Family x4 £55

Book online for Tuesday 11th screening here and Tuesday 18th screening here

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…)

A welcome opportunity to see The Royal Ballet perform Wayne McGregor‘s Woolf Works in live transmission from the Royal Opera House at Oxford’s Phoenix Picturehouse on Wednesday 8th February.

‘Life is not a series of gig-lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end… the proper stuff of fiction is a little other than custom would have us believe it.’ – Virginia Woolf, Modern Fiction

Wayne McGregor’s ballet triptych Woolf Works, inspired by the writings of Virginia Woolf, met with critical acclaim on its premiere in 2015, and went on to win McGregor the Critics’ Circle Award for Best Classical Choreography and the Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production. The Observer described it as ‘a compellingly moving experience’; for The Independent it ‘glows with ambition… a brave, thoughtful work’; The Guardian concluded that ‘it takes both McGregor – and the concept of the three-act ballet – to a brave and entirely exhilarating new place’.

Each of the three acts springs from one of Woolf’s landmark novels: Mrs Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves – but these inspirations are also enmeshed with elements from her letters, essays and diaries. Woolf Works expresses the heart of an artistic life driven to discover a freer, uniquely modern realism, and brings to life Woolf’s world of ‘granite and rainbow’, where human beings are at once both physical body and uncontained essence. Woolf Works was McGregor’s first full-length work for The Royal Ballet, and saw him reunited with regular collaborator Max Richter, who provides a commissioned score incorporating electronic and orchestral music.  This performance by the ballet’s original cast will feature the legendary and luminous Alessandra Ferri in the central role; and the transmission will be rescreened on Monday 13th February as part of the ROH Encore strand.

Date:  Wednesday 8th February, 7.15pm; Monday 13th February 12.oo midday

Venue:  Phoenix Picturehouse, 57 Walton St, Oxford OX2 6AE

Tickets:  £22 adult, £10 child, £17.50 student or retired, £64 family ticket 8th February; £17.50 adult, £10 child, £15 student or retired, £55 family ticket 13th February

Book online here

A traditional Christmas treat in live transmission at Oxford’s Phoenix Picturehouse.  The Royal Ballet‘s glorious production of The Nutcracker, created by Peter Wright in 1984, is the production par excellence of an all-time ballet favourite. It is Christmas Eve and Drosselmeyer the magician sweeps young Clara away on a fantasy adventure in which time is suspended, the family livingroom becomes a great battlefield, and a magical journey takes them through the Land of Snow to the Kingdom of Sweets.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker score was commissioned by the director of the Russian Imperial Theatres, following the resounding success of The Sleeping Beauty in 1890. Marius Petipa created the scenario, which is based on a fairytale by E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Lev Ivanov provided the choreography. The Nutcracker was first performed in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. It initially had a poor reception, but its combination of enchanting choreography and unforgettable music has since made it one of the most loved of all ballets.

In Peter Wright’s classic production for The Royal Ballet, the stage sparkles with theatrical magic – a Christmas tree grows before our eyes, toy soldiers come to life to fight the villainous Mouse King and Clara and the Nutcracker are whisked off to the Kingdom of Sweets on a golden sleigh. Tchaikovsky’s score contains some of ballet’s best-known melodies, from the flurrying Waltz of the Snowflakes to the dream-like Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy – all brilliantly set in Wright’s choreography. Julia Trevelyan Oman’s designs draw upon 19th-century images of Christmas, making this magical production perfect for the festive season.

Date:  Thursday 8th December 7.15pm

Venue:  Phoenix Picturehouse, 57 Walton St, Oxford OX2 6AE

Tickets:  Book online here or call 0871 902 5736

This transmission will be repeated on Monday 12th December at 12.00, book online here

The Royal Ballet presents a major revival of a work by Kenneth MacMillan in the run-up to the 25th anniversary of his death next year.  An identity in crisis, a country in revolution;  Anastasia is a ballet about one of the great historical mysteries of the 20th century, only recently solved. At the height of the Russian Revolution the royal family were executed, but afterwards a young woman appeared – apparently a surviving royal princess, the Grand Duchess Anastasia. Known as ‘Anna Anderson’, she couldn’t remember her past and she was presumed to be an imposter. Many wanted to forget the massacre and the Revolution; many believed, or hoped, that a princess could have survived, a remnant of the old world.  Originally a one-act ballet made for the Deutsche Oper Ballet in Berlin, one of Kenneth MacMillan’s first creations on becoming Director of The Royal Ballet in 1970 was to expand his expressionist Anastasia into a full evening work.  Anastasia is a dramatic and haunting exploration of Anna’s nightmare of memory and identity.  To music by Tchaikovsky and Martinů, we follow the events leading to the murder of a family, and Anna’s confused dreams – or memories. A powerful, psychological challenge for the principal ballerina, this is a rare opportunity to see a landmark ballet by a major choreographer, here at the Phoenix Picturehouse in live transmission from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Date:  Wednesday 2nd November 7.15pm

Venue:  Phoenix Picture House, 57 Walton St, Oxford OX2 6AE

Tickets:  £22 adults, £17.50 retired or student, £10 child (reduced rates for members and family ticket also available)

Book online here or by phone: 0871 902 5736

The Royal Ballet’s Artist in Residence Liam Scarlett has become known for ballets that marry highly expressive movement, sophisticated musical response and dark psychological depth – in such works for The Royal Ballet as Asphodel Meadows, Sweet Violets and The Age of Anxiety on the main stage, and Hansel and Gretel in the Linbury Studio Theatre. Now he creates his first full-length work for the main stage with Frankenstein, a period adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Gothic tale of morality and our craving for love, companionship and understanding.  Wednesday 18th May’s performance will be relayed live from the Royal Opera House to national and international cinemas, including Phoenix Picturehouse and Odeon Magdalen Street in Oxford.

For this new work Scarlett has assembled a number of regular collaborators. American composer Lowell Liebermann, whose First Piano Concerto provides the music for Scarlett’s Viscera, composes a new score.  John Macfarlane (Asphodel Meadows, Sweet Violets, The Age of Anxiety) creates the designs, while David Finn provides lighting design.  Dancers include Federico Bonelli, Laura Morera and Steven McRae.

Performance:  Wednesday 18th May 2016, 7.15pm

Phoenix Picturehouse, 57 Walton Street, Oxford OX2 6AE:   Tickets £8-£20  bookable online here

Odeon, Magdalen St, Oxford OX1 3AE:  Tickets £12.50-£15  bookable online here

Find out more about the production here