Sadler’s Sampled at Sadler’s Wells 02/02/18

©BC20140424_Kin_ BRB_406.TIFGiving a star rating to a Sadler’s Sampled programme is not a straightforward task. These are varied evenings that showcase the upcoming Sadler’s Wells season and encompass everything from classical ballet, to flamenco and hip-hop. It’s unlikely you will enjoy every component here; however, there will likely be a couple that make the evening more than worth your time.

Having attended a fair share of past Sampled programmes, this year’s was a little disappointing for fans of the traditional. Classical ballet was given just twenty minutes of stage time, whereas contemporary and hip-hop managed well over an hour. Fans of all genres, though, will appreciate the highly charismatic performances the evening provides.

They don’t come more charismatic than flamenco dancer, Jesús Carmona, who is accompanied on stage by guitarist Daniel Jurado and singer Juan José Amador.

Solea Del Campillo is an authentic, initially slow-burning piece. Carmona’s background as a former Principal of Ballet Nacional de España is evident with his elegant twists and turns as he travels gracefully about the stage before the piece gradually builds up to an explosion of fast and furious footwork that thrills the Sadler’s Wells audience.

The few classical representatives at this year’s Sampled were strong choices. Former Royal Ballet Principal Zenaida Yanowsky’s Dying Swan gave a serene and beautiful display. In a programme largely made up of loud and upbeat performances, Yanowsky held the audience in perfect silence with her melancholy swan, still majestic even in death.

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Giselle at the Royal Opera House 19/01/18

Giselle.-Marianela-Nuñez-as-Giselle-and-Federico-Bonelli-as-Albrecht.-©ROH-2018.-Photographed-by-Helen-Maybanks.Marianela Nuñez celebrates her 20th year with the Royal Ballet this year. For a prima ballerina you may believe her peak years of performing are behind her. However, nothing could be further from the truth in this divine production of Sir Peter Wright’s mystical Giselle, in which a stellar cast bring their superior storytelling skills to this signature work in the company’s repertoire.

Giselle is possibly the quintessential romantic ballet. It tells the story of a young peasant girl who falls in love with Count Albrecht, disguised as a peasant himself. Albrecht is already engaged to Bathilde (a beguiling Olivia Cowley), and when Giselle discovers this at the end of Act One, she kills herself. In Act Two she reappears as a spirit, sharing a brief reunion with her beloved before returning to the grave, leaving Albrecht powerless and alone.

Nuñez is delightful is the early scenes. Throughout her initial infatuation with Albrecht, she maintains a joyful and sunny disposition, while remaining a humble Giselle brimming with youthful innocence.

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Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella at Sadler’s Wells 19/12/17

Thanks to Matthew Bourne, now Christmas in London doesn’t only mean endless Nutcrackers (as lovely as they are), but for over 15 years dance fans have been treated to his theatrical mix of Gothic grit and fairytale charm, transporting the audience to a bygone era.

CINDERELLAThis year’s festive offering of Cinderella (last seen at Sadler’s Wells in the Christmas of 2010) is no different, and fans of Bourne will adore this glamorous tale set against the contrasting backdrop of bleak wartime London.

Lez Brotherston’s set designs for this production are particularly exquisite. The initial dull colour palette to illustrate Cinders’ mundane home life as a servant to her demanding step-siblings later transforms to the opulence of the sleek, sophisticated Café de Paris for the dreamy ball scene.

Choreographic highlights come not only in the big ensemble numbers Bourne is known for, but in the form of the “morning after” duet too. This simple scene stands out in a production full of clever set trickery and glitter balls hanging from the ceiling.

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Arthur Pita’s Little Match Girl at the Lilian Baylis Studio 20/12/17

Arthur Pita’s The Little Match Girl, based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale, is a dance-theatre work that has been thrilling audiences young and old since its London premiere in 2013; and it has became a staple of Sadler’s Wells’ Christmas ever since.

Its central character is Fiammetta, the poor girl who has to sell matches to the rich burghers of her village so her destitute family can survive; but there are plenty of quirky cameos from a cast who clearly relish the task of doubling and tripling up to play the varied characters encountered by the Little Match Girl on a cold Christmas Eve in Italy.

Yann Seabra’s clever set is atmospheric; a miniature Italian village provides a picturesque fairytale backdrop to the proceedings. The scene where Fiammetta attempts to keep warm by a lone lit lamp post when a gentle flurry of snow begins to fall is particularly captivating.


Corey Claire Annand is the bright and sprightly protagonist of this charming tale. She possesses a child-like innocence, but is certainly no walkover when it comes to defending herself against the “baddies” she encounters. Her movements are gentle, almost hypnotic, but she stoically persists, no matter what hurdles she’s confronted with.

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English National Ballet’s Nutcracker at the London Coliseum 13/12/17

DSC_0694Wayne Eagling’s Nutcracker is now on its eighth seasonal outing at the London Coliseum. The company’s former Artistic Director created this unique version of the Christmas classic featuring hot air balloons and horrifying giant mice in 2010; last year, Nutcracker saw record breaking sales for ENB. They must surely hope for the same again this year; and with a cast so strong, why not?

Sophia Mucha was a calm and assured young Clara displaying fine musicality and technique. However, Emile Gooding as her brother stole the show with his charismatic turn. He exudes expressiveness and enthusiasm with his antics at the otherwise slightly dour party scene.

Unlike the rest of the production, the party is an unimaginative and bland interpretation, dull in colours and choreography leaving the audience waiting impatiently for the dream sequence to begin.

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Image credit: Laurent Liotardo

Sylvia at Royal Opera House 30/11/17

4917Frederick Ashton’s Sylvia was last seen as part of the Royal Ballet’s repertoire back in 2010. And how this glittering, mythical tale of silliness has been missed! One cannot deny that the subject matter is hardly the most hard-hitting, but this decorative ballet is full of delightful touches and romantic choreography that make for dreamy, escapist viewing.

Natalia Osipova tackles the protagonist’s role in zesty and feisty fashion. Act One Sylvia is regal, fearing no one. If she were a female of today she would be a strong, independent woman. She wields her bow and arrow with confidence and finesse. Facially she expresses more so than I have ever seen before, exuding a wonderfully mischievous air as she gleefully rejects Aminta’s (Federico Bonelli) initial declaration of love.

Bonelli himself had by most balletomanes standards somewhat of an off-night. His opening arabesques were visibly shaky, lacking the necessary control. He never quite recovered to deliver the impact desired in the final pas de deux and without this Aminta can come across as rather a drip as he wallows in his infatuation for the young nymph in Act One.

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Arlene: The Glitz, The Glamour, The Gossip 20/11/17

1.-ARLENE-The-Glitz.-The-Glamour.-The-Gossip.-Arlene-Phillips-and-Jacquie-Storey-700x455Arlene Phillips is one of those unique individuals who is known to different generations for different successes throughout her lengthy career. In the 70s, she was force behind Hot Gossip and their appearances on the Kenny Everett Video Show, to millennials she is known as Strictly’s former Queen of Mean. Whether you’re aware of either of both of these achievements and what went on in between, all is laid bare in Arlene! The Glitz, The Glamour, The Gossip. The tour was first developed for the Edinburgh Fringe, subsequently touring nationwide, finishing up with a starry evening at the West End’s Duchess Theatre, where many of Arlene’s celebrity friends and family were present.

A talk show format is adopted with longtime friend Jacquie Storey, who has known Arlene for 40 years, on hand to guide us through Arlene’s life from humble beginnings in Manchester to her well documented and very public dismissal from her role as Strictly first female judge.

Read the full review in Dancing Times – January 2018