I recently went to the ‘Red Shoes’ ballet in the Birmingham Hippodrome, and here is a review I wrote:
On Thursday 13th of February 2020, L4th was thrilled to have the unmissable opportunity to venture to the Birmingham Hippodrome, to watch the famed ‘The Red Shoes’ ballet. Viewing a ballet would be a new experience for many, including myself, so it was with high hopes and effervescent manners that we anticipated the ballet.
The purpose of our trip to the Birmingham Hippodrome was to see for ourselves how music can assist in complementing the style, atmosphere, and mood of dance. This would be fitting with our current ‘Music for Dance’ topic, which we are studying in Music. Experiencing the ballet would help in identifying the features in music for each individual dance.
The music used was particularly effective in that it rose and fell along with the mood and tone of the part being portrayed in the ballet. I can specifically recall the orchestral music playing in a forte, and emotive manner at a point of high tension in the ballet. I liked that the music reflected the ongoings of the ballet, since this assisted in understanding it (especially in parts where the plot was ambiguous).
I was genuinely spellbound post viewing the spectacular choreography used by the dancers, particularly the main characters such as Victoria (Ashley Shaw) and Julian Craster (Dominic North). A feature of the ballet that continues to remain with me is Dominic North’s dance solo, due to its dramatic and thought-provoking choreography. The choreography was perfect in that it was always clean-cut and synchronised.
The designer had effectively put the set and lighting to full use. During the times at which Vicky and the rest of Lermontov’s troop were performing to the onstage ‘audience’, it was completely clear due to the use of the moving curtains. Another standout piece of set was the sliding screens from the wings, as they provided an interesting equipment for the choreography to be based around. The lighting, too, was reflective of the mood of the ballet. For example, in depressing parts of the ballet, the lighting became blue (associated with sadness).
I had a personal appreciation for the costumes since they showed the type of clothing that people of the 1940s would have worn, so the historical context was present. I liked this as it added a more realistic touch to the tale.
If I had to point out a criticism, however, it would be to make the plot clearer. This is due to the fact that there were times at which I was confused at what was going on in the ballet. An addition such as narration may have helped. Despite this, I would undoubtedly recommend ‘The Red Shoes’ to anyone because it was entertaining and the audience was able to empathise with each and every character (since they showed such emotion in their dancing).
Personally, I have learnt that music in ballet can help in building tension and creating atmosphere, which would be a useful addition to any type of emotive dance. Music can be the key to portraying emotions, and helps in the understanding of the ballet.
– (Edited with the assistance of my music teacher.)