Leaping off the stage: How Ballet and Opera are taking risks to capture a new audience
With the success of shows such as Strictly Come Dancing, and dance classes becoming more popular as a work out style, what can be done to make ballet more accessible to an audience that isn’t stuffy? Sadler’s Wells teamed with English National Ballet seems to have come up with the genius answer. New ballets! Instead of dusting off The Nutcracker, Swan Lake or The Carmen, instead commissions are coming thick and fast for shows that can captivate a modern audience. Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands, based on the Burton movie for example has already set the stage alight, with sold out shows for its six week Christmas run. That is not to say that The Nutcracker or family favourite Swan Lake are no longer seen, instead they are reimagined into Grease like car shops, gay fantasias or comedies which capture the whole audience. Of course Matthew Bourne is not the only choreographer doing new things to an old form, but he certainly is the most prolific.
However, we can’t thank ENB alone, the cinemas too are helping, and it is not uncommon to be able to see a live show in a cinema, thanks the National Theatre. Audiences in their drones can now flock to their local picturehouse to see the latest ballet or stage show without the trip to London or costly seats.
And without the pomp of a theatre, there is nothing wrong with rocking up in Jeans and a hoodie, and eating popcorn at an opera.