Ivan vasiliev

Her big, fat Highland wedding

Gurn loves Effy, Effy is engaged to James but James is away with the fairies: a recipe for love tragedy. Tamara Rojo’s English National Ballet hasn’t danced August Bournonville’s La Sylphide since 1989 (before most of today’s dancers were born or thought of). The easy elevation and unshowy brilliance of the Danish style do not come naturally to them but their accents have improved since the dispiriting première in Milton Keynes last October. The character ensembles look perkier although the garish tartan choices make poor Effy’s big, fat Highland wedding look like a lock-in at a Royal Mile souvenir shop. The sylph’s 18 sisters were unfailingly tidy but the sense

Pulp fiction

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 the garage mechanics are bumping and grinding away at Dino’s Diner. Then the rain started chucking it down outside, the temperature fell, and I found myself ruminating on how a dance show feels different if you’ve just been watching it, rather than feeling it in your skin and body. The great thing about Bourne’s choreographic style is that it feels like something you might have done yourself during some summer

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, when the sizeist cohorts of the Russian establishment always said nyet to the sturdy, forceful Belarussian? That peculiar balletic categorisation ‘emploi’ has been invoked even by British critics. Emploi means ‘rightness’ as a ‘type’ for a role. Emploi was what drove Mikhail Baryshnikov, another short man condemned at home by his build to demi-caractère parts, to quit Russia and its narrowmindedness and redefine himself as danseur noble in the West.

In praise of #WorldBalletDay, Ivan Vasiliev and beautiful butts

The Twittersphere never fails to surprise but it’s still hard to believe that last week #WorldBalletDay actually beat #HongKong and #Windows10 in the Twitter popularity stakes, on a day of barricades in the Chinese territory and Microsoft’s announcement of a new operating system. Twitter is a solid barometer of a vast and assertively ‘engaged’ segment of society whose demand to be noticed can sometimes be quite serious (see #HongKong). At other times, it’s merely incredible, as it was last Wednesday when some 5,000,000 tweets were sent by viewers of an internet love-in by the Royal Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Canadian, Australian and San Francisco ballet companies, who mustered with phenomenal geopolitical

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 Two featured one of ballet’s super-duper couples, Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev. As Osipova told me in a recent interview, their aim was to tackle choreographic modes outside their standard repertoire. Alas, bravery and bravura do not always go together. The classically trained Mikhail Baryshnikov and, more recently, Sylvie Guillem have made successful forays into modern and postmodern dance, but they were very much the exception. Let’s not forget what

Natalia Osipova interview: ‘I’m not interested in diamond tiaras on stage’

‘I am not interested in sporting diamond tiaras on stage, or having my point shoes cooked and eaten by my fans,’ muses Natalia Osipova, referring to two old ballet anecdotes. ‘Ballet has evolved and the ballerina figure with it. The world around us offers new challenges, new stimuli and new opportunities, and I believe that it is the responsibility of every artist to be constantly ready to respond to these. There is simply no reason, nor time, to perpetuate century-old clichés, such as the remote, semi-divine figure of the 19th-century ballet star.’ Osipova, now a Royal Ballet principal, is still remembered by many as the Bolshoi Ballet’s soloist, who, only

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 Danse, the first institution of its kind, though not the first ballet school as some badly scripted television programmes would lead us to believe. More significantly, he showed the world that ballet can be a male art, something that 2014’s Kings of the Dance proves too. Ever since French Romantic choreography relegated male dancing to a lesser status, ridicule of and prejudice against guys in tights are still rife. Alas,

Ivan Vasiliev and Roberto Bolle: interview with ballet royalty

In 1845, the theatre impresario Benjamin Lumley made history by inviting the four greatest ballerinas of the day to appeartogether on the stage of Her Majesty’s Theatre in London. It is fitting, therefore, that next week, 169 years later, Sergei Danilian’s internationally acclaimed project Kings of the Dance should reach the London Coliseum. After all, the project, which had its world première in 2006, is a modern adaptation of an old idea, even though it is an all-male event this time round, and more than just an exploitation of trite balletomania, which is probably what Lumley went for. Echoes of the old balletomania can be found in the title itself,