thu 05/05/2016

Dance reviews, news & interviews

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 2011 - when that would have sounded like science fiction, but no longer: Liam Scarlett, whose Frankenstein premiered last night at the Opera House, is treading a path worn smooth in the last five years by Christopher Wheeldon, Wayne McGregor, and Carlos Acosta.All have played to type in some respects: Wheeldon with pretty, fantasy spectacles (The...

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 content that he started his career with naked one-man shows, and later made a piece about the Pope so sexually explicit and offensive that he got death threats – do the rabbit heads mean we're in for some kind of furvert orgy?Well, the rabbit heads turn out to be in the double bill's other half, Rabbit by Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg, and it'...

Mariinsky Ballet: Concerto DSCH, Sacre, Wales...

Nadine Meisner

On Thursday the Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra swooped into Cardiff for the ballet company’s only UK dates this year. Appearing at the Wales...

She Said, English National Ballet, Sadler's...

Jenny Gilbert

Why are there so few female choreographers? Tamara Rojo, bugged by the fact that in 20 years on the ballet stage she had never danced anything...

The Winter's Tale, Royal Ballet

David Nice

It was twelfth night for Christopher Wheeldon's two-year-old, three-act Shakespearean ballet, and this newcomer had one nervous anticipatory question...

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

Carlos Acosta: A Classical Selection, London Coliseum

Jenny Gilbert

The ballet star takes his final bow in a self-curated gala that raises the roof

The Nutcracker, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Faultless production works its magic afresh

Conceal|Reveal, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Russell Maliphant's new work is grand, but slow-moving

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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