georginabutler

My work as a writer and dance/theatre reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘Contemporary Dance

REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s production of ‘The Red Shoes’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, February 2017

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Matthew Bourne’s incredible dance production of classic ballet film The Red Shoes is the perfect fit for his New Adventures troupe.

Every female dancer knows the right pair of pointe shoes can change your life but the crimson slippers at the heart of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s seminal 1948 motion picture take this sentiment to the extreme. Those red shoes are symbolic of a devoted young ballerina’s turmoil as she is forced to choose between the career she lives for and the man she loves.

The Academy Award-winning film is the quintessential backstage melodrama. Cinema and dance collide in the most spectacular style to depict an absorbing tale of obsession, ambition and jealousy. The characters are distinctive and dedicated to their art. The screen is ablaze in every scene with their desire to dance, make music and move audiences; as well as their passion for living and loving. The extraordinary extended ballet sequence blurs the line between reality and surreal fantasy…

I love the film. And I love that Bourne’s stage version is clearly his way of showing how much he loves it too.

 

THE RED SHOES by Bourne, , Choreographer and Director - Mathew Bourne, Designer - Lez Brotherstoni, Lighting - Paule Constable, Plymouth, 2016, Credit: Johan Persson/

 

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NEWS: Matthew Bourne’s production of ‘The Red Shoes’ is on its way to Milton Keynes Theatre – February 2017

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Blockbuster choreographer Matthew Bourne’s contemporary ballet version of classic dance film The Red Shoes will enthral audiences at Milton Keynes Theatre next week.

The quintessential backstage melodrama tells an intoxicating story of obsession and possession, chronicling the tragedy of a ballerina whose intense desire to dance conflicts with her need for love.

Following a sold-out Christmas run at Sadler’s Wells, Bourne’s New Adventures company is bringing all the glamour of the 1948 British film to audiences beyond the capital on an extensive UK tour. Predictably, tickets have been selling exceptionally fast and extra dates have already been added.

Celebrated film-making duo Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger combined glorious Technicolor wizardry with emotive and dramatic performances to create their seminal motion picture. An all-consuming love for the arts generally – and dance especially – is at the heart of The Red Shoes. Significantly, Powell and Pressburger devoted plenty of screen time to dancers, ensuring their cinematic ode to the agony and ecstasy of dancing is largely told through the medium of dance itself. No wonder Bourne decided the film was the ideal source material for his latest production.

 

matthew-bournes-production-of-the-red-shoes

 

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REVIEW: English National Ballet in Akram Khan’s ‘Giselle’ – Sadler’s Wells, November 2016

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Incredible dancing. Intense storytelling. Totally immersive. English National Ballet’s new Giselle by Akram Khan is an epic dance experience. Everything about the production is so inspired that, after joining an elated audience in a lengthy standing ovation, I left Sadler’s Wells utterly convinced that no words will ever do this masterpiece justice.

The company, under the direction of Tamara Rojo, is intent on evolving the art of ballet. While still honouring the classical tradition (the dancers begin their Nutcracker season at Milton Keynes Theatre next week), English National Ballet is adding amazing diversity to its repertoire with fresh new works. Following the resounding success of Khan’s Dust for the Lest We Forget programme, anticipation has been sky-high for his Giselle.

In short, it is a triumphant re-imagining of the 1841 Romantic Era ballet. All the essential themes – love, betrayal, revenge, the opposing realms of life and death – remain but Khan’s vision teases out the dark undertones that have always been there. Dragged to the surface, these elements are expressed with visceral urgency, arresting intent and harrowing sensibility.

*

akram-khans-giselle-for-english-national-ballet-dancer-tamara-rojo

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REVIEW: Company Wayne McGregor’s ‘Entity’ – Laban Theatre, London, October 2016

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Entity:

(noun) A thing with distinct and independent existence;

(mass noun) Existence, being.

 

Wayne McGregor‘s whole body of choreographic work could arguably be conceived of as an entity – a living catalogue of thrilling movement possibilities realised thanks to the multi award-winning dance-maker’s enduring fascination with art and science.

Entity epitomises McGregor’s experimental metascience: it is a creation examining how we create. First performed in 2008 by Wayne McGregor’s Random Dance (now Company Wayne McGregor), the piece engages nine performers in a danced investigation of movement exploring the intersection of creativity and cognitive neuroscience.

Bodies, lights, technology and film collide in this riveting voyage of discovery through a sensational soundscape created by Coldplay and Massive Attack collaborator Jon Hopkins and composer Joby Talbot. Quite simply, Entity is awesome experienced live.

 

 

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NEWS: ‘Keep Dancing’ sashays into Milton Keynes, September 2016

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Keep Dancing takes to the stage at Milton Keynes Theatre tomorrow and this extravaganza of a production promises to deliver an unmissable array of dazzling routines.

Strictly fever is already gripping the nation. The popular BBC reality television programme’s producers drip-fed us with news about the celebrity line-up for Strictly Come Dancing 2016 on social media throughout the summer and Saturday night’s launch show saw each of the contestants get paired with their professional dancer. The couples are now hard at work in rehearsals fine-tuning their debut dances – which means we have a few weeks to wait before the competition begins.

Fortunately, fans in the new city need not wait any longer to enjoy some glitz, glamour and good old fancy footwork as some of our favourite former SCD professionals and celebrities will be showcasing their best moves in Keep Dancing.

 

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REVIEW: Shanghai Ballet : ‘Echoes of Eternity’ – London Coliseum, August 2016

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Ornate arm gestures, opulent costumes and overwhelming intensity combine in Shanghai Ballet‘s contemporary ballet Echoes of Eternity. Currently engulfing audiences at the London Coliseum in the powerful mysticism of the Orient, this production is part of the venue’s Shanghai Season and was devised thanks to a collaboration between Shanghai Grand Theatre and Shanghai Ballet.

Inspired by an ancient Chinese poem called ‘The Song of Everlasting Regret’, Echoes of Eternity is choreographed by Patrick de Bana (whose previous creation for Shanghai Ballet, Jane Eyre, was performed by the Company for their UK debut in 2013). His approach in Echoes of Eternity is predominantly derived from contemporary dance technique, with evocative Eastern embellishment. Indeed, the physical depiction of the work’s dynamic mix of drama and history could not be more removed stylistically from the classical ballets that often grace the Coliseum’s stage. There are no pointe shoes, the dancers’ feet flex, their torsos twist and hunch and many of the shapes and lines they make are distorted and contracted for emotional impact.

Still, despite its decidedly contemporary feel, this romanticised interpretation of a traditional 8th century story ably demonstrates how one of China’s most popular legends has all the narrative components you would find in the most enduring of classical ballets. We see the characters onstage dance with fervour during a long and shadowy journey. Along the way, they encounter eternal love, conflict, community, the supernatural, heartbreak, sacrifice, loss and longing – all those very human emotions and experiences that story-based ballets draw upon.

 

Shanghai Ballet in 'Echoes of Eternity' -

 

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Written by Georgina Butler

August 18, 2016 at 10:19 am

REVIEW: Northern Ballet’s ‘1984’ – BBC Four, February 2016

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Northern Ballet is renowned for taking inspiration from literature, classical dance, theatre, opera and popular culture to develop new and original productions. The latest masterwork to be put under observation and reimagined through dance by the Company is the cult classic political philosophy novel 1984. George Orwell’s dystopian drama follows the moves of one Winston Smith. Winston lives in a world of absolute conformity where his every action is scrutinised by Big Brother, a sinister surveillance squad. However, when Winston crosses paths with a woman named Julia he dares to rebel by falling in love…

The significance of the surveillance state in our society demonstrates the enduring relevance of Orwell’s perceptive predictions. We may not have gone as far as branding independent thinking as “thoughtcrime” but the persecution of individualism is something that threatens us all as homogeneity and fear of difference reign.

In 1984, darkness always looms and lives are joyless. However, transfixed by a special small-screen showing of choreographer Jonathan Watkin’s interpretation for Northern Ballet on BBC Four last night, I could find nothing but joy in the power of dance to tell this tale of tyranny.

 

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Written by Georgina Butler

February 29, 2016 at 12:35 pm