Wednesday 23 October 2019

My cultural life: Alan Foley

Alan Foley
Alan Foley
Vaganova Ballet Academy

Alan Foley is the founder and artistic director of Cork City Ballet. He is also the author of two books and recently produced and starred in the movie documentary Breaking Pointe which premiered at Cork Opera House in September. He lives in Cork with his partner Peter and stepson Josh. He is currently directing Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, which opens at Cork Opera House on Thursday for four performances only.

Theatre: Hamilton

I saw Hamilton (below) the musical in London last week. The musical originated off-Broadway and transferred to Broadway's Richard Rogers Theatre where it opened on August 6 2015. Following unanimous critical praise, the musical played to capacity houses full of celebrities, politicians and members of theatre royalty. Incorporating hip hop, R&B, pop, soul, traditional-style show tunes, Hamilton is a sung and rapped-through musical about the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton by historian Ron Chernow.


Opera: Carmen

I recently went to see Carmen - the masterpiece by Georges Bizet - in the Arena in Verona. It was a magnificent spectacle and the atmosphere was amazing in this breathtaking theatre. The Verona Arena is a Roman amphitheatre in Piazza Bra, built in the first century. It's famous for the large-scale opera performances given there and is one of the best-preserved ancient structures of its kind. That said, the seats are the most uncomfortable I've ever sat on.

Design: Vaganova Ballet Academy

Vaganova Ballet Academy

The Vaganova Ballet Academy (above) in St Petersburg, Russia, is built on one of the most perfect architecturally designed streets in the world. Designed by Carlo Rossi, Rossi Street is a symbol of classical perfection and it's no coincidence that one half of the street has been home to one of the world's most famous ballet schools since 1836. The street is exactly as wide as the buildings on each side are high (22m) and 10 times longer (220m). I studied here briefly in the summer of 1989 and have been back many times since. It's the school that produced the ballet stars Nureyev, Makarova and Baryshnikov.

Book: The Choice

I'm currently reading Edith Eger's The Choice. I'm fascinated with the concentration camps from World War II. I've been to Auschwitz three times and I think that everyone should visit there at least once to remind themselves what humanity is capable of. Eger brings the reader on an in-depth journey of her time in Auschwitz but makes particular reference to her time after the war ended and her long journey back to finding herself. "We can choose what the horror teaches us. To become bitter in our grief and fear… Or to hold on to the childlike part of us, the lively and curious part, the part that is innocent."

TV: Downton Abbey

I'm a huge Downton Abbey fan. Being the director of a ballet company, costumes play a huge role in my daily life and so it was fascinating to see the different periods come to life in the drama. Downton Abbey has been credited with spawning a massive worldwide increase in demand for professionally trained butlers - with some fetching salaries as high as €150,000.

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