The dancers of English National Ballet are prepping their pointe shoes ready to thrill theatregoers with the timelessly romantic tragedy of Manon this season.
Legendary British choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Parisian period drama is a highlight of the ballet repertoire, yet it is rarely seen outside London. Indeed, English National Ballet is touring Manon for only the second time in thirty years this season and Milton Keynes Theatre is one of just three venues outside of London to be hosting the production. (The other two regional venues are Manchester Opera House and Mayflower Theatre, Southampton.)
The late MacMillan choreographed this steamy three-act ballet in 1974. He was inspired by French author Abbé Prévost’s controversial 1731 novel, L’historie du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut, which was considered so scandalous at the time of its publication that it was banned in France.
Today is World Ballet Day, the one day of the year that balletomanes and ballet newbies alike are urged to press pause on their everyday activities and watch ballet!
American writer and dance critic Edwin Denby (1903–1983) is attributed to the quote: “You don’t have to know about ballet to enjoy it, all you have to do is look at it” and I fully support this sentiment. Simply witnessing ballet dancers do what they do best is enough to inspire admiration for ballet’s athleticism, aesthetics, artistry and amazing history and culture.
♥ Happy World Ballet Day ♥
The latest neoclassical programme from New English Ballet Theatre is The Four Seasons / Remembrance, a stylish double bill that combines the abstract and the historical.
The vibrant young modern ballet company prides itself on creating refreshing new works for developing dancers, thereby furthering the art form and nurturing promising artists. Indeed, Artistic Director and CEO Karen Pilkington-Miksa has been recruiting a fresh batch of dancers each year since founding New English Ballet Theatre in 2011. These dancers receive a 12-month contract which affords them training and development opportunities with exciting creatives, as well as coveted time spent dancing on tour and in the West End.
While past offerings have thrown a spotlight on emerging choreographers, The Four Seasons / Remembrance features works from established dancemakers Jenna Lee and Wayne Eagling.
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.