Monday, November 25, 2013

A Night of Two Halves...

Going to see dance shows with my Mum has become somewhat of a tradition - it started with a trip to see The Nutcracker when I was five and has now moved onto me introducing her to a wider range of more contemporary works. When I saw that Ballet Boyz were performing at my local theatre before taking their tour onto Sadler’s Wells I knew it was the perfect opportunity for a little treat. I was introduced to the Ballet Boyz during my time at university but had never seen the company perform live; I couldn’t really miss the opportunity to see the new cohort of dancers when they were only 10 minutes down the road!
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Ballet Boyz: The Talent sees 10 young male dancers come together under the guidance of Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt (the founders and original Ballet Boyz)  to perform works by Liam Scarlett and Russel Maliphant. The show opens with the curtains lifting to unveil a hanging screen. The audience is then treated to a short film of the dancers in rehearsals whilst Scarlett discusses the challenges he faced in choreographing for an all-male group opposed to his usual classical ballet setting. The screen then lifts revealing the 10 dancers dotted around the stage lying with their backs to the audience. What unfolds in the next half hour or so is a piece that has breath taking fluidity underpinned by a strength that makes the dancers reminiscent of Greek Gods (their bare chests and toned muscles also enhance this image). All movements are executed as if in water; fluid, smooth and flowing, even when they toss one another into the air if is as if they weigh no more than a feather. The only sharpness in the piece comes from the specifically choreographed staccato duets that involve jabbing arms and precise limb placement. As a whole this piece works best when the dancers are in unison as they present a striking image – a mass floating along in a way that seems impossibly light for such Adonises.

If Scarlet’s Serpent was the dancers moving in water then Russel Maliphant’s Fallen is reminiscent of hail; it’s sharper, faster and more direct. It begins like the first piece with a short film then the unveiling of the dancers but that is where the similarities end. The action starts with the dancers in two circles – one inner and one outer – slowly rotating like a cog. The cog continues to steadily wind itself up until it is ready to release its kinetic energy into the dance. The duets that follow resemble combat; the dancers react to one another’s movements as well as protrude into each other’s personal space with fierce pushing and pulling. Dressed in khaki tones, the link to the warriors seems inevitable, especially combined with the dancers repeating their movement sequences over and over as though strategizing and rehearsing a plan of attack. The piece builds to the group working as a whole - running and using one another as ledges, tumbling in and out of lifts with precision and ease and supporting one another to create shapes that would not be possible without the camaraderie of the troop. In general, Fallen felt like it had more of a drive behind it – this was probably helped by the pounding accompaniment but also in the way the movements were executed.

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All in all, it was a night that pleased. Those who went for the ‘Ballet’ would not have been disappointed with the clean, precise lines of Serpent, and those who went for the ‘Boyz’ would feel fulfilled by Maliphant’s testosterone fuelled Fallen.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Killer Queen...

On Friday evening I went with Ben and his family to see We Will Rock you at the Dominion Theatre in London. I saw the show three years ago with Ben - it was my first Christmas present from him - but in all honesty couldn't really remember the storyline so was excited to get to see it again!

We started the evening by grabbing a quick bite in Porters English Restaurant in Covent Garden. As you'd probably be able to guess, the menu predominantly consisted of traditional pies such as Shepherd's pie and steak and kidney pudding. I opted for a fisherman's pie alongside a homemade pink lemonade. 

Christmassy Covent Garden
We then made our way through the Christmassy streets towards Tottenham Court Road tube station to take our seats for the show. Based upon song's by Queen, the story is set in a future where musical instruments are banned and the population are no longer individuals; they think the same, wear the same and act the same - apart from the Rebels who live underground searching for the answer to the prophecy that will revive the age of rock and roll.

We Will Rock You is a fun-filled night out! The combination of classic British songs with subtle innuendos and brilliant talent make this a show that leaves you feeling like you've been treated to a rock concert as well as musical. The atmosphere in the theatre makes you want to get on your feet and join the cast in rocking to the sounds of "We Are The Champions" and "I Want It All." It's a definite must-see for not only those who love Queen but for anyone who wants to be thrilled by excellent vocals and end the evening with a giant grin on their face! 

Monday, November 04, 2013

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November...

I love cake so what better excuse than firework night to make some themed cupcakes. I decided to go with a bonfire theme so that I could satisfy the chocoholics in my family.

I followed my usual cupcake recipe as it is pretty full proof and hasn't let me down yet! To adapt the recipe I added a little food colouring to make the butter icing have a warm fiery glow. I then toped the cupcakes with broken bits of Flake to create the bonfire logs. To add that something extra, I added a few drops of vanilla extract into the mix. I think these easy to make cupcakes are a perfect little treat for these cold Autumn nights.

Have you found any new ways of adapting well-loved recipes? What wintery themed ideas do you think I should try?
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