wed 30/07/2014

Dance reviews, news & interviews

Romeo and Juliet, Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Opera House

Hanna Weibye

One of the reasons I always tell ballet sceptics to give Romeo and Juliet a go is that any production with halfway decent lovers and a vaguely competent rendition of Prokofiev’s score should convince them that this art form isn’t just about swans and sugar plums. The venerable Mariinsky Theatre Ballet of St Petersburg ought, of course, to have dancers and musicians much better than decent, and in its revival of the original 1940 Leonid Lavrovsky version it has a production of great historical...

Restless Creature, Wendy Whelan, Linbury Studio Theatre

Hanna Weibye

If you’ve reached the top of your profession and then spent twenty years there, retiring is going to be hard. It will be many times harder if, like New York City Ballet principal Wendy Whelan, you were only twenty-four when you reached that rank, and only in your mid-forties when injuries came calling and roles started to fall away - unwelcome signs that the end of a classical ballet career is nigh.With this tour of four new duets created especially for her, Whelan is experimenting with a new...

Coppélia, English National Ballet, London Coliseum

Hanna Weibye

For all it’s a balmy July here, the litany of appalling news from the world’s conflict zones will have left many of us feeling less than summery at...

theartsdesk in Paris: San Francisco Ballet 2

Hanna Weibye

Having a strong company style is usually no bad thing, especially if – as with San Francisco Ballet – the main component of it is a commitment to...

Opinion: Too Strictly? Battle in the ballroom

Marianka Swain

Ballroom dancing, that most civilised of pastimes, may seem an unlikely target for controversy, but a proposed rule change by the British Dance...

theartsdesk in Paris: San Francisco Ballet 1

Hanna Weibye

The Americans on tour in pieces by Tomasson, Balanchine and Robbins

La Bayadère, Mariinsky Ballet, Live Cinema Broadcast

Hanna Weibye

Impressive dose of Russian tradition whets appetites for forthcoming London season

Royal Ballet School Matinée, Royal Opera House

Jann Parry

Talent will out at elite academy's annual graduation showcase

Diaghilev Festival Gala, London Coliseum

David Nice

First-rate work, high energy and musical glories from a little-known Moscow company

The Golden Cockerel, Diaghilev Festival, London Coliseum

David Nice

Musical values outstanding, decor and dance not bad in tribute to Diaghilev opera-ballet

Sehnsucht/Schmetterling, Nederlands Dans Theater 1, Sadler's Wells

Katie Colombus

NDT1 deliver another fine display of contemporary ballet

Swan Lake, Dada Masilo, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

This South African reworking is serious and funny in equal measure

Extracts: John Tusa - Pain in the Arts

Ismene Brown

Arts must stop moaning and politicos must trust the public's love of art, says culture chief

Romeo and Juliet, English National Ballet, Royal Albert Hall

Hanna Weibye

Vogel and Cojocaru as tragic lovers introduce a stunning new partnership

Les Rendezvous/Dante Sonata/Façade, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Birmingham Hippodrome

Hanna Weibye

Three early works by Sir Frederick Ashton have plenty of charm, but is a 'light touch' ever too light?

The Dream/Connectome/The Concert, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

A summer reverie you won't want to wake from

Dutch National Ballet Junior Company, Linbury Studio Theatre

Hanna Weibye

Bright young things impress at close quarters

Choreographics, English National Ballet, Barbican Pit

Hanna Weibye

Impressive showcase of new work by company dancers

Rooster/Four Elements/Sounddance, Rambert, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

It's retro night - but not ladies' night - with revivals of back catalogue highlights

Like Rabbits, Corn Exchange, Brighton

Bella Todd

Bedroom role-play burrows deep in this Virginia Woolf-inspired, Lucy Kirkwood-penned dance duet

Serenade/Sweet Violets/DGV, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Wildly varied triple bill lurches from the sublime to the nasty

Romeo and Juliet, Scottish Ballet

Sarah Wilkinson

A production that swings between brilliant characterisation and panicked detail

Talk to the Demon, Brighton Dome

Thomas H Green

UK premiere from Belgian choreographer/director Wim Vandekeybus

Hofesh Shechter: My Brighton Festival So Far

Hofesh Shechter

The choreographer and Brighton Festival Guest Director shares his thoughts

Murmur/Inked, Aakash Odedra, Patrick Centre, Birmingham

Hanna Weibye

Two new works establish the Birmingham native as a dance creator to watch out for

6000 Miles Away, Sylvie Guillem, Birmingham Hippodrome

Hanna Weibye

The French ballerina is still luminous on a flying visit to the Midlands

10 Questions for Choreographer Wim Vandekeybus

Thomas H Green

The multi-disciplinary Belgian pace-setter talks about good and evil, abstract jazz and time machines

The Tempest Replica, Kidd Pivot, Birmingham Hippodrome

Hanna Weibye

Canadian contemporary dance company makes magic with Shakespeare's last play

Concert Dansé, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Hanna Weibye

The dance in this collaborative programme fails to match the music's spiritual depth

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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