thu 29/01/2015

Dance reviews, news & interviews

Onegin, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

The habit among ballet critics of being simultaneously down on John Cranko's 1965 Onegin and up on Kenneth MacMillan's 1974 Manon is a curious one. The two have many similarities, from their basis in novels that became operas (though Prévost's Manon Lescaut antedates Pushkin's verse Eugene Onegin by a century), through their patched-together scores that don't actually use the Massenet/Tchaikovsky operas, to the knotty questions of morality and culpability that attend their titular characters....

Richard Alston Dance Company 20th Anniversary Performances, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Testament to the work of Richard Alston Dance Company (RADC) over the 20 years since its foundation was not just the première-filled celebratory programme performed at Sadler's Wells last night, but the enthusiastic audience there to see it. Alston's own choreography never excites me particularly, but there's no denying his company has done sterling work for the British contemporary dance scene over the years, both through its association with the Place and London Contemporary Dance School, and...

Young Men, BalletBoyz, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Having gathered an excellent cadre of dancers and forged them over years into a fine company (The Talent), the BalletBoyz Michael Nunn and William...

Royal Danish Ballet Soloists and Principals,...

Jenny Gilbert

“A link in the chain of beauty” – that’s how the choreographer August Bournonville, in the 1840s, wanted every dancer in the Royal Danish Ballet to...

Swan Lake, English National Ballet, London...

Hanna Weibye

The twelve days of Christmas may be over, but I have good news for ballet fans in London: a whole new batch of presents for you has washed up at the...

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

JOHN, National Theatre

Marianka Swain

DV8's verbatim physical theatre powerfully relates the life of a social outsider

TOROBAKA, Israel Galván & Akram Khan, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Two great dancers show that Kathak and flamenco can work together

Thomas Adès, See the Music, Hear the Dance, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Composer's works matched with contemporary choreography by McGregor, Armitage, Whitley and Pite

Cassandra, Ludovic Ondiviela, Royal Ballet, Linbury Studio

Jenny Gilbert

A new ballet shines a spotlight on mental illness

theartsdesk Q&A: Choreographer Akram Khan

Hanna Weibye

Kathak and contemporary dancer talks about flamenco, inspiration, and his last performance piece

theartsdesk Q&A: Choreographer Wayne McGregor

Hanna Weibye

British dance-maker shares his views on creative practice, cognitive neuroscience, and critics

Ashton Mixed Bill, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Symphonic Variations is the highlight among fine works by supreme British choreographer

Shadows of War, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Atmospheric revival of 1944 Miracle in the Gorbals, the centrepiece of an unusual triple bill

Bosque Ardora, Rocío Molina, Barbican

Jenny Gilbert

Flamenco innovator presents a woodland realm to remember

Lord of the Flies, Matthew Bourne's New Adventures, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Golding's tale of schoolboy savagery becomes superb dance theatre, with real schoolboys

Grupo Corpo, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Brazilian visitors deliver impressive dance - but not necessarily impressive art

Manon, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

MacMillan's moral maze still fascinates in its 40th year

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

Close Footnote

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

latest in today

The Hard Problem, National Theatre

Minor Stoppard that never fully melds head and heart

Onegin, Royal Ballet

Cranko's adaptation of Pushkin offers plenty of character and intrigue

Hannigan, LPO, Jurowski, Festival Hall

A splendid soprano gets lost in the desert of Lindberg’s new work, but ther...

The Ruling Class, Trafalgar Studios

James McAvoy gives a stellar performance as the mad earl, in a revival that...

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Action-packed James Bond pastiche by Matthew Vaughn

CD: Zun Zun Egui - Shackles Gift

Bristol-born indie still not delivering the punch they promise

CD: Steve Rothery - The Ghosts of Pripyat

Marillion guitar man with an evocative, slow-burning solo

Inherent Vice

Paul Thomas Anderson films unfilmable Thomas Pynchon, in a stoner noir

Dara, National Theatre

Meandering adaptation of a Pakistani history play about Islam in Mughal Ind...

Touched by Auschwitz, BBC Two

Powerful documentary by Laurence Rees allows Auschwitz survivors full refle...

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters