sun 03/05/2015

Dance reviews, news & interviews

Ahnen, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Sadler's Wells

Jenny Gilbert

You’re already in the land of the unpredictable with Pina Bausch. Creating unease was her métier. But when she pulls a gag intended to convince you that something has gone badly wrong on stage, and then it really does, the discombobulation is profound.When stage hands brought on a portable ballet barre, some 110 minutes into Thursday night’s opening performance of Ahnen (German for “ancestors”, but also “foreboding”), a few hearts among the Sadler’s Wells audience may have leapt: ah,...

BBC Young Dancer 2015, BBC Four

Hanna Weibye

Lest the BBC Four imprint prove not strong enough a signal, I'll say it loud and clear: don't go into this expecting Strictly, kids. On the evidence of last night's contemporary dance showdown, the first of four section finals, the brand new BBC Young Dancer competition is light years from the razzmatazz, sparkling scoreboards and celebrity judge infighting of the BBC One dance flagship.The first minutes offered the briefest sketch of contemporary dance's history and a couple of major...

La Fille mal gardée, Royal Ballet

Jenny Gilbert

In 1803 they called it Filly me Gardy. Today British ballet lovers refer to it by a single coded syllable: “Fee”. But translating its title is, for...

Auf dem Gebirge hat man ein Geschrei gehört,...

Hanna Weibye

Retrospectives are difficult in dance, and for Pina Bausch's brand of Tanztheater, even more difficult. A great deal of her oeuvre's impact derives...

Diana Vishneva, On the Edge, London Coliseum

Hanna Weibye

Diana Vishneva's last solo show was called Beauty in Motion, a pretty safe bet under the Trade Descriptions Act, since the Mariinsky prima ballerina...

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

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

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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