CriticalDance Forum

Matthew Bourne's 'Highland Fling'
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Author:  monkeysraincoat [ Tue May 10, 2005 5:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Highland Fling Coming Back to Sadlers for Second Season

After selling out it's first run this past March, Matthew Bourne's Highland Fling will be back at Sadler's Wells late this summer to afford those who missed it, as well as those who wished they could see it again, the chance to do just that.

The new dates are 26 August - 03 September with the current cast on board. Booking is now open and as quickly as the first run sold out, best to buy early.

With multiple casting of the lead roles and the unique personalities of its highly talented dancer/actors, the show is never quite the same any given night. If you haven't seen Highland Fling yet, read some of the reviews and find out why you should. :D


Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue May 10, 2005 11:35 pm ]
Post subject: 

Thanks Dani - it's a fine, witty work and I'm pleased to se it back.

Author:  monkeysraincoat [ Sat Aug 20, 2005 8:53 am ]
Post subject:  Crazy Little Fling

One last Fling at Sadler's before Edward Scissorhands slices and dices its way in this winter.

Crazy little fling
by Donald Hutera
The Times

Highland Fling is based on La Sylphide, the oldest warhorse in the repertory and the prototypical Romantic ballet. Dating from 1832, the original is set in the Scottish Highlands. Bourne cannily updated Highland Fling to a contemporary Glasgow populated by party-hardy young adults who are into fighting, sex and substance abuse.
Click for More...

Here is principle casting for the August 26 - September 03 performances (subject to change):

James: Will Kemp and James Leece
The Sylph: Noi Tolmer and Kerry Biggin

Fri 26: Will Kemp, Mireille Noi Tolmer
Sat 27 2.30pm: Will Kemp , Kerry Biggin
Sun 28: James Leece, Kerry Biggin
Tue 30: Will Kemp, Kerry Biggin
Wed 31 2.30pm: James Leece, Kerry Biggin
Wed 31 7.30pm: Will Kemp, Mireille Noi Tolmer
Thu 1: James Leece, Mireille Noi Tolmer
Fri 2: Will Kemp, Kerry Biggin
Sat 3 2.30pm: Will Kemp, Mireille Noi Tolmer
Sat 3 7.30pm: James Leece, Kerry Biggin

~Dani :D

Author:  AnaM [ Tue Sep 06, 2005 10:56 am ]
Post subject:  THE HIGHLAND FLING 02.09.05

Matthew Bourne presented his Highland Fling in Sadler’s Wells after its success during last season at the theatre. The ballet is a reworking of an earlier version, enlarged for a bigger company, and it was based on the story of “La Sylphide”, using the same music as the version Bournonville did in 1836.

Reworking classics (or a Romantic Ballet in this case) is not an easy task and it can go really wrong. Trying to put new ideas, especially in those works prior to Tchaykowsky’s scores, tend to fail in the handling of the music. Lovenskhold was no Tchaykowsky by any stretch of the imagination and therefore there are serious limitations to what one can do with the ballet. The simplicity of the score and its obvious mime passages are very limiting to any updating to modern times. Mats Ek’s “Giselle” in the eighties suffered from this handicap when he tried to work what seemed like a great idea for the second act of his version and one witnessed that the action on the stage had little to do with the music that was being played in the background.

Bearing this in mind, one can really say that Bourne has succeeded in creating a version that, to begin with, has changed its original title in order not to create confusion to audiences that may believe they are going to see a ballet, then find they are watching a completely different thing. Not only that, the action on the stage so cleverly echoes that of the original, though in a different context of course, that it does not clash too much with the music.

Bourne’s “Highland Fling” is a joyous ballet with a tragic end and it works because it is so cleverly theatrical that its simplicity carries you through the piece making you almost unaware of the choreographic limitations. Bourne obviously showed his grasp of theatre to great advantage in his version of “Swan Lake”, and in this reworking of an earlier piece one can see that he has learned his craft. There is no pretentiousness in his handling of the piece and one can really thank him for that. Either he or somebody has pointed out to him the narrative perfection of the original, the perfect timing for the different numbers and their alternate passages of mime and dance, and he has obviously followed them to the dot. Good for him, as they do work.

The action is set in Glasgow and the Sylph meets her object of attention in a public toilet, instead of the lovely interior of a manor. James is a drug addict, disillusioned youth who finds in the Sylph something to take him away from the reality that he does not seem to be able to confront. The Sylph is, like in the original, a free spirit, charming and capricious and at times a little bit devilish. Her choreography clearly contrasts with that given to the rest of the mortals, she is airy, adopts Romantic poses from time to time and does not follow any choreographic fashion of the day. The rest of the cast is given lots of lots of sixties, seventies disco steps, reminiscing of Morris’s “Hard Nut”. All the main characters of the original are there: Effie, Gurn and even a transformed Madge, who does not have a final hand in the development of the story, but acts as a fortune teller nevertheless. The first act, like in the original, develops within the realism of the action and the presence of the Sylph. Unlike the original, James and Effie do get married, thus bringing an extra dramatic point where to insert the famous Gigue as a celebration dance. Needless to say, the Gigue fails in comparison to that choreographed by Bournonville, and it is a shame, for Scotland to this day is famous for its jigs.
The first act finishes with James jumping off the window of his flat in his pursuit for the Sylph.

The second act takes us to the forest, or rahter to some ground where old cars seem to be disposed of. It is highly effective and the appearance of the Sylphs set the ballet on a completely different mood. Bourne states in an interview in the programme that his inspiration for the second act was more based on “Giselle” than on “La Sylphide” and it is clear to see. Instead of the charming Sylphs, we have much more devilish creatures, much more wilder and nearer to the nature of the willis. The choreography is very reminiscing of that Bourne did for his male Swans.

In fact, the choreography is not the strongest point of the ballet at all. The same steps keep coming back and the same choreographic movement that populated his white acts in “Swan Lake” is performed once and again on the stage. Bourne has a very limited movement vocabulary and his “style” seems to emanate from a movement sequence that he keeps reworking for the occasion. He is a very clever choreographer, though, and he hides this wonderfully with great theatrical skill. His humour is also contagious, as when in the moments when in the original the Sylph shows James around and brings him water and collects berries for him, Bourne had a moment of hilarity in introducing all these sweet little animals in what resembles more a scene from Bambi… simply fantastic and great fun to watch!

James keeps trying to emulate the Sylphs and his character starts getting a bit darker, while those of the Sylphs seem to soften by the minute. The handling of the dramatic end of the story by Bourne is very intelligent and has redeemed him from my objections to his “Swan Lake” in which all his female characters were either whores or puritans. Bourne has his Sylph ready to abandon his home and friends in order to follow James, only to find her wings cut off from her. A sad metaphor for a sad reality. She then dies tragically and the Sylphs return to take her corpse. James’s doom will have him turned into a Sylph hovering outside Effie and Gurn’s domestic life.

Of course, Bourne’s version is not Bournonville’s, but it certainly is a very good ballet to see. He has managed to update a Romantic ballet while making full use of its music and bringing it on as if it was Tchaykowsky. He has created a very theatrical, entertaining piece and he has shown a depth of characterisation in his reworking of the Sylph that is quite remarkable. If only he could show in the real dancing bits a greater range of movement vocabulary, it would be just a great piece.

Author:  kurinuku [ Fri Sep 23, 2005 11:21 am ]
Post subject: 

Update of 'La Sylphide' violent, imaginative
by WILMA SALISBURY for the Cleveland Plain Dealer

The latter work was recently revived for U.K. and Japanese tours and a sold-out home season at Sadler's Wells, the legendary London theater that gave birth to the Royal Ballet and its school.

published: September 11, 2005

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