New English Ballet Theatre is returning to The Peacock Theatre in London’s West End this week with a brand new double bill, The Four Seasons / Remembrance.
As a modern ballet company, New English Ballet Theatre makes a heroic effort to drive the art of classical ballet forward through continual reinvention. It proudly promotes the talents of the next generation of exceptional artists – not only showcasing fledgling dancers but also emerging choreographers, musicians, designers and visual artists – by giving them paid employment in a profession they love.
As a result, the critically acclaimed neoclassical troupe – which was founded by its visionary artistic director, Karen Pilkington-Miksa, in 2011 – is developing a reputation for being one of Britain’s most exciting young ballet companies.
This autumn’s double bill promises to be a visual and musical spectacle of passion, hope and remembrance.
War Horse is an extraordinary, emotionally exhausting piece of theatre that embodies both the essence of the equine and the futility of war.
The narrative boldly recounts the universal suffering that the First World War inflicted on men, women, children and the unsung heroes of the war effort – the horses. Ten million people died in the First World War, along with unknown millions of horses. In the carnage of the French battlefields, the 1914 – 1918 conflict proved to be a horrific experience on both sides of the frontline. Quite simply, there were no winners.
Former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo was inspired to write War Horse after seeing an old painting of a cavalry charge and realising that by describing the experience of the war through the eyes of a horse he could convey the plight of both British and German soldiers.
Noble steed Joey – who is half thoroughbred, half working farm horse – sees the best and worst of humanity throughout the deadly chaos of the First World War. His eventful life begins as a foal on a farm in Devon, where he is lovingly tamed and trained by his young master Albert Narracott.
Devastatingly, the pair are forcibly separated when war is declared as Joey is sold to the Army and shipped off to France. Here, he serves as a British officer’s charger and, after being captured, on the German side. Unable to bear being parted from his cherished companion, Albert lies about his age and enlists with the intention of bringing Joey home. After inspiring everyone he meets, Joey is found wandering and wounded in no man’s land where the story reaches its emotional climax.
For a romantic musical that will sweep you off your feet without forcing you to wallow in too much mushy sentiment theatregoers need look no further than An Officer and a Gentleman.
The classic 1982 film has been rebooted as a pacey jukebox musical that is simultaneously corny and gritty. Lifting audience members up with exuberant performances of more than twenty chart hits from the Eighties, the simple story follows the exploits of bad boy US naval officer trainee Zack Mayo and his “will they, won’t they” relationship with local factory girl Paula Pokrifki.
While the narrative is a little slow to really take off, this lightweight chick flick exploration of how ordinary people endeavour to escape deep-rooted inner demons and daily drudgery undoubtedly benefits from being paired with punchy period pop music. A score consisting of such a wide selection of half-decent tunes is surely guaranteed to have spectators of all ages tapping their feet in recognition and readily engaging with the characters’ experiences. It certainly worked for me and I am not familiar with the Oscar-winning movie at all!
Chick flick romcom Legally Blonde makes for a feel-good musical that is as sparkling as pink champagne.
The 2001 American film, based on the novel by Amanda Brown and starring Reese Witherspoon, sees protagonist Elle Woods prove that one can never be overdressed or overeducated.
Pretty, popular and passionate about pink, fashion marketing student Elle is devastated when her boyfriend Warner Huntington III breaks up with her, declaring that he needs a more serious sweetheart befitting of the future he has planned. Elle is determined to win him back, so she shuns sorority parties, starts swotting and successfully bags herself a place to study alongside Warner at the prestigious Harvard Law School. Accompanied by her cute chihuahua, Bruiser, Elle remains unabashedly herself in her new surroundings. Pink princess and legal eagle, she essentially ends up falling in love with her own untapped potential.
Today is International Dance Day, a day to celebrate the power and pleasure of dancing.
Happy International Dance Day!
For as long as I can remember, dancing has been my escape, my entertainment and my education. I was fortunate to be taken to ballet classes as a toddler and was always the child that didn’t want to go home after the final curtsy. Ballet, tap, modern, jazz, contemporary… I lived for the next dancing opportunity while I was growing up and probably felt most alive when I was in class or on stage.
I still feel more at home in a dance studio than anywhere else. Whether I am taking class, practising by myself, or teaching, everything else is forgotten once I am at the barre or flying around the space. In fact, teaching helps me delight in dancing even more as it is all about sharing ideas, experiences and enjoyment with others in the hope that they will love to dance too!
“… we must always remember to dance a little every day.”
– Ohad Naharin, Artistic Director of Batsheva Dance Company.