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 (4th February 1903 – 12th July 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 ♥
English National Ballet’s stunning new double bill Song of the Earth / La Sylphide embodies what I love most about dance: you can lose yourself in it and it makes you think.
The compelling Song of the Earth / La Sylphide programme is at Milton Keynes Theatre all week and ticketholders will not be disappointed. This is another unmissable offering from a company determined to ensure ballet evolves so it has relevance for audiences, today and in the future, while simultaneously paying tribute to its glorious history.
Juxtaposing Kenneth MacMillan’s breakthrough, avant-garde masterpiece, Song of the Earth, against the quintessential Romantic era ballet, La Sylphide, is an inspired expression of English National Ballet’s enduring mission. Seeing these two new additions to the company’s repertoire performed back-to-back affords us the opportunity to admire the scope of ballet as an art form and the versatility of the dancers.
English National Ballet’s artistic director and lead principal dancer Tamara Rojo talks to Georgina Butler about why the company’s new double bill has the potential to change your life…
Tamara Rojo is in no doubt that we need the arts in our lives – that is why she has devoted herself to the business of ballet dancing.
The Spanish ballerina danced with Scottish Ballet and English National Ballet early in her career, before moving to The Royal Ballet for twelve glittering years. Dedicated, ambitious and articulate, Tamara Rojo dreamt of not only dancing with a world-class company but also running one. This dream came true when she was appointed in the dual role of artistic director and lead principal dancer of English National Ballet in 2012. Upon starting the top management job, she initiated a rebranding process to sharpen the company’s identity as a distinctive troupe of incredibly versatile ballet dancers with something to say.
Five years later and the touring company, which endeavours to bring ballet of the highest quality to the widest possible audience, has found lots to say under Tamara’s leadership. It has developed collaborative relationships with exciting choreographers; confidently crossed into the realms of contemporary dance; staged new versions of old classics and made history as the first ever ballet company to perform on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.
English National Ballet returns to Milton Keynes Theatre with a brand new double bill from Tuesday – and Tamara will perform a lead principal role. Unsurprisingly, keeping on top of her duties as artistic director and the demands made on her as a dancer keep Tamara extremely busy.
Happily, she still managed to find time for a chat…
English National Ballet is to make a much-anticipated return to Milton Keynes Theatre with an exciting new double bill next week.
When the dancers tour to the venue for their annual autumn visit, they will perform Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s masterpiece Song of the Earth alongside Frank Andersen’s faithful recreation of La Sylphide. Both works are recent additions to English National Ballet’s repertoire so audiences in Milton Keynes will be among the very first dance lovers to see them performed by the company.