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

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.

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

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.

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