While much of the ballet world has been commemorating the fourth centenary of the death of William Shakespeare (see Opera, Ballet and the Bard - Shakespeare Lives 23 Apr 2016) Ballet Cymru will be celebrating another literary anniversary, namely the centenary of the birth in Llandaff of the novelist, poet and screenplay writer Roald Dahl.
One of Dahl's most popular works is his Revolting Rhymes which is a re-working in verse of a number of traditional children's stories. Here is an example. Everyone knows the traditional story of the three little pigs and their respective construction technologies which Hannah Bateman and Victoria Sibson have made into a charming children's ballet for Northern Ballet. Well Dahl took the story one step forward by enlisting the help of Little Red Riding Hood who had already dispatched another wolf in an earlier story:
"The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers.Little Red Riding Hood disposes of the pigs' predator sure enough but there is a twist:
She whips a pistol from her knickers.
She aims it at the creature's head
And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead.
A few weeks later, in the wood,
I came across Miss Riding Hood.
But what a change! No cloak of red,
No silly hood upon her head.
She said, ``Hello, and do please note
My lovely furry wolf skin coat.''
"Ah, Piglet, you must never trust Young ladies from the upper crust.Now I try not to have favourites among ballet companies but who could not love one that creates a ballet from such delicious materials?
For now, Miss Riding Hood, one notes,
Not only has two wolf skin coats,
But when she goes from place to place,
She has a PIG SKIN TRAVELLING CASE."
Darius James and Amy Doughty have done just that to a score by Paul Patterson and sets and costumes by Steve Denton. The work, Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs, opens at The Riverfront theatre in Newport on 20 May 2016 before visiting Blackwood, Abergavenny, Lincoln, Stevenage, King's Lynn, Tewkesbury, Porthcawl, Basingstoke, Burnham on Sea, Newcastle under Lyme, Milford Havon, Bury St. Edmunds, Hereford, Bangor and Lichfield.
Ballet Cymru are not ignoring the anniversary of Shakespeare's death altogether. They are reviving their Romeo a Juliet which I reviewed in They're not from Chigwell - they're from a small Welsh Town called Newport 14 May 2013 which they are taking to Portsmouth, Llanelli and Stevenage. I have seen a lot of Romeo and Juliets in my time and even tried to dance some of it with very little success (see We had a stab at that! KNT's Romeo and Juliet Intensive Workshop for Beginners 9 April 2016 and Romeo and Juliet Intensive - the awful proof as the camera does not lie 21 April 2016) but James and Doughty's version is one of my favourites. If I can find an excuse to get to Pompey or Stevenage I will. As I say, I try not to have favourites among ballet companies but sometimes it's hard.