A Simply Breathtaking Swan Lake Stuns Birmingham

Carlos Acosta’s tenure as director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet started in some style last night, with a stunningly beautiful version of what is arguably the greatest ballet of them all. The Peter Wright/Galina Samsova production of Swan Lake brought all its exquisite beauty, its tragedy and its soaring score, and had moments that left the audience gasping. With the central pairing of Tyrone Singleton as Prince Siegfried, and the glorious Celine Gittens as Odette/Odile, this is one of ballet’s most standout moments in recent years.

The story of Swan Lake is one of love, one of sorcery, one of the most terrible deception, and ultimately one of sacrifice. Prince Siegfried is about to be crowned king and must be married. Yet he is bored by palace life and has no wish to marry, preferring to carouse with his friends and his equerry Benno (Tzu-Chao Chou, with a lively, exhilarating performance.) The Queen Mother (Eilis Small, suitably regal) is shocked and says the Prince must choose a princess the next day to marry. However that very night the Prince does meet the princess of his dreams, when he goes hunting for swans to kill, he sees a swan transformed into a beautiful Princess before his eyes, and learns she is Odette, cursed to be a swan during daylight hours by the evil magician Baron Von Rothbert. Only an oath of undying love can break the curse, which the smitten Siegfried willingly gives. But Rothbert’s magic is stronger, and at the ball where Siegfied is to chose a Princess, he transforms his own daughter Odile into a mirror image of Odette, a black swan to Odette’s white innocence. Siegfried is tricked and professes his love to Odile, only realising his mistake when Odette appears at a window of the palace as arranged. Resigned to her fate to remain a swan, Odette plans to take the only way out, leading the ballet to its heartbreaking conclusion.

The exquisite pairing of Tyrone Singleton and Celine Gittens is at the heart of this performance, and they both dance beautifully, showing clear chemistry. Celine in particular is heartbreakingly beautiful, her arm movements alone make the swan come alive, and the contrast when she turns into the more confident, almost flighty Odile is stark and stunning. Tyrone is, as ever, perfect, being able to move quickly between indifference, and enchantment, to misery through both the dance and his facial expressions.

The sets are dark and brooding; with most of the scenes in half light which add to the mystery and tension, and the set pieces of the swans are sublime in their beauty, particularly when they emerge from the pool after Siegfried’s betrayal. The haunting ending is perfect. I sobbed along with everyone else.

The Tchaikovsky score that adorned thousands of jewellery boxes has never sounded better. Swan Lake is a dream of a ballet that you must see.

Swan Lake

Birmingham Hippodrome Until Saturday 29th February

Click here for ticket information.


Theatre Treats For 2020

A night at the theatre is absolutely my number one way to enjoy myself. I love all kinds of show, from the ballet, to musicals, to more hard hitting shows like The Entertainer, a play I saw last year. Theatre can be sheer escapism, or can be a slice of social realism, or it can just be very funny, something for the whole family to enjoy.

It can also be expensive however, so it is worth bookmarking sites like best-tickets.co.uk in order to get the best deals for the best seats. You will find that there are bargains to be had, particularly if you can attend a show at short notice, or on a weekday when demand may not be so high. Best Tickets has availability for many of the top shows in London, including West End hits, so is well worth a look if you have a special occasion coming up, or are looking at taking a trip to the capital.

If you are looking for a special theatre experience in 2020, here are some shows that should be on your radar.

A Taste Of Honey

I saw this show last year and just adored it. (You can read my review here). This year, Shelagh Delaney’s classic drama is showing at the Trafalgar Studios and once again Jodie Prenger is taking the role of Helen, a role she was born to play. The drama retains all the bite and style that so shocked the 1960s, and the story still resonates in this National Theatre production.

Pretty Woman the Musical

One of the most beloved romantic movies is coming to the stage in 2020. Pretty Woman is a bonafide classic that made a star of Julia Roberts, and now the story has been turned into a musical starring Danny Mac and Aimee Atkinson as Edward and Vivian. This is a show that has already broke records on Broadway, and looks set to do the same here when it opens at the Piccadilly Theatre in April.

Tina The Tina Turner Musical

If you love a jukebox musical, and have seen all the usual suspects (Mamma Mia, Rock of Ages, We Will Rock You etc etc) then Tina the Tina Turner Musical should be top of your list. The story of Tina Turner, and featuring all her biggest hits, Tina the Musical has been critically acclaimed, and has a run that has now been extended to January 2021.

Are you a fan of the theatre? What shows are you planning to see in 2020.

How to Dress In Your 30s

Your choice of clothing and wardrobe can vary significantly based on factors like your style, occupation, trends, and others. Age, at times, may also have a massive influence on the way your wardrobe looks, as embodied by the typical saying of “dressing your age.” You may be used to jumping into new trends whenever a new style hits the runway or possibly sporting the sneakers that your favorite influencers endorse on social media.  

Dressing in your 30’s presents a unique fashion challenge because, at this point, you may not have the same time to go through fast fashion stores and have likely started to shift away from your 20’s style. Likewise, there are not as many influencers in this age range, so it may be more difficult for you to find fashion inspiration.

As you grow older, so does your wardrobe. In a sense, your 30’s wardrobe is a representation of your coming-of-age journey. From big and bold designs, you start to move towards more effortless yet put-together pieces. From crop tops and sporty athleisure shirts, you begin to look at cute boutique tops and invest in more expensive pieces.

Swap Your Bottoms

The skinny jeans may have been a staple in your 20’s closet, but now, they may not be as present in your daily outfits anymore. For more classy or work-appropriate bottoms, you can get chinos, trousers, or culottes. Nowadays, workwear does not have to be restricting or bland and can still keep you looking chic but elegant at the same time!

For a more casual look, you can get boyfriend jeans, which you can pair with a simple blouse, loafers or boots, and a classic handbag. Apart from boyfriend jeans, you can also look at other wide-leg jeans or straight-leg jeans, both of which give off beautiful silhouettes. With these types of jeans, you can look casual but effortless at the same time. 

Look for Blouses and Sweaters

You can still keep your favorite printed shirts in a stack in your drawer, but at this point, you should start looking for blouses. You can wear your shirts for more casual occasions like getting groceries or hitting the gym, but blouses and sweaters will be your new go-to tops. Try finding cute boutique tops that look more elegant but still aligned with your style and taste!

As for sweaters, you can also elevate your style by looking for more high-quality options. Cashmere sweaters, for instance, are incredibly comfortable and elegant, and though more expensive, they are known for lasting longer due to the durability of the fabric.  

Invest in Quality Shoes

While it may seem fun to have a ton of shoes for you to choose from, now is the perfect time for you to invest in a pair of good quality footwear. Depending on your needs, you can opt to get loafers, heels, or whatever pair of shoes will be most suitable for your lifestyle. In terms of design, go for more classic designs rather than the current trend, so that you can continue to wear the shoes even as the trends change. 

Investing in luxury shoes may seem like a costly route, but are known to be a worthwhile choice because of the durability. The right pair of quality shoes will help you complete all of your outfits, keeping you confident every time you step out of your house.