sat 29/04/2017

Dance reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Dancer

Jenny Gilbert

For decades, but especially since the turn of the millennium, the arts have fretted over how to appeal to a younger audience. For ballet, this has meant playing down the notion of “men in tights” in favour of “dancers train harder than footballers”. And now what happens?

Betroffenheit, Crystal Pite & Jonathon Young, Sadler's Wells

Sanjoy Roy

Where does my voice come from? Whose is my body? It’s apt that these questions run deep through a work that was created jointly by an actor, Jonathon Young, and a choreographer, Crystal Pite.

Brighton Festival 2017: 12 Free Events

Thomas H Green

The Brighton Festival, which takes place every May, is renowned for its plethora of free events. The 2017 Festival is curated by Guest Director Kate...

Matthew Bourne's Early Adventures, Sadler...

Hanna Weibye

Not every artist attains the kind of status that will allow their early works to be revived – or, when revived, greeted with commercial and...

Balanchine's Jewels, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Balanchine's Jewels is catnip to dedicated ballet lovers. A homage, faithful and brilliant as only a master could make, to three different styles of...

Pina Bausch's Rite of Spring, English National Ballet, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Dancers wow in iconic Stravinsky piece, but Forsythe and van Manen need more work

Crystal Pite, Flight Pattern, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Extraordinary première by Canadian choreographer explores refugee experience through dance, plus Christopher Wheeldon and David Dawson

Project Polunin, Sadler's Wells

Katie Colombus

Can ballet's bad boy live up to the hype?

DVD: Reset

Jenny Gilbert

Benjamin Millepied at the helm of the Paris Opera Ballet - what really happened?

Tree of Codes, Wayne McGregor, Sadler's Wells

Katie Colombus

An outstanding collaboration between movement, sound and sight

FLA.CO.MEN, Israel Galván, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Maverick dancer opens annual flamenco festival with a playful jam-session of a show

Masurca Fogo, Pina Bausch, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Tanztheater Wuppertal in one of their founder's lightweight works

Giselle, English National Ballet, London Coliseum

Hanna Weibye

Cojocaru and Hernández delicious in perfect heritage production

Best of 2016: Dance & Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Tamara Rojo's ENB and Akram Khan trump Royal Ballet in theartsdesk's highlights

Strictly Come Dancing 2016 Final, BBC One

Jasper Rees

Ore Oduba's win is evidence that light entertainment isn't just white entertainment

The Red Shoes, Sadler's Wells

Jenny Gilbert

Matthew Bourne's latest adaptation of a classic is a cineaste's dream

Swan Lake/Loch na hEala, Sadler’s Wells

Jenny Gilbert

Agony meets ecstasy in radical Irish take on the ballet

Conceal/Reveal, Russell Maliphant Company, Messums Barn

Ismene Brown

Modern dance finds a serene new home in a 13th-century tithe barn

The Nutcracker, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Christmas classic is never disappointing - and these principals always winning

Akram Khan's Giselle, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Narrative dance takes a new direction in choreographer's visionary re-imagining for English National Ballet

Wayne McGregor triple bill, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Choreographer is as concept-heavy and content-light as ever in two revivals and a premiere

Anastasia, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Ballet about identity and memory is flawed but fascinating

Shakespeare triple bill, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Creative renditions of the Bard's works in dance

The Sleeping Beauty, Australian Ballet, cinema broadcast

Hanna Weibye

A sparky, faithful rendition of a classic

Carlos Acosta, The Classical Farewell, Royal Albert Hall

Hanna Weibye

Serious quality in ballet star's last goodbye

La Fille mal gardée, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Young love in yellow tights

The Flames of Paris, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House

Hanna Weibye

Emotion and politics skilfully combine in Ratmansky's old-new ballet about the French Revolution

The Taming of the Shrew, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House

Hanna Weibye

Unfeminist comedy in Jean-Christophe Maillot's Shakespeare ballet

Swan Lake, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House

Hanna Weibye

A peerless Odette almost makes up for production's psychological shortcomings

Footnote: a brief history of dance in Britain

Britain's reputation as one of the world's great ballet nations has been swiftly won, as home-grown classical ballet started here only in the 1930s. Yet within 30 years the Royal Ballet was recognised as the equal of the greatest and oldest companies in France, Russia or Italy. Now the extraordinary range in British dance from classical ballet to contemporary dance-theatre, from experimental new choreography in small spaces to mass arena-ballet spectaculars, can't be matched in the US or Russia, where nothing like the Arts Council subsidy system exists to encourage new work.

Fonteyn_OndineWhile foreign stars have long been adored by British audiences, from Anna Pavlova and Rudolf Nureyev to Sylvie Guillem, the British ballet and dance movements were offspring of the movement towards a national subsidised theatre. This was first activated in the Thirties by Lilian Baylis and Ninette de Valois in a tie-up between the Old Vic and Sadler's Wells, and led to the founding of what became the Royal Ballet, English National Opera and the National Theatre. From 1926 Marie Rambert's Ballet Club operated out of the tiny Mercury Theatre, Notting Hill, a creative crucible producing early stars such as choreographer Frederick Ashton and ballerina Alicia Markova and which eventually grew into Ballet Rambert and today's Rambert Dance. From all these roots developed Sadlers Wells Theatre Ballet (now Birmingham Royal Ballet), London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet), and Western Theatre Ballet which became Scottish Ballet.

Margot Fonteyn's dominance in the post-war ballet scene (pictured in Ashton's Ondine) and the granting of a Royal charter in 1956 to the Royal Ballet and its school brought the "English ballet" world renown, massively increased when Soviet star Rudolf Nureyev defected from the Kirov Ballet in 1961 and formed with Fonteyn the most iconic partnership in dance history.

The Sixties ballet boom was complemented by the introduction of American abstract modern dance to London, and a mushrooming of independent modern choreographers drawing on fashion and club music (Michael Clark), art and classical music (Richard Alston), movies (Matthew Bourne) and science (Wayne McGregor). Hip-hop, salsa and TV dance shows have recently given a dynamic new twist to contemporary dance. The Arts Desk offers the fastest overnight reviews and ticket booking links for last night's openings, as well as the most thoughtful close-up interviews with major creative figures and performers. Our critics include Ismene Brown, Judith Flanders, David Nice, Matt Wolf and James Woodall

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Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

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