English National Ballet: She Said review – Frida Kahlo and fantastic beasts in mixed evening

Sadler’s Wells, London
A programme of three ballets by three women choreographers is a campaigning first. The results are far from traditional – and far from consistent

English National Ballet have revived a fine tradition in commissioning Grayson Perry to paint a front cloth for their latest programme. The unveiling of an artwork ahead of a ballet was much in vogue in the days of Diaghilev and Picasso. However, Perry’s cartoon of multi-breasted goddesses and phallic engines of war addresses the fact that She Said is far from being a traditional evening.

Composed of three new ballets by three women choreographers, it’s a campaigning first for an industry in which most of the repertory is created by men. The show opens with Anabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Broken Wings, an impressionistic life story of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Its first 10 minutes are extraordinary, as Tamara Rojo – a witty, vivid and ultimately tragic Kahlo – is seen first as a schoolgirl, playing merrily with carnival skeletons, and then whisked through the defining events of her life: crushed in a bus accident, confined to her bed, and eventually painting away her pain in her art.

Related: Frida Kahlo’s brush with ballet: Tamara Rojo dances the artist’s life

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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