The Red Shoes

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.






Additions to the Red Library

An unsupervised trip into a bookshop this week resulted in two more additions to my ever growing pile of unread books on the bedroom carpet next to my bookcase (the poor thing is groaning under the weight of its already over filled shelves and I fear cannot support another paperback being added).


Perry and Dent

The Descent of Man – Grayson Perry

I’ve been a fan of the inimitable Grayson Perry for a number of years, I think perhaps coming most to my attention after I had seen the ‘Imagine… Grayson Perry and the Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman’ episode on the BBC back in 2011.  Before that Grayson Perry has been on the fringes of my awareness from my gender studies module at University, which mentioned him in passing after which I’d made a note to look up in detail.  Since then I’ve seen a number of his programmes on TV, followed him on Twitter, and listened to as many radio shows he appears on as possible!  When I saw he had written a book examining the performance and stereotypes of masculinity, I was really excited, as the discussion of gender roles and their destructive impact has mainly been the domain of female writers and theorists examining femininity.   The lens under which we see the harmful impacts of performed and learned gender identities has only recently been applied to masculinity in the same way.  I am two pages in, and already enamoured by Perry’s clear and humours writing style. This seems to be such a necessary book, and such an important theme. I’ll be recommending this to the boyfriend once I’ve finished with it!

Dent’s Modern Tribes: The Secret Languages of Britain – Susie Dent

Susie Dent is a QUEEN.  Her  idiosyncratic phrasebook was on my Christmas list last year, and I was disappointed when Father Christmas failed to deliver this in my stocking on December 25th.  Language is such a rich fabric – it never fails to amuse and entertain me. We can be speaking the same language and still not know exactly what is being said (I recall the time a work colleague told me that my eyebrows were ‘on fleek’… I nearly dropped my coffee out of confusion and fear that I was being offended)!  This book is a true joy to read. Turning to the pages looking at the lexicography of the emergency services I am very pleased to discover that ‘Eiffel Syndrome’ is the term used to politely explain a patient with a foreign object in their rectum and that ‘UBI’ means an unexplained beer injury (perhaps the two are connected?!).  This book will be taking a pride of place on my coffee table for many years to come.

Have you added any new books to your collections in this week?  Let me know if you have any recommendations in the comments!