Darius James and Amy Doughty’s Cinderella for Ballet Cymru is enthralling. As the lights go down, an invisible narrator speaks an introduction in Welsh, adding an extra layer of magic and mystery to the fairy tale, before the company tells the story with wonderful clarity entirely through dance.

Every aspect of this production knits together in an artistic whole: Jack White’s musical score fits the choreographic action like a glove; Citrus Arts’ aerial effects have dancers as birds, descending from the flies on silken skeins of cloth, and the ingenious use of projection replaces the need for sets and scenery that would clutter the stage. The quality of the dancing was excellent throughout. (more…)

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The 18 years since the first performance of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake have seen changes to the social and legal environment for homosexual relationships.  There is still plenty of prejudice among some people, but the open portrayal of a same sex relationship on stage lacks the power to shock the sort of audience that goes to Sadler’s Wells today.  All the more credit then to Matthew Bourne, for a creation that still stands as a strong dramatic dance work, and which tells a story on two levels; the narrative and the psychological. (more…)

It was exciting to see a programme on Saturday that included Richard Alston’s Lachrymae and Illuminations in Benjamin Britten’s centenary year.  The company opened with The Devil in the Detail, to Scott Joplin’s music (piano accompaniment by Faith Leadbetter, the only “live” music in the programme).  Kenneth Macmillan’s Elite Syncopations is a hard act to follow, but Nancy Nerantzi led this gentler dance work with charm and grace, bringing out the delightful sense of fun in the choreography, which ripples through the music like a stream of water.  The only problem is the score, which although pleasure to listen to, doesn’t seem to go anywhere (and so neither can the dance). (more…)

With spring finally around the corner, Oxford’s very own flamenco diva Amarita Vargas sends word of three forthcoming events to get your feet tapping during March at High Wycombe, Bracknell and in Oxford, beginning with flamenco and tapas at the Wycombe Swan this Friday 15th March, and with tangos thrown in for good measure… enjoy! (more…)

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty is magnificently theatrical. The choreography, set, costumes, special effects and subversive humour bring a hint of macabre pantomime, and transform the ballet with a gothic twist.

I find it hard to tell whether or not I am reading too much into Bourne’s work. Is the fact that the infant Aurora is entertainingly represented in Act One by a marionette a way of showing that the baby girl is expected to be her parents’ puppet, or is it merely a bit of fun? To what extent are the choreographic references to Petipa’s work in the Fairies’ solos a joke, a send-up, a tribute, a witty criticism or just a starting point? (more…)