Swan Lake

Dance from Edinburgh: a flamenco master who could tell classical ballet a thing or two


Every August when London dims, Edinburgh calls, promising nothing less than ‘the greats of the arts’ at the International Festival. As if this beautiful, haunting city wasn’t enough enticement, I always pack high expectations for the EdFest, which in the… Read more

Carlos Acosta's Cubania (Photo: ROH/ Bill Cooper)

Sylvie Guillem’s better than ever in her final, final Coliseum farewell


The blackness that sweeps along the stage behind Sylvie Guillem’s disappearing figure in the Russell Maliphant piece on her farewell tour is an astonishing moment. One flinches. An eclipse has happened and the light has just run away with her.… Read more

The Car Man (Photo: Bill Cooper)

You can feel as if you’re in a colony of rabbits: Matthew Bourne’s Car Man reviewed


Hot, languorous, sizzling… I was thinking what an ideal show Matthew Bourne’s noir comedy is to watch on a summer’s evening in T-shirt and shorts as you sip a cold beer in a plastic cup and feel all toasty while… Read more

The Dutch National Ballet perform Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella (Photo: Angela Sterling)

Ninja Turtles have no place in Cinderella


What could induce a grown-up, rational, childless person to go to see the ballet of Cinderella? You’ll expect to cringe at the panto comedy; on the other hand, you do not want to see verismo child-abuse and uglies-baiting. So what’s… Read more

William Bracewell as Louis XIV in The King Dances. Photo: Bill Cooper

The Sun King deserves better than this silly cabaret from Birmingham Royal Ballet


It’s a comfort that the creation of a new ballet inspired by French court entertainment can still happen in the amnesiac ballet country that Britain has become. The idea of making a modern-day meditation on the first ballet — Louis… Read more

London Road is a must see

The choreographer that does things to tango couples that Relate would not recommend


I often regret that I’m writing in the past tense here, but never more than about milonga. It is such a smash show in every way that by rights it would be having a six-month run where everyone can see… Read more

Sylvie Guillem, in savage-child tunic and a Mowgli wig, says farewell to her fans

Is that Sylvie Guillem? Or R2-D2? Guillem's farewell dance at Sadler’s Wells reviewed


There’s been a clutch of middle-aged danseuses taking leave of life in one way or another recently. We’ve seen the abject (Mariinsky star Diana Vishneva’s solo show at the Coliseum) and the magnetic (Alessandra Ferri mournfully channelling Virginia Woolf at… Read more

The Royal Ballet: Woolf Works (Photo: Tristram Kenton)

Rapture - and loathing: Woolf Works at the Royal Ballet reviewed


People have been saying that Wayne McGregor’s new Woolf Works has reinvented the three-act ballet, but not so. William Forsythe reinvented the three-act ballet 20 years ago with Eidos: Telos, a mesmerising masterpiece that I found myself recalling as I… Read more

Rosie Kay's 5 Soldiers (Photo: Tim Cross)

Rosie Kay’s 5 Soldiers: brutishly physical and powerfully striking


In dance, it’s usually the moment the boys start fighting that challenges your suspension of disbelief. Synchronised fencing (MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet), unison goosestepping (Grigorovich’s Spartacus), even the Sharks and Jets in Robbins’s West Side Story, are formation set-pieces designed… Read more

Vadim Muntagirov and Laura Morera in ‘La Fille mal gardée’

La Fille mal gardee at the Royal Opera House reviewed: light, lithe and tender


The current talking-point at the Royal Ballet is the Russians milling around. One can sound unfortunately as if one’s starting a Ukip conversation here, but the Royal Ballet never used to be short of half a dozen home principals, any… Read more

Sunbee Han, Sooraj Subramaniam, Emily Pottage, Avatâra Ayuso and Richard Causer in Bayadere – The Ninth Life.
© Foteini Christofilopoulou

An Indian Bayadère that meets a sludgy end


For an Indian woman to make a dancework about La Bayadère is a promising prospect. This classical ballet of 1877 by Russia’s French-born genius Marius Petipa tells the simple story of an Indian temple dancer — essentially a religious sex… Read more

A trip to Craggy Island: David Bintley's Carmina Burana for the BRB

Birmingham Royal Ballet review: A Father Ted Carmina Burana


We ballet-goers may be the most self-deceiving audiences in theatre. Put a ‘new work’ in front of us and half of us go into conniptions because the classical palace is being brought down and the other half into raptures at… Read more

Ksenia Ovsyanick & James Forbat perform for English National Ballet's Modern Masters Photo: Ash

50 shades of beige: English National Ballet's Modern Masters at Sadler's Wells, reviewed


My moment of the week was stumbling into the shocking, fantastical Cabinet of Curiosities in the Alexander McQueen show at the V&A. On the walls were tier upon tier of dresses, shoes and headdresses, feathered, leathered, beaded, painted, razored, or… Read more

Flamenco Festival at Sadlers Wells Photo: Josep Aznar

A legendary piece of iconoclastic dance returns. Does the piece still stand up?


Funny how things turn upside-down with time. A work of contemporary dance that made an iconoclastic splash decades ago is revived today, exactly as it was, as if it were a museum piece. Yet more long-standing dance traditions — such… Read more

Crystal Pite's 'A Picture of You Falling' at Sadler's Wells. Photo: Michael Slobodian

The Associates at Sadler's Wells reviewed: another acutely inventive work from Crystal Pite


The prodigious streetdancer Tommy Franzén pops up everywhere from family-friendly hip-hop shows by ZooNation, Boy Blue and Bounce to serious contemporary ballet by Russell Maliphant and Kim Brandstrup, but he’s a bit of a Macavity. He ought to be recognised… Read more

Plexus at Sadlers Wells Photo: Aglae Bory

London International Mime Festival review: on juggling, dance and Wayne Rooney's hair transplant


January is something of a palate-cleanser for the year, as the London International Mime Festival flies in plane-loads of companies bearing gnomic names in a kind of dance-world Desperanto that’s equally incomprehensible in every language. Like cars or tourist T-shirt… Read more

Ivan Vasiliev (Siegfried) and Alina Cojocaru (Odette) in ENB's Swan Lake

ENB’s Swan Lake: the rights and wrongs of ballet thighs


There’s been heated disagreement over the past week about what’s right and wrong. Is the rocket-propelled ex-Bolshoi enfant terrible Ivan Vasiliev ‘right’ for Swan Lake? Is English National Ballet right to accept such huge thighs in this of all classics,… Read more

Better than Leslie Caron: Leanne Cope (Lise) and the company in ‘An American in Paris’

An American in Paris: a zingy new Wheeldon dance-musical that you won’t want to miss


A new year must start with hope and resolution, and if you’re very rich, with influence in the highest places, I’d urge you to resolve to dust off the private jet and get to Paris quick this weekend hoping to… Read more

Sensual but not thrilling: Carlos Acosta as Basilio

Royal Ballet’s Don Quixote: Carlos Acosta is too brainy with this no-brain ballet


One feels the pang of impending failure whenever the Royal Ballet ventures like a deluded Don Quixote into a periodic quest to stage that delightful old ballet named after him. Twice in recent years has it tilted at the windmill… Read more

Akram Khan and Sylvie Guillem in 'Sacred Monsters' Photo: Tristram Kenton

Sacred Monsters, Sadler’s Wells: Sylvie Guillem and Akram Kham’s captivating final boogie


I’m dashing between dance theatres at the moment and there’s just so much to tell you about. I could linger on Sacred Monsters, the captivating conversation-piece at Sadler’s Wells for Sylvie Guillem and Akram Khan — conversational being the word,… Read more

Thomas Ades and Crystal Pite's Polaris at Sadler's Wells. © Foteini Christofilopoulou.

Thomas Ades’s Polaris at Sadler’s Wells: the dance premiere of the year


This has been an extraordinarily exciting fortnight, on and off stage. Premieres in anything from ice-skating to classical ballet, charismatic soloists in flamenco and Indian kathak, the front-page news of Sylvie Guillem’s retirement, and, even more astonishingly, English National Ballet’s… Read more

All was beauteous with the Royal Ballet’s ‘Symphonic Variations’ on the first night

Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Royal Ballet battle for the heart of English dance


English ballet erupted out of the second world war in the hands of the rival choreographers Frederick Ashton and Robert Helpmann, colleagues but of different instincts, one for dance, the other for drama. The case is currently being made for… Read more

Turning feral: Lord of the Flies

Matthew Bourne’s Lord of the Flies: when boys turn feral


GCSE Eng Lit pupils are doing well from dance this season with two set books told in the medium of dance, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, and even Dylan Thomas gets a look in.… Read more

Christopher Saunders as Monsieur GM, Marianela Núñez as Manon and Ricardo Cervera as Lescaut in Kenneth MacMillan's 'Manon'. Image: Alice Pennefather ©ROH 2014

Does a tart like Manon have a place in the Royal Ballet repertoire?


What can the Royal Opera House be insinuating about its target audience? No sooner had Anna Nicole closed than Manon opened the new ballet season. Kenneth MacMillan’s gold-digger turns 40 this year but her promiscuous allure shows no signs of… Read more

Ivan Vasiliev and Natalia Osipova, Solo for Two

Ballet’s super couple should stick to the classical repertoire


Last week, the feast of long-awaited dance events on offer echoed bygone days when London life was dominated by the strategically engineered appearances of rival ballet stars at the same time in different venues. At the London Coliseum, Solo for… Read more

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet: a Mariinsky masterclass


According to some textbooks, one thing the fathers of Soviet choreography hastened to remove from ballet was that awkward-looking language of gestures generally referred to as ‘ballet mime’. Which explains why most Russian versions of Swan Lake lack familiar mime… Read more

Nederlands Dans Theatre 1, Sadlers Wells

Perfect dancing but boringly beautiful


Aesthetically speaking, last week’s performance by the Nederlands Dans Theater 1 was one by the slickest of the season. Fashionably engineered juxtapositions of black and white, sets that stun on account of their elegant simplicity and mechanical complexity, chic costumes… Read more

Dada Masilo's Swan Lake Photo: John Hogg

A swan to die for at Sadler’s Wells


Swans, swans, more swans. If the lifespan of a dance critic were calculated by the number of performances of Swan Lake attended, I’d be a few centuries old. Obviously, the list includes many revisions and re-creations of this quintessential ballet,… Read more