REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s ‘Swan Lake’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, February 2019

 

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is back at Milton Keynes Theatre as a revived production that brings astonishing new energy and emotion to a legendary piece of dance theatre.

I delight in Matthew Bourne’s work because he interprets his chosen narratives with intelligence and affection. He scrutinises characters’ motives, questions the situations they find themselves in, and reimagines their stories through drama-led dance in ways that all theatregoers can relate to.

Bourne provoked an immediate reaction from stunned audiences – particularly classical ballet aficionados – with the premiere of his Swan Lake in 1995. Vexed traditionalists and dubious dance fans mourned the absence of female swans in tutus and pointe shoes. Yet, many found themselves simultaneously marvelling at the glistening naked torsos of the menacing male ensemble and moved by earthy, emotive choreography set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless score. Audiences were challenged to reconsider their beliefs about dance, and many young men were inspired to consider dance as a profession.

Twenty-four years later and the current revival, performed by Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures company, is winning standing ovations wowing the next generation of audiences and dancers.

 

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. New Adventures production poster image.

 

View Post

NEWS: Matthew Bourne’s ‘Swan Lake’ refreshed and on its way to wow new audiences – Milton Keynes Theatre, January 2019

 

Choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, danced by his New Adventures company, returns to Milton Keynes Theatre this month and the revival will have audiences flocking to the venue.

First performed in 1995, Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is an unconventional take on the beloved nineteenth century classical ballet. Although still set to Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score, this interpretation replaces the customary corps of swan maidens with a posse of feral, bare-chested male birds and adds a homoerotic twist to the traditional tale of love, freedom and identity.

These bold choices ruffled plenty of feathers when audiences first encountered the production.

 

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

 

View Post

REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s production of ‘The Red Shoes’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, February 2017

 

Matthew Bourne’s incredible dance production of classic ballet film The Red Shoes is the perfect fit for his New Adventures troupe.

 

Every female dancer knows the right pair of pointe shoes can change your life but the crimson slippers at the heart of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s seminal 1948 motion picture The Red Shoes take this sentiment to the extreme. Those red shoes are symbolic of a devoted young ballerina’s turmoil as she is forced to choose between the career she lives for and the man she loves.

The Academy Award-winning film is the quintessential backstage melodrama. Cinema and dance collide in the most spectacular style to depict an absorbing tale of obsession, ambition and jealousy. The characters are distinctive and dedicated to their art. The screen is ablaze in every scene with their desire to dance, make music and move audiences; as well as their passion for living and loving. The extraordinary extended ballet sequence blurs the line between reality and surreal fantasy…

I love the film. And I love that Bourne’s stage version is clearly his way of showing how much he loves it too.

 

Ashley Shaw as Victoria Page in Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes. Photo by Johan Persson.

 

View Post

NEWS: Matthew Bourne’s production of ‘The Red Shoes’ is on its way – Milton Keynes Theatre, February 2017

 

Blockbuster choreographer Matthew Bourne’s production of The Red Shoes will enthral audiences at Milton Keynes Theatre next week.

 

Matthew Bourne’s production of The Red Shoes is a contemporary ballet version of the classic dance film. The quintessential backstage melodrama tells an intoxicating story of obsession and possession, chronicling the tragedy of a ballerina whose intense desire to dance conflicts with her need for love.

Following a sold-out Christmas run at Sadler’s Wells, Bourne’s New Adventures company is bringing all the glamour of the 1948 British film to audiences beyond the capital on an extensive UK tour. Predictably, tickets have been selling exceptionally fast and extra dates for Bourne’s production of The Red Shoes have already been added.

Celebrated film-making duo Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger combined glorious Technicolor wizardry with emotive and dramatic performances to create their seminal motion picture. An all-consuming love for the arts generally – and dance especially – is at the heart of The Red Shoes. Significantly, Powell and Pressburger devoted plenty of screen time to dancers, ensuring their cinematic ode to the agony and ecstasy of dancing is largely told through the medium of dance itself. No wonder Bourne decided the film was the ideal source material for his latest production.

 

matthew-bournes-production-of-the-red-shoes

View Post

REVIEW: English National Ballet in Akram Khan’s ‘Giselle’ – Sadler’s Wells, November 2016

 

Incredible dancing. Intense storytelling. Totally immersive. English National Ballet’s new Giselle by Akram Khan is an epic dance experience. Everything about Akram Khan’s Giselle is so inspired that, after joining an elated audience in a lengthy standing ovation, I left Sadler’s Wells utterly convinced that no words will ever do this masterpiece justice.

The company, under the direction of Tamara Rojo, is intent on evolving the art of ballet. While still honouring the classical tradition (the dancers begin their Nutcracker season at Milton Keynes Theatre next week), English National Ballet is adding amazing diversity to its repertoire with fresh new works. Following the resounding success of Dust, his piece for the Lest We Forget programme, anticipation has been sky-high for Akram Khan’s Giselle.

In short, Akram Khan’s Giselle is a triumphant re-imagining of the 1841 Romantic Era ballet. All the essential themes – love, betrayal, revenge, the opposing realms of life and death – remain but Khan’s vision teases out the dark undertones that have always been there. Dragged to the surface, these elements are expressed with visceral urgency, arresting intent and harrowing sensibility.

*

Akram Khan's Giselle publicity image of English National Ballet's artistic director and lead principal dancer Tamara Rojo.

View Post