(Photo: Johan Persson)

Modern dance vs Shakespeare


In a dance world that has chosen to dispense with stylistic and semantic subtleties, ‘narrative ballet’ and ‘story ballet’ are often used as synonymous. Yet there are differences — and major ones at that. In a ‘narrative ballet’ it is… Read more

Tabac Rouge at Sadler's Wells Theatre Photo: Richard Haughton

European postmodern dance can be just as boring as American postmodern dance


What’s in a definition? As far as theatre dance is concerned, quite a lot. Labelling — and often labelling for the mere sake of it — is integral to our dance culture. Take, for instance, the various A-level dance syllabuses,… Read more

Roberto Bolle in ‘Le Jeune Hommeet la Mort’ at the Coliseum

Kings of Dance: a show to keep the Sun King happy


Louis XIV might have been a narcissistic and whimsical tyrant, but he did a lot for dance. An accomplished practitioner, he made ballet a noble art and turned it into a profession with the creation of the Académie Royale de… Read more


The dancers who said ‘no’ to postmodernism


It all started in 1971, when a group of physically and artistically talented youngsters decided to create a dance company and call it Pilobolus, after a fungus. Not unlike this barnyard micro-organism, which ‘propels its spores with extraordinary speed and… Read more

Steven McRae in Frederick Ashton’s ‘Rhapsody’

Bach is made for dancing


It appears that J.S. Bach’s music is to theatre-dance what whipped cream is to chocolate. Masterworks such as Trisha Brown’s MO, George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco and a plethora of less-known, though equally acclaimed compositions owe a great deal to the… Read more

Dance_Fanfare LX_Anna Osadcenko, Evan McKie_7437(c) Stuttgart Ballet

Stuttgart Ballet - still John Cranko's company


Stuttgart Ballet’s rapid ascent to fame is at the core of one of the most interesting chapters of ballet history. Between 1961 and 1973, the year of his untimely death, the South African Royal Ballet-trained choreographer John Cranko turned what… Read more

Zenaida Yanowsky (Photo: ROH / Bill Cooper)

The Royal Ballet's triple bill was danced to perfection


There was a time when the term ‘world première’ was not as fashionable as it is these days. Great works simply ‘premièred’, and their artistic status was not diminished by the fact that the opening had not been advertised as… Read more

Hannah Shepherd (Picture: Gabriele Zucca)

Is there or isn't there a hanged man in 'Sun'?


Sun is one of those performances that confront reviewers with the eternal dilemma of whether or not it is appropriate to give things away. Yet a reference to what is a powerful coup de théâtre — namely a life-sized hanged… Read more

Junor Souza, Erina Takahashi, Alina Cojacaru and Vadim Muntagirov in Le Corsaire (Picture: English National Ballet)

A rich, colourful romp


Bold decisions are at the core of great artistic directorship. And Tamara Rojo, the ballet star leading English National Ballet, knows that well. Le Corsaire is not the usual ballet classic one craves to see. Yet it makes a splendid… Read more

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Carlos Acosta’s Don Quixote lacks the wow factor


Superstar Carlos Acosta makes little or no reference to Don Quixote’s established history in his programme note about the genesis of his new ballet. As a dancer hailing from Cuba, he is certainly familiar with the work’s performance tradition, but… Read more

Ekaterina Krysanova and Vyacheslav Lopatin in Balanchine’s ‘Rubies’

A masterclass in stage presence from the Bolshoi


Jewels is everything a George Balanchine admirer could ask for. The sumptuous triptych, set to scores by Fauré, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky, is a compendium of what Balanchine’s style is about; each part — Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds — provides unique… Read more

The Bolshoi remains faithful to the classics


Tradition is often frowned on. Yet, if properly handled, it can be sheer fun and pure bliss, as demonstrated by the Bolshoi Ballet’s current season in London. Far from being museum pieces, the classics so far presented stand out for… Read more

Gusto galore from Boston Ballet


Those who lament sluggishness in contemporary stagings of Balanchine’s ballets — and those who are responsible for it — should have seen and learnt from Boston Ballet last week. Forget the funereal tempi we, in the old world, are forced… Read more

Dance: William Forsythe’s new work is choreographic narcissism


As someone who once raved about William Forsythe’s innovative approach to ballet and fondly admired his groundbreaking choreographic explorations, I felt let down by last week’s performance by his company at Sadler’s Wells. Things did not start badly, though. The… Read more


Dance review: Raven Girl, Symphony in C


Last Friday, ballet’s overcrowded aviary welcomed a new addition: Raven Girl.  Sexy, sleek, troubled and troublesome, she is the creation of the bestselling author Audrey Niffenegger and Royal Ballet’s resident choreographer Wayne McGregor.  Expectations were high, as McGregor is not… Read more

Dance: Hansel and Gretel


As far as memory serves, in my 46 years of being both in and at the ballet I have encountered only seven ballet adaptations of the Grimm Brothers’ Hansel and Gretel. Alas, each was less memorable than the one before.… Read more

Mixed blessings


Last week, Sergei Polunin’s powerful entrance in Marguerite and Armand was saluted with a wave of electrically charged silence: not a cough, not a sound, all eyes glued to the stage. Whether viewers held their breath because they were waiting… Read more

From Russia with love


If you want to know what’s so great about John Cranko’s choreography, look at the opening phrase of the final duet in Onegin (1965). The male dancer encircles the ballerina in an embrace that is not reciprocated, and then falls… Read more


Bourne again


While most theatres brace themselves for the annual invasion of prancing Nutcrackers and flying snowmen, Sadler’s Wells offers something that is mercifully not as sugary. Never-ending love and magic kisses might be at the core of Matthew Bourne’s long-awaited take… Read more

Captivating kaleidoscope


When Philippe Decouflé first introduced the idea of sheer fun into the deadly serious business of postmodern dance-making, sceptics predicted that his comic strip and animated movie-like ideas would soon start to wear off. Almost 30 years later, his stuff… Read more

Mixed bag


Last year I raved about Birmingham Royal Ballet, their artistic drive, their freshness, their impeccable artistic eclecticism and, not least, their superb dancing. It was with such memories that I went to Sadler’s Wells last week, only to leave both… Read more

Twin peaks


According to an old ballet commonplace, no one can beat the Russians when it comes to Swan Lake. Biased and historically inaccurate as this may be, the generalisation has a grain of truth. Russian ballerinas have always looked at ease… Read more

American beauty


Tragically, the number of ballet directors who can orchestrate good programmes and good openings is dwindling these days. Helgi Tómasson, of San Francisco Ballet, is one of the few who are still in the know, judging by the terrific bang… Read more

Grim realities


It was somewhat weird that Pina Bausch’s Palermo Palermo opened on the same night as Spain’s victory over Italy in the Euro 2012 final. After all, the Sicilian capital was long dominated by the Spaniards. Yet in Bausch’s Tanztheater vision… Read more

New world order


When World Cities 2012 — better known as the current Pina Bausch season — was first presented, questions were raised about the apparently random order of the various pieces. Yet a chronologically structured retrospective would have deprived the event of… Read more

Tales of the city


Last Wednesday two of the three live pooches that appeared in Pina Bausch’s Viktor did onstage what most dogs do when in a state of arousal. The incident, which elicited a great deal of audience laughter and repressed giggles on… Read more

Unconditional love


Not many dance-makers have had their art celebrated in major, award-winning feature films. Pina Bausch has. Wim Wenders’s 2011 Pina and Rainer Hoffmann’s/Anna Linsel’s 2010 Dancing Dreams offered unique insights into her creative genius, facilitating the posthumous popularisation of a… Read more

Me and my shadows


Shadows and reflections have always triggered all sorts of fantasies. Theatre itself, in the words of many playwrights and theorists, is nothing but a game of shadows. Today, filmic and computer-generated or manipulated projections have taken the place of what… Read more