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.

Read the full review on CultureWhisper.com 

Image credit: Laurent Liotardo

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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.

Read the full review on BroadwayWorld.com 

Svetlana Zakharova – Amore at the London Coliseum 21/11/17

AMORE featuring Svetlana Zakharova in Francesca da Rimini photo by Roberto RicciFollowing a recent trend for dancers to spread their wings beyond company repertoire, Bolshoi superstar Svetlana Zakharova landed at the London Coliseum this week for only three performances of her triple bill, Amore.

Amore is a largely successful exhibition of Zakharova’s expansive talents, but these brief pieces felt at times like they barely scratched the surface of her true abilities.

The evening opens in dramatic fashion with Tchaikovsky’s Francesca Da Rimini. It’s a theatrical piece based on the tragic love story from Dante’s Divine Comedy featuring young lovers Francesca (Zakharova) and Paolo (Bolshoi Principal, Denis Rodkin).

It’s set against a backdrop of tormented sculptures designed by Maria Tregubova, recreating the gates of hell.

It is perhaps the piece with the most accessible narrative. The substantial score and effective use of additional artists from the Bolshoi assist the main stars in delivering the necessary impact.

Read the full review on CultureWhisper.com

Protein’s Border Tales at The Place 14/11/17

Protein Dance, Border Tales., photo Jane Hobson
It’s rare to witness a work that tackles its concepts so bluntly and fearlessly. So often in dance we are challenged to look at the subtleties and nuances; but Protein’s Border Tales is a daring piece of theatre that tackles the issues surrounding multiculturalism head on, with humour and feeling.

Featuring a stripped back cast of seven for this short run at The Place, Luca Silvestrini provides each with a platform to tell their own personal story and address the stereotypes each of them encounters everyday. Border Tales was first performed back in 2013 but takes on a new relevance in Brexit-bound United Kingdom.

The opening imagery is a stark depiction of a fight against an invisible force. A jagged line of neon cuts the stage in two. Eryck Brahmania is torn between the two borders, his body contorting, as he attempts to channel his energy through jumps and leaps until he comes across his fellow storytellers and a comical series of greetings are exchanged.

The story is topped and tailed with a welcome party for the various “foreigners” hosted by Andy: a ‘salt of the earth’ Northerner struggling to make sense of his new neighbours’ cultures and desperately trying not to offend them, while simultaneously doing the opposite.

Read the full review on CultureWhisper.

A Nutcracker Just for You …

Christmas brings that most loved of all seasonal ballets, The Nutcracker. But with four productions on offer in London this year, which to pick? Here’s our guide …

The Nutcracker. Artists of The Royal Ballet. ROH 2015. Tristram Kenton.Set to Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score, The Nutcracker, whatever its iteration, tells the magic tale of young Clara, who is gifted a nutcracker doll by the mysterious Dr. Drosselmeyer at a Christmas Eve family party. Once midnight strikes, and a scary army of Rats is defeated, Clara is taken by her nutcracker on a magical adventure through the Kingdom of the Sweets, and finally meets the gorgeous Sugar Plum Fairy.

With four different productions of this Christmas classic about to hit London, the question is, which Nutcracker is for you? Young and old, families and larger parties, or children seeking a more interactive experience, there is something for everyone …

Read the full feature on CultureWhisper.com

 

 

Ballet Black at Theatre Royal Stratford East 09/11/17

RED RIDING HOOD_BALLET BLACK,
Choreography;Annabelle Lopez Ochoa,Ballet Black continue to move from strength to strength. Having recently secured funding and completed work on a more spacious London studio, they now tour nationally with their acclaimed narrative ballet, Red Riding Hood, as the main attraction in this varied triple bill.

In a change from the March premiere at the Barbican, Arthur Pita‘s House of Dreams has been swapped for Ludovic Ondiviela’s Dopamine, a piece first performed by the company in 2013. It features the magnetic attraction between two dancers, the technically excellent Cira Robinson and the strong and unwavering José Alves.

It’s an alluring piece and the two share a frenetic chemistry, making for engaging viewing. Robinson is feminine and skittish as a lovestruck youngster. She flits and floats in her attempts to impress Alves.

Read the full review on BroadwayWorld.com

Rip it Up at the London Palladium 30/09/17

Rip-It-Up-3325-editAs ever more Strictly inspired showpieces are set to flood the market in the new year, 50s extravaganza Rip It Up hits theatres just before the main rush, bravely attempting to prize audiences away from their televisions to get their Autumnal dance fix. Fortunately Rip It Up is a strong concept for Strictly fans with a soft spot for this iconic era. Casting wise however it is slightly more of a hotch potch, an energetic Natalie Lowe wows the audience throughout with some powerhouse performances while celebrity winners Jay McGuinness and Louis Smith do their utmost to keep up.

Rip it Up takes the audience on a journey through the 50s naturally with some Rock ‘n’ Roll, Jive and Jitterbug but some unexpected Ballroom additions including a Pasodoble and Rumba. The show is divided into segments which are introduced by compare and saxophonist Leo Green who reels off a host of scripted gags that keep the heady Saturday night audience chuckling albeit with a few predictable cliches along the way. Green is also there to signpost our journey through the 50s …

Read the full review in November’s Dancing Times