Colour at Christmas with Ballet and Dickens

My Christmas was filled with wondrous colour this year, largely provided by the fabulous dance productions screened over the Christmas period.

The new Alice in Wonderland production by London’s Royal Ballet, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, captures the magic, darkness and dream quality of Lewis Carroll’s original tales and curious characters. The Mad Hatter’s tea party and the Queen of Heart’s dance were glorious. For more info go to: http://www.roh.org.uk/whatson/production.aspx?pid=13812 English composer Joby Talbot provides the score for Alice, and, interestingly, also worked on Wayne McGregor’s ballet Chroma (2006) – a production which I am very interested in looking at more closely (particularly if it takes any inspiration from Jarman’s text!)

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of Prokofiev’s Cinderella, created by the company’s director and choreographer David Bintley and designer John Macfarlane, also dazzled, with behind the scenes footage giving us a close up of the intricate and sumptuous costumes and set design.

Matthew Bourne’s Christmas was a treat: “This modern, sexy and risque Christmas ballet film, conceived by Matthew Bourne, which combines projections, animation and an intimate shooting style to produce a distinctive new way of presenting dance on screen; conceived by Bourne, celebrates his power to imaginatively transform ballet, taking dance and dancers off the stage into the studio, bringing together projections, animation and an intimate shooting style to produce a distinctive new way of presenting dance on screen.” You have fourteen days left to view, so follow this link: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/matthew-bournes-christmas/4od Bourne is not only a wonderful choreographer, but his theatrical and film-inspired works stimulate all of the senses. His use of colour, along with movement, contributes to his spectacular characterizations and storytelling. From the crisp, cool shades of grey used in Dorian Gray (a deliberate pun perhaps?) to the rich and sensual colouration in Car Man, and the magically delicate snow-white ice sculpture scene of Edward Scissorhands (danced to the beautiful enchanting score by Danny Elfman), Bourne is most definitely a dance-master of colour as well as bodies.

And I have to mention the wonderful BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Miss Havisham (played by Gillian Anderson) was heartbreakingly damaged and manipulative; the rendering of her cobwebbed and decaying wedding dress and wedding room satisfied my many imaginative conjuring of these scenes. I often worry when viewing a text adaptation I will be left disappointed by the visual manifestation of the textual, but white was put to good use here, with the initial ‘whiteness’ of Havisham’s world becoming increasingly soiled as the narrative evolved. Only in killing off this soiled and tainted ‘whiteness’, evoked by bitterness, is Satis House able to embrace colour once again, in the form of Pip’s and Estella’s unity.

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