Tag Archives: Matthew Bourne

MATTHEW BOURNE’S CINDERELLA

The ticking clock at the heart of CINDERELLA provided Matthew Bourne with an expedient opportunity to play with circular time when creating his 1997 theater/dance work, which is—along with Play without Words—his closest flirtation with existentialism.

The ghost of Noël Coward haunts the piece, now in revival at the Ahmanson Theatre—specifically the 1940s David Lean-directed classics of bourgeois rectitude In Which We Serve and Brief Encounter. And if—twenty years on from his Los Angeles premiere with Swan Lake—Bourne’s mockery of middle-class British values now feels like a reflexive embrace, there are scenes in CINDERELLA where his embroidered patterns transcend their frankly ornamental thrust and affect a lurch (a signature Bourne move) toward magic.

CINDERELLA—which takes place during the London Blitz of 1940—comes alive in its middle section, with the ascent to the ceiling of a large mirrored ball. This forty-minute act—a flashback and its aftermath—is set inside the Café de Paris, the West End club where Coward introduced many of his cabaret performances. Cinderella’s liberation on the dance floor releases all the principals from the drab, monochrome set of Act One, and the even darker milieu of spivs and streetwalkers in the Underground scene of Act Three. The capital endured over fifty consecutive days of Luftwaffe bombing, and a sense of fatalism walked among the ruins, on stage as in life. An ingenious five-soldiers-and-a-girl ballroom dance represents a beautiful escape from the horrors of war and a summation of its creator’s formula: defiance through energy and joy.

Our guide and guardian throughout the proceedings is The Angel, a conscience figure danced by Liam Mower on opening night. Harry the Pilot, a stand-in for the Prince, was performed by Andrew Monaghan, and Ashley Shaw—the star of Bourne’s The Red Shoes—is a radiant Cinderella.

CINDERELLA

Through March 10.

Ahmanson Theatre

135 North Grand Avenue, downtown Los Angeles.

From top: Ashley Shaw in the title role and Andrew Monaghan as Harry the Pilot in Cinderella, directed and choreographed by Matthew Bourne; Liam Mower as The Angel; Shaw and Monaghan (2); the company in Cinderella; Monaghan and Shaw. All photographs by Johan Persson.

THE SWAN AT SADLER’S WELLS

It’s been over twenty years since the American premiere of MATTHEW BOURNE’S SWAN LAKE at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, and Bourne has reimagined and redesigned his signature work for an eight-week season at Sadler’s Wells.

Initially trangressive in its use of an all-male wedge of threatening swans—replacing the traditional female corps de ballet—the world has caught up with Bourne’s vision as new audiences discover this enduring masterpiece.

In London, The Swan will be alternately danced by Matthew Ball, Will Dozier, and Max Westwell. The Prince will be played by Liam Mower, Dominic North, and—making his professional debut—James Lovell.

MATTHEW BOURNE’S SWAN LAKE

Through January 27.

Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, Clerkenwell, London.

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake in performance.

From top:

Freya Field and Will Bozier.

Nicole Kabera.

Liam Mower.

Mower and Kabera.

Matthew Ball (left) and Mower.

Photographs by Johan Persson.

Image credit: New Adventures and Sadler’s Wells.

MATTHEW BOURNE’S RED SHOES

For the last twenty years, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s film THE RED SHOES has been on the mind of choreographer Matthew Bourne, and this year audiences in Los Angeles and New York have the opportunity to see this ideal match of creator, subject, and source. MATTHEW BOURNE’S THE RED SHOES—in its U.S. premiere, at the Ahmanson—is a dance about dance, brought to life with the primary-colored vividness and “stunning visual autonomy” that was a hallmark of the great Powell-Pressburger films.*

Shades of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes stalk the stage in this production of the Hans Christian Andersen story, a Faustian tale wherein a pair of red ballet slippers—functioning like Tolkien’s ring—drives the dancer who wears them (Victoria, played Ashley Shaw) to great heights, followed by exhaustion and death. Victoria is squeezed, artistically and emotionally, between her boss—ballet impressario Lermontov (Sam Archer), who believes a dancer’s one and only relationship should be with the dance—and her lover, the troupe’s composer and music director Julian Craster (Dominic North).

(For THE RED SHOES, Bourne rejected the music used in the film and has fashioned a new score with Terry Davies’ arrangements of Bernard Herrmann’s classic film scores. The “Ballon de Plage” number uses “Ragtime” from Citizen Kane, and several dances are set to music from The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Hangover SquareThe Ballet of the Red Shoes—the production’s tour de force centerpiece, with projection design by DuncanMcLean—is set to Herrmann’s score for Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451.)

What David Thomson, in his Biographical Dictionary of Film, wrote about Powell’s films could easily be said about the dances of Matthew Bourne:

“[They] never relinquish their wicked fun or that jaunty air of being poised on the brink. To put an arrow in our eye—to leave a nourishing wound—that was Michael’s eternal thrill… With a very personal mixture of wisdom and naïveté, he treated the artist or wizard as the last potent pagan deity.”*

MATTHEW BOURNE’S THE RED SHOES

Through October 1.

Ahmanson Theatre

135 North Grand Avenue, downtown Los Angeles.

Note: Nearly every role is triple cast, and during some performances at the Ahmanson, American Ballet Theatre principal Marcelo Gomes will dance the part of Julian Craster.

 

MATTHEW BOURNE’S THE RED SHOES

October 26 through November 5.

New York City Center

131 West 55th Street, New York City.

In New York, Gomes will again dance Julian Craster in alternate performances, and New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns will alternate Victoria with Shaw.

*David Thomson, “Michael Powell,” The New Biographical Dictionary of Film (New York: Alfred Knopf, 2010).

Top: Ashley Shaw as Victoria Page and Dominic North as Julian Craster in Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes.

Above: Sam Archer as Boris Lermontov.

Below: Liam Mower as Ivan Boleslawsky, with Shaw.

All Shaw/North photographs by Tristram Kenton. Archer and Mower/Page photographs by Johan Persson.

RED SHOES — BIG SCREEN

When the British film THE RED SHOES first opened in 1948, it was largely met with indifference in its home country. But upon its release in Manhattan, it played continuously for two years, and during the Los Angeles engagement, an MGM contract player went to see the film once a week for a year.

In anticipation of the local premiere this month of Matthew Bourne’s theatrical production of THE RED SHOES at the Ahmanson, LACMA and the American Cinematheque have programmed screenings of the Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger masterpiece.

After the LACMA screening this weekend, stay for the panel discussion “Designing for Dance,” with costume historian Bobi Garland, creative movement director Stephen Galloway, and artist and designer Stacia Lang.

THE RED SHOES, in 35 mm, Saturday, September 2, at 2 pm.

BING THEATER, LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles.

lacma.org/event/red-shoes

THE RED SHOES, in 35 mm, Friday, September 22, at 7:30 pm.

EGYPTIAN THEATRE, 6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood.

americancinemathequecalendar.com/content/the-red-shoes-2

MATTHEW BOURNE’S THE RED SHOES, on stage from September 15 through October 1.

AHMANSON THEATRE, Music Center, downtown Los Angeles.

centertheatregroup.org/tickets/ahmanson-theatre/additional-events/the-red-shoes/

Top: Moira Shearer and Anton Walbrook in The Red Shoes (1948), written, directed, and produced by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

Bottom: Léonide Massine and Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes.

The Red Shoes 2

The Red Shoes

EIFMAN’S TCHAIKOVSKY

Choreographer Boris Eifman has created ballets based on the lives of Anna Karenina, Don Quixote, the dancer Olga Spessivtseva (Red Giselle), Rodin and Camille Claudel. A sort of Russian cousin to Matthew Bourne, the two entrepreneurs share a love of recent history viewed through a pop aesthetic that can shade toward camp, if not kitsch—a tendency that delights their fans if not their critics.

This weekend, as part of their 40th-anniversary North American tour, the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg brings a revised TCHAIKOVSKY to the Music Center. For dance audiences, Tchaikovsky’s music is irrevocably tied to several ballets, and in creating his piece, Eifman has avoided making obvious connections. The fact of the composer’s homosexuality has always been suppressed in his native Russia. How much of that tortured history—Tchaikovsky’s and Russia’s—Eifman addresses will be seen onstage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

TCHAIKOVSKY, Friday and Saturday, June 23 and 24, at 7:30 pm. Sunday, June 25, at 2 pm.

DOROTHY CHANDLER PAVILION, Music Center, downtown Los Angeles.

musiccenter.org/eifman

Boris Eifman.

Boris Eifman is a Russian-Jewish choreographer and the Artistic Director of Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg. Eifman’s parents were both Ukrainians sent to Siberia during WWII, when Eifman was a young child. He studied choreography at the Leningrad...