Escape to an exotic realm of pirates, romance and jealousy when English National Ballet revives its spectacular production of Le Corsaire this month.
Six years after the glittering world premiere at Milton Keynes Theatre, English National Ballet’s extravagant staging of Le Corsaire is returning to charm dance fans of all ages.
The lavish Russian ballet, which is loosely based on the 1814 poem The Corsair (The Pirate) by Lord Byron, had never been danced in its entirety in the United Kingdom until English National Ballet’s premiere.
Boasting gutsy dancing and amorous adventures on the high seas, Le Corsaire was rapturously received on its first outing and subsequent tour. More recently, it set sail to delight audiences with glorious performances in Japan, Paris and Spain. This pirate drama has universal appeal!
Le Corsaire is a swashbuckling fantasy tale of captive maidens and cutthroats. The story follows the escapades of a dashing pirate, Conrad, who embarks on a dangerous voyage to save a beautiful Greek girl, Medora, when she is abducted by a slave trader.
The blockbuster ballet provides the chance to see some of the most bravura male dancing in the repertoire, and a heroine who is more feisty freedom fighter than demure damsel in distress. It also features some passionate pas de deux passages and mesmerising dream sequences.
Restaged especially for English National Ballet by former ballerina turned Le Corsaire curator Anna-Marie Holmes, the production has gorgeous costumes and cinematic sets by Hollywood film designer Bob Ringwood. His designs transport us from a bustling Turkish bazaar to a hidden cave, a sumptuous palace and, finally, to the stormy sea for a stunning shipwreck.
The story unfolds over three acts, accompanied by a sweeping score played live by English National Ballet Philharmonic.
Returning for performances at Milton Keynes Theatre before a run at the London Coliseum in January 2020, Le Corsaire will undoubtedly provide English National Ballet with another opportunity to showcase the talent throughout its ranks.
Artistic director Tamara Rojo said: “There is a physical power and brilliant dramatic presence in this generation of dancers. I am looking forward to seeing them take on these roles, which I think they will relish and have such fun with – and I think audiences will too.”
English National Ballet dances Le Corsaire at Milton Keynes Theatre from Wednesday 20 to Saturday 23 November 2019.
I wrote a preview of English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire for Total MK.
Update 21 November 2019: Read my review of English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire, November 2019.
Georgina Butler is an editor, a dance writer and a ballet teacher.