Posts Tagged ‘clement crisp’

Review – Matthew Bourne’s 2010 “Cinderella” – Sadler’s Wells Theatre

December 9, 2010

Last night I went to see Matthew Bourne’s radical updating of Cinderella at Sadler’s Wells. The conceit of the whole show is that it is London during the Blitz; Cinderella (Kerry Biggin, I think, rather than Mikah Smillie) is the forgotten child of a family of six, with two stepsisters and three stepbrothers, including one I would call “grabby” as he constantly making a move toward Cinders (a problem NOT in any version of this story I’d seen before!). Rather than a ball, the family is heading out to the Cafe de Paris nightclub; rather than a prince and a castle, we have an airman (Sam Archer, I believe) and the promise of a life rather more mundane than fairytale (but happy nonetheless).

Still, Bourne fixes clearly on the important emotional elements are: the feeling of being excluded; the desire to be wanted; a chance to experience the admiration of others after a lifetime in the shadows; the attempt to fix a “near miss” at love. A dance and shoes seem to be required for flavor, but a fancy coach is gone. The father element has become more tragic with his transformation into a man confined to a wheelchair. Overall, the magical elements have been pulled away and a painful, yet believable, story is left behind. Panto drag stepsisters gone? I say hurray; this kind of comedy is a distraction to the story.

The ballet is in three acts. It starts slowly with the character-setting first act. Our evil stepsisters are glamorous 40s debutantes; the very wicked stepmother (Michela Meazza, looking like she does in every Bourne show) is an alcoholic Joan Crawford type who really seems to be seconds away from pulling out a wire hanger; the brothers are in term lewd, louche, and mommy-fixated. There is a burst of energy as invites to a dance arrive; but it’s actually far more exciting when an injured airman shows up seeking shelter. This isn’t a part of the story we expect, and it adds a real edge: where did he come from? When is he going to appear again? Since when does the stepmother go for Cinderella’s love interest? The dancing itself in this act is forgettable, aside from the bit when Cinderella tries to dance with her paraplegic father and her dance with the mannequin/Prince substitute. It’s a relief when the fairy shows up and spirits her out of her house and into the rubble-strewn streets of London; I found we spent far too much time in her stifling house and were not nearly entertained enough while we were there.

Act two is the voyage to and arrival at the ball. Some of the best lighting design comes as Cinderella and the Airman find and lose each other in the darkened streets of Blitz London; street patrols illuminate and block them as they rush back and forth trying to find each other. They finally wind up together at the Café de Paris, which the program notes is “Cinderella’s dream and nightmare:” look up the history of this place (it’s in the notes) if you need to know why. I found all of my ability to enjoy the spectacle of dancing overwhelmed by the heavy weight of impending death as I waited for the bomb to strike the restaurant. It changes the whole feeling of this scene from anything it was before to a Masque of the Red Death, rather than Cinderella’s triumph; she escapes, alive, with the man she loves, but with the rest of the dancers dead (apparently the band leader had his head blown off in real life, I found myself very creeped out by this), there’s no joy in it. I was also very confused by how she went from mousy brown to a platinum blonde in this scene, though I just loved her glamorous white gown.

Act three has the best design of the show, with a delicious hospital ward created by a glowing red cross hovering in the air and white curtained panels moved around by doctors and nurses. The Airman is searching for Cinderella, which gives us the opportunity for a rather salacious scene in a prostitute-filled Tube station as well as a violent encounter on the Embankment; truly, in war, all the rules of morality have gone by the wayside, and anyone can be a victim. Eventually, as required, we have our reunion for the two lovers; deliciously, the stepmother is taken to jail. We finish at a train station, bidding goodbye to the newlyweds while the fairy finds another person needing some magic in their lives.

It’s taken me rather a lot of time to chew through how I felt about this production and whether or not I thought it worth recommending. During it I found myself feeling very distant from the action on stage; I was never caught up by the dance, even though I enjoyed thought the solos of the fairy (actually referenced as “the angel” in the program, and because there was no cast sheet I can’t say for certain who was playing it the night I saw it) . I did, however, love the set, lighting, and luscious 40s costuming; the grey palette (a deliberate homage to black and white movies) felt less like a pushy design decision and more like something that caught the austerity and gloom of war-time London. Ultimately, I think, I’m going to say yes to this Cinderella, not just because it is beautiful, but because its reworking of the story, its Bourne-ian deconstruction to the heart of the matter, succeeds better in telling the tale than any straightforward rendition would have. It showed me a new side of the classic, and, while I would have preferred more dancing, I left feeling like I’d managed to pick up a little more magic in the air than there had been before I went in the room. Who would think that by removing nearly every bit of unreality from this story Bourne would create something more universal than what he started with? It’s not perfect, but it’s a good night of theater, and my guess is that as a Cinderella, I’ll be thinking of this story much longer than any version with gawping comedy stepsisters stomping around on the stage and making a spectacle of themselves, because it’s not, after all, their story; it’s hers.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Tuesday, December 7th, 2010. Cinderella continues at Sadler’s Wells through January 23rd, 2011. For a more positive view, see Judith Mackrell in The Guardian; for one capturing my frustration with the dance, see the always eloquent Clement Crisp of the Financial Times.)

Review – La Fille Mal Gardee – Royal Ballet

March 28, 2010

While I love modern ballets, there is definitely a soft spot in my heart for the classics, especially the big standards like Giselle and Swan Lake. Who couldn’t love their great stories and wonderful dancing? It was with them in my mind that I approached La Fille Mal Gardee, which, as it turns out, is a classic, one that even precedes Petipa, going all the way back to 1789 and substantially reworked by Frederic Ashton (though many others had their hands on it in the intervening years). I was a little terrified by some reviews I’d read, that made it all just to be a bit too cute, and I was cringing just a bit as I sat down at the Royal Opera House on Friday night. Was it going to celebrate the more revolting aspects of ballet, the tutu-loving tweeness that makes me think of little girls dancing in their bedroom at the expense of producing good dance? Was I going to run screaming into the night?

It turns out I need not have worried. While there may have been a bit too much wuv in the just slightly-starcrossed lovers Colas (Johnathan Kobborg) and Lise (Alina Cojocaru), Ashton managed to stay just this side of treacle and delivered a really good evening’s entertainment. The story is clear-cut and required almost no mime-reading skills to interpret; Colas wants to marry Lise, but her mother has engaged her to Alain, the son of the local rich man and a clear candidate for village idiot. We of course get to laugh at gangly Maman (Will Tuckett) and her hopeless attempts to keep Colas and Lise apart (which at one point leads to a clog dance, TOO funny), and the affianced’s ridiculous attempts to make a good impression on Lise are also the source of humor. But there’s only one question to be asked in all this: will Colas and Lise get together? Well, as this is a comedy (and I can’t remember seeing any other comic story ballet besides Coppeliaa so let me tell you it was welcomed), there was only one way it could end; happily ever after.

There are probably three things that come to mind when discussing Fille: there is the live pony (pulling a cart, cue little girls squeeing); there are chickens dancing on stage (several times, hysterical and much less nauseating than in the Beatrix Potter ballet); and ribbon dances. When I read in the notes that XX was going to leave a love-knot tied for Colas on the stage, I had no idea that it was leading into a major dance theme for this show, and there were ribbons everywhere, really, almost all due to Ashton. I adored the way Alina and Kobborg played with the ribbons; they tied each other up, tangled them behind each other’s heads to force kisses, used it to spin Alina like a top, harnessed Kobborg like a pony – it really just went on and on. But I found the trope inventive and fun. Maybe it’s been done elsewhere, but it was so elaborate and perfectly executed that I really enjoyed it. In fact, it felt genre-setting, like the flower garden sequence in Le Corsaire, and yet unburdened by stiffness. Then the theme carried on in the second act, in which the village girls made pretty designs in the background while Colas and Lise danced away – it was all just really yummy and top-of-form choreography that could have really fallen limp if designed less confidently or danced with less skill.

In the end, I’d describe La Fille as a raspberry meringue – pink and fluffy and not really much of substance but still a treat. Like Proust says, pink does always taste better than other flavors, and it suited La Fille to a T – lighthearted, fun, and full of joyous dancing – the perfect antidote for a blustery spring day. Catch it while you can!

(This review is for a performance that took place on Friday, March 26th, 2010. It continues through April 28th. For more reviews, please see the Ballet.co.uk Royal Ballet listings. I bow to the superiority of Clement Crisp’s review, though. The man is god.)

Review – Into the Hoods – Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre

January 6, 2010

I was excited to hear that last year’s popular show Into the Hoods had been revived at the Southbank Centre for a Christmastime run. Last year, with the TTT’s enthusiastic review and Clement Crisp‘s strange passion for hip hop encouraging me, I tried to get some tickets rather way too far toward the end of the run, and was ultimately unsuccessful. Then I almost totally screwed myself out of going to see this despite knowing about it a month before it opened as, to my shock, even THREE WEEKS before the end of the run, the it was nearly sold out. WTF! Was there something going on I didn’t know about? There weren’t any sales or discounted tickets as far as I knew, it was just selling like hotcakes!

As it turns out, of COURSE I was about a decade behind the times, or maybe two: the house was PACKED, and not with my usual crowd of gray hairs or the National’s oppressive smother of bourgies, but with kids, KIDS, kids! Kids in their early twenties, in their teens and tweens, and even a few of the under ten set (one of whom was dancing on the stage to the pre-show DJ in the bar). I couldn’t believe how busy it was! And when we went into the hall for the show (start time 7:45, run time estimated at 80 minutes), and the lights went down, and the announcer said, “We wanna hear you enjoying yourselves!” damned if they didn’t roar.

And they roared and they roared all night. Me, I found it all way more amateurish than I expected. The dancers seemed like “fans” rather than pros and struggled to do unison movement; the cheesy animated background spoke of lack of budget; and, despite having several characters who were supposed to sing, every sound that came over the loudspeaker was prerecorded. And I’d been hoping for some kind of clever joke on the whole Sondheim thing, but it was nowhere to be found. Honestly, even the whole fairy tale trope wasn’t done very thoroughly. We had characters with names like those in fairy tales – “Rap”unzel, Spinderella, Red Riding Hood — but the stories were really thin. I also didn’t like the overarching story of the two kids who have to, as it turns out, steal something from each of the four main characters in order to complete some poorly defined quest. First it was an incredibly negative concept; and then, when they find them, nothing happens!

Buuuut …. well, let’s judge it on its own merits. This was basically trying to be a low budget entertainment in which a bunch of dance was presented with a bit of a story gloss, and the fairy tale was enough to hold it together. Red and her boyfriend Jack had good chemistry happening, and I really felt it when she was stolen away from him by the “wolf.” And while I didn’t think the fairy tales made sense, I really grooved on the idea of all of these people living in this same shitty place really having big dreams about their lives. They were doubtlessly very different dreams than those that the kids of, say, the National’s audience would have, but they were good dreams and I wanted to see them achieve them, so I rallied behind the characters and wondered what the dreams of people who actually lived in housing projects are like.

And the dance. Well, while it was not as tight as I would like to have seen it, it was often inventive and fun. My favorite scene was in the old folks home, where granny and gramps suddenly cast away their walkers and their wheelchairs and started getting jiggy (the guy who played Jack really stood out in this scene). I was also pleased to see the company was solidly half female, and, in fact, most of the “star” roles were women. And the choreography/staging also demonstrated that you can do stuff on the cheap and really make it work, as in the scene in which Jack and “The Giant” do a slo-mo, Matrix like fight for Jack’s Ipod, all while they’re being carried by other cast members to simulate walking in the air (etc.), then repeat it in ultra-slow motion to show the silly things they were doing during the fast bit (like answering a cell phone). I loved the cleverness and I liked the dance, and, hey, Spinderella moved like a freaking dream. Who was that girl with one shoe off and one shoe on? I spent the evening waiting for her to get solos so that I could admire her effortless, polished movement, and I still don’t know her name.

So while this show didn’t really do what I expected it to, I still enjoyed it, and at 80 minutes without interval it was the perfect, gentle entry back into theater in the week after New Year’s. Such a pity it’s closing so soon; based on how enthusiastic the audience was, there should be a performance like this every week.

*Teenaged Theatre Critic, or as he is now known, the Tyro Theatre Critic.

(Into the Hoods continues through Sunday, January 10th, 2010. This review is for a performance that took place on Tuesday, January 5th, 2010.)

Review – Insane in the Brain – Bounce at the Peacock Theatre

September 30, 2009

When I first heard of Bounce’s “Insane in the Brain,” billed as “a hip-hop adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest“, I wasn’t particularly interested. Hip-hop isn’t my thing, and Peacock programming usually isn’t my style. But then Clement Crisp waxed rhapsodic and suddenly I was seeing things in a different light. What is there about the thought about this wizened, snooty, ballet fan going wild about hip hop that made me think that this was now a show I couldn’t miss? The idea of him “getting down” kind of cracks me up, but he showed raw enthusiasm (or as raw as it gets when processed through his typewriter) and I was sold. So last night off J and I went for a night of staged street dancing.

It was pretty impressive to walk into a theater full mostly of 17 and 18 year olds who were there to see dance and cheered when the lights went down. Clearly, this piece had some idea of who its audience was meant to be! The underlying story of OWFOtCN is of a man (McMurphy) who gets himself committed to an asylum so he can avoid going to jail. He spends his time cheering up (and probably helping) the inmates, while trying to avoid the clutches of the sadistic guards and the truly evil Nurse Ratchett. While he makes fun of them, he finds out that they actually wield far more power than he ever expected, and in the end finds himself trapped in a place he went to as a joke. Not a happy ending, alas! It wasn’t really something I imagined would do well as a dance piece, but, in fact, it did, and it managed to do so with a minimum of dialogue (just a bit in the first scene).

Dancewise, after the original “introduce the characters, who are having group therapy” scene, the scenes go something like this: dance class; guards abuse the patients after hours; an uneasy night’s sleep; dance class again; outside time (with speaker); Nurse Ratchett shows her power; the breakout (in which the inmates go watch a movie) and capture; electroshock time; planning the final escape; In Which The Virgin Man Is Teased With A Blowup Doll; fight between the guards; break IN and sex scene; McMurphy is finally broken and The End. All this was done to a score that included piles of songs I’d never heard of before (but enjoyed) but also songs I did recognize, like “Express Yourself” and the wordless song from the Matrix, as well as some totally bizarre Astor Piazolla. The scene where they started playing “Maniac” and all of the characters suddenly appeared on stage in 80s dance clothes was hysterical and even managed to duplicate the infamous “shower” scene from Flashdance – and the audience ate it up.

I was enjoying myself, too. I loved the introductory “dancing with our backs to the audience but with mask on our face” piece (low tech yet so clever and effective); the “we’ve lost all control” movement of the three dancers suspended from the ceiling after the electroshock session; the hysterical Bunraku-style inflatable sex doll scene; and Shy Guy’s floating choreography as he starts to feel more confident in himself.

Oddly, though, my very favorite bit was the silent movie, which had three ragamuffin/tramp types break into the house of some upper class Victorians who are sitting down to dinner, complete with servants. When the intruders are detected, a street dance showdown between the two sides takes place that had me dying to see Oliver redone in this style. It was especially fuunny because of the incongruity of a proper Victorian lady shaking her booty and throwing gang attitude to the other crewe. The audience was laughing their heads off … just like me.

So Mr.Crisp was on the money and I’m grateful to him for the tip. This couldn’t have been more different than my stiff night at the Rojo/Brandenberg show, and I was glad for it.

(This review is for a performance that took place September 29th, 2009. Bounce continues at the Peacock through October 3rd – details on the Sadlers Wells website.)

Review – New Works in the Linbury (spring 2009) – Linbury Studio

May 14, 2009

Tonight J and I went to the first evening of this spring’s “New Work in the Linbury.” I’ve been before and found this a great way to see fresh work performed by excellent dancers. It’s an intimate environment and a good opportunity to see who might be (and who might deserve to be) getting their choreography done on a larger scale. It’s also a real chance to see the dancers shine, including some whom might not have had much in the way of star turns in the big house. Tonight’s show had seven pieces on the program, and while I realized there was little chance of them all being excellent, I expected at least one or two would be – and I was not disappointed.

As most of these pieces won’t likely be performed again, I’m going to do a little bit of the “historical record” thing and try to say something about every piece. The first, “Dear Norman,” was a tribute by Christopher Hampson to the late choreographer Norman Morrice. It was a lovely piece showing two men dancing, apparently in front of a studio mirror. One of them, Johan Kobborg, acted the role of a choreographer, aiding and assisting “the dancer” (Sergei Pollunin, graceful and gorgeous) as he attempted to learn a part, both of them watching themselves and the other at all times in the mirror along the fourth wall. Kobborg nudged him this way, mimed the moves he wanted the dancer to perform in full, and danced along with him (less extravagantly) as they caught the full flavor of the dance. What I enjoyed about this piece was how well it showed men performing, not as competitors or lovers, but as equals and as friends. They were incredibly supportive of each other. Kobborg seemed impish, while Polunin was firey as he spun in the air at an angle that seemed impossible without computer assistance.

Next up was “Recordato,” a strangely violent set of dances done to music of Michael England. The center couple was, I believe Mara Galeazzi and … er, not sure about the guy (and no pictures in the program to help). He seemed to be lifting her up like she was a little doll and setting her where he would. She would prettily point her feet and land nicely, but it seemed very much like she’d like to escape him, but then he’d grab her and put here where he wanted her to be. The pas de six at the end was quite nice but J’s comment that he felt the whole thing had heavy overtones of domestic abuse, what with (as he saw it) mimed hitting and kicking, kind of overwrote my own memories of it, so now I see it as being about controlling relationships rather than anything else.

The first half’s highlight was next, the brilliant and highly remountable “Les Lutins,” featuring live and luscious virtuoso violin music of Wieniawski (“Caprice”) and Bazzini’s “La Ronde des Lutins” (The Goblins’ Dance). It started with the violinist and pianist in front of and to the side but level with the stage, launching into the Caprice while Steven McRae just set the stage on fire with the most incredible light and fast footwork and leaps, perfectly catching the zest of the music. He aimed himself toward and very much addressed the violinist, and the steps he danced were some of the most pure interpretations of music I’ve seen in ages – not about telling any story to the audience but rather about how the music felt, him responding as a dancer to just what the violinist was doing. I loved it.

And then it got better as Sergei Polunin returned to the stage! Suddenly it was competition – steps danced faster, leaps higher, an occasional mimed kick, a final “neenur” as Polinin did a flip in the air (all to the music). No longer were McRae’s eyes on the violinist (Charlie Siem) – he had someone else to deal with.

And then, sliding in back to the audience, a curvy pair of hips in another pair of high pants held up by suspenders – and clearly, it was a girl! Alina Cojocaru was so perfectly gamine, flirting first with one man than the other, as they fought over her and danced with her and then … lost her to the violinist, who was going completely over the top with a bunch of at-the-very-top-of-the-range notes played with some skittering bow work – of course he was the man with the most going for him! I just loved it all and I hope sometime I can see this again – watching dancers duel like that is a real treat, and the music was amazing, too.

The first act ended with “Yes, We Did,” which per the program was “inspirted by an event which saw the collective power of today’s American citizens change the course of history.” Bit intimidating, really! And it had every possibility of being really bad – a lot of time dance I see that’s inspired by politics tends to flounder. It stared with what I think was a John McCain type performing some kind of stiff dance, joined by a Sarah Palin-esque woman in a French twist and glasses, who seemed to be trying to steal the stage from him. Fanfare for the common man played while a bunch of people moved around … er, going to rallies? One of them was dressed in an American flag, which kind of gave me the creeps – I haven’t seen it used in a positive context in the last three years or so. Then one guy came forward while the other eight or so dancers turned their backs to the audience and changed clothes, and then suddenly they were all wearing Obama shirts and kind of dancing along to the words of his post-election speech. And, um, I’m embarrassed to say I found it all a bit moving, even though they ended with their hearts over their hands as if they were doing the pledge of allegiance. The Obama election was to me the end of an eight year nightmare, and while I realize he will doubtlessly let me down yet, still, to hear the beautiful voice of a person I can call my president without cringing is still a pleasure to me, and I am still so proud of my country for electing a non-white guy to the highest office in the country. I’d best not go on about it much more but it meant a lot to me to see that other people thought it was a great moment in history, too. Thanks for the props, Kristen McNally, this American really enjoyed the tip of your hat.

After the intermission, the next up was “Now.” The music was a string quartet playing Alexander Bălănescu, which was very good, but what I liked the most about it was watching Yuhui Choe utterly take charge of her solos. After watching a ballerina struggle to stay balanced while partnered the night before in Giselle, Choe’s rock-solid sense of balance – and grace – was a treat. It was also great to see Steven McRae back on stage – where did he find the energy! – so shortly after “Les Lutins” and still setting the place on fire.

“Non-linear Interactions” didn’t have a lot of promise based on the description in the program. A work about randomness and the way strangers sort of “pass in the night,” sometimes affecting each other and sometimes not? It sounded like it wasn’t likely to be too coherent, and it wasn’t. There were some really interesting moments in which the dancers utterly froze on stage. Twice this was Mara Galeazzi, standing in the middle of it all and taking a huge, audible gasp, stopping the action, the third time when a man was show “mid leap” (or fall), suspended from the side of the stage by an invisible hand. This led to a moment in which the dancer in question seemed to be surprised by how everything had come to a halt around them, and perhaps was reflecting on their essential aloneness in the world, but unfortunately the rest of the piece wasn’t really able to support that thought. The very end was a big group scene with a bunch of movement that, I swear to God, made it look like they were flickering – the dancers’ arms and legs turning and arcing so quickly that they were catching the light in a bizarre way that almost felt like an ultra-high strobe was on (I checked with my husband, who’s a lighting designer, and he said he could see this effect, too). For me, combined with the occasional moments when the dancers moved very slowly, it seemed like the finale was showing how at times it seems like you’re rushing through life, while at other times things nearly grind to a halt. But … well, overall I wasn’t particularly caught up in the movement at all.

These feelings were swept away with the final piece, Liam Scarlett’s “Consolations and Liebestraum.” I’d seen his choreography before at last year’s New Work and saw all the hallmarks of a promising career buding on the tree. Tonight, I saw it bloom. I have to give him props for the choice of music – Liszt makes for lovely dancing – and his choice of how to set up the performance, as a series of pas de deux. These allow for really emotionally powerful performances, and, by golly, at the end of the second couple’s set, when the man (Bennet Gartside?) reached out from where he stood hidden (from the audience) by his partner and very carefully and, to my eyes, lovingly wrapped his arm around her waist, I got sniffly. The choreography generally was showing off the women in a variety of lifts and such, not really allowing the men to show off their stuff per se (like “Les Lutins” did), but what it did show was the men working as fantastic partners, though in the third bit (I think – must recheck notes tonight) there was a bit of a fumble that made me about go, “Eek! Dancer down!” – fortunately caught and recovered and the dancers carried on without loss of nerve or verve. Whew!

The piece opened with a woman on stage, kneeling, possibly praying. It was followed by a duet with a woman with braided hair and a very conservative, long (Amish looking) dress on, with a high collar, long sleeves and a full skirt. The second couple was a woman in a sleeveless top and a shorter, stiffer skirt – my thought is that the first couple was representing young love, and the second couple more of a mature love. The final couple was a bit of an enigma to me. The first woman had returned and seemed to be angry at the man she was dancing at, pushing him away, looking at the ground. Maybe she was hurt? He showed nothing but care for her, and my final interpretation, as he walked away and she finally turned and looked back at him, was that she was being visited by the ghost of someone she loved, possibly her son or her husband, someone who had had to leave her but didn’t want to do so and still loved her to bits. It was really just a great ending to the evening.

Overall, this is a night of dance well worth the effort to see, and if you have the chance to go, my advice is snap a ticket up right away and get down to the opera house. With so much good work and great dancing on show, it’s probably going to stand out as one of the highlights of the dance year for me.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Thursday, May 14th. New Works in the Linbury continues through Saturday, May 16th. An alternative review is available on BalletBag’s blog, while Clement Crisp shows me how it’s done in the Financial Times, teaching me the phrase “en garcon” and making me think that I must learn to identify the thing called a “triple tour.” Sometimes it’s horrible trying to write critiques when I have never had anyone else to talk to about ballet and can only explain it in my horrible, fannish amateur way; on the other hand, I hope I make my enthusiasm and reasons for such enthusiasm clear enough that whoever reads my reviews can see than anyone can go to a ballet and appreciate it without having to have been trained to do so.)

Great review on Clement Crisp’s talk about the state of ballet

May 12, 2009

I had a Twitter person refer me to this wonderful report on Clement Crisp’s pre-show lecture at the National Ballet of Canada. Now, I didn’t agree with his take on Northern Ballet’s Hamlet, but it was certainly clear he’s got the decades of experience behind him. And this review makes clear that he’s also dedicated to one of my pet causes, supporting the future of ballet. It must not die, and to not die, it needs fresh blood in the forms of new choreography and new audience members. To die, it just needs to be allowed to become a museum piece.

That said, I’m helping (eep!) support the death of ballet by going to see Giselle tomorrow. It’s one of my favorite classical ballets, and I figure that it will be a nice addition to the version by the Mikhailovsky I saw last year and the version I saw performed by the Ballet Nacional de Cuba way back in ’99. (Good lord! A performance before I was blogging!) Sure, it’s a museum piece, but on the lines of the Mona Lisa when you’ve got an excellent company performing it. (Actually I’d say it’s more like Millais’ “Ophelia,” but that’s just me.)

In addition to a night with an old standard, I’m also going to see the New Works at the Linbury on Thursday, because I do, seriously, support the vitalization of this art form which I love so much. And to add to this, I’ll be popping over to Sadler’s Wells on Tuesday to see the Northern Ballet Theater’s mixed bill (Gillian Lynne’s “A Simple Man,” “Angels in the Architecture” and “As time goes by”). Supporting these performances will help ballet move forward as an art – but I’m going because I love ballet, and I love the chance to see new works, and the thought of seeing some amazing dancers performing makes me grin from ear to ear.

The rest of my month is going to mostly be classical music at the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music – three or four concerts (including Phantasm and Emma Kirkby) over its two weeks – and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m only going to see two plays – Exquisite Corpse at the Southwark Playhouse, and Aunt Dan and Lemon at the Royal Court. Overall, May won’t be much of a theater month, but I think it will be great!


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