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article imageThe Red Shoes enthralls the London stage Special

By Tim Sandle     Dec 24, 2016 in Entertainment
London - Based on the film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, Matthew Bourne's new ballet — The Red Shoes — is enthralling and enchanting.
For the past few seasons Matthew Bourne has staged a new ballet at Sadlers World, home of London's most interesting and choreographed dance productions. Bourne's work is also left-of-center (last year's Sleeping Beauty had vampires in it, as way of example). This year Bourne takes on the 1948 movie The Red Shoes and brings with it a cinematic elegance.
Poster for The Red Shoes ballet  December 2016.
Poster for The Red Shoes ballet, December 2016.
The Red Shoes is both a fairy tale and an Academy Award-winning movie (and also the fairy tale performed as a ballet within the movie); now it is also a stage production, taking elements of both. The Red Shoes deals with the subjects of obsession, possession and the dream of making it (in this case a young girl — Vicky Page's — aim to become the greatest dancer in the world).
The cats list for The Red Shoes  Saddlers Wells  December 2016.
The cats list for The Red Shoes, Saddlers Wells, December 2016.
The set is well-designed and continually changing. The set is designed by Lez Brotherston, and the highlight is a mobile proscenium arch that swivels between front and backstage, showing two sides of the production to audience. The lighting, set-up by Paule Constable, is also evocative, moving between the grand (for the stage productions) to grotty (the more seedy side of London's streets during the 1940s).
Audience goers looking at merchandise for The Red Shoes  at Saddlers Wells  2016.
Audience goers looking at merchandise for The Red Shoes, at Saddlers Wells, 2016.
As well as being visually stunning, Bourne makes proficient use of music. The production contains a new score arranged by Terry Davies, one based on the mesmerizing music of composer Bernard Herrmann, who composed the movie score and is perhaps best known for his work with Alfred Hitchcock (movies like Psycho).
The main stage for the production of The Red Shoes  Saddlers Wells  December 2016.
The main stage for the production of The Red Shoes, Saddlers Wells, December 2016.
Throughout the production the mood and tone vary considerably, shown through changes to the music and the set: from the south of France, to New York and London's backstreets. The end is perhaps the most 'movie like: futuristic, monochrome, with shadows cast to re-create the German expressionist movement. The lead dancer, Ashley Shaw, enchants and delights throughout and manages to effectively conveyor the vulnerabilities of a young dancer caught between two powerful and obsessive men.
The Red Shoes adds Hollywood glamour and passion to the dance stage. For those visiting London, the show is well-worth catching over the holiday period.
The Christmas tree in the foyer at Saddlers Wells in London  the premier dance venue.
The Christmas tree in the foyer at Saddlers Wells in London, the premier dance venue.
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