thu 02/04/2015

Dance reviews, news & interviews

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

Hanna Weibye

Your mum told you (or at least, I hope someone did) that it wasn't about being pretty, it was about having personality. True wisdom though this is, you probably also noticed that there are some jobs where it appears to be necessary to conform to a certain model of style or appearance. Playing the princess roles in ballet is one of these, though it's not about prettiness: for practical reasons you have to be shorter and considerably lighter than the men who will partner you. Tall ballerinas do...

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

Hanna Weibye

After the second piece of last night's triple bill, Hofesh Shechter's Untouchable in its world premiere, my friend asked me why it had been put on the programme with the first piece, George Balanchines 1946 Four Temperaments. He wondered if there was some structural or thematic connection that he had missed between the two wildly different pieces. The Balanchine speaks obviously to the bill's last item, Kenneth MacMillan's 1966 Song of the Earth; both pair a cool neoclassical choreographic...

Bayadère - The Ninth Life, Shobana Jeyasingh...

Hanna Weibye

The premise of last night’s world première made so much sense that one almost wondered why nobody had done it before now. Commissioned by the Royal...

Serenade/Carmina Burana, Birmingham Royal Ballet...

Judith Flanders

Serenade seems to be one of George Balanchine’s most evanescent works, a floating, delicate skein of movement that is over almost before it begins,...

The Pursuit of Now, Sadler's Wells

Matthew Wright

Even for a dancer of Akram Khan’s sublime gifts, “Now” is an evasive concept to convey. During last night’s Sadler’s Wells extravaganza of...

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

The Nutcracker, Scottish Ballet, Edinburgh Festival Theatre

Hanna Weibye

Sumptuous redesign transforms old favourite into a safe new classic

The Nutcracker, English National Ballet, London Coliseum

Jenny Gilbert

Wayne Eagling's production returns for another bout of rodent control

Edward Scissorhands, New Adventures, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

A hearty dose of cheer, with just a little weirdness, from master storyteller Matthew Bourne

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Royal Ballet

David Nice

Classy dance, design and music, marinated just a little long in the treacle well

Sacred Monsters, Khan/Guillem, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Dance approaches religious experience in the hands of two truly magnificent artists

Don Quixote, Royal Ballet

Jenny Gilbert

Carlos Acosta's sunny romp of a production returns, with improvements

Triptych, Rambert, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Great dancers in long programme of new work by Baldwin, Jeyasingh and Page

Daphnis et Églé/La Naissance d'Osiris, Les Arts Florissants, Christie, Barbican

Jenny Gilbert

Baroque music and dance illuminate each other in one-off period recreation performance

Dancing Cheek to Cheek, BBC Four

Hanna Weibye

Len Goodman and Lucy Worsley trot gently through dance history

Ceremony of Innocence/The Age of Anxiety/Aeternum, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

New work by Liam Scarlett dominates intriguing contemporary triple bill

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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