sun 23/01/2022

dance

Raymonda, English National Ballet, Coliseum review - a creaky old standard, lavishly restored to health

Jenny Gilbert

Neglected classics, whether books, plays or ballets, are usually neglected for a reason, and so it is with the three-act ballet Raymonda. A hit in 1898 for the Imperial ballet in St Petersburg but unperformed in this country since the 1960s, its ineffectual heroine, fuzzy sense of geography and offensively silly plot have made it impossible to stage in full – at least in Britain.

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Best of 2021: Dance

Jenny Gilbert

It was never going to be a bumper year, just a bumpy one. With theatres dark until May or later, the usual 11 or 12 months of potential live-dance going was reduced to four or five. There was one bright shaft of optimism in late spring, and another in the autumn, when the gloom-clouds parted to allow a few weeks of almost-normality. But now we seem to have come full circle.

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Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker!, Sadler's Wells Theatre review - new candy, but the nuts are off

Ismene Brown

The legendary quip of a sophisticated ballet critic that we are all one Nutcracker nearer death never rang so true as now. One goes to the theatre with one’s heart in one’s mouth, behind the partypooping mask.

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Starstruck, Scottish Ballet review - smart, sassy and cinematic

Jenny Gilbert

How do you picture Gene Kelly? Most likely in his effervescent screen persona, either as the burly ex-GI of An American in Paris, or as the hoofer without a raincoat in Singin’ in the Rain.

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Past Present, Linbury Theatre review - historic, but very much alive

Jenny Gilbert

Not so long ago, a few decades at most, anyone with a passing interest in dance knew what “modern” looked like. It was earthbound, usually barefoot, and it focussed on mundane movements such as walking or lying down as often as it looked like dance. It sometimes even turned up its nose at being seen in a theatre. 

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Ballet Black, Linbury Theatre review - an essential part of the landscape

Jenny Gilbert

The colour of a shoe might seem a trivial thing. But when in 2018 the dancewear manufacturer Freed launched the UK’s first range of pointe shoes to match darker skin tones, true equal opportunity in British ballet came a big step closer.

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Curated by Carlos, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Sadler's Wells review - a star turn

Jenny Gilbert

When a great performer takes on the running of a ballet company, the effect on its dancers can be transformative. It happened when Mikhail Baryshnikov took on American Ballet Theatre in the 1980s. It’s been happening at English National Ballet since 2012 under Tamara Rojo.

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L'Heure Exquise, Linbury Theatre review - an exquisite tragedy in miniature

Jenny Gilbert

Ballet dancers, even the greatest, don’t expect longevity. There are no Maggie Smiths or Helen Mirrens in the ballet world – there just aren’t the roles. So the news that Alessandra Ferri was to mark the 40th anniversary of her association with the Royal Ballet (she joined aged 17) with a run of performances of a one-woman show was of more than passing interest.

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Bernstein Double Bill, Opera North review - fractured relationships in song and dance

graham Rickson

Leonard Bernstein’s one-act opera Trouble in Tahiti enjoyed a relatively trouble-free gestation, at least compared to his other stage works. Its seven short scenes last around 50 minutes, Bernstein providing his own libretto and completing much of this acerbic, occasionally bitter study of a marriage in crisis whilst on his own honeymoon in 1951.

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The Dante Project, Royal Ballet review - a towering achievement

Jenny Gilbert

Unless you happen to be a student of Italian language or culture, the significance of the 14th-century poet Dante Alighieri’s insights into the human condition may have passed you by, albeit that this year marks 700 years since his death. Where every educated Italian knows the stories and characters within La divina commedia like the back of their hand, we British generally draw a blank.

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