Her Name Was Carmen: Ballet making a difference

We’re lucky in London next week to be seeing the world premiere of the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre extravaganza “Her Name Was Carmen” at the London Coliseum. And they’re set to create some waves making a difference in the plight for social justice, reinventing Mérimée’s classic tale by setting it in a refugee came on the edge of Europe – an interesting talking point.

Starring Irina Kolesnikova, the ballet will run for a limited season from 23 – 28 August this summer. The St Petersburg Ballet Theatre returns hot off the heels of a successful season in 2015 with it’s new show at the beautiful, iconic London venue. Kolesnikova is the principle ballerina of the St Petersburg Ballet, winning the gold medal at Prague in 2002 and being nominated for Best Female Dancer in Britain’s National Dance Awards.

We’re told that the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre aims to show how art can response to one of humanities most urgent crises. Kolesnikova recently visited a refugee came in the Balkans and the modern interpretation of Carmen draws on that experience by illustrating humanity’s age old cries of hope, despair, suffering, and a desire for a better life. Irina said, “Her Name Was Carmen distils the emotional directness of Bizet’s opera and speaks to timeless themes of hope and despair, suffering and a thirst for a better life. I hope this ballet will live in on in the hearts of the audience and will urge them to support and help refugees in some small way. ”

The ballet showcases an unusual partnership between the arts and international aid agency Oxfam. One pound from every ticket sold will go towards Oxfam’s efforts to provide shelter and support to refugees in the Western Balkans.

“Her Name Was Carmen is a deadly cocktail of passion and tragedy. After her family becomes a target for cruel people smugglers, the free spirited and feisty Carmen finds shelter in a refugee camp. Against this backdrop of despair, the naïve camp guard Jose and the local smuggler’s boss both fall under her spell and so the love triangle implodes.

The full-length ballet of two acts features 50 dancers in modern dress, to a re-orchestrated version of Bizet’s score played live by the English National Opera Orchestra.


Her Name Was Carmen runs for a limited season from 23 – 28 August at the London Coliseum, tickets available through www.eno.org

a Irina poster image jpeg


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