The 1948 film of The Red Shoes is one of my all time favourites. Beautiful, tragic, and wonderful. When I discovered that my favourite choreographer was turning it into a ballet, I was thrilled, and knew I had to get tickets to see it.
Matthew Bourne has been my favourite choreographer since I first saw his rendition of ‘The Nutcracker’ on DVD in 2005. After that I devoured as much of his work as I possibly could, and have seen his versions of ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Swan Lake’ ‘Edward Scissorhands’, and ‘Cinderella’ as Saddlers Wells. I also have the DVDs of his ballet of Carmen (The Car Man), and the Nutcracker ready for me to consume at my pleasure.
When my other half surprised me with tickets to see The Red Shoes for our anniversary he scored some serious brownie points! He’s not interested in dance or theatre so this was a super cute gesture from him (his interests are golf and football!)
We saw this at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff which is a perfect venue. It is iconic and a great home for theatre, dance, and music in Cardiff.
The programme, to my utmost joy, is in Welsh and English, which hopefully means I’ll be able to use it to help my learning of Welsh, but perhaps best off to start smaller!
The ballet was enthralling. Bourne swept us away into the world Lermontov’s ballet company, and we watching in awe as the passion, hopes, and despair of Vicky Page were played out before us. The staging was perfect – with the central piece of set being a swirling and rotating proscenium arch that sweeps up the dancers and directs our glare between the front and backstage, and forces us to recognise the struggle behind producing such art. The music was also, perfect. It is not the score from the film, but instead re-orchestrations of the incredible Bernard Herrmann’s early scores. This was a masterstroke, and the score swelled and ebbed with incredible beauty and carried us relentlessly through the action on stage.
Bourne’s choreography was iconic and artful, as always. The stamina of the company must be applauded as there was never a moment of rest throughout the acts. My one thought was that the storytelling fell down very slightly in the second act, and it seems almost rushed to get Vicky’s demise. The other half didn’t understand much of the second act, and found it rather hard to follow. That being said, it was still an incredibly poignant and heartbreaking moment (not ashamed to say that I cried my eyes out).
The Red Shoes exceed my hopes. This was a truly fantastic rendition of such a treasured film. I cannot wait to see it again.