sat 28/02/2015

Dance reviews, news & interviews

Eva Yerbabuena/Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

The Sadler's Wells Flamenco Festival is cunningly scheduled for that particularly dreary fortnight in late February when winter has been going on forever, spring is still just out of reach, and half term brings the dismal realisation that we're only just halfway through the school year and summer holidays are still at least five months away. When you're longing to be somewhere else, there's nothing like flamenco, a raw, gritty music-and-dance form born among the dispossessed of southern Spain....

Swan Lake, Royal Ballet

David Nice

Is there an art-form more tied to bad as well as good tradition than classical ballet? Yolanda Sonnabend’s unatmospherically if expensively kitsch designs for this Swan Lake wouldn’t have lasted more than a season or two in the worlds of theatre and opera, yet here they still are in Anthony Dowell’s soon-to-be-retired homage to Petipa and Ivanov, first seen in 1987 and due to take Swan Lake at Covent Garden past the 1000th performance in the present run. Longer term, ballet hack Drigo’s...

The Associates, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

The Associates is not the title of a new Scandi crime drama, though in dance world terms we’re perhaps approaching that level of Event. Associates...

One Flute Note/Body Not Fit for Purpose, Lilian...

Hanna Weibye

One of the dance world's better-kept secrets is the existence of a brilliantly inventive comic double-act consisting of two paunchy, balding 50-...

Onegin, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

The habit among ballet critics of being simultaneously down on John Cranko's 1965 Onegin and up on Kenneth MacMillan's 1974 Manon is a curious one....

Richard Alston Dance Company 20th Anniversary Performances, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Two gems and two duds in celebratory mixed bill with live music

Young Men, BalletBoyz, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Fine dancers in well-designed, interesting war piece

Royal Danish Ballet Soloists and Principals, Peacock Theatre, London

Jenny Gilbert

The Scandinavian stylists give a tantalising glimpse of their Royal jewels

Swan Lake, English National Ballet, London Coliseum

Hanna Weibye

Great Cojocaru and Vasiliev provide the cherry on top of a wonderful company production

Romeo and Juliet, Moscow City Ballet, Cambridge Corn Exchange

Hanna Weibye

Live orchestra makes up for touring production's dance weaknesses

Best of 2014: Dance & Ballet

Hanna Weibye

A dozen unforgettable events from a rich year

The Nutcracker, Scottish Ballet, Edinburgh Festival Theatre

Hanna Weibye

Sumptuous redesign transforms old favourite into a safe new classic

The Nutcracker, English National Ballet, London Coliseum

Jenny Gilbert

Wayne Eagling's production returns for another bout of rodent control

Edward Scissorhands, New Adventures, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

A hearty dose of cheer, with just a little weirdness, from master storyteller Matthew Bourne

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Royal Ballet

David Nice

Classy dance, design and music, marinated just a little long in the treacle well

Sacred Monsters, Khan/Guillem, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Dance approaches religious experience in the hands of two truly magnificent artists

Don Quixote, Royal Ballet

Jenny Gilbert

Carlos Acosta's sunny romp of a production returns, with improvements

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

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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