I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first live ballet experience although I had high expectations given the reputation Matthew Bourne has for delivering outstanding productions with a modern day twist and appeal.
I wasn’t familiar with either the book or the film and quickly discovered that this would put me at a disadvantage so with 5 minutes to spare I briefly read the programme and as a result here is my take on what happened through my eyes and in my words.
During a visit to London, it seems everyone is out to impress Ballet Impresario Boris Lermontov (Sam Archer) from his current Prima Ballerina Irina Boranskaja, to new talent Victoria Page (Ashley Shaw) and all those in between including Julian Craster (Chris Trenfield) a composer looking for that opportunity to shine.
A twist of fate (broken ankle) to Irina paves the way for Victoria (Vicky) Page to land the lead role in Lermontov’s new Monte Carlo ballet The Red Shoes with Craster as composer.
We then bear witness to the dazzling performance of Lermontov’s The Red Shoes ballet which ends with rapturous applause for his new leading lady both from the real audience and as part of the scene.
Que the end of season party where Lermontov is distracted by the love blossoming between Page and Craster. Convinced this relationship has no place in his company the couple are sent packing back to London.
Struggling to make ends meet Vicky and Julian are working in an East End music hall where we are entertained by a delightful Egyptian number highlighting Bourne’s ability to add new dynamics to contemporary art.
With the help of Ballet Master Grischa Ljubov (played superbly throughout by Nottingham born Glenn Graham,) Lermontov is back to entice Vicky into those red shoes and become his leading lady once more. Vicky’s desire to perform becomes greater than her love for Julian as her stage role and real life become so interlinked leading to a dramatic climax.
To conclude, this ballet is the story of one man’s belief that nothing is more important than dance and art and that nothing should come between that, not even love. Lermontov’s new ballet showcased that you must be prepared to succumb to the power of dance until it eventually consumes you. Torn between the love of a man and the power of the red shoes, Vicky Page chose love until the desire became so great that ultimately life imitated art.
The scene with the white dress – performed by Michela Meazza (Irina) and Premier Danseur Ivan Boleslawsky (Liam Mower)
Set to a fabulous score, with exceptional dancing combining classical ballet with contemporary flare. Dramatic, comedic and passionate – delivered in a flurry of emotions. I would love to see if a live orchestra adds another dimension.
The Red Shoes, Theatre Royal Nottingham until 11th March