Forget everything you know about acrobatics for a moment and picture this: a male performer and a female performer, dressed in casual t-shirts and jeans, carrying each other and balancing their weight on the other person’s stomach, hands and head. There are no strings attached to support them and none of the formal bows or gestures you would expect to see at a circus show.
Akademi tantalised Hounslow’s local community last Saturday with their multifaceted exploration of Dante’s Paradiso: Man’s Enduring Search for Perfection at Bell Square London, a free festival packed with dance and physical theatre performances. Paradiso is a poignant and highly moving piece of choreography. Following the inspirational conceptualisation of Akademi’s director Mira Kaushik OBE and choreographer Jose Agudo, Akademi instills Dante’s final stage of his narrative poem, written in1308-1321, The Divine Comedy, through a wide-range of contemporary and traditional Indian dance styles.
Summer warmth and longer days have finally arrived in London. This is the time to set up your calendar for an eventful summer filled with outdoor events. If you live in the Hounslow area, known for its all-week diverse and multicultural market stalls, why not take a seat at Bell Square (Hounslow High Street) for FREE to see amazing dance, theatre, acrobatic and circus-inspired performances?
Bell Square London launched in 2014 in the heart of Hounslow to bring performance art to the local community. Residents of Hounslow have returned each year to see exciting, international world-class acts which have toured at prime theatre venues. All first-timers to Bell Square London are welcome, and there is no age restriction. Whether you are a two-year-old or a ninety-year-old, there’s something for all audiences to enjoy!
Woolf Works, a brand new production conceived out of the works of 20thcentury novelist Virginia Woolf, received an outstanding roar of applause and standing ovations at its premier last night. The Royal Ballet’s own resident contemporary choreographer, Wayne McGregor was inspired to fulfil Woolf’s dream of combining her stylistic prose which defied the writing rules of her era with the transformative and emotional powers of dance. McGregor worked tirelessly with Uzma Hameed as the production’s dramaturg to unravel ‘the luminosity, sonorousness and poignancy of [Woolf’s] world.’
With an array of the best principal dancers from the Royal Ballet including Natalia Osipova, Federico Bonelli, Edward Watson and former ballet principal Alessandra Ferri (now aged 52, can you believe?), Woolf Works brings together the flair and multiple perspectives of the author’s non-linear writing through three of her best loved novels – Mrs Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves.
Impressed by the 22 year old Francesca Hayward‘s impish bird dance at the Royal Ballet’s earlier production of Sleeping Beauty, I was naturally curious to see her perform again but as a lead in a tragic tale. This season of the Royal Ballet introduced the loving and disturbing tale of Manon, a ingénue whose struggle for love and material greed lead to her inevitable demise.
Its music is written by Jules Massenet, which recounts the sensualness and naivety of Manon’s flawed character, which has been produced into various historical operas and plays from the original 1731 novel by Abbé Prévost. Created by Kenneth MacMillan in 1974, the English ballet was a delight to watch in its efforts to portray a never-ending spiral bridging two lovers, Manon and Des Grieux, that are tangled in forces beyond their control; finance, feelings and, life and death situations. Yet I have to admit, that I have seen fancier and riskier ballets that show more flair and technique, than this one. There was unmistakably a lot of talent, much leaping, lifts and beautiful movement that ingratiated the stage, as designed by Nicholas Georgiadis, and without putting down the strength and physical prowess of its dancers, I felt, the ballet’s choreography, as a whole, was a level below from the, more, grander and, more, popular ballets.
Sleeping Beauty is a classically mesmerizing ballet piece and a reminder of childhood nostalgia through a world-renowned fairy tale. The ballet is a story of hope and love conquering over evil which Tchaikovsky’s magical music score of harps and strings recreated, combining grandeur and fairy dust into a wonderful masterpiece. Marius Petipa’s choreography is astounding, following the music precisely from every hand gesture to every turn, allowing the dancers to show off their true brilliance to a wistful audience. In addition, every detail is significant from all storyland characters, dancers and non-dancers, from King Florestan XXIV, acted by Christopher Saunders, to Cattalabutte (Alastair Marriott) whose miming adds to a cleverly thought out ensemble creating what we see at the Royal Ballet today. With the choreography and musical changes made by Frederick Ashton, Antony Dowell and Christopher Wheeldon over time, it has managed to retain its world-class status as one of the greatest ballets in history.