sat 19/04/2014

Dance reviews, news & interviews

Rodin, Eifman Ballet, London Coliseum

Hanna Weibye

Before Boris Eifman’s second visit to London this week, ballet lovers who missed the divisive Russian dancemaker last time round will have been weighing up the merits of a punt on a ticket. If they were basing their calculations on reviews, I imagine their mental reasoning went as follows. Against: Eifman’s ballets send many English-language dance critics into tail-spinning, virtuosic displays of vitriol (based on genuine dislike: Eifman makes one colleague “want to stand on her chair and howl...

theartsdesk Q&A: Lighting Designer Michael Hulls

Ismene Brown

Last night the Olivier Awards handed their top honour for dance not to a dancer but to the man who shines the lights on the dancers. Michael Hulls, winner of the Outstanding Achievement in Dance award, paints the dancing of Sylvie Guillem, Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant and the Ballet Boyz with atmospheres and illuminations that seem to reach beyond the visual and into some paranormal place.Lighting designers are either wizards or useful pedants. They scrupulously light the action or they make...

The Rite of Spring & Petrushka, Fabulous...

Hanna Weibye

Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring captures the pulsing terror of seasonal change, the relentless onward drive of nature that brings death closer even as...

The Winter's Tale, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Another week, another major British ballet company takes on a key cultural patrimony in a brand-new work. It might seem odd that the Royal Ballet’s...

tauberbach, les ballets C de la B, Sadler's...

Hanna Weibye

Belgian Alain Platel makes the kind of dance theatre (like Pina Bausch, to whom he has an oft-remarked debt) for which both “dance” and “theatre” are...

Lest We Forget, English National Ballet, Barbican

Hanna Weibye

Strongly styled pieces inspired by World War One show Tamara Rojo's company on fine form

The Prince of the Pagodas, Birmingham Royal Ballet, London Coliseum

Hanna Weibye

For all its lush design, this valiant effort is still not the definitive Britten ballet

theartsdesk Q&A: Choreographer Hofesh Shechter

Hanna Weibye

Brighton Festival's guest curator on new challenges and politics in art

Border Tales, Protein Dance Company, The Place

Sarah Wilkinson

The talent of the performers lifts cultural commentary above the level of sixth-form drama class

Trasmín/Gala Flamenca, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Two rich offerings in the ongoing Flamenco Festival

BBC Ballet Season

Hanna Weibye

A feast of archive footage is some compensation for this season's narrow scope

La Pepa, Ballet Flamenco Sara Baras, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Flamenco festival's opening number is no history lesson, but the dancing's all right

TV Preview: BBC Ballet Season

Hanna Weibye

Archive footage of Margot Fonteyn among the highlights of a week of ballet programmes

The Sleeping Beauty, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Lauren Cuthbertson is an Aurora to remember in this sumptuous heritage production

Nine Songs, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, Sadler’s Wells

Sarah Kent

East meets west in this sumptuous revival of a work by Taiwanese choreographer compared with Balanchine

Opus, Circa and Debussy String Quartet, Barbican

Hanna Weibye

Circus acrobats and Shostakovich give each other a lift

1980, Tanztheater Wuppertal, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Pina Bausch's company stun and delight with this long-overdue return of a historic piece

Rhapsody/Tetractys/Gloria, The Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

McGregor's too thinky, MacMillan too tame; Ashton and McRae are the name of the game

Men in Motion III, London Coliseum

Hanna Weibye

Treasury of male dance comes into its own with a sprawling third outing

Boris Charmatz/Musée de la danse: Enfant, Sadler’s Wells

Sarah Kent

French choreographer courts chaos by letting kids run wild on stage

Hansel and Gretel, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Deeply disturbing dance drama is a powerful piece of theatre

Giselle, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Natalia Osipova is one of the great Giselle interpreters of the age

Le Corsaire, English National Ballet

Judith Flanders

How silly is too silly? ENB walks the line

The Nutcracker, Moscow City Ballet, Cambridge Corn Exchange

Hanna Weibye

A decent touring production fails to set the Fens on fire

Hansel and Gretel, Scottish Ballet, Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Hanna Weibye

Sugar-coated new Christmas show looks good, but lacks bite

Boing!, Lilian Baylis Studio Theatre

Katie Colombus

Enchanting and exuberant festive physical theatre for kids

The Wind in the Willows, Duchess Theatre

Hanna Weibye

A lovingly polished gem for all the family makes its West End début

Jewels, Royal Ballet

Judith Flanders

Balanchine, a conduit for the music of the spheres

DVD: Love Tomorrow

Katie Colombus

There's not enough dancing in this slow-moving indie

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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