thu 25/04/2019

Dance reviews, news & interviews

She Persisted, English National Ballet, Sadler's Wells review - a must-see triple bill

Jenny Gilbert

She does indeed persist, that remarkable Tamara Rojo. Dismayed by the fact that, in 20 years as a dancer, she had never performed a ballet made by a woman, she mounted a triple bill called She Said, featuring only work by and about women.

Victoria, Northern Ballet, Sadler's Wells - A queen re-instated, once again

Jenny Gilbert

Given that the life of Queen Victoria spanned the best part of a century, the first task for any biographer is to hack a path through the mountain of facts. It ought to help that the queen was a prolific diarist. Too bad for choreographer Cathy Marston that Victoria’s youngest daughter got there first.

The Thread, Russell Maliphant & Vangelis,...

Sarah Kent

In The Thread Russell Maliphant attempts what, at first sight, appears a foolhardy project – the juxtaposition of contemporary and traditional Greek...

Bon Voyage, Bob, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina...

Sarah Kent

It's a decade since Pina Bausch sadly died, and during that time her company has kept her memory alive by revisiting her amazingly rich legacy....

The Rite of Spring/Gianni Schicchi, Opera North...

Graham Rickson

Stravinsky acknowledged that his orchestra for The Rite of Spring was a large one because Diaghilev had promised him extra musicians (“I am not sure...

Brighton Festival 2019 launches with Guest Director Rokia Traoré

Thomas H Green

The south-coast's arts extravaganza reveals its 2019 line-up

Swan Lake, English National Ballet, London Coliseum review - a solid, go-to production

Jenny Gilbert

Traditional stagings don't come much more satisfying than Derek Deane's for ENB

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, Sadler's Wells - vivid, enchanting

Hanna Weibye

Refreshed classic production delights with energy, storytelling and live Tchaikovsky

The Nutcracker, Royal Ballet review - a still-magical tale of two couples

David Nice

Peter Wright's balance of story-telling and classical dance lacks only elan from the pit

The Unknown Soldier, Infra, Symphony in C, Royal Ballet, review - WWI ballet honours obscure tragedy

Jenny Gilbert

The storyline goes missing, presumed dead, in this Armistice commission

Carlos Acosta: A Celebration, Royal Albert Hall

Theartsdesk

Candid images of retired ballet legend on stage

'It’s more fun to dance in a tutu': Tory Dobrin of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

Jenny Gilbert

The artistic director of the Trocks explains how he keeps his ballet parodists on their toes

theartsdesk in Riga - 43,290 Latvians sing and dance for their country

David Nice

Individual souls conjoined with a passionate belief in peace and music achieve miracles

Enter theartsdesk / h Club Young Influencer of the Year award

Theartsdesk

In association with The Hospital Club's h.Club100 Awards, we're looking for the best cultural writers, bloggers and vloggers

The Sleeping Beauty, London Coliseum review - a triumph for English National Ballet

Jenny Gilbert

Kenneth MacMillan's timeless staging brings out the best in ENB

Michael Chance on continuing opera in Hampshire: 'good people like to work with good people'

Michael Chance

The countertenor turned impresario launches a second season of The Grange Festival

Swan Lake, Royal Ballet review - beautiful, heartfelt

Hanna Weibye

Liam Scarlett and John Macfarlane's new version of the classic takes wings

Elizabeth, Barbican review - royal romance under scrutiny

Jenny Gilbert

Words and music form an equal alliance with dance to probe the love life of the Virgin Queen

Unbound: A Festival of New Works, War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco review - ballet invests in its future

Jenny Gilbert

San Francisco Ballet pulls off an unprecedented feat of creativity

Formosa, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, Sadler’s Wells review - perfect in every detail

Sarah Kent

A glorious fusion of athletic dance, creative visuals and intoxicating sound

Win a Luxury Weekend for Two to celebrate Brighton Festival!

Theartsdesk

Enter our competition to win a spectacular weekend at England's finest arts festival

Hofesh Shechter Company: Grand Finale, Brighton Festival review - politics, percussion and powerful choreography

Katie Colombus

Physical chaos and classical music make for a strong show

Ballet's Dark Knight - Sir Kenneth MacMillan, BBC Four review – hagiography and home videos

Hanna Weibye

Little is revealed about the enigmatic choreographer's life or why we should care about his legacy

Obsidian Tear / Marguerite and Armand / Elite Syncopations, Royal Opera House review - an evening of high-performance mismatch

Jenny Gilbert

Fine dancing, but these three ballets have nothing to say to each other

Voices of America, English National Ballet review - a punchy programme of contemporary ballet

Hanna Weibye

Forsythe commission is a romping, swaggering joy of a piece

Classical CDs Weekly: Lūcija Garūta, Dag Wirén, Ruby Hughes

Graham Rickson

20th century discoveries from Latvia and Sweden, plus a tribute to Handel's favourite soprano

Manon, Royal Ballet review - glitter and betray

David Nice

Francesca Hayward makes a virtue of a pleasure-loving enigma in pacy MacMillan revival

Sutra, Sadler’s Wells review – a masterpiece 10 years on

Sarah Kent

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui joins the Monks from the Shaolin Temple for a tour that continues to wow audiences the world over

Richard Alston, Mid Century Modern, Sadler's Wells review - a master choreographer clocks up 50 years

Jenny Gilbert

The music man of British contemporary dance takes stock

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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