sat 25/10/2014

Dance reviews, news & interviews

Ashton Mixed Bill, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

This morning, those who follow ballet on both sides of the Atlantic might be feeling a bit like the male soloists at the beginning of Ashton’s Scènes de Ballet: turning their heads sharply, almost pantomimically, from side to side. Over there, in New York, Wendy Whelan, the prima ballerina retiring after a 30-year career with City Ballet, made her farewell in a programme heavy on modern masters Wheeldon and Ratmansky, including a world première. Over here, in London, the Royal Ballet performed...

Shadows of War, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Another week, another war commemorative; it’s the story of all the arts in 2014. But – because you can always rely on David Bintley and Birmingham Royal Ballet to be different – last night’s programme at Sadler’s was overshadowed by the Second World War, not the First. Nor were there any soldiers or war widows to be seen: instead this remarkable mixed programme danced from the doomed brightness of the inter-war generation, to religious experience in war-torn Clydeside, to a kilt-girt, abstract...

Bosque Ardora, Rocío Molina, Barbican

Jenny Gilbert

Thirty-year-old Rocío Molina has been rattling cages in the hide-bound world of flamenco. Back home in Spain, gloom-mongers are predicting she’ll...

Lord of the Flies, Matthew Bourne's New...

Hanna Weibye

New Adventures, the name of Matthew Bourne's company, has a ruddy-cheeked, Boys’ Own ring to it that has – until now – been rather belied by his...

Grupo Corpo, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Grupo Corpo means Body Group, and if that sounds like the name of a global exercise consortium, it’s because it should be. If I were an entrepreneur...

Manon, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

MacMillan's moral maze still fascinates in its 40th year

The Murmuring/ Metheus/ Mesmerics, BalletBoyz, Linbury Studio Theatre

Hanna Weibye

New works show all-male company on top form

KnowBody, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Older performers show dance is not just a young person's game

Sampling the Myth, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Mixture of old and new makes for a colourful journey through mythology

Edinburgh Fringe 2014: Circa, Beyond

Hanna Weibye

Entertaining circus show from top-quality Australian ensemble

Patrias, Paco Peña Flamenco Company, Edinburgh Playhouse

Hanna Weibye

Rich, thoughtful show from flamenco legend

Sweet Mambo, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Edinburgh Playhouse

Hanna Weibye

German choreographer's late work delights Edinburgh Festival audience

Edinburgh Fringe 2014: MurleyDance

Hanna Weibye

Independent ballet company gives engaging performance of mixed-quality material

Gnosis, Akram Khan, King's Theatre, Edinburgh

Hanna Weibye

Gorgeous rhythm from Kathak legend

Cinderella, Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Opera House

Hanna Weibye

A brash, strident, but ultimately likeable close to the season

Firebird/ Marguerite and Armand/ Concerto DSCH, Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Opera House

Ismene Brown

Fonteyn and Nureyev must be spinning in their graves, but new Ratmansky is a delight

Apollo/ A Midsummer Night's Dream, Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Opera House

Ismene Brown

Uliana Lopatkina shows other ballerinas what it is all about

Solo for Two, Osipova/Vasiliev, London Coliseum

Hanna Weibye

Arthur Pita's black comedy makes up for greige tedium from Cherkaoui and Naharin

Swan Lake, Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Opera House

Hanna Weibye

Torpid conducting and nervous principals weigh heritage production down

Fallen/Serpent, BalletBoyz, Roundhouse

Hanna Weibye

Visual treats from Liam Scarlett and Russell Maliphant but the music's a drag

PUSH, Guillem/Maliphant, London Coliseum

Hanna Weibye

An astonishing evening from three dance world greats

Romeo and Juliet, Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Opera House

Hanna Weibye

Dated choreography is redeemed by luminous performances

Restless Creature, Wendy Whelan, Linbury Studio Theatre

Hanna Weibye

Four collaborators but not much sparkle in former NYCB ballerina's new contemporary show

Coppélia, English National Ballet, London Coliseum

Hanna Weibye

Good clean fun from bright young things

theartsdesk in Paris: San Francisco Ballet 2

Hanna Weibye

New work by Liam Scarlett stands above offerings from Wheeldon, Morris and Liang

Opinion: Too Strictly? Battle in the ballroom

Marianka Swain

An ill-conceived new ruling could have disastrous effects on the dance community

theartsdesk in Paris: San Francisco Ballet 1

Hanna Weibye

The Americans on tour in pieces by Tomasson, Balanchine and Robbins

La Bayadère, Mariinsky Ballet, Live Cinema Broadcast

Hanna Weibye

Impressive dose of Russian tradition whets appetites for forthcoming London season

Royal Ballet School Matinée, Royal Opera House

Jann Parry

Talent will out at elite academy's annual graduation showcase

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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