sun 02/08/2015

Dance reviews, news & interviews

Bolshoi Ballet acid attack leader loses his job

Ismene Brown

Sergei Filin, the Bolshoi Ballet artistic director whose sight was maimed two years ago by an acid attack organized by a disgruntled dancer, will lose his job when his contract expires next spring. Bolshoi Theatre chief Vladimir Urin announced yesterday in Moscow that he is abolishing Filin’s position and replacing it with a more management-focused director, indicating that artistic decision-making is to be taken "jointly" with the theatre directorate.The new director will be named and...

Matthew Bourne's The Car Man, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

The original idea for the subtitle of this show, first made in 2000 and last seen at Sadler's Wells in 2007, was apparently "An Auto-Erotic Thriller". Yes, groan. But "erotic thriller" is a much straighter description of The Car Man than its actual, rather coy, subtitle, "Bizet's Carmen Reimagined". This is a nail-biting ride, and certainly not suitable for kids.The plot is based loosely on The Postman Always Rings Twice - wife and lover murder husband somewhat inefficiently, there is a...

Cinderella, Wheeldon, London Coliseum

Hanna Weibye

Christopher Wheeldon is the purveyor of pretty. You can perfectly well see why San Francisco Ballet, who commissioned a new full-length work from...

Flamencura, Paco Peña Company, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

No, don't check your calendar – it's definitely not March. I associate flamenco at Sadler's Wells so strongly with their annual two-week...

Alston at Home, The Place

Hanna Weibye

Parties in someone's back garden are often more fun than those in big fancy venues. Richard Alston Dance Company celebrated its 20th birthday with a...

Robbins/MacMillan Triple Bill, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Company strong, principals less so in tame season finale

Sylvie Guillem, Life in Progress, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Ballerina says goodbye with new works from Khan, Maliphant

Dark Arteries, Rambert, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Brass band the highlight of new triple bill

Woolf Works, Wayne McGregor, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Leaden score and ponderous choreography do an injustice to Bloomsbury author's name

theartsdesk Q&A: Composer Gavin Higgins

Graham Rickson

Rambert Dance Company's inaugural Music Fellow discusses his new ballet score

Maya Plisetskaya, 1925-2015

Ismene Brown

The Bolshoi's deathless über-ballerina is no more

Ahnen, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Sadler's Wells

Jenny Gilbert

Family lore and deep-seated fears explored with surprising humour, and a technical glitch

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

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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