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Dance

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

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

Dance

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?

Dance

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

Dance

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

Dance

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

Dance

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

Dance

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

Vortex Temporum

Dance games from Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker at Sadler’s Wells

Dance

Forget the pedantic classifications of genres, styles and schools. When it comes to dance performances, it all boils down to two kinds: those that make one think and those that entertain. Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker is a veteran of the… Read more

Krzysztof Pastor’s Romeo & Juliet  Photo: Christina Riley

Romeo, Juliet and Mussolini

Dance

George Balanchine’s Serenade, the manifesto of 20th-century neoclassical choreography, requires a deep understanding of both its complex stylistic nuances and its fascinatingly elusive visual metaphors. Many recent stagings have failed to meet such criteria,  but not the performance I saw… Read more

(Photo: Johan Persson)

Modern dance vs Shakespeare

Dance

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

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

Dance

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

o_o_05_PILOBOLUS_Shadowland_Foto_Emmanuel-Donny

The dancers who said ‘no’ to postmodernism

Dance

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

Dance

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

Dance

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

Dance

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'?

Dance

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

Dance

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

Dance

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

Dance

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

Dance

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

Dance

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

Dance

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

Stonehenge-I

Dance review: Raven Girl, Symphony in C

Dance

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

Dance

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

Dance

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

Dance

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

Sleeping_Beauty_photo_by_Hugo_Glendinning

Bourne again

Dance

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