tue 02/09/2014

Dance reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2014: Circa, Beyond

Hanna Weibye

Once, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was all about penniless students presenting avant-garde plays to audiences of three in church halls. These people still come, but now they compete for attention with professional production companies who, it’s to be supposed, make a decent whack of money from their three weeks in Scotland’s tourist-jammed capital.Australian contemporary circus outfit Circa are in the latter camp, spending this year’s Fringe with a prime 7pm spot in the McEwan Hall, the...

Patrias, Paco Peña Flamenco Company, Edinburgh Playhouse

Hanna Weibye

Dance as an art form doesn’t have a great track record in social and historical commentary. The endless grey areas, not to mention the complicated details, of history really require words to do them justice. Flamenco, of course, has words, but it’s still a highly emotive art form, one you might think unlikely to produce a subtle take on the theme of homeland. But 72-year old Paco Peña is not only one of the greatest living flamenco guitarists, he’s also a great producer, putting on thoughtful...

Sweet Mambo, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch,...

Hanna Weibye

The Edinburgh Playhouse is the largest UK theatre regularly used for dance. The stalls alone seat more than the total capacity of Sadler’s Wells, and...

Edinburgh Fringe 2014: MurleyDance

Hanna Weibye

MurleyDance is something of an oddity in the world of small independent dance companies, in that it proudly wears pointe shoes. Yes, this is –...

Gnosis, Akram Khan, King's Theatre, Edinburgh

Hanna Weibye

In keeping with the trends of recent years, the Edinburgh International Festival is showcasing a small but eclectic dance programme, light on...

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

Diaghilev Festival Gala, London Coliseum

David Nice

First-rate work, high energy and musical glories from a little-known Moscow company

The Golden Cockerel, Diaghilev Festival, London Coliseum

David Nice

Musical values outstanding, decor and dance not bad in tribute to Diaghilev opera-ballet

Sehnsucht/Schmetterling, Nederlands Dans Theater 1, Sadler's Wells

Katie Colombus

NDT1 deliver another fine display of contemporary ballet

Swan Lake, Dada Masilo, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

This South African reworking is serious and funny in equal measure

Extracts: John Tusa - Pain in the Arts

Ismene Brown

Arts must stop moaning and politicos must trust the public's love of art, says culture chief

Romeo and Juliet, English National Ballet, Royal Albert Hall

Hanna Weibye

Vogel and Cojocaru as tragic lovers introduce a stunning new partnership

Les Rendezvous/Dante Sonata/Façade, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Birmingham Hippodrome

Hanna Weibye

Three early works by Sir Frederick Ashton have plenty of charm, but is a 'light touch' ever too light?

The Dream/Connectome/The Concert, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

A summer reverie you won't want to wake from

Dutch National Ballet Junior Company, Linbury Studio Theatre

Hanna Weibye

Bright young things impress at close quarters

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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