The Red Shoes by New Adventures, Sir Matthew Bourne’s dance company, is based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale and the 1948 Academy Award winning film by Powell and Pressburger. It’s the story of a successful dancer, Victoria Page, and how she is torn between her love of dance and her love for her partner, a composer called Julian Craster.
I am not familiar with the film so I cannot make any comparisons, but this was an absolutely beautiful production. As always Matthew Bourne’s choreography is innovative and clever, reflecting the time period, locations and personalities of the characters. I particularly loved the choreography for the composer when he was working on a new score, and between him and Victoria during the second half showing the tension between them.
I also thought the staging and set design was very effective. Almost throughout there was a frame on stage with a red curtain, which would turn showing us the performers both onstage and backstage. It was also used effectively in the second half to flip between scenes with Victoria and Craster and Boris Lermantov, the head of the dance company who is seemingly obsessed with her. I loved the design when the dance company perform The Red Shoes ballet, based on the fairytale but clearly a premonition for what will happen to the performers offstage. The lighting changed to black and white and the dancers were all in black, white or grey, which made the red shoes themselves and Victoria’s red dress stand out.
My one very small criticism is that I wonder whether someone who had no idea of the story would have been able to follow everything. I had read a synopsis so I had some idea, but I suspect some parts may have been a little confusing if I had not.
I am not a dance aficionado but I always enjoy Matthew Bourne’s productions. I am always impressed by how much emotion the performers can express without words, and the ending of this show was moving. I think this will be one of my favourite New Adventures productions.