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Matthew Bourne "The Red Shoes"

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Curiosity drove me to the opening night of Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes at the Kennedy Center. It actually wasn't all that bad (anything with Marcelo Gomes in it can't be awful). It has a very smooth and crisp flow and reasonably talented dancers (at least by Broadway show standards), without the stupidity that marred Swan Lake. On the other hand, I wouldn't describe it as great. If I hadn't known the plot going in, I wouldn't have figured out what was going on. There was more ballet in the program than I expected. The choreography, other than Gomes' solos, wasn't particularly challenging - lots of lifts to excite the unsophisticated viewers but little complex footwork.

Edited by YouOverThere

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Thanks for the review, YouOverThere. Curiosity would probably drive me, too, if I were in a locality where it was running. From what I have seen of Bourne, your take sounds like a fair one.

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I saw it twice.  Curiosity wasn't the driver-different people saw it on the Kennedy Center schedule, invited me, and weren't available for the same show.    Show 1 was opening night with Gomes/Shaw.  We could follow the plot and the lifts were just part of choreographic emphasis.  In 9 days I saw 3 pieces telling a story-Prodigal Son,  Red Shoes, Bayadere.    All had pointe, lifts, various genres of dance.   Red Shoes is cast dependent and show 2 was the only plot confusion.   

Edited by maps

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2 hours ago, maps said:

 In 9 days I saw 3 pieces telling a story-Prodigal Son,  Red Shoes, Bayadere.   

 

This comment caught my eye, in part because it seemed unusual.  I had to think a bit to remember what I'd seen recently that was involved in "telling a story."  Excluding work that is specifically abstract, I actually don't see that much purely narrative work -- in general, much of the "expressive" dance I see is designed to evoke a mood rather than build a character and a world for them to operate in.

 

I have a feeling this might be a topic for a separate thread, but just a show of electronic hands -- how many people have seen a specifically narrative work in the last 6 months? (reaching back a bit since it was summer...)

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The last narrative work at PNB out here in Seattle here would have been the Maillot "Cendrillon."

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On 10/18/2017 at 6:55 AM, maps said:

I saw it twice.  Curiosity wasn't the driver-different people saw it on the Kennedy Center schedule, invited me, and weren't available for the same show.    Show 1 was opening night with Gomes/Shaw.  We could follow the plot and the lifts were just part of choreographic emphasis.  In 9 days I saw 3 pieces telling a story-Prodigal Son,  Red Shoes, Bayadere.    All had pointe, lifts, various genres of dance.   Red Shoes is cast dependent and show 2 was the only plot confusion.   

 

Interesting. Reviewers have consistently noted that the plot is hard to follow unless you know the movie, so it's good to have another view.

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On 10/18/2017 at 10:01 AM, Helene said:

The last narrative work at PNB out here in Seattle here would have been the Maillot "Cendrillon."

 

True, and it's kind of an unconventional telling of the story.

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Responding to Sandik's query above: specifically narrative ballets these past 6...7 months? Like Maps, Bayadere. but also the final Atlanta Ballet program late last spring which was an adaptation of a Tennessee Williams Play, Camino Real, by Helen Pickett--the dancers even occasionally spoke. (The play is a surreal narrative and the ballet was, if you will, "contemporary" ballet but the women were on pointe, the pas de deux had balletic lifts and I considered the whole thing sort of a cross between a storytelling ballet and a contemporary dance-theater piece.)  And at ABT in the late spring: Whipped Cream which tells a story even if a story in the service of pure delirious fantasy. Basically my major ballet going in the last 6-7 months has been all specifically narrative ballets except the NYCB repertory programs at Kennedy center. I am going to take a pass on Nutcracker this year but the first Atlanta Ballet program after that will be Don Quixote...so narrative all around.

 

Sorry to be missing The Red Shoes.

Edited by Drew

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10 hours ago, Drew said:

Responding to Sandik's query above: specifically narrative ballets these past 6...7 months? Like Maps, Bayadere. but also the final Atlanta Ballet program late last spring which was an adaptation of a Tennessee Williams Play, Camino Real, by Helen Pickett--the dancers even occasionally spoke. (The play is a surreal narrative and the ballet was, if you will, "contemporary" ballet but the women were on pointe, the pas de deux had balletic lifts and I considered the whole thing sort of a cross between a storytelling ballet and a contemporary dance-theater piece.)  And at ABT in the late spring: Whipped Cream which tells a story even if a story in the service of pure delirious fantasy. Basically my major ballet going in the last 6-7 months has been all specifically narrative ballets except the NYCB repertory programs at Kennedy center. I am going to take a pass on Nutcracker this year but the first Atlanta Ballet program after that will be Don Quixote...so narrative all around.

 

Sorry to be missing The Red Shoes.

 

And I'm struck by how unusual that "all-narrative" often is -- is this a deliberate choice on your part, or just the way things have worked out?

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31 minutes ago, sandik said:

 

And I'm struck by how unusual that "all-narrative" often is -- is this a deliberate choice on your part, or just the way things have worked out?

 

Mostly, just the way things worked out...especially as far as what Atlanta Ballet puts on is concerned. And probably my answer is also partly fortuitous--had you asked me the question a different month or year, it might have been different. However, in my travel choices I do deliberately try to take special advantage of opportunities to see world-class performances of nineteenth-century ballets.  (Mariinsky Bayadere? I was counting the days for MONTHS.) So that probably pulls me in the direction of seeing more narrative works than might otherwise be the case.  If you left those out, then the picture of my narrative ballet/dance experiences looks very different.

Edited by Drew

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10 hours ago, Drew said:

 

Mostly, just the way things worked out...especially as far as what Atlanta Ballet puts on is concerned. And probably my answer is also partly fortuitous--had you asked me the question a different month or year, it might have been different. ...

 

I'm in a similar place, as far as performance events are concerned.  I see what programmers show me here.  But that makes me wonder about our own choices, especially since YouTube and other online services are increasingly full of dance -- what are you choosing to seek out?

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45 minutes ago, sandik said:

 

I'm in a similar place, as far as performance events are concerned.  I see what programmers show me here.  But that makes me wonder about our own choices, especially since YouTube and other online services are increasingly full of dance -- what are you choosing to seek out?

 

All over the place, sometimes influenced by what I'm reading (including on this website) and/or what I have just seen or am going to see.  Also though, on what's available...since some countries/companies/choreographers permit more than others.

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I saw opening night at City Center and I enjoyed it.  Very little of it was on pointe, the choreography was mostly more musical theater than ballet, but then, they're not a ballet company. I found it entertaining, and it held my interest from beginning to end. I'm going again to see Mearns and Gomes, so it should be interesting to see if they change the dynamic at all.

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Saw it yesterday, M.Gomes with Ashley Shaw. Ashley is very soft and elastic in her movements, and her upper body movement slightly resembled me the Russian style. Bearing in mind that, as nysusan wrote, they are not a ballet company, I found them extraordinary for that. Dancers and choreography were very musical, fluid, fast, filled with nuances, steps and action to the fullest (but avoiding jittery moves common for some contemporary staging). Loved his innovative design and utilization of the curtains, and fast movement (but again, not jittery). At the curtain call I was amazed that the company only had 16-18 dancers all together on the stage, it felt as if there were more of them. Had tickets for 2 shows, glad that I did, as I am definitely will see it again, Great dance creation

Edited by YID

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I saw the Sunday matinee (with Mearns and Gomes). I found it very entertaining, but I wouldn't need to see it again. Definitely you need to have seen the movie, otherwise you would have a hard time following the plot. My favorite parts were the silly "beach ballet" and the scene with Egyptian guys, showing how low poor Vicky has sunk. But overall, the detail and nuance of the movie were lost. 

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