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 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.

 

THE RED SHOES by Bourne, , Choreographer and Director - Mathew Bourne, Designer - Lez Brotherstoni, Lighting - Paule Constable, Plymouth, 2016, Credit: Johan Persson/

 

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Once upon a time, Matthew Bourne created a vamped-up adaptation of Sleeping Beauty for his innovative company, New Adventures, devised to wake audiences up to the charms of contemporary dance theatre. Premiered in 2012, the production proved to be a gothic fairy tale that dance aficionados and newcomers alike could really get their teeth into. This week, having been roused from its slumber for a second nationwide tour, this enthralling interpretation of a much-loved classic is once again casting its spell over visitors to Milton Keynes Theatre.

As a choreographer, Matthew Bourne has always been one who dares to dream. This is, after all, the dazzlingly deviant dance-maker who gave us a deliciously different, Dickensian orphanage-set Nutcracker; not to mention a Swan Lake featuring a menacing male ensemble which initially ruffled a few feathers among ballet purists. It was certainly no mean feat to overhaul these iconic ballets in a totally new movement style!

Bourne’s re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty (which is perhaps the ultimate classical ballet thanks to its glorious score, tutu-clad fairies and abundance of virtuoso dancing) came about as a way of celebrating New Adventures’ 25th birthday. Its inclusion in the company’s repertoire made Bourne’s dream of completing Tchaikovsky’s trilogy of ballet masterworks – in his own inimitable manner – a reality.

 

SLEEPING BEAUTY

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

Matthew 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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