Posted 25th September 2018

Rarely performed outside London, the ballet masterpiece Manon is coming to Milton Keynes Theatre in October thanks to English National Ballet.

“I’m proud that we’re bringing this dramatic story ballet to Milton Keynes and other regional cities”, says Tamara Rojo, Lead Principal dancer and Artistic Director of English National Ballet. “It’s only the second time in thirty years it’s happening!”

Kenneth MacMillan, one of the most important British choreographers that ever lived, created this three-act tragedy in 1974. It quickly became a classic, with audiences falling in love with its heroine.

So who is Manon? She is young woman living in 18th century France, who has been promised as a mistress to an older gentleman, by her own brother (no less!). While she enjoys the life of privilege it affords her, she can’t help falling in love with a penniless student. Cue a tale of gambling, glamour and greed that could compete with any period drama.

For Rojo, the story of Manon is “as romantic and intense as Romeo & Juliet. Kenneth MacMillan is actually the closest thing to Shakespeare we have in ballet; he had such an amazing ability to tell stories”. Gavin Sutherland, who conducts the English National Ballet Philharmonic agrees: “it’s a great ballet full of fire and drama”. And part of that comes from “one of the most passionate and theatrical scores compiled in the 20th century. This music always delights the audience, the orchestra players and the dancers.”

Dancer Jennie Harrington loves to dance in this ballet: “the music is incredibly inspiring, and the story so moving. With the costumes, make-up and wigs, you really feel like you embody a character – whether a beggar or a courtesan, you can really commit to bringing it all to life.”

Even as an audience member, you can’t help but getting caught up in the music and the story too – and by the final heartrending duet, emotions are running so high you’ll feel as breathless as the dancers on stage!

English National Ballet performs Manon at Milton Keynes Theatre, 24 – 27 October 2018.