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Cheat Sheet:
Matthew Bourne ballets

Sydney Opera House

He's one of the most successful names in dance, bringing ballet into the 21st century with innovative reimaginings of classic works. Before you tune into Sir Matthew Bourne's five greatest works on Stream, check out our handy cheat sheet with video introductions from the man himself.

Three dancers from The Australian Ballet position angled in white leotards in front of a white background with black dots

Swan Lake


A Snapshot

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is still best known for replacing the female corps-de-ballet in tutus with a bare-chested, menacing ensemble of male swans, which shattered conventions and turned tradition upside down. This reinterpretation was created out of Bourne’s fascination with what he saw as a hidden message around the Prince’s reluctance to take a bride and the idea of the male swan as powerful, wild and dangerous. Bourne set out to wipe away the powerful images of the ballerina swan that were so embedded in the psyche of dance enthusiasts and even the wider public. 

Since taking the dance world by storm when the groundbreaking work first premiered in 1995, this Swan Lake returns on film with a fresh look for the 21st century. Still retaining the iconic elements of the original production loved by millions, award-winning designers, Lez Brotherston and Paule Constable, alongside Bourne, have created an exciting re-imagining of the classic production.

Watch now

The acclaim


★★★★★

“Strong storytelling and a charged emotional core ensured that Swan Lake flew, and continues to fly”

The Guardian


★★★★★

“Absolutely breathtaking"

New York Theatre Guide

 

★★★★★

“Witty, Menacing, Lyrical and Wild”

The Daily Telegraph

Three dancers from The Australian Ballet position angled in white leotards in front of a white background with black dots

Romeo & Juliet


A Snapshot

Matthew Bourne brings Shakespeare’s classic story of love and conflict to life with a dark twist in his signature style. In this take on Romeo & Juliet, the story is set in the not-too-distant future in the "Verona Institute", where troubled teenagers are strictly controlled. The setting provides the ideal backdrop to explore how society often seeks to divide and crush youthful spirits. This production is particularly special, as its cast features talented emerging dancers from around the UK.

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The acclaim


“Britain’s most successful choreographer will blow your mind with his sheer imagination, wit, and brio”

The Times



“Electrifying entertainment’

Daily Telegraph

 

“Classic stories with a twist – accessible, but with a powerful emotional undertow”

Sunday Times

Three dancers from The Australian Ballet position angled in white leotards in front of a white background with black dots

The Red Shoes


A Snapshot

Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes is based on the 1984 movie by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburher, which in turn was shaped around Hans Christian Andsersen’s story of the same name. While Bourne holds onto some of Andersen themes of vanity and religious redemption, it’s the image of the red shoes that once put on will not allow the wearer to stop dancing that remains so potent. The Red Shoes is ultimately a tale of obsession, possession and one girl's dream to be the greatest dancer in the world. 

This two-act narrative dance was first performed in 2016 at the Sadler's Wells Theatre, London. The show itself won Best Entertainment award and Bourne won the award Best Theatre Choreographer at the 2017 Olivier Awards.

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The acclaim

★★★★★

“Demonstrates how deeply Bourne is in love with dance"

The Guardian


★★★★★

“An exhilarating theatrical triumph"

The Week

 

★★★★★

“Utterly enthralling”

 Daily Express 

The Car Man


A Snapshot

The Car Man is Matthew Bourne’s take on arguably the most iconic opera there is: Carmen (get it?). Not much remains from Bizet’s original story – instead, Bourne borrows narrative cues from the noir novel and film The Postman Always Rings Twice. The score, though, is a variation of the opera’s iconic music.

The Car Man is a sultry story of a stranger called Luca arriving in a mid-western, Italian American community called Harmony. Torrid affairs, suspected murder and bare-knuckle brawls ensue, set across diners, mechanics’ garages and sleazy nightclubs.

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The acclaim


★★★★★

“It’s this configuring of productions for everyone, rather than for a selected cadre of dance-world insiders and cultural initiates, that has brought Bourne worldwide success. The Car Man delivers everything it promises. See it.”

The Guardian



“Is there a better dance show currently running than Matthew Bourne’s “The Car Man”? It seems unlikely."

New York Times

 

“Superb, witty, drop-dead-sexy”

 Daily Telegraph

Three dancers from The Australian Ballet position angled in white leotards in front of a white background with black dots

Cinderella


A Snapshot

Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella is a reinterpretation of the classic fairy tale audiences know and love. This version is set in London in 1940, where Cinderella and a young RAF pilot fall in love but are parted by the horrors of the Blitz. Bourne was inspired to set this famous story in this time after listening to Prokofiev’s score, and realising it was written during the Second World War. Bourne felt the music reflected this dark period of history “when time was everything, love was found and lost suddenly and the world danced as if there was no tomorrow”.

Watch now

The acclaim


“A valentine to the power of love”

LA Times


★★★★
“Blitz fairytale spins light through darkness"

The Guardian

 

“A perfect treat”

The Daily Telegraph

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