Swan Lake at the London Coliseum

There may be the finest of lines between “classic” and “dated,” but this cannot be said of the English National Ballet’s stylistic and hypnotic performance of Mariinsky’s Swan Lake; which last night opened with the first of 11 nights on stage at the London Coliseum.

The traditionalism of the Russian, folky Romeo and Juliet-esque tragedy and beautifully harrowing sweep of Tchaikovsky’s score reign supreme, as Prince Siegfried, our White and Black Swans (Odette/Odile) and the company of graceful dancers take to the stage.

Swan Lake London 2015 www.picapicastyle,com

I was lucky enough to attend the final dress performance and press preview on Tuesday night, on behalf or Sweaty Betty, the luxury fitness brand for whom the English National Ballet test their dance wear.

This unique way to view the performance meant I was both completely absorbed in the dancers as the story unfolded before me; while in almost Brechtian theatre style, was snapped back to reality when the director cut the artists mid flow, pulled them up on their imperfections, and had them start again.

Tickets to Swan Lake are available here ranging from £14 to £79 and is a must-see over the next 10 days.

balletnacionaldecubacreditstardusttheatre0410persfoto6grotegalavddans2

Originally choreographed by Julius Reisinger, and famously composed by Tchaikovsky; Swan Lake is the story of Prince Siegfried’s love for the Swan Queen Odette and their battle against the evil sorcerer, Rothbart.

In the story Princess Odette is kidnapped by the wicked sorcerer Rothbart, who is half-man, half-bird. The evil sorcerer turns the Princess into a swan and condemns her to a life under his spell at the lakeside.  Late in the afternoon of his birthday, Siegfried is left alone with his thoughts, he sees a flock of swans, where Odette, Queen of the Swans, appears and captivates Siegfried with her beauty. Rothbart returns and steals the Swan Queen, Odette, from the Prince’s embrace leaving Siegfried alone and desolate by the waters of the lake.

Swan Lake London 2015 www.picapicastyle,com

The fateful encounter with manipulative Odile, and beautifully tragic story is revealed in the English National Ballet’s acclaimed production of Swan Lake, on at the London Coliseum for the next 10 days only.

wan Lake London 2015 www.picapicastyle,com

Beloved for its exquisite dancing, beautiful sets and Tchaikovsky’s glorious music, played by the Orchestra of English National Ballet, this Swan Lake is a thrill for the dedicated ballet fan or first-time ballet-goer.

Dress like a ballerina in Sweaty Betty’s new range of dancewear. My favourite piece is the gorgeous monarchorange orange Arabesque Dance Leotard  (£60)

Sweaty Betty Arabesque Leotard wwwpicapicastylecom

 

 

Cambodia’s Art Scene: Beauty in the Disorder

A little reflection on one of my favourite places in the world, Phnom Penh, and its evolving and surprising art scene.

After not much more than a decade of peace and following 40 years of war, Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city of two million, is recapturing some of its early 20th-century flair with a thriving and fertile art scene.

Phnom Penh Cambodia Things to do, Cambiodia Art Scene Bianca Capstick www.picapicastyle.com

Bolstered by the last decade’s relative stability, native Cambodians, expats, and the ever-expanding community of supporting NGOs, each have a part to play in this artistic renaissance which has seen art, arts cafes and galleries spring up all over town.

The artistic community’s work has tended to draw heavily on the Khmer Rouge period, but subject matters are changing.

Phnom Penh Cambodia Things to do, Cambiodia Art Scene Bianca Capstick www.picapicastyle.com

The Galleries to Visit…

Java Cafe

At the helm of Cambodia’s evolving art scene is Dana Langlois’ two-storey, Java Café. Serving as both a cafe and gallery space, JavaArts is a cultural enterprise and works to sustain arts practice for artists, researchers, curators and other creative practitioners.

With a background in visual arts Dana Langlois has focused on contemporary Cambodian art for more than a decade.  She curates solo shows of emerging artists and collaborates with other arts practitioners to produce exhibitions and projects.

image[6]

Meta-House

image[8]

Also at the forefront of raising the profile of Cambodia’s contemporary artists is the innovative gallery, Meta-House, a large art gallery, rooftop cinema and restaurant in the heart of the city.

Having opened in January 2007 by German filmmaker Nico Mesterharm in association with the International Academy at the Free University of Berlin, Meta-House has been actively supporting local artists and the development of contemporary art in Cambodia ever since.

In recent years the tireless efforts of Cambodian artists, both in Cambodia and abroad, have brought about a resurgence of both classical and contemporary Khmer art; playing a particularly important role in helping Cambodians reclaim their heritage, heal their souls and engage in the emerging renaissance.

image[7]

FCC

FCC (with sites in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap) has been the meeting place for intrepid adventurers, locals and visitors, from around the world. FCC brings together spirited people where, in a yellow colonial building with roof top terraces, conversation, good food and drink have always been the order of the day.

During the Khmer Rouge, the FCC proved popular with foreign journalists and aid workers, who gathered around the bar for a cold beer and to swap tales. The FCC became the cornerstone of the capital’s river front district.

As well as being an open top restaurant and bar, serving some of the most stylish food on the Captial’s riverside, overlooking the Mekong River, the FCC is also an art space, exhibiting and selling local art pieces with funds going to a list of NGOs, including PSE (for a child’s smile).

image[4]

Street 178

Take a walk down Street 178, behind the National Museum, a road once lined with shops exclusively selling garish depictions of Angkor Wat, and you’ll find a number of new art galleries showcasing emerging local artists.

 

See The Rough Guide to Cambodia Here