REVIEW: Northern Ballet’s ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ – Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, June 2017


Northern Ballet’s dancers are in fine form this year. Following the success of the world première tour of Casanova, they are currently on the road with The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – a new full-length narrative ballet based on John Boyne’s 2006 Holocaust novel.

The Irish writer’s international bestseller tells the heart-wrenching tale of a friendship between two nine-year-old boys living a strange parallel existence during the Second World War. Bruno is a German boy; the son of a Nazi officer promoted to the position of Commandant at a fictionalised Auschwitz concentration camp. Cossetted by his family, Bruno is oblivious to the appalling cruelties being inflicted on the people of Europe by his country. All he knows is that he has been relocated from his familiar home in Berlin to a lonely house in the middle of nowhere in Poland. Here, there is nothing to do and no one to play with. At least, there isn’t until Bruno befriends Shmuel, a Jewish boy imprisoned at Auschwitz, through the barbed wire fence of the camp. As Bruno and Shmuel’s unlikely friendship flourishes, the full implications of Bruno’s father’s job as Commandant are exposed. Familial discord inevitably ensues before the harrowing conclusion reveals how, through misadventure, Bruno ends up dying with Shmuel in the gas chamber.

Although the premise of Boyne’s story is emotive and engaging, both the book and the subsequent 2008 film by Mark Herman received mixed reviews. This is due to the implausibility that any concentration camp prisoner could ever have engaged in a friendship with an outsider. Furthermore, the reality is that children below working age were typically murdered immediately upon their arrival at Auschwitz. Nonetheless, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is an affecting account of wartime turmoil as seen through a child’s eyes. Significantly, Northern Ballet’s production, devised and choreographed by Artistic Associate Daniel de Andrade, stays true to the book, confidently using dance to capture the drama of forbidden friendship and family conflict.


Dancers Kevin Poeung as Bruno and Filippo Di Vilio as Shmuel in Northern Ballet's The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Photo by Guy Farrow.


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INTERVIEW with Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace, September 2015


Dance duo Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace have thrilled audiences with sizzling Tango routines on Strictly Come Dancing, been crowned World Argentine Tango Champions, and created and starred in their own Olivier Award nominated West End productions.

Georgina Butler had a sneaky peek at rehearsals for their third, and final, theatre show The Last Tango before quizzing the passionate pair about their dancing destinies.


It takes two to Tango but Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace are hoping that the number three will prove to be lucky for them this year. After enjoying sensational success with their previous two sell-out shows Midnight Tango and Dance ‘Til Dawn, the Italian dancers are looking forward to completing a trilogy with their most engaging production yet.

On Thursday 17th September, they will begin a 32-week farewell tour of the brand new show, aptly named The Last Tango. Vincent and Flavia are bidding a fond farewell to the world of theatre by giving fans in cities nationwide their last ever chance to see the well-loved partnership perform live in a full-length work. Audiences should expect captivating choreography accompanied by superb singing and marvellous musicians as Vincent and Flavia will be joined by a strong supporting cast of talented performers.

Rehearsals were coming along very nicely indeed when I was invited to preview some routines earlier this month.

Read on to discover what the stars themselves had to say about dancing, The Last Tango and the future.


The Last Tango rehearsal 3


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