FEATURE: I Can Do Anything If I’m Wearing A Tutu! – World Tutu Day, 2nd February 2018

 

Georgina Butler. Journalist. Dance Writer. Dance Teacher. Ballet. Tutu. Splits.

 

Sometimes, you just need to put on your tutu and twirl.

But what do you really know about the Ballet Tutu?

 

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REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, January 2016

 

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, Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty 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, the 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.

 

Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty. Ashley Shaw as Aurora. Photo by Johan Persson.

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INTERVIEW with Dominic North, New Adventures, January 2016

 

Dancer Dominic North is currently touring with New Adventures, performing in Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty. He found time for a quick chat with Georgina Butler to discuss how things have moved on since the “original” Princess Aurora dozed off…

 

Dancer Dominic North first appeared with Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures in 2004 as an ensemble swan in Swan Lake. Since making his official début in a principal role as Edward in Edward Sissorhands in 2008 at the Sydney Opera House, he has performed as many of Bourne’s lead characters.

Matthew Bourne is renowned for delving into stories in a bid to reveal characters’ motivations and unearth deeply buried narrative elements. His Sleeping Beauty is devised as a gothic romance full of fairies, supernatural surprises and, of course, true love. Bourne plays around with the time that the story is set so that Princess Aurora is born the year that the classical ballet first premièred and “comes of age” with a 21st birthday during the Edwardian era. This means that she is roused from her slumber in 2012 (which is when Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty was premièred).

He certainly gives the traditional tale enough ingenious twists and turns to keep a contemporary audience intrigued. Just for starters, Aurora falls for the royal gamekeeper; the couple enjoy a sweet romance before the princess visits the land of Nod and a vampiric twist heavily influences who is there to wake her up a century later! Nonetheless, Bourne’s careful attention to detail when coming up with his concept means that he manages to put his own spin on proceedings while simultaneously paying homage to the masterpiece that the classical ballet will forever be.

I am such a balletomane and The Sleeping Beauty may well be my favourite classical ballet (although, admittedly, the top-spot seems to change far too frequently to enable me to have a definitive favourite!). Still, prior to seeing Matthew Bourne’s version, I had never properly considered quite how momentous falling asleep for 100 years would actually be. Maybe it is just because we know the children’s yarn so well but his imaginative approach certainly adds an array of fascinating features that were missing from my bedtime stories!

What better way to learn more about Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty than by chatting to New Adventures‘ principal dancer Dominic North all about the role that has made him wake up and see this fairy tale differently…

 

Dominic North. Photo by Mikah Smillie.

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FEATURE: Rare ballet shoes are a “pointe” of interest as auction house prepares for bids – June 2015

 

Forget the glass slippers, ballet princesses wear pointe shoes… 

 

Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world. This is a particularly appropriate statement to attribute to ballerinas and their ballet shoes. After all, dancers know that finding their perfect pair of pointe shoes is so much more important than shopping for killer heels!

Ballet technique is all about creating an impression of weightlessness and ease so, although the seemingly effortless grace audiences witness really does glide on blistered feet, a well-fitting pair of pointe shoes can make all the difference to a dancer’s performance. They are also a source of endless fascination for both dance devotees and the general public.

The battered pointe shoes of three of Britain’s most famous ballerinas are to be auctioned off this month. Moira Shearer, Dame Margot Fonteyn and Mary Honer were idols who inspired generations of dancers to train and perform. Their legacy is still alive among ballet students today, which makes the discovery of this collection all the more exciting.

 

 

Ballet Shoes. Margot Fonteyn's pointe shoes (on the left) are among those up for auction. View Post

NEWS: So, that was Christmas – December 2013

 

Lots of dance on television makes for a cracker of a Christmas

 

Christmas makes its presence felt as soon as the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing waltzes onto our television screens. When the sequin-covered participants take their first tentative steps onto the dance floor, I just know that the final quarter of the year will whizz by and, shortly, the winner will be lifting the coveted glitterball trophy, before the nation frantically finishes decking the halls.

Pantomime season means flocks of families visit the theatre for some festive cheer, while traditional productions of The Nutcracker (on stage and on screen) attract balletomanes and newcomers alike.

But, once cosseted in our homes for the celebratory period (whether just for the big day itself, or for an extended break), it is more often than not the television that we rely on for entertainment. Dance fans were spoilt for choice with plenty of telly treats this Christmas. If this time of year is all about indulging in what you enjoy, I certainly fulfilled the brief when it came to setting time aside to view some gorgeous productions.

 

Alina Somova in the quintessential Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker (photo by Valentin Baranovsky, sourced from http://www.specticast.com/event_generic.jsp?xml=/xml/event/Nutcracker.xml)

Alina Somova in The Mariinsky Ballet’s 2011 production of The Nutcracker (photo by Valentin Baranovsky, sourced from SpectiCast.com)

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