thu 18/12/2014

Dance reviews, news & interviews

The Nutcracker, English National Ballet, London Coliseum

Jenny Gilbert

Unusually, English National Ballet’s Nutcracker finds itself in an empty field this year. Three Decembers ago, the second time out for Wayne Eagling’s production, it had to contend with Matthew Bourne’s version and the Royal Ballet’s, not to mention the fallout from a BBC fly-on-the-wall series that had brutally exposed its difficult conception.Every year since, improvements have been made – some subtle, some significant, all necessary, because having a Nutcracker that...

Edward Scissorhands, New Adventures, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

For those who’ve seen one too many Nutcrackers, nothing says Christmas better than a Matthew Bourne production at Sadler’s Wells. A man whose mantelpiece is overflowing with Tony and Olivier awards is a safe bet for entertainrment – even when the production in question looks at first glance unlikely: Bourne’s 2005 danced version of Edward Scissorhands, the 1990 Tim Burton movie which is part Gothic fairy tale, part moral fable, part 1950s soap opera.From the first moments that the small...

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Royal...

David Nice

Christopher Wheeldon’s hard-working mix of skewed classical ballet, vaudeville and Victorian theatrical magic achieved through state-of-the-art...

Sacred Monsters, Khan/Guillem, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

There is a special poignancy to these performances of Sacred Monsters, Sylvie Guillem and Akram Khan's terrific 2006 joint show. Guillem, the former...

Don Quixote, Royal Ballet

Jenny Gilbert

The 1871 ballet that goes by the name of Don Quixote has always been a challenge to stage. Barely a tenth of its two hours-plus concerns the titular...

Triptych, Rambert, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Great dancers in long programme of new work by Baldwin, Jeyasingh and Page

Daphnis et Églé/La Naissance d'Osiris, Les Arts Florissants, Christie, Barbican

Jenny Gilbert

Baroque music and dance illuminate each other in one-off period recreation performance

Dancing Cheek to Cheek, BBC Four

Hanna Weibye

Len Goodman and Lucy Worsley trot gently through dance history

Ceremony of Innocence/The Age of Anxiety/Aeternum, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

New work by Liam Scarlett dominates intriguing contemporary triple bill

JOHN, National Theatre

Marianka Swain

DV8's verbatim physical theatre powerfully relates the life of a social outsider

TOROBAKA, Israel Galván & Akram Khan, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Two great dancers show that Kathak and flamenco can work together

Thomas Adès, See the Music, Hear the Dance, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Composer's works matched with contemporary choreography by McGregor, Armitage, Whitley and Pite

Cassandra, Ludovic Ondiviela, Royal Ballet, Linbury Studio

Jenny Gilbert

A new ballet shines a spotlight on mental illness

theartsdesk Q&A: Choreographer Akram Khan

Hanna Weibye

Kathak and contemporary dancer talks about flamenco, inspiration, and his last performance piece

theartsdesk Q&A: Choreographer Wayne McGregor

Hanna Weibye

British dance-maker shares his views on creative practice, cognitive neuroscience, and critics

Ashton Mixed Bill, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Symphonic Variations is the highlight among fine works by supreme British choreographer

Shadows of War, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Atmospheric revival of 1944 Miracle in the Gorbals, the centrepiece of an unusual triple bill

Bosque Ardora, Rocío Molina, Barbican

Jenny Gilbert

Flamenco innovator presents a woodland realm to remember

Lord of the Flies, Matthew Bourne's New Adventures, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Golding's tale of schoolboy savagery becomes superb dance theatre, with real schoolboys

Grupo Corpo, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Brazilian visitors deliver impressive dance - but not necessarily impressive art

Manon, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

MacMillan's moral maze still fascinates in its 40th year

The Murmuring/ Metheus/ Mesmerics, BalletBoyz, Linbury Studio Theatre

Hanna Weibye

New works show all-male company on top form

KnowBody, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Older performers show dance is not just a young person's game

Sampling the Myth, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Mixture of old and new makes for a colourful journey through mythology

Edinburgh Fringe 2014: Circa, Beyond

Hanna Weibye

Entertaining circus show from top-quality Australian ensemble

Patrias, Paco Peña Flamenco Company, Edinburgh Playhouse

Hanna Weibye

Rich, thoughtful show from flamenco legend

Sweet Mambo, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Edinburgh Playhouse

Hanna Weibye

German choreographer's late work delights Edinburgh Festival audience

Edinburgh Fringe 2014: MurleyDance

Hanna Weibye

Independent ballet company gives engaging performance of mixed-quality material

Gnosis, Akram Khan, King's Theatre, Edinburgh

Hanna Weibye

Gorgeous rhythm from Kathak legend

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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