Thursday, 16 March 2017

The Red Shoes | Wales Millennium Centre

I'd heard so much hype around Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes that when I heard it was coming to Cardiff I just had to get myself a ticket. The Millennium Centre is a stunning venue so it's always a pleasure to visit but I was even more pleased when I managed to bag myself an under 26s ticket for just £10. I've seen a few ballets in my time but they've all been fairly traditional (think Swan Lake, The Nutcracker) so I was very interested to watch a more contemporary production and I was certainly not disappointed. Set in the 1940s, the show tells the story of a girl who longs to dance but is torn between the two men who inspire her, with fateful consequences. It was a truly stunning production, almost cinematic at times, and I can't stop thinking about it!

The use of set was very interesting. As the show features a ballet within a ballet, the stage space was easily manipulated to create the illusion of on-stage and backstage areas and they moved so effortlessly between the two. There were also various backdrops and an assortment of props used to create different locations, from the Covent Garden Opera House to a beach in Monte Carlo. The costumes were absolutely beautiful. I loved that they were accurate for the era but still flowed so wonderfully and enhanced the choreography.

The performance itself was simply breathtaking. The dancers held my attention throughout and the story came across very clearly. I particularly enjoyed a scene that took place at the beach as the choreography was so interesting: it was comical and highly stylised but still had such precision. Ashley Shaw in the lead role was so dainty and elegant but really owned the stage and was such a pleasure to watch. At times I felt myself getting emotional, especially towards the conclusion, as the production was incredibly slick without losing any of the passion.

I would say that my only disappointment was that the music was not live (sometimes I enjoy watching the orchestra almost as much as the on-stage action) but I think that the performance by the dancers definitely makes up for that. I really think this is a show for everyone to enjoy. Sometimes people can be put off by ballet being seen as too high-brow but this is not at the case with The Red Shoes and the varied audience at the Millennium Centre was proof of this for me. The tour still has plenty of stops left and is running until July so there are plenty of opportunities to get yourself a ticket if you haven't already. The production stays at Millennium Centre in Cardiff until Saturday 18th so for tickets and more tour dates check out the New Adventures website.

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