Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes

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Due to popular demand and for the 1st time in New Advenutres history, Matthew Bourne’s Olivier award winning production, The Red Shoes returns to the Lowry next week for the second time during its current season, offering audiences one final chance to catch the visually stunning and technically sublime production which has captivated audiences since its World Premiere at the Theatre Royal Plymouth in November.

Based on the academy award winning film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and of course the much loved Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, The Red Shoes tells the story of “Victoria Page”, the girl who yearns to become the greatest dancer in the world.

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New Adventures favourite, Ashley Shaw, most recently seen across the UK and internationally as “Aurora” in Matthew Bourne’s critically acclaimed Sleeping Beauty, takes on the role of Victoria and has enchanted audiences with her exquisite and breath-taking talent. The Red Shoes is an utterly captivating and timeless piece, a tale of heartbreak, passion and love as Victoria becomes Principal dancer in the new ballet ‘The Red Shoes’ but finds herself torn between two men, resulting in the most beautifully intense and incredibly emotive performances.

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Lifting this already superb production to an even higher level is the stunning new score arranged by New Adventures Associate Artist, Terry Davies using the magnificent music of golden-age Hollywood composer, Bernard Herrmann. The combination of this exquisite theatrical score and breath-taking performances from the New Adventures Company make this a show not to be missed.

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After it’s sell-out visit to the Lowry last December The Red Shoes returns for one week only from Tuesday 11th until Saturday 15th July tickets available here www.thelowry.com/events/matthew-bournes-production-of-the-red-shoes

 

Lowry Competition!

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We are thrilled to be able to offer our reader the chance to win 2 x tickets to Symphonie Dramatique at the Lowry on Tuesday 23rd May!

Presented by French-Canadian company Cas Public, Symphonie Dramatique offers a darkly humorous look at the mythical couple, Romeo and Juliet combining ballet with elements of hip hop and video projections to tell the story of the two star-crossed lovers by award winning choreographer Hélène Blackburn.

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The performance takes place beneath a huge chandelier of wine glasses, alongside a score from Martin Tétreault that evokes Prokofiev, Tchaïkovski and Gounod. Switching suddenly and seamlessly between moments of wild abandon and abrupt stillness Cas Public’s dancers leave no space to get comfortable as you’re hurled from scene to scene. From sections en pointe to popping and locking you won’t know what to expect next.

Competition winners will receive 2 x tickets to Tuesday 23rd May, 8pm performance at the Lowry. To enter simply RT this post and follow us on twitter or like and share on Facebook! Winners will be announced on Sunday evening, good luck!

BREAKIN’ CONVENTION ’17 brings its beats to The Lowry

JustDance by Belinda Lawley

Just Dance, image credit: Belinda Lawley

Sadler’s Wells’ critically acclaimed international festival of hip hop dance theatre, Breakin’ Convention, is back, with performances from UK and international companies and crews.

 

Following the annual festival at Sadler’s Wells over the May bank holiday (Saturday 29 April – Monday 1 May), Breakin’ Convention is now touring for a second consecutive year and comes to The Lowry, Salford Quays this weekend Friday 19 & Saturday 20 May.                                              

 

Now in its 14th year, the production is once again hosted and curated by Associate Artist Jonzi D who has changed the profile and influenced the development of the UK British hip hop dance and theatre scene over the last two decades.

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Jonzi D, image credit: Belinda Lawley

Breakin’ Convention is one of the world’s greatest celebrations of hip hop culture.

 

The tour line-up includes Soweto Skeleton Movers who mix comedic contortionism with the Pantsula dance style native to the townships of South Africa and perform to Kwaito music, a form of Afro house.

Breakin Convention 30 April 2017 at Sadlers Wells theatre.

Soweto Skeleton Movers, image credit: Paul Hampartsoumian

Joining them is Canadian group Tentacle Tribe, the Montreal-based dance company. Tentacle Tribe creates uncommon dance works with a contemporary twist using conceptual hip hop and influences from all types of earthly creatures.

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Tentacle Tribe, image credit: Paul Hampartsoumian

Completing the international line up are Just Dance from South Korea with an updated vision of Korean shamanistic mask performance. Live Korean drumming accompanies a crew of poppers and B-boys, with many with world titles to their name.

 

The UK tour also offers local dance companies the opportunity to perform alongside the International acts. Local crews for The Lowry dates include:

 

Friday 19 May: 01612twelve95, Chad Taylor Dance, Fidget Feet, Shockout Arts

Saturday 20 May: Explosive, Lauren ‘Fidget’ Haywood, LadyBoy, Stage Pro Academy

 

 

Tickets on sale now https://www.thelowry.com/events/breakin-convention

 

Casanova – Preview

Internationally and critically acclaimed company Northern Ballet brings the World Première tour of Casanova to the Lowry’s Lyric theatre next week, inviting audiences to unmask and be seduced by history’s greatest lover, the passionate, scandalous and oh so seductive Giacomo Casanova.

Consumed by his desires, which ultimately lead to him living a life of scandalous and hedonistic excess resulting in his imprisonment and exile, Casanova is a deliciously sensual piece which will thrill and enthral audiences in equal measure. Well known for their bold and dynamic works Northern Ballet have once again put their innovative and unique stamp on a classic story breathing life and spectacular artistry into this new piece. We are delighted to bring images from the rehearsal rooms to you today which truly illustrate the visual delight which awaits Lowry theatre goers next week.

Choreographed by award-winning Kenneth Tindall, most recently nominated for Best Classical Choreography and the Emerging Artist Award at the 2015 National Dance Awards, the production will be set to an original score by modern classical, film and television composer Kerry Muzzey, played live by the superb Northern Ballet Sinfonia, whisking theatre goes to 18th century Venice, where this thrilling piece will awaken our senses and delight in its magnificence.

This sumptuous spectacle which will be performed at the Lowry from 3rd – 6th May, is the first of an unprecedented three full-length World Premières to be held by Northern Ballet in 2017 which also include the much anticipated World Premières of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and The Little Mermaid, further evidence of Northern Ballet’s dedication to pushing the boundaries when it comes to delivering dance in its most stunning of forms.

Buy your tickets now for what will be undoubtedly one of the most visually spectacular events of the year. Tickets are available via the following link; https://www.thelowry.com/events/casanova

 

 

Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games

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Since its debut at The Point Theatre in Dublin on 2nd July 1996, Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance has mesmerised audiences the world over, from London to Las Vegas public demand for the show renowned for its spectacular showstopping routines has never waned. Now almost 21 years since its official debut, Flatley brings his rejuvenated show Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games to Manchester’s Palace Theatre with local talent James Keegan taking on the lead role of The Lord handpicked no less by the main man himself.

Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games is built around a classic good versus evil story, after an introductory projection featuring Flatley and his young son, Michael St. James, we are introduced to our talented cast via the dream of Little Spirit, (Jess Judd). Little Spirit sees the Lord of the Dance as everything good in the world, this purity and honesty is however threatened by the Dark Lord (Zoltan Papp) and his evil army of Dark Disciples, add to this the dark temptation that comes in the form of Morrighan the Seductress (Andrea Kren) who is determined to come between The Lord and his true love, the pure and perfect Saoirse (Caroline Gray).

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The story is a simple one, sometimes a little unclear but let’s be honest we haven’t come here expecting a deep and thought provoking narrative it is without doubt the dancing the draws the crowds year after year and it soon becomes very clear as to why. We are eased in with some exceptional acrobatics from Little Spirit who I’d happily have watched more of, as she introduces us not only to the story but also the running musical theme which we hear throughout the show, Lord of the Dance of course! As we meet the rest of the cast via various routines it is the full traditional ensemble pieces that really grip the audience, the energy and talent on display is mind-blowing, you can’t help but smile whilst watching, it’s an absolute thrill to hear the thundering drum of these lightening quick feet.

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The production is at its most powerful during the battle scenes, Zoltan Papp makes for a deliciously menacing Dark Lord, whipping the audience into a frenzy with his fabulous footwork. The sequence where he along with his Dark Disciples corner Little Spirit (Jess Judd) is performed beautifully, strong and precise with great characterisation, special mention also goes to the battle sequence between The Lord of the Dance (James Keegan), The Dark Lord (Zoltan Papp) and their respective armies, beautifully choreographed and directed by Flatley this scene really packs a punch.

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Paul Normandale’s staging of this production is almost as impressive as the talent on stage, huge flat screens the full width of the Palace’s imposing stage deliver colourful and bold projections, interjected with thrilling and sometimes unexpected pyrotechnics, complimented by stunning lightening design also by Normandale. Christopher Woods’ costume design is impressive, there are all manner of styles on show, with some really beautifully designed pieces, juxtaposed to the traditional is a section where the females are in not much more than bras and knickers while the men also whip their tops off, while this got a few whoops from the audience it seemed a little unnecessary and distracted from the beauty of the performances on stage.

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Special mention must go to musicians Giada Costenaro Cunningham and Nicole Lonergan, their fiddle playing is exceptional, a real highlight sandwiched between the exhilarating dance routines. As well as musical elements the audience are treated to vocals from Erin the Goddess (Sophie Evans) the choice of songs for me fell a little flat, something more upbeat and memorable would have sat better within the production and left more of an impact.

Manchester lad James Keegan really gives his all in the role of The Lord, following in the footsteps of Flatley is no mean feat but Keegan soon has the audience in the palm of his hand as he dances his way across the stage with precision, style and bags of charaisma.

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There is no doubt that Flatley has the magic formula when it comes to entertaining his fans, Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games is an absolute feast of dance and colour, with jawdropping choreography that will no doubt continue to delight and thrill dance fans for years to come. It’s an impressively entertaining show, bringing joy to young and old alike, hugely deserving of praise and the standing ovation Manchester was only too happy to bestow.

On at the Palace Theatre until Saturday 15th April, tickets available here http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/lord-of-the-dance/palace-theatre-manchester/

 

Dance – Sampled

dance-2In Dance Sampled, we are witness to ten minute extracts of dance from companies in genres including Flamenco, Tango, Contemporary, Ballet and Break. This example of how to see dance and also how we can become audiences of dance is a really interesting and intriguing one.

Delivered by The Movement, a collaborative from Birmingham Hippodrome, Saddlers Wells and The Lowry, all are committed to bringing a new wave of watching, focussing on accessibility and inclusivity. The collection of work is an exceptional evening of dance from 8 dancemakers who enthral the audience. It is wonderful to see that the audience present matches the variety and diversity of the performances in a packed out Lyric theatre.

Before each performance we’re introduced to the work with a projected interview on stage with the performers or choreographer. This is insightful, it lands the work for the audience and magnifies the eloquence of language we have for the variety of performances we are celebrating.

Flamenco trio dotdotdot open the evening with flamenco collaborations in a sublime cacophony, fan opening across live guitar across vocals from Javier Ribera across dancers beating through canons of dance from the determined trio and layered with lyrics from spoken word artist Toni Stuart, magnificent!

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BBC Young Dancer of the Year 2015, Conor Scott holds the centre of the evening with a majestic physicality, presence and creativity. His original piece is a wonderful exploration of loneliness, nostalgia and joy.

The audience welcome the essence of purity in The Faun danced beautifully by Yanelis Godoy and Julio Torres, choreography by Sidi Larbi, Cherkaoui originally danced by James O’Hara & Daisy Philips with Music by Claude Debussy and Nitin Sawhney.

The evening culminates in a daring performance by bgroup The Ruggeds from Holland dancing with skills that I have never experienced before, they’re pushing boundaries, skating across the floor in inversions, twisting in the air with raw energy and landing like tigers. The have a capacity for danger and play, a really exciting performance.

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The dancers and the dances throughout this evening have an extraordinary flare and each have a really unique talent, which makes the evening a real spectacle. The beauty of this project lies not only in the stunning performances but the accessibility of it, the highly engaging bite-sized excerpts give audiences a chance to experience a broad range of dance at affordable prices, with tickets available for just £15. In addition to this audience members were also invited to participate in a wide variety of workshops activities within the theatre foyer across the two day stay, an enormously engaging evening and a great opportunity to experience all dance has to offer. Highly recommended.

Guest reviewer: Kate Jackson

 

Billy Elliot – The Musical

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Billy is from a place where the men don’t dance, end of story, but, with a gritty determination, and an undeniable charm plus more talent than most of us have in our little fingers, he sets out to prove his doubters wrong by breaking the mould and going all the way.

Billy Elliot the Musical is a total phenomenon which has been seen by almost 11 million people across five continents and has won over 80 awards internationally, including an almighty 10 Tony Awards and a hugely impressive 5 Olivier Awards. Based on Lee Hall’s 2000 film, set in a northern mining town against the background of the 1984/’85 miners’ strike, the story revolves around Billy, who trades his boxing gloves for ballet shoes and soon discovers a passion for dance that ultimately changes not just his but the lives of his family and community forever.

So ingrained was life in the pits that son’s followed in their father’s footsteps, proud to do so and loyal to their communities. The impact of Maggie Thatcher and her Conservative Government on these communities is something that will never be forgotten and for most certainly not forgiven. Billy Elliot tells the story of a boy with a talent who wants out of the hardships of life in a mining town but needs the support and the backing of the proud men he adores yet watches become more and more broken by the oppressions of the state.

Billy Elliot does not shy away from the reality of the hardship and ill-treatment of the working classes during the miners’ strike of ‘84/85 and this only makes it more powerful and spellbinding. The contrast of the softness and innocence of the children in tutu’s dancing amongst the striking miners and heavy handed baton-wielding Police is powerful and emotive, reminding me of days in the 80’s when my sisters and I would help my Father seal envelops to send for job after job after first striking then being made redundant, unsuccessful time after time, yet never giving up.

Billy Elliot Tour

Billy Elliot is a story of hope, with emotional highs and heart-breaking lows, it is utterly absorbing. it will make you laugh out loud as well as pause an take The talent on stage is simply mind-blowing. With four Billy’s cast on the tour, tonight is the turn of Lewis Smallman to show us he truly was born to boogie. I don’t think any words could do justice to just how incredibly talented this young actor is, the challenges of the role are immense, not only do the boys need to have excellent contemporary dance, tap and ballet skills, but they’ve got to be able to sing and act and all with a Geordie accent! Lewis is totally mesmerising, his sheer talent and commitment to the role brought me to tears as I watched him move, he made for the perfect Billy.

As well as Lewis all the children in the cast are magnificent, with special mention going to Samuel Torpey Billy’s cross-dressing best friend Michael, whose duet with Lewis Smallman on Expressing Yourself is just perfection, funny, fabulous and full of razzle-dazzle, no doubt we will be seeing much more of this incredible talent, a true star in the making, he has the x-factor in bucket loads! Evie Martin takes on the role of Debbie with all the cheeky wit you’d hope for, she is fantastic, sassy and witty with just the right amount of attitude. The adult cast are exceptional too, lump in the throat moments between Billy and his dead Mum are at juxtapose with the scenes of violence and intimidation on the picket line. Annette McLaughlin as Mrs Wilkinson is outstanding, firm and feisty she truly believes in Billy, the scenes between the two are incredibly powerful as she offers a little of the Mother’s touch missing from Billy’s life. Martin Walsh as Billy’s Dad and Scott Garnham as Tony, Billy’s brother are real and believable, hardened by life and the rough hand they have been dealt yet when it comes down to it their love for both Billy and each other shines through.

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Everything about this production for me was perfection, from Elton John’s sublime score, to the incredible lighting design from Rick Fisher, and as for Peter Darling’s choreography, wow! Totally awe-inspiring, complex and compelling, expressive and moving, I barely blinked for fear of missing anything it just is that good.

Billy Elliot is an absolute triumph of a show, heart-warming, inspiring and utterly mesmerising, it’s very rare you see a whole audience leap up in appreciation but I absolutely guarantee by the time the curtain falls you will be on your feet roaring for more!

On at the Palace Theatre until Saturday 28th January tickets available here;

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/billy-elliot/palace-theatre-manchester/