sun 04/12/2016

Dance reviews, news & interviews

Swan Lake/Loch na hEala, Sadler’s Wells

Jenny Gilbert

Booking a ticket for a show devised by Michael Keegan-Dolan has always required an act of faith, and this is no exception. ‘If I say this is a house, it’s a house,” says the evening’s laconic compere, Mikel Murfi, gesturing with his cigarette to three breeze blocks on the floor. And if Keegan-Dolan says this is Swan Lake you’d better believe it and brace yourself for wrenching tragedy.

Conceal/Reveal, Russell Maliphant Company, Messums Barn

Ismene Brown

An inviting gap in the market, a dark, mysterious place, was left beckoning when the dance theatres of Britain cashed in on expensive refurbs in the name of public accessibility. Putting an end to mystique, they homed in on IKEA style, all glass, pale wood and airport foyer briskness. The theatre as a continuum with our office space, blank, unprejudicing, unintoxicating, all about efficiency and the bottom line.

The Nutcracker, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Christmas - in the shape of Peter Wright's Nutcracker - has arrived earlier than usual at the Royal Opera House. This is to make space for a 70th...

Akram Khan's Giselle, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Thank God for Akram Khan, English National Ballet, and Tamara Rojo. Their new Giselle, which finally arrived at Sadler's Wells this week after its...

Wayne McGregor triple bill, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

"My mission is to create new dance with new music and new design that is intimately plugged in to the world we live in today. I am motivated to make...

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

Don Quixote, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House

Jenny Gilbert

The Russians are back, marking 60 years since they first took London by storm

Strictly goes to the Proms

Marianka Swain

Canny brand synergy encourages fans to keep Promming

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

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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