thu 28/05/2015

Dance reviews, news & interviews

Dark Arteries, Rambert, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

After the disappointment of Wayne McGregor’s latest piece for the Royal Ballet, which opened on Monday, I thought last night’s trip to Sadler’s Wells for a new Rambert programme might cheer me up about the state of contemporary dance and composition. Two new pieces were on offer, by rising choreographer Alexander Whitley and Rambert director Mark Baldwin with original scores by Icelander Daniel Bjarnason and Brit Gavin Higgins respectively, alongside a revival of Lucinda Childs’s Four Elements...

Woolf Works, Wayne McGregor, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

On my way to the Woolf Works opening last night, I made the mistake of reading The Waves, Virginia Woolf’s most experimental novel. It was a mistake because even the briefest immersion in Woolf’s prose was a thousand times more exhilarating than the 90 minutes of treacly sludge served up by Wayne McGregor and Max Richter in this, the choreographer’s much-hyped first full-length work for the Royal Ballet. It’s not really full-length, though: it’s three self-contained short pieces, each inspired...

theartsdesk Q&A: Composer Gavin Higgins

Graham Rickson

Composer Gavin Higgins and choreographer Mark Baldwin’s Dark Arteries is billed by Rambert as “the world’s first brass band dance work” and has its...

Maya Plisetskaya, 1925-2015

Ismene Brown

The great Russian ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, renowned for her deathless Dying Swan and a performing career that lasted more than 60 years, died...

Ahnen, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Sadler...

Jenny Gilbert

You’re already in the land of the unpredictable with Pina Bausch. Creating unease was her métier. But when she pulls a gag intended to convince you...

BBC Young Dancer 2015, BBC Four

Hanna Weibye

Impressive talents in remarkably gimmick-free Beeb competition

La Fille mal gardée, Royal Ballet

Jenny Gilbert

Ashton's pastoral comedy of love among the haystacks continues to thrill and delight

Auf dem Gebirge hat man ein Geschrei gehört, Tanztheater Wuppertal, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

1984 work by German choreographic genius Pina Bausch receives UK première

Diana Vishneva, On the Edge, London Coliseum

Hanna Weibye

Superstar ballerina in awkward psychodramas from Maillot and Carlson

theartsdesk Q&A: Choreographer Stephen Mear

Marianka Swain

The theatrical dance dynamo talks striptease, triple threats and the power of escapism

A Streetcar Named Desire, Scottish Ballet, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Contemporary narrative ballet at its very best

The Four Temperaments/Untouchable/Song of the Earth, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Shechter première odd one out in triple bill with Balanchine and MacMillan

Bayadère - The Ninth Life, Shobana Jeyasingh Company, Linbury Studio Theatre

Hanna Weibye

Engaging dance treatment of Indian-European cultural and disciplinary encounters

Serenade/Carmina Burana, Birmingham Royal Ballet, London Coliseum

Judith Flanders

Balanchine and Bintley showcase BRB's contrasting talents

The Pursuit of Now, Sadler's Wells

Matthew Wright

The parts of this stellar dance-with-jazz line-up dazzle, without quite making a whole

Modern Masters, English National Ballet, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Company stake their claim to Kylián, Neumeier and Forsythe with style

Say Yes To Another Excess - TWERK, Sadler's Wells

Heidi Goldsmith

Twitching rumps and UK grime are observed from an objective distance

Nómada, Compañía Manuel Liñán, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Style and showmanship aplenty from one of flamenco's innovators

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

Hanna Weibye

Grimly majestic femininity steals the show at annual Spanish showcase

Swan Lake, Royal Ballet

David Nice

Marianela Nuñez's dream Odette/Odile distracts from hideous designs and score butchery

The Associates, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Crystal Pite's reworked duet pips premières from Kate Prince and Hofesh Shechter

One Flute Note/Body Not Fit for Purpose, Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Another clever, comic double bill from Jonathan Burrows and Matteo Fargion

Onegin, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Cranko's adaptation of Pushkin offers plenty of character and intrigue

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

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?

latest in today

Schubert Sonatas 1, Barenboim, RFH

The new instrument sounds sublime, but is the player on this occasion?

Fleetwood Mac, Reunion Tour, O2 Arena

Balance restored as a magnificent five-piece, but they could talk less

Temple, Donmar Warehouse

New play about the Occupy movement starring Simon Russell Beale is deep but...

Timbuktu

Quietly powerful, justly Oscar-nominated drama from Abderrahmane Sissako

SunTrap, BBC One

Austin Powers meets Tim Vine meets a script of breathtaking flimsiness

CD: Jamie xx - In Colour

xx producer's solo foray takes a unique, disembodied wander round the...

Danny Collins

Al Pacino returns in irresistibly barnstorming form

The Beaux' Stratagem, National Theatre

Energetic and irreverent comic delight from start to finish

Common People Festival, Southampton

Grace Jones and Clean Bandit headline a boisterous new event from the Besti...

Ehnes, Armstrong, Wigmore Hall

Flawless violin-and-piano duo in rich programme of works from around 1915

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