fri 20/07/2018

Dance reviews, news & interviews

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The Sleeping Beauty, London Coliseum review - a triumph for English National Ballet

Jenny Gilbert

When Tamara Rojo won the top job at English National Ballet in 2012, it looked like a poisoned chalice. Directors had come and gone, some of them with visionary ideas, but all were defeated by the company’s peculiar position as underdog to the company at Covent Garden.

Michael Chance on continuing opera in Hampshire...

Michael Chance

Out of the blue comes a phone call. A freelance career is based on those to a certain extent. Certainly mine has been. But this one was a bit...

Swan Lake, Royal Ballet review - beautiful,...

Hanna Weibye

A new Swan Lake at the Royal Ballet is a once-in-a-generation event. Liam Scarlett, choreographer of the production that opened this week, was a babe...

Elizabeth, Barbican review - royal romance under...

Jenny Gilbert

Everyone knows that Elizabeth I was a monarch of deep intelligence and sharp wit. Fewer know how good she was at the galliard. This was a virile,...

Unbound: A Festival of New Works, War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco review - ballet invests in its future

Jenny Gilbert

San Francisco Ballet pulls off an unprecedented feat of creativity

Formosa, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, Sadler’s Wells review - perfect in every detail

Sarah Kent

A glorious fusion of athletic dance, creative visuals and intoxicating sound

Win a Luxury Weekend for Two to celebrate Brighton Festival!

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Enter our competition to win a spectacular weekend at England's finest arts festival

Hofesh Shechter Company: Grand Finale, Brighton Festival review - politics, percussion and powerful choreography

Katie Colombus

Physical chaos and classical music make for a strong show

Ballet's Dark Knight - Sir Kenneth MacMillan, BBC Four review – hagiography and home videos

Hanna Weibye

Little is revealed about the enigmatic choreographer's life or why we should care about his legacy

Obsidian Tear / Marguerite and Armand / Elite Syncopations, Royal Opera House review - an evening of high-performance mismatch

Jenny Gilbert

Fine dancing, but these three ballets have nothing to say to each other

Voices of America, English National Ballet review - a punchy programme of contemporary ballet

Hanna Weibye

Forsythe commission is a romping, swaggering joy of a piece

Classical CDs Weekly: Lūcija Garūta, Dag Wirén, Ruby Hughes

Graham Rickson

20th century discoveries from Latvia and Sweden, plus a tribute to Handel's favourite soprano

Manon, Royal Ballet review - glitter and betray

David Nice

Francesca Hayward makes a virtue of a pleasure-loving enigma in pacy MacMillan revival

Sutra, Sadler’s Wells review – a masterpiece 10 years on

Sarah Kent

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui joins the Monks from the Shaolin Temple for a tour that continues to wow audiences the world over

Richard Alston, Mid Century Modern, Sadler's Wells review - a master choreographer clocks up 50 years

Jenny Gilbert

The music man of British contemporary dance takes stock

Sir Matthew Bourne remembers Scott Ambler 1960-2018 – 'A prince among men'

Matthew Bourne

New Adventures Artistic Director's tribute to his core collaborator and star performer

Bernstein triple bill, Royal Ballet review - epic ambitions unfulfilled

Hanna Weibye

Composer outshines McGregor, Scarlett and Wheeldon in centenary tribute

Macbeth, Wilton's Music Hall review - incisive and thrilling dance theatre

Jenny Gilbert

Mark Bruce Company's wordless take on the Scottish Play is stunning

Giselle, Royal Ballet review - beautiful dancing in a production of classic good taste

Hanna Weibye

Perfect storytelling through dance from Marianela Nuñez and excellent supporting cast

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

Hanna Weibye

An odd-couple programme delivers both exquisite dancing and emotional truth

Best of 2017: Dance

Theartsdesk

Classical ballet dominates the highlights reel as chosen by theartsdesk's critics

Cinderella, Sadler's Wells review - Matthew Bourne puts Cinderella through the Blitz

Jenny Gilbert

Prokofiev's dark glitterball of a ballet score with added air raid sirens

The Nutcracker, English National Ballet review - a thoroughly enchanting performance

Katherine Waters

Great warmth, lush detail and a twist of darkness

Bolshoi's controversial Nureyev ballet opens – to ovations and bans

Ismene Brown

Creator Kirill Serebrennikov, under house arrest, denied permission to see his own ballet

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

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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Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

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