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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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

Male choreographers seem currently to be looking to Virginia Woolf for story lines; later this year Wayne McGregor will be presenting his full length Woolf Works for the Royal Ballet, but right now at a much smaller scale Lost Dog is touring Like Rabbits, a collaboration between choreographer Ben Duke and playwright Lucy Kirkwood based on Woolf’s delicate and dark short story Lappin and Lapinova. This fifty minute two hander performed by Duke and Ino Riga updates Woolf’s story of a relationship in which the fanciful playing out of the roles of King Rabbit and his queen by a newlywed couple gradually give way to a darker reality in their marriage. (more…)

A forthcoming chance at The North Wall to see an award winning dance theatre company for the first time in Oxford.   Artistic Director of Lost Dog Ben Duke collaborates with multi-award winning playwright Lucy Kirkwood on a new work Like Rabbits inspired by Virginia Woolf’s short story Lappin and Lapinova.  In this quietly devastating new work for two performers, a man and a woman meet and have sex and fall deeply in love. Each night the lovers slip away from their real lives into a world that exists only in their shared imagination: a world that belongs to them, in which tax returns and shopping lists and commuting do not exist; a world in which they are not their normal selves, but King of the Rabbits and Queen of the Hares. But what begins as a game soon becomes a battleground, and the couple hurtle towards a tragedy of the saddest, and most ordinary kind. (more…)