thu 18/01/2018

Dance reviews, news & interviews

Song of the Earth/La Sylphide, English National Ballet review - sincerity and charm in a rewarding double bill

Hanna Weibye

The unifying theme of this new Coliseum double bill is death, but don’t let that put you off. Kenneth MacMillan’s Song of the Earth and August Bournonville’s La Sylphide may seem like odd bedfellows, but both are a great deal more uplifting than their plot summaries might suggest, and in the hands of English National Ballet the evening is joyous, even life-affirming.

Best of 2017: Dance

Theartsdesk

With forelock-tugging celebrations of a choreographer who died 25 years ago and a summer visit by the Mariinsky the highest-profile events in the calendar, 2017 may not be remembered as a vintage year for British dance.

Cinderella, Sadler's Wells review - Matthew...

Jenny Gilbert

Even if Matthew Bourne were never to choreograph another step, he could fill theatres in perpetuity by rotating old stock. Cinderella, made in 1997,...

The Nutcracker, English National Ballet review -...

Katherine Waters

The familiar doesn’t have to get old. Last night at the Coliseum there were children in the boxes, adults in the circle and grandparents in the...

Bolshoi's controversial Nureyev ballet opens...

Ismene Brown

Nureyev, the most notorious new production at the Bolshoi Ballet’s modern history, premiered last night in Moscow to a 15-minute standing ovation and...

The Nutcracker, Royal Ballet review - superb start to the festive dance season

Jenny Gilbert

Tchaikovsky's grand and gorgeous classic gets the five-star treatment

Sylvia, Royal Ballet review - Ashton rarity makes a delicious evening

Hanna Weibye

Marianela Nuñez and Vadim Muntagirov sparkle as arcadian lovers

Triple Bill, Royal Ballet review - Arthur Pita's 'Wind' is a howling success

Jenny Gilbert

Not one, but two new works hit the sweet spot

Kenneth MacMillan: A National Celebration, Programmes 2 & 3, Royal Opera House review - abhorrent to sublime

Jenny Gilbert

One choreographer, many faces: two works of genius and a torrid muddle

Michael Clark Company, Barbican Theatre review - bad boy of dance comes good

Jenny Gilbert

Not what was promised, but ballet's prodigal son delivers

Kenneth MacMillan, Royal Opera House review - a sprite proves merciless

Hanna Weibye

Celebration opener recovers MacMillan's uneasy 1960 Stravinsky collaboration

Fierce: the Birmingham festival which reaches out to Europe and beyond

Aaron Wright

The new artistic director of the international showcase of live art and performance says what's coming

A Celebration of Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Northern Ballet review - a brave and worthy tribute

Hanna Weibye

An ambitious triple bill honouring great British choreographer

h.Club 100 Awards 2017: The Winners

Theartsdesk

News from The Hospital Club's annual awards for the creative industries, plus theartsdesk's Young Reviewer of the Year

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Royal Ballet review - a feast of visual delights

Hanna Weibye

Return of Wheeldon's shiny, crowd-pleasing version of Lewis Carroll's classic story

Akram Khan's Giselle, Sadler's Wells review - the migrant crisis in a ballet thriller

Jenny Gilbert

English National Ballet gives us the wilis, and then some

La Bayadère, Mariinsky Ballet review - a parade of delights

Hanna Weibye

Russians save the best till last in lavish display of showmanship and art

Contrasts, Mariinsky Ballet review - company shows off range of its powers

Hanna Weibye

Ekaterina Kondaurova the star as Russians display heritage and contemporary works at Royal Opera House

Swan Lake, Mariinsky Ballet review - Xander Parish lacks the spark of wildfire

Hanna Weibye

Heritage company fail to set stage alight in good, but not great, performance at the Royal Opera House

Don Quixote, Mariinsky Ballet review - gentle charm, impressive principals

Hanna Weibye

Tasteful design and perfectly poised dancers in classy first outing for Russians visiting the Royal Opera House

Enter theartsdesk's Young Reviewer of the Year Award

Theartsdesk

In association with The Hospital Club's h.Club 100 Awards, we're launching a new competition to find a brilliant young critic

Scottish Ballet, Sadler's Wells review - striking and memorable dance

Hanna Weibye

Crystal Pite's 'Emergence' is a smart pick for the company

Sergei Vikharev, master ballet-reconstructor, 1962-2017

Ismene Brown

Sudden death at 55 of bold seeker after 'authentic' classical ballet

Ashton triple bill, Royal Ballet review – fond farewell to Zenaida Yanowsky

Hanna Weibye

The prima ballerina bows out in 'Marguerite and Armand' as Akane Takada makes a lovely debut in 'The Dream'

Koen Kessels: 'there's a joke in ballet we only have two tempi' - interview

Hanna Weibye

The Belgian conductor on composers, conducting Swan Lake, and helping young musicians in the dance world

m¡longa, Brighton Festival review - sensual tango explosion

Thomas H Green

Sidi Larbi Charkaoui's tribute to the Argentine dance exudes vibrancy and dexterity

Symphonic Dances, Royal Ballet review - a truly interesting creation

Hanna Weibye

New Scarlett creation shines in a musical mixed bill

Ghost Dances: Rambert, Sadler's Wells review - vital and joyfully precise dancing

Jenny Gilbert

This South American triple bill is highly entertaining, but should it be?

Mayerling, Royal Ballet review - 'every ballet fan should see this'

Hanna Weibye

Watson and Osipova hypnotic in MacMillan's character-driven masterpiece

Footnote: a brief history of dance in Britain

Britain's reputation as one of the world's great ballet nations has been swiftly won, as home-grown classical ballet started here only in the 1930s. Yet within 30 years the Royal Ballet was recognised as the equal of the greatest and oldest companies in France, Russia or Italy. Now the extraordinary range in British dance from classical ballet to contemporary dance-theatre, from experimental new choreography in small spaces to mass arena-ballet spectaculars, can't be matched in the US or Russia, where nothing like the Arts Council subsidy system exists to encourage new work.

Fonteyn_OndineWhile foreign stars have long been adored by British audiences, from Anna Pavlova and Rudolf Nureyev to Sylvie Guillem, the British ballet and dance movements were offspring of the movement towards a national subsidised theatre. This was first activated in the Thirties by Lilian Baylis and Ninette de Valois in a tie-up between the Old Vic and Sadler's Wells, and led to the founding of what became the Royal Ballet, English National Opera and the National Theatre. From 1926 Marie Rambert's Ballet Club operated out of the tiny Mercury Theatre, Notting Hill, a creative crucible producing early stars such as choreographer Frederick Ashton and ballerina Alicia Markova and which eventually grew into Ballet Rambert and today's Rambert Dance. From all these roots developed Sadlers Wells Theatre Ballet (now Birmingham Royal Ballet), London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet), and Western Theatre Ballet which became Scottish Ballet.

Margot Fonteyn's dominance in the post-war ballet scene (pictured in Ashton's Ondine) and the granting of a Royal charter in 1956 to the Royal Ballet and its school brought the "English ballet" world renown, massively increased when Soviet star Rudolf Nureyev defected from the Kirov Ballet in 1961 and formed with Fonteyn the most iconic partnership in dance history.

The Sixties ballet boom was complemented by the introduction of American abstract modern dance to London, and a mushrooming of independent modern choreographers drawing on fashion and club music (Michael Clark), art and classical music (Richard Alston), movies (Matthew Bourne) and science (Wayne McGregor). Hip-hop, salsa and TV dance shows have recently given a dynamic new twist to contemporary dance. The Arts Desk offers the fastest overnight reviews and ticket booking links for last night's openings, as well as the most thoughtful close-up interviews with major creative figures and performers. Our critics include Ismene Brown, Judith Flanders, David Nice, Matt Wolf and James Woodall

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