mon 26/09/2016

Dance reviews, news & interviews

The Flames of Paris, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House

Hanna Weibye

The Flames of Paris, in Alexei Ratmansky's 2008 reworking, is a ballet of contrasts. Between the first and second acts, so different in pace and quality, between the naturalistic intimacy of certain pas de deux and the stylised posturing of the crowd scenes, between the tedious masque in Act I and the fireworks show-off variations in Act II, between the liquid velvet blood-red curtains and the flat black-and-white line drawing sets.But it works, and that's down in large part to the...

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

Hanna Weibye

What do women want? Ballet plots are not the best guide, since the main desiderata – a well-paying job, coffee dates with girlfriends, not to die young of a broken heart – are rarely the lot of ballet heroines. Comedies at least tend to have the not-dying part covered, but they often fall down on at least one of two other big requirements: that one's family should be supportive, and that one's romantic partner should not be a chump. Pity Katharina in The Taming of the Shrew, which the Bolshoi...

Swan Lake, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House

Hanna Weibye

"If you know anything about dance," I was told last night by an aged balletomane at the Royal Opera House, "you know that Russian ballet companies...

Don Quixote, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House

Jenny Gilbert

Exactly 60 years have passed since this company made its first London visit, an unlikely triumph of art over geopolitics. For 1956 was the year...

Strictly goes to the Proms

Marianka Swain

The glitterball has landed. After loaning out Proms queen Katie Derham to Strictly Come Dancing last series, where she hauled comedy pro...

Cinderella, Ratmansky/Australian Ballet, London Coliseum

Hanna Weibye

Serious choreography and lush design make this Surrealist fairytale a visual treat

Swan Lake, Australian Ballet, London Coliseum

Hanna Weibye

Visiting Aussies are engaging in lush production, but the plot's not all that

Natalia Osipova, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Superstar ballerina and new partner Sergei Polunin lack lustre in self-commissioned contemporary triple

Betroffenheit, Sadler's Wells/Ballet BC, Birmingham Hippodrome

Hanna Weibye

Choreographer du jour Crystal Pite heads up two impressive Canadian cultural offerings

The Invitation/Obsidian Tear/Within the Golden Hour, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

MacMillan revival in a different class to anodyne offerings from McGregor and Wheeldon

Jekyll & Hyde, Old Vic

Jenny Gilbert

Dance version is loud and brash with all the horror and none of the mystery

Carlos Acosta: A Classical Farewell, Birmingham Hippodrome

Hanna Weibye

On his retirement tour, Cuban superstar showcases the young, and proves he's still got it

Frankenstein, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

New ballet has lavish production values, but the story's stretched thin

BalletBoyz, Life, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Controversial choreographer Javier de Frutos fakes own death, steals show

Mariinsky Ballet: Concerto DSCH, Sacre, Wales Millennium Centre

Nadine Meisner

A flying visit from St Petersburg, without the swans

She Said, English National Ballet, Sadler's Wells

Jenny Gilbert

Tamara Rojo explores her inner Diaghilev in a fascinating bill of new work

The Winter's Tale, Royal Ballet

David Nice

Full Shakespearean breadth, if not depth, in effective revival

Preview: International Dance Festival Birmingham 2016

Hanna Weibye

Rich cultural programme in England's second city aims to stimulate economy, promote gender equality

10 Questions for Choreographer Charles Linehan

Thomas H Green

Prior to Brighton Fest premiere, Charles Linehan talks Berlin, time machines, Robert Wyatt and more

theartsdesk in Berlin: Three Ballets

Hanna Weibye

Versatile Staatsballett shine in Cranko, Duato, and a classic Giselle

DVD: Ken Russell - The Great Passions

Kieron Tyler

The cultural provocateur takes on Henri Rousseau, Isadora Duncan and Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Kaash, Akram Khan Company, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Revival proves Khan's choreography stands the test of time

10 Questions for Choreographer Matthew Bourne

Hanna Weibye

Dancemaker talks about storytelling, Shakespeare, and dance on screen

Giselle, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Evergreen production and fine supporting cast make up for anaemic principals

Voces, Ballet Flamenco Sara Baras, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Iconic dancer dominates but doesn't enlighten

Wheeldon Triple Bill, Royal Ballet

Jenny Gilbert

New work about a 19th-century It Girl's dramatic fall sheds a welcome light on John Singer Sargent

The Odyssey, Mark Bruce Company, Circomedia, Bristol

Mark Kidel

21st-century Homer fizzes with energy, but reaches too high

"...como el musguito...", Pina Bausch, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Tanztheater Wuppertal in choreographer's gentle last work

The Return, Circa, Barbican

Hanna Weibye

Exile-themed circus show is rather too serious

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

Close Footnote

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Belarus Free Theatre presents


Wed 31 Aug - Sat 24 Sep 2016, 7.15pm (2.30pm Sat matinees)

Soho Theatre

Tickets from £10


Belarus Free Theatre combine forces with Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina to share stories of persecuted artists, living under dictatorship, who will not be silenced.


What happens when you are declared an enemy of the state simply for making art? Where do you belong when your government suppresses your basic right to expression? And how do you survive in one of the most brutal prison systems in the world?


This brand new production blends sensuous theatricality and vigorous physicality to shine a light on the suppression of artistic freedoms. Drawn from the real-life stories of Russian performance artist Petr Pavlensky, incarcerated Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and Maria Alyokhina, who makes her stage debut.


One of the bravest and most inspired underground troupes on the planet.’ New York Times


‘For the BFT, political theatre is not a genre, but a necessity.’ Vanity Fair


Created in partnership with ArtReach as part of Journeys Festival International; Co-commissioned by Art Centre Melbourne. Funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.


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