By Keri Tombazian
There is nothing so rarified within the space of a theatre than the silent acting bursting forth from a company of ballet dancers bringing to life an iconic story. Such was the air inside the Ahmanson Theatre, as Sir Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes opened with a splash. What a story, what show, what a night. These are no Balanchine ballerinas, these are Bourne ballerinas: dancers he has taken on a journey beyond the common notions and conventions of “the Ballet.”
Many of us grew up with the 1948 Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger film based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story of The Red Shoes. In an Ahmanson interview, Bourne muses that the fairy tale’s themes of sin and vanity might be less relevant to a modern audience. But even in today’s climate of relativism, these characteristics of the human condition transcend cultural changes and resonate with depth and pointedness. Told with the pathos of silent film acting, razor sharp choreography, within Bernard Herrmann’s beautiful music, orchestrated with flare by Terry Davies, the audience’s every sense is engaged.
To review any one of the principal dancers seems a disservice to the ensemble, for each member owns their individual moments with all of the skill, verve, and excellence as the leads. And yet, it would be a dereliction not to nod to the profound movement of body and spirit of Sam Archer, Ashley Shaw, Dominic North, Glenn Graham, and in particular – Michela Meazza and Liam Mower who so embodied the style and feeling of an era past they might well have been magically transported from 1948 to the Ahmanson stage.
No other recent Ahmanson production springs to mind in which a single artist designed both the set and costumes. Here, a singular sensation – Lez Brotherston’s magnificent set and costume designs might also have been the beneficiary of that magic transport from 1948. Just lovely.
The Red Shoes runs through …. Get your tickets HERE.
Don’t miss it, running now through October 1st.