REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s production of ‘The Red Shoes’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, January 2020

 

Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes is an irresistible dance theatre production that radiates vintage glamour and vivacious grace.

Think of classic British ballet film The Red Shoes and delightfully dated images of ballerinas, and surreal displays of the agony of artistic expression, come to mind.

Whether you have watched Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1948 cinematic masterpiece or not, you have probably encountered the movie’s meditation on being an artist versus living a life. Or heard of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, in which a vain peasant girl disobediently slips on a pair of scarlet slippers that force her to dance until having her feet amputated and dying is a relief. Failing that, perhaps you are just aware that the film was one of the first to be shot in glorious Technicolor.

Whatever your level of familiarity, it’s likely you associate The Red Shoes with the magical lure of the theatre, the sacrifices that artists make, and the fine line between passion and obsession. And there is the dancing too, of course. A dance to the death once the heroine jumps into those blood-red shoes.

Celebrated choreographer Matthew Bourne might be known for his idiosyncratic re-imaginings of traditional ballets and stories, but his heartfelt interpretation of The Red Shoes is a gratifyingly faithful retelling.

 

The Red Shoes. Cordelia Braithwaite as Victoria Page and Liam Mower as Ivan Boleslawsky.

 

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NEWS: ‘The Red Shoes’ re-Bourne on stage as New Adventures returns – Milton Keynes Theatre, January 2020

 

Matthew Bourne’s exquisite double Olivier Award-winning adaptation of classic dance film The Red Shoes is returning to enchant audiences at Milton Keynes Theatre this month.

Following its world premiere in 2016, theatregoers in Milton Keynes were among the first to be dazzled by Matthew Bourne’s production of The Red Shoes when it toured in 2017.

Three years later, the first ever revival is another opportunity to see this popular choreographer’s contemporary dance theatre troupe, New Adventures, in one of his most inspired creations yet.

 

Matthew Bourne's production of The Red Shoes. Ashley Shaw as Victoria Page.

 

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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

 

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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.

 

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REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s ‘Swan Lake’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, January 2014

 

A flock of muscular, lyrical, completely masculine creatures took to the stage at Milton Keynes Theatre last night in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, a contemporary re-imagining of an iconic ballet.

Bourne’s Swan Lake is an original take on an age-old favourite. His cheeky re-write ruffled a few feathers among balletomanes when first performed in 1995 but has since collected over thirty international theatre awards and is now regarded as a modern classic.

Traditionally, the ballet is associated with tutu-clad female corps de ballet dancers gliding gracefully en pointe in carefully coordinated formations. Bourne replaces these bourréeing beauties with an ensemble of powerful, bare-chested, male dancers decked out in baggy, feathered, knee-length trousers and shuns the standard prince/princess pas de deux for a duet between two male performers.

 

The Company in Matthew Bourne's 'Swan Lake'

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