mon 30/05/2016

Dance reviews, news & interviews

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

Hanna Weibye

It shows you just how much Kenneth MacMillan changed ballet in this country that 1960's The Invitation, with its onstage rape, sexual grooming and child abuse, can act as the reassuring classic at the heart of the new Royal Ballet triple bill which opened on Saturday. The Invitation should be – and is – a shocking piece, but when bracketed by Wayne McGregor's brand new Obsidian Tear and Christopher Wheeldon's 2012 Within the Golden Hour, two particularly vapid examples of contemporary ballet,...

Jekyll & Hyde, Old Vic

Jenny Gilbert

From time to time theatre managements hit on the idea that danced drama should be part of their remit. Nick Hytner flirted with it at the National in his day with a run of productions for Lloyd Newson and his company DV8. Now Matthew Warchus, his feet barely under the desk at the Old Vic, has commissioned a show from a young choreographer who has Matthew Bourne’s crown in his sights.Bourne has always been clever in his choice of stories, drawing on familiar plots to counter the obvious...

Carlos Acosta: A Classical Farewell, Birmingham...

Hanna Weibye

Appearing before theatres full of middle-aged women in just your underpants is certainly one way to throw a retirement party. It may not be everybody...

Frankenstein, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Another year, another new full-length story ballet from one of the Royal Ballet's in-house choreographers. Time was – a long time, in fact, up to...

BalletBoyz, Life, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Hearing that both Javier de Frutos and rabbit heads appear in the new BalletBoyz bill might give you pause. A choreographer so unafraid of graphic...

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

Rhapsody/The Two Pigeons, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Too much sugar in Ashton double bill

Le Corsaire, English National Ballet, Coliseum

Jenny Gilbert

Spectacular dance fireworks make this hoariest and silliest of Russian classics worth seeing

Until the Lions, Akram Khan, Roundhouse

Hanna Weibye

Hypnotic exploration of Indian myth from a female perspective

Elizabeth, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

A royal gem in the Linbury Studio Theatre

Cinderella, Scottish Ballet, Edinburgh Festival Theatre

Hanna Weibye

Christopher Hampson's fairytale fills the seasonal family ballet slot nicely

Best of 2015: Dance & Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Highlights of the last calendar year

Nutcracker, English National Ballet, London Coliseum

Hanna Weibye

Likeable dancers deliver Christmas cheer despite the mice

The Little Match Girl, Lilian Baylis Studio Theatre

Hanna Weibye

Wacky and delightful dance theatre adaptation of classic fairytale

Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty, Sadler's Wells

Jenny Gilbert

A vampiric twist on the Tchaikovsky ballet makes for an evening of mixed success

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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