wed 17/04/2024

dance

MacMillan Celebrated, Royal Ballet review - out of mothballs, three vintage works to marvel at

Jenny Gilbert

Triple bills can be a difficult sell for ballet companies. Audiences prefer big sets and costumes, and a storyline they can hum. It’s not hard to see why Kenneth MacMillan’s full-evening hits Romeo and Juliet and Manon have turned out to be such a valuable legacy for his widow and daughter – companies around the world have an endless appetite for staging them.

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Carmen, English National Ballet review - lots of energy, even violence, but nothing new to say

Jenny Gilbert

The story of Carmen is catnip to choreographers. No matter how many times this 180-year-old narrative has been tweaked and reframed in art, theatre, opera, dance and film, they keep coming back for more – which is curious when you consider that Carmen began life in a saucy French novella read in smoking rooms and gentlemen’s clubs.

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WAKE, National Stadium, Dublin review - a rainbow river of dance, song, and so much else

David Nice

In what feels like the beginning, or at least the Old Testament, there was Riverdance. Now, ready to flow through the world once the world knows it needs it, there’s a rainbow-coloured river of just about everything musical and choreographic that’s found its place in contemporary Ireland, performed with a pulsating energy as well as a poetry that stops you wondering too much about all the connections.

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Swan Lake, Royal Ballet review - grand, eloquent, superb

Jenny Gilbert

In uncertain times like these, the single thing that every flagship ballet company needs is a convincing iteration of a 19th-century blockbuster. New works are all very well and necessary, but they don’t have the pulling power of Swan Lake, or the staying power.

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Dance for Ukraine Gala, London Palladium review - a second rich helping of international dancers

Helen Hawkins

It’s tempting to see the second gala created by Ukrainian-born Ivan Putrov as a reflection of the shift in Ukraine’s fortunes since his first one in March 2022. Somehow, just weeks after Ukraine was invaded, Putrov and his fellow student in Kyiv, Alina Cojocaru, brought the world’s finest principals to the London Coliseum for a show-stopping gala that was as moving as it was finely executed.

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Nelken: A Piece by Pina Bausch, Sadler's Wells review - welcome return for an indelible classic

Helen Hawkins

Perhaps the most memorable of the stage designs Peter Pabst created for Pina Bausch is back in London after nearly 20 years: a sea of erect pink silk carnations, the Nelken of the title. It’s canonical that there are 8,000 of them, but only the backstage team know the truth of that. 

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Dark With Excessive Bright, Royal Ballet review - a close encounter with dancers stripped bare

Jenny Gilbert

The word “immersive” is overused. When an immersive experience can be anything from a foreign language course to a trip down the Amazon on a headset, what might immersive dance involve? Not watching from a plush-covered seat, probably, and the dance not happening on a stage.

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La Strada, Sadler's Wells review - a long and bumpy road

Jenny Gilbert

Federico Fellini’s 1954 classic La Strada ought to be a gift to a choreographer. The film has pathos, good and evil, a bewitchingly gamine heroine, and incidental music by the great Nino Rota, a composer who can find melancholy in the music of carnival and joy in a tragic trumpet solo – a composer who makes you think “Italy” in every phrase.

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Manon, Royal Ballet review - a glorious half-century revival of a modern classic

Jenny Gilbert

It’s 50 years since the first, damning reviews of Kenneth MacMillan’s ballet Manon declared it to be too long and lumbered with terrible music. One of them also said that the title role was an appalling waste of the ballerina who, in the title role, was reduced to “a nasty little diamond-digger”.

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Giselle, English National Ballet, Coliseum review - if you go down to the woods today, beware of the Wilis

Jenny Gilbert

We’re used to the idea of 19th century ballets being updated, but the Giselle currently presented by English National Ballet takes it the other way.

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