These two performances of Sylvia, Ashton’s flawed but lovely ballet, felt like Christmas presents in beautifully presented parcels, each containing completely different interpretations of the leading roles. I saw Lauren Cuthbertson and Reece Clarke as Sylvia and Aminta on 2 December, followed by Natalia Osipova and Vadim Muntagirov on December 16. (more…)

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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 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

A welcome opportunity to see The Royal Ballet in a ballet which has established itself as one of the great 20th century narrative works.  The Phoenix Picturehouse will be showing a live transmission of  Kenneth MacMillan‘s Manon from the Royal Opera House on Thursday 16th October.

Manon Lescaut is a beautiful young woman who falls prey to the moral corruption of 18th century Paris.  Set to music by Jules Massenet, MacMillan’s ballet brings Manon’s story vividly to life, evoking the brutality and decadence described in the Abbé Prévost’s infamous novel, as well as the feckless character of Manon herself – torn between love for the poet Des Grieux and her desire for money and attention. The cast of complex characters includes the callous Monsieur GM, the swaggering Jailer, Manon’s roguish brother Lescaut and his coquettish Mistress; but at the ballet’s heart are the duets MacMillan created for Manon and Des Grieux, which are among the most emotionally intense and erotically charged ever choreographed. (more…)