Posts Tagged ‘London’
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.
Invited to watch rehearsals, chat to members of the production team and learn some of the dancers’ latest choreography, Georgina Butler discovers the collaborative spirit behind New English Ballet Theatre…
I love ballet. Absolutely adore it. Given any choice – throwing a few drinks back at some trendy new bar or throwing a leg (front, side and back) at the ballet barre; “finding” myself at a festival or losing myself in a classical masterpiece – I go for the ballet option every time.
My devotion aside, I do sometimes fear for ballet’s future. There is always the very real possibility that classical ballet could become a museum art form. No balletomane wants to see the object of their affections stagnate (with little to offer beyond revivals of existing work) or, if we imagine the worst-case-scenario, become extinct. Although the world’s well-established leading companies have a starring role to play in shaping ballet’s future on the global stage, it is up to the emerging troupes of today to ensure it remains relevant to our lives. Ballet needs to keep evolving; inspire new ideas; attract new audiences.
New English Ballet Theatre is a vibrant modern ballet company determined to drive the art form forward in exactly this way! Founded in 2010 by Artistic Director Karen Pilkington-Miksa, the company is committed to the continual reinvention of classical ballet and aims to present exciting new works to the widest possible audience. The ambition does not stop there though. At the heart of New English Ballet Theatre’s mission is the desire to nurture the next generation of dancers, choreographers, musicians and designers. The company seeks out and hires talented graduates from a variety of disciplines on a seasonal basis, affording emerging artists the creative space and support to explore their full potential.
(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.
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.
Dancer Dominic North first appeared with Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures in 2004 as an ensemble swan in Swan Lake. Since making his official début in a principal role as Edward in Edward Sissorhands in 2008 at the Sydney Opera House, he has performed as many of Bourne’s lead characters. Currently touring with Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, Dominic found time for a quick chat with Georgina Butler to discuss how things have moved on since the “original” Princess Aurora dozed off…
Matthew Bourne is renowned for delving into stories in a bid to reveal characters’ motivations and unearth deeply buried narrative elements. His Sleeping Beauty is devised as a gothic romance full of fairies, supernatural surprises and, of course, true love. Bourne plays around with the time that the story is set so that Princess Aurora is born the year that the classical ballet first premièred and “comes of age” with a 21st birthday during the Edwardian era. This means that she is roused from her slumber in 2012 (which is when Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty was premièred).
He certainly gives the traditional tale enough ingenious twists and turns to keep a contemporary audience intrigued. Just for starters, Aurora falls for the royal gamekeeper; the couple enjoy a sweet romance before the princess visits the land of Nod and a vampiric twist heavily influences who is there to wake her up a century later! Nonetheless, Bourne’s careful attention to detail when coming up with his concept means that he manages to put his own spin on proceedings while simultaneously paying homage to the masterpiece that the classical ballet will forever be.
I am such a balletomane and The Sleeping Beauty may well be my favourite classical ballet (although, admittedly, the top-spot seems to change far too frequently to enable me to have a definitive favourite!). Still, prior to seeing Matthew Bourne’s version, I had never properly considered quite how momentous falling asleep for 100 years would actually be. Maybe it is just because we know the children’s yarn so well but his imaginative approach certainly adds an array of fascinating features that were missing from my bedtime stories!
What better way to learn more about Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty than by chatting to New Adventures‘ principal dancer Dominic North all about the role that has made him wake up and see this fairy tale differently…
A flurry of sparkling snowflakes, a cascade of blossoming flowers and a colourful hot air balloon drifting skywards – English National Ballet’s Nutcracker proved the perfect antidote to a woefully wet and windy Saturday!
Christmas seems merely a dim and distant memory now that the sparkly decorations have come down and January has well and truly arrived. However, inside the London Coliseum theatre the magic of the Yuletide season lingers this weekend as the venue hosts the final performances in this run of the festive – and fantastical – ballet.
Wayne Eagling’s exuberant Nutcracker premièred in 2010 and is the 10th version to have been incorporated into English National Ballet’s repertoire since the Company was established in 1950. Of all the 19th Century ballets, Nutcracker is the one which is most often staged and interpreted in strikingly different ways. English National Ballet’s current production includes some wonderful moments which are full of timeless Christmas cheer and plenty of divine dancing.
Dazzling London début for Queensland Ballet
Australia’s Queensland Ballet made its London début with a spirited performance of La Sylphide last night.
Dancers from Down Under captivated crowds of theatregoers at the London Coliseum with Peter Schaufuss’s Olivier and Evening Standard Award winning 1979 retelling of August Bournonville’s enduring masterpiece.
Fleet feet, buoyant jumps and charming characterisation kept balletomanes rapt all evening. Fresh from a sell-out season in Oz, Queensland Ballet’s interpretation of La Sylphide undoubtedly demonstrates why the troupe enjoys international acclaim and holds a permanent place as one of Australia’s premier dance companies.