Cultural Outings · Reviews

Red Shoes review

Hello again!

It’s nice to be getting back into the swing of things. I have, however, realised that I’ve neglected an important component of this blog. Cultural outings! In fairness, my poverty, general sleepiness and desire to craft over all else means I’m quite a hermit at the moment. Anyway, lets rectify the situation.

People who know me in real life will know already that I love ballet. If there’s ever a chance to see a ballet I’m there. Luckily, my cousin loves it as much as I do. We’ve been to so many dance productions over the years. Everything from ballet, to weird abstract modern circusy dance shows. We sometimes allow other family members to come with us and this time we had her mum, my aunt along for company. It’s always so lovely to see them. (Especially when my aunt very kindly treated us!) It’s one of those situations where even though we live pretty close, we don’t see each other very often. It’s not quite only at funerals and dance shows, but it’s not far off.

We’d been excited about this one for quite a while and we’d managed to get amazingly close seats – which is helpful as I’m getting blinder by the day. This was the only picture I got.


Oh how I wish I’d got more. But being a good theatre goer I have to adhere to photography rules, as you all should. This picture doesn’t do it justice. Anyone who’s seen a Matthew Bourne ballet will be able to tell you how interesting and clever the sets are and how beautifully made the costumes are. Over the years we’ve seen 6 or 7 of his productions so I can confirm it all. In fact, Facebook had given us notifications that morning reminding us that two years before, we went to the same venue to see another Matthew Bourne show. The very same day! What are the odds? I like symmetry like that.

But yes, the costumes are wonderful. They look really expensive and properly fitted to the dancers. They flow beautifully. There was one dress in particular that I was lusting after. It would look hideous on me but I’d just spend my time twirling around and around. The sets are amazing too. You might not to be able to tell in the awful picture but that’s a movable stage, on stage. It moves back and forward and swivels about. The front is a recreation of a stage so the dancers could play out bits from the production for the audience. When it turned round it was dressed as the back of the stagefront looking out so you go the feeling you were behind the stage. They even had fake audience at the back of the stage. Very hard to explain properly, but very clever. Saying that it wouldn’t have been everyone’s cup of tea. Himself wouldn’t have got it. A ballet within a ballet. Maybe I should go into the story a bit more…

As a fan of ballets, I like to think that I know most of them well enough, but I was appalled when I realised that I didn’t know the story at all. I was even more horrified that I didn’t know it when I found out it was a Hans Christian Anderson story. Or even that it was a Hans Christian Anderson story! I was brought up on HCA. My Nan would always read me the stories, but somehow this one has slipped out of my memory. I have of course dutifully read it since and as always with modern productions, there are some differences.

Obviously, it’s set in modern day and not in a small Danish town. The main theme is still the same – the pursuit for the red shoes led to the demise of a bright young girl. The original story focussed heavily on her ‘sin’ and how she needed to repent. This one brought the moral home and focussed on what being vain and driven by ambitious greed (In this case she was a dancer. Wearing red shoes obviously. Hence the stage on stage.) could do to yourself and your relationships. At the end there was a scene where the two main characters have a row and split up. I’ve never seen a heart breaking argument portrayed so well anywhere. The music obviously played a part, but there were no words. All you needed was the movement to know how they were feeling and to feel the same emotion. It managed to be soft and calm and violent all at the same time. It flowed from one movement to the next showing the back and forth of the argument. It definitely falls into my top ten pieces of choreography. At one point I actually forgot that they were dancing I was so wrapped up in it. I’m also embarrassed to say that I gasped far too loudly at the end.. but I wont ruin it for you and tell you what happens.

Anyway, this isn’t a sponsored post (Matthew Bourne, please get in touch if you want to pay me), but if you get the chance please go and see it. Ballet doesn’t have to be the stuffy, confusing thing it used to be. Modern advancements mean that its accessible for all, especially I’ve you’ve never been before. Despite the in front of the stage/behind the stage antics, it was one of the most understandable ballets I’ve ever seen. Everything you needed to know was right there. There was no need to think ‘Who’s that guy then?’ If you do go, let me know and we can compare notes!


Much love xx


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