REVIEW: English National Ballet’s ‘Le Corsaire’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, November 2019

 

English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire is a treasure trove of colourful characters and virtuoso dancing. It’s the perfect antidote to the winter blues.

Based very loosely on an 1814 poem by Lord Byron, the narrative of this three-act ballet follows the escapades of a dashing pirate called Conrad and his enchantingly beautiful girlfriend Medora. When Medora is abducted by a slave trader, Conrad and his pirate crew set off on a valiant voyage to rescue her.

It’s an action-packed adventure with incredibly explosive dancing from the men. There are countless bravura leaps, spinning jumps and perpetual pirouettes. The entertainment factor is top-notch. Indeed, thanks to the pirate-themed plot and ballet tricks galore, high jinks on the high seas are guaranteed!

 

English National Ballet. Le Corsaire. Guest artist Brooklyn Mack.

 

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REVIEW: ‘Motown the Musical’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, July 2019

 

Dancing in your seat is unavoidable when watching Motown the Musical so prepare to be up on your feet bopping along by the end!

The performers in this exuberant jukebox musical are currently showcasing fancy footwork and versatile vocals in a two-week run at Milton Keynes Theatre. Their efforts result in an entertaining show that delivers a heartfelt tribute to Motown and everything that the revolutionary record label represented.

Detroit songwriter Berry Gordy Jr founded the Motown Records label – named after the car manufacturing city’s ‘Motor Town’ moniker – with just $800 in 1959. The former car factory worker was keen to be the best version of himself that he could be, while helping others to do the same. Accordingly, he resolved to invest in atypical musical arrangements sung by black artists and promote them to mainstream (white) audiences.

This ground-breaking gamble launched the careers of Diana Ross and the Supremes, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and countless other legendary performers.

As the defining sound of the 1960s and 1970s, Motown moved the world with hit after glorious hit. Considering this impressive inventory of timeless tunes, Motown the Musical could have easily been a sweet soul sleepover. However, the two-act show powers through a hit parade of songs with purpose and pizzazz so there is no need for audience or cast members to pull an all-nighter.

 

Motown the Musical. Motown the Musical. Three women in pink dresses, performing as Diana Ross and The Supremes in the theatre production, Motown the Musical. Photo by Tristram Kenton.

 

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REVIEW: ‘Fame the Musical’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, June 2019

 

Fame the Musical is lighting up the stage at Milton Keynes Theatre this week, delivering a high-energy burst of nostalgia for fans of the film and inspiring a brand new generation.

This revamped 30th anniversary production, directed and choreographed by Nick Winston, brings a fresh vibrancy to the original teen musical.

Long before Glee (2009 – 2015) and High School Musical (2006), Fame mixed an intoxicating cocktail of drama, music, singing and dancing to chronicle the lives of performing arts students mastering their craft in anticipation of a big break. The film was released in 1980 and swiftly became a sensation, generating a popular television show and a smash-hit stage musical.

Currently touring the UK, the latest rendering of Fame the Musical is entertaining audiences with dynamic dance and electrifying vocals. And THAT song; that triumphant theme tune you just can’t help but remember? Well, it doesn’t have its moment centre stage until the finale so I’m still humming it now!

 

Fame the Musical. 2018/2019 UK tour.

 

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REVIEW: English National Ballet’s ‘Cinderella’ in-the-round – Royal Albert Hall, June 2019

 

English National Ballet’s Cinderella in-the-round reimagines the rags-to-riches story as a stunning fairy tale for our times.

Inspired by the Brothers Grimm version of Cinderella, choreographer Christopher Wheeldon develops a quirky narrative centred around humanity and nature. In short, Cinderella’s compassion, creativity and courage – combined with a little mystical assistance from her dearly departed mother – help her make her own magic.

Wheeldon devised his imaginative interpretation in 2012, as a co-production between Dutch National Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. He has revisited it for English National Ballet, restaging it as Cinderella in-the-round at the Royal Albert Hall.

 

Cinderella in-the-round campaign photography of Emma Hawes and Francesco Gabriele Frola by Jason Bell.

 

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REVIEW: The Royal Ballet’s ‘Medusa’ mixed bill (‘Within the Golden Hour / Medusa / Flight Pattern’) – Live Cinema Season, May 2019

 

The Royal Ballet confidently dances distinctive works from three leading contemporary choreographers in the Medusa mixed bill: Within the Golden Hour / Medusa / Flight Pattern.

 

Medusa is a brand new narrative work from acclaimed Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Created on The Royal Ballet, with Natalia Osipova in the title role, it is his first commission for the Company.

Cherkaoui draws on his training in ballet, hip-hop, tap, jazz and flamenco to devise dance for an impressive range of performers. His eclectic style means he is in demand with major ballet companies and major pop stars alike. He is artistic director of Royal Ballet of Flanders; artistic director of his own contemporary dance company, Eastman; and an associate artist at Sadler’s Wells.

Within the Golden Hour, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, is an abstract ballet devised for San Francisco Ballet in 2008 and first performed by The Royal Ballet in 2006.

Wheeldon trained at The Royal Ballet School before joining The Royal Ballet in 1991. He later moved to New York City Ballet where he was promoted to soloist before becoming the Company’s first resident choreographer. Wheeldon, who was made an OBE in 2016, is now artistic associate of The Royal Ballet and regularly choreographs for leading international companies.

Flight Pattern was Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite’s first work for The Royal Ballet. When this large-scale ensemble piece exploring the plight of refugees premiered in 2017, it was the Company’s first new mainstage work by a woman in eighteen years.

Pite is a former member of Ballet British Columbia and William Forsythe’s Frankfurt Ballet. Her professional choreographic debut was in 1990, at Ballet British Columbia, and she has since created more than fifty works. Pite is the recipient of three Olivier awards, including one in 2017 for Flight Pattern.

 

Broadcasting performances such as the Medusa mixed bill in cinemas makes it possible for audiences outside London to experience exceptional dance. Long may the creation, and widespread consumption, of ballet continue – I love being able to pop to my local cinema to watch The Royal Ballet in action!

 

Medusa mixed bill

 

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