wed 05/10/2022

Dance reviews, news & interviews

The Goldberg Variations, De Keersmaeker, Kolesnikov, Sadler's Wells review - keyboard harmony and atonal dance

David Nice

Jean-Guihen Queyras and five dancers of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Rosas company in the Bach Cello Suites was a thing of constantly evolving wonder. So too is Pavel Kolesnikov’s ongoing dialogue with Bach’s Goldberg Variations, different every time he plays them. Would De Keersmaeker alone be able to hold her own dancing to this inventory of technical rigour and human emotions?

theartsdesk at the Ravenna Festival 2022 - body and soul in perfect balance

David Nice

For once, a festival theme has meaning. “Tra la carne e il cielo”, “Between flesh and heaven”, is how Pier Paolo Pasolini, the centenary of whose birth we mark this year, defined his early experience of hearing the Siciliana movement of Bach’s First Violin Sonata (adding that he inclined to the fleshly). It provided the perfect epigraph to the four Ravenna Festival performances I attended this year, three of them as stunning as any hybrid event I’ve ever witnessed.

The Rite of Spring, Pina Bausch/École des Sables...

Jenny Gilbert

Superstition, herd instinct, brutality, base terror. Whatever the precise narrative themes of Pina Bausch's response to The Rite of Spring – the most...

The Car Man, Royal Albert Hall review - grand...

Katie Colombus

Ever since his re-staging of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, Matthew Bourne has managed to update the art of storytelling through dance steps and gesture in...

Like Water for Chocolate, Royal Ballet review -...

Jenny Gilbert

When George Balanchine said that “there are no mothers-in-law in ballet”, he wasn’t just stating the obvious. He meant that there are some things...

Carmen, Queen Elizabeth Hall review - a flawed but fascinating retread

Jenny Gilbert

Osipova mesmerises in a new contemporary dance chamber-version that doesn't quite hit its mark

Sacre, Circa Contemporary Circus, Brighton Festival review - an astonishing assortment of lifts and throws, daring and strength

Katie Colombus

Re-imagining 'The Rite of Spring' and re-defining the boundaries of circus

Classical CDs: Toyshops, begging gods and a good year for Austrian music

Graham Rickson

Classical piano music, French symphonies and a big box of ballets

Dance for Ukraine, London Coliseum, online review - a gala to remember

Jenny Gilbert

Swiftly-assembled charity effort demonstrates dancers' engagement with the world

The Weathering/Solo Echo/DGV, Royal Ballet review - the dancer as chameleon

Jenny Gilbert

Strong one-act works by Kyle Abraham and Crystal Pite show the dancers at their adaptive best

Swan Lake, Royal Ballet review - a magnificent revival

Jenny Gilbert

Liam Scarlett's production strikes a suitably mournful note on its second time out

The unexpurgated Clement Crisp - in memoriam

Ismene Brown

The titan of ballet critics, who has died at 95, once agreed to be grilled - with scorching results

La Mif review - Swiss docu-drama focuses on troubled teens

Saskia Baron

Ambitious but overly didactic portrait of a social work system struggling with emotional conflict

NDT2, Sadler's Wells review - a diverse triple bill

Katie Colombus

A joyful showcase of technical skill and choreographic range

Saturday Night Fever, Peacock Theatre review - crowd-pleaser stays true to its roots

Gary Naylor

Iconic film on stage heats up the West End

Acosta Danza, Sadler's Wells review - here comes the sun

Jenny Gilbert

The young Cuban company's third UK visit is a joy, and an education

Kontakthof, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch review - struggling to make contact

Jenny Gilbert

Emotional connection is not guaranteed in this latest revival from the Pina back catalogue

Raymonda, English National Ballet, Coliseum review - a creaky old standard, lavishly restored to health

Jenny Gilbert

Tamara Rojo gives an ailing veteran a shot in the arm

Best of 2021: Dance

Jenny Gilbert

There was gold among the rubble in this wreck of a year for dance

Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker!, Sadler's Wells Theatre review - new candy, but the nuts are off

Ismene Brown

This is designer Anthony Ward’s Nutcracker! with multiple exclamation marks

Starstruck, Scottish Ballet review - smart, sassy and cinematic

Jenny Gilbert

A ballet by Gene Kelly from 1960 gets new wings

Past Present, Linbury Theatre review - historic, but very much alive

Jenny Gilbert

Yorke Dance Project premieres the final work of Robert Cohan

Ballet Black, Linbury Theatre review - an essential part of the landscape

Jenny Gilbert

Twenty years on, the pity is that it's still necessary for this excellent company to exist

Curated by Carlos, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Sadler's Wells review - a star turn

Jenny Gilbert

Carlos Acosta and Alessandra Ferri show the young things how it's done

Royal Opera House lullabies for Little Amal

David Nice

Near the end of her long journey, our refugee gets a welcome her real-life kin are denied

L'Heure Exquise, Linbury Theatre review - an exquisite tragedy in miniature

Jenny Gilbert

Alessandra Ferri marks her 40 years in ballet with a remarkable solo turn

Bernstein Double Bill, Opera North review - fractured relationships in song and dance

Graham Rickson

Heartbreak and strife from a pair of Leeds institutions

The Dante Project, Royal Ballet review - a towering achievement

Jenny Gilbert

A stupendous score by Thomas Adès powers this inspiring undertaking

Romeo and Juliet, Birmingham Royal Ballet & Royal Ballet review - a storming start to the season

Jenny Gilbert

Half a century on MacMillan's R&J is still the business

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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