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 English National Ballet dancers Emma Hawes and Francesco Gabriele Frola by Jason Bell.

 

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REVIEW: The Royal Ballet’s ‘Medusa’ mixed bill – Cinemas worldwide, 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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REVIEW: ‘An American In Paris’ – Dominion Theatre, London, December 2017

 

Dazzling dance musical An American In Paris is a breathtakingly beautiful show.

The acclaimed stage adaptation of the classic 1951 Hollywood film, which starred Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, is directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. Widely admired on both sides of the Atlantic, thanks to his work with The Royal Ballet and New York City Ballet, Wheeldon is a seasoned master who skilfully uses the power of dance to drive the whole musical.

An American In Paris features an impressive array of dance styles and really seems to be the epitome of the maxim “why walk when you can dance?”. Everything moves with a spring in its step – from the radiant lead performers to the stunning sets – and there is a remarkable fluidity as the cast dance their way through the sensuous tale of art, friendship and love.

This lavish production certainly made me fall in love with dance all over again, and I thought I was already as besotted as it is possible to be!

 

An American In Paris at the Dominion Theatre, London.

 

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