Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, which completed his Tchaikovsky trilogy of the composer’s ballet masterworks, is preparing for a run in New York City in autumn following a hugely successful London season and UK tour. The trio began in 1992 with Nutcracker!, continuing in 1995 with his international hit Swan Lake.
Bourne’s acclaimed reimagining of the iconic classical ballet production will run during October and November at the New York City Center, and will be the company’s New York premiere of Sleeping Beauty. This is following Bourne’s Swan Lake also hitting the City in 2010 after its first visit in 1998 when the production played on Broadway and won three Tony Awards.
The original production of tutus and tights, The Sleeping Beauty, was choreographed in 1890 by Marius Petipa, inspired by Charles Perrault’s fairytale about a young girl cursed to sleep for 100 years. As a result, The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker were all re-imagined by Bourne in terms of choreography, set, and interpretation, expanding audiences and combining classic stories with contemporary and theatrical dance.
For Sleeping Beauty, Bourne sets his production in the original year of 1890, setting the christening of the central protagonist Princess Aurora at the height of the fin de siècle period, full of fairies, decadence and vampires which fed into the gothic imagination of the era. The narrative then moves forward into the Edwardian era of with Aurora’s coming of age, and into the modern day with her waking after a century-long sleep.
Bourne’s production of Sleeping Beauty was the fulfilment of a great ambition in order to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Bourne’s company New Adventures in 2012, and also to complete his choreographing of three great Tchaikovsky ballets.
Scottish Ballet is gearing up to present Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling from the end of April until the end of May 2013, a completely different realisation of the plot in comparison to the original classical Romantic ballet La Sylphide on which Highland Fling is based and was inspired by. Directed and choreographed by Bourne and performed live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra, the northern parts of the UK will be awash with a very different type of theatre and emotion that is usually associated with classical ballet, tutus, tights and pointe shoes.
Scottish Ballet will present the work of five-time Olivier Award-winning choreographer Bourne and also gain an exclusive license to the work, which is a fantastic and imaginative reworking of the piece, translating it into a contemporary Scotch twist. First premiered in 1994, and re-choreographed and designed in 2005, Bourne’s Highland Fling has a unique twist to it. Bourne is renowned for presenting work in this way, not dissimilar to that of Scottish Ballet. The company is the first to be given an exclusive license from Bourne to present his work and it will be the first time Scottish Ballet dancers have worked with the choreographer. Bourne’s approach and technique are eagerly anticipated by the company.
Highland Fling transforms La Sylphide into a story of rock and roll, and love, the addiction of James, gothic fairies, with twists and turns along the way. As James’ love for a strange and beautiful sylph becomes an obsession, he embarks on a fateful journey that takes him from the mean streets and nightclubs of Glasgow into a magical world beyond reality and reason.
Scottish Ballet will be touring to Theatre Royal Glasgow 27 April-4 May, Eden Court Theatre Inverness 9-11 May, His Majesty’s Theatre Aberdeen 16-18 May and Festival Theatre Edinburgh 22-25 May.
As part of British choreographer Matthew Bourne’s company New Adventures‘ 25th anniversary celebrations, old works have been revived and new ones are being created.
A triple bill was presented in May this year, showcasing works – for the second time – that launched Bourne’s career, and will undoubtedly propel his choreographic status further today. Spitfire was Bourne’s first creation in 1988, placing the most famous 19th century ballet showstopper in the world of men’s underwear advertising. A far cry from the dance tights and tunics of the day, Bourne’s men are costumed in revealing shorts and vests, a springboard for his success. Town and Country from 1991 saw Bourne’s and New Adventures’ first Olivier nomination as it immortalised the Bourne dance style in its ironically witty yet moving creation. Bygone eras and national characters are explored, a recurring theme in most of Bourne’s work. The Infernal Galop was inspired by 1930s and 1940s French icons, as seen by the “stiff upper lips” of English imagination to delight Bourne’s audiences.
Summer 2012 has recently seen the next instalment of celebrations. Bourne’s Play Without Words, in association with the National Theatre, depicts Chelsea in 1965 and the paradox of domestic social order and struggles for power in a spellbinding production. Its first revival as part of the 25th anniversary since 2002 at the National Theatre is seen to be another critical and popular success, making its debut at Sadler’s Wells and repeating its Olivier nominated work in such a prestigious dance house is a sure mark of the company’s success. Play Without Words won the 2003 Awards for Best Entertainment and Best Theatre Choreographer.
The 25th birthday of New Adventures will culminate with the world premier of Bourne’s latest re-imagining of the ballet classic The Sleeping Beauty. This will complete the trio of ballet masterworks that began with Nutcracker! and continued to reveal the international hit Swan Lake, minus the twirling tiaras of the originals. Again featuring touches of the Olivier, award winners will collaborate to create another Bourne magic, if potentially haunting production as a supernatural love story.
Not one for employing pointe shoes and pristine tutus, Bourne has contributed uniquely to both the British and international dance scene, providing sheer entertainment and arguably igniting a love of dance for many audience members.
Curzon Cinemas are due to bring Matthew Bourne’s triumphant re-interpretation of Swan Lake (certificate PG) on May 14th, at the Soho showing theatre. The production is a pre-recorded version from a 2011 performance at Sadler’s Wells, and will continue to showcase the bare-footed swans to audiences nationwide and beyond.
When Swan Lake premiered in 1995, it turned the traditional production on its head and took the dance world by storm, with Bourne captivating audiences with his theatrical and contemporary-classical choreography. Bourne’s version of the well-known classic is arguably an equally well-known production, replacing the female cast and pointe shoes of dancers with an iconic yet menacing male ensemble, donning white feathers and bare torsos. Swan Lake was first filmed in 2D in 1996, becoming a world phenomenon and winning more than 30 top accolades in the major theatrical awards of Broadway, Los Angeles and the UK. The 3D film is expected to create an illusion of space around the dancers, drawing the audience in and bringing the dramatic realism of the story to life.
The cast includes Richard Windsor as the lead Swan/Stranger, Dominic North as The Prince, Nina Goldman as The Queen and Madelaine Brennan as The Girlfriend, emulating the drama and intensity of Bourne’s dark idealisations. Following the screening, both director and choreographer Bourne and executive producer Fiona Morris will deliver a post-screening discussion, bringing the dazzling displays of characters and their show tights even further to life.
The modern reinvention of Swan Lake does away with the pristine tutus of Odette/Odile and the Cygnets, replacing them with leather and character shoe clad characters who bask in the theatricality of Bourne’s work. The 3D version of the piece brings audiences the immediate experience of dance, many of whom may never see it on stage. Whilst some may argue that this notion may do away with the intrinsic aesthetic of dance, yet it is encouraging to note that the magic of dance is available for countless numbers, spreading its message and aiming to secure further recognition of the industry’s future.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.