mon 16/01/2017

Dance reviews, news & interviews

Giselle, English National Ballet, London Coliseum

Hanna Weibye

In the annals of ballet directors, always searching for the perfect balance between heritage programming and new work, there can rarely have been a double whammy so successful.

Best of 2016: Dance & Ballet

Hanna Weibye

The criteria used by theartsdesk's critics in selecting pieces for this list are simple, but demanding: did a piece or a programme stir and shake us? Did it move us, and make us still - weeks or months afterwards - think, yes, I'd go see that again in a heartbeat?

Strictly Come Dancing 2016 Final, BBC One

Jasper Rees

What is light entertainment for? It won’t save the world or heal the sick or bring warring factions to the negotiating table. It’s teeth and smiles...

The Red Shoes, Sadler's Wells

Jenny Gilbert

Anyone expecting a knockout punch from Matthew Bourne’s latest creation is in for a let-down. His hotly anticipated take on Powell and Pressburger’s...

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...

Conceal/Reveal, Russell Maliphant Company, Messums Barn

Ismene Brown

Modern dance finds a serene new home in a 13th-century tithe barn

The Nutcracker, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Christmas classic is never disappointing - and these principals always winning

Akram Khan's Giselle, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Narrative dance takes a new direction in choreographer's visionary re-imagining for English National Ballet

Wayne McGregor triple bill, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Choreographer is as concept-heavy and content-light as ever in two revivals and a premiere

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

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

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

latest in today

The Last Supper, BBCSSO, Brabbins, City Halls, Glasgow

You can tell it’s a big deal when even a handful of London critics abandon the capital for a Saturday evening in chilly Glasgow. And there were...

Mr Swallow - Houdini, Soho Theatre

Nick Mohammed doesn't do things by halves as his chatty airhead alter ego Mr Swallow. Forget the scholarly approach of finely researched...

Bavouzet, BBCPO, Collon, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Colin Matthews’s arrangements for orchestra of the 24 Debussy Préludes (originally commissioned by the Hallé) have been widely admired....

CD: Nadia Rose - Highly Flammable

The flaming pigtails say it all. More St Trinian’s than gangsta, the 23-year-old Croydon rapper Nadia Rose presents (mostly) the lighter...

Le Grand Macabre, LSO, Rattle, Barbican

The Big Mac – as in Ligeti's music-theatre fantasia on the possible death of Death – is here to stay. Back in 1990, three critics (I was...

Sunday Book: James Lee Burke - The Jealous Kind

In the heat of a Texas summer, Aaron Holland Broussard comes of age. It’s 1952:  the two world wars still cast their long shadows and, far...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Roy Acuff

In 1942, Roy Acuff set up Acuff-Rose Music in partnership with Nashville-based songwriter and talent scout Fred Rose. The new publishing company...

CD: Petite Meller - Lil Empire

God knows we need originality in pop, and French singer Petite Meller delivers it. At least, she does visually, which, in 2017, is 50 percent of...

Written on Skin, Royal Opera

There’s a passage in Martin Crimp’s impeccable libretto for Written on Skin that describes a page of illuminated manuscript. The ink, he...

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters