thu 21/02/2019

Dance reviews, news & interviews

The Rite of Spring/Gianni Schicchi, Opera North review - unlikely but musically satisfying pairing

Graham Rickson

Stravinsky acknowledged that his orchestra for The Rite of Spring was a large one because Diaghilev had promised him extra musicians (“I am not sure that my orchestra would have been as huge otherwise.”) It isn’t huge in Opera North’s production (★★★★★), and for practical reasons they're using the edition arranged by Jonathan McPhee in 1988 for a standard pit band.

Brighton Festival 2019 launches with Guest Director Rokia Traoré

Thomas H Green

The striking cover for the Brighton Festival 2019 programme shouts out loud who this year’s Guest Director is. Silhouetted in flowers, in stunning artwork by Simon Prades, is the unmistakeable profile of Malian musician Rokia Traoré.

Swan Lake, English National Ballet, London...

Jenny Gilbert

Diversity, and the need for more of it, is a hot potato in the theatre arts. Kudos, then, to English National Ballet and its director Tamara Rojo for...

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, Sadler's...

Hanna Weibye

The Matthew Bourne Swan Lake has become a classic. And – lest that word conjure up dusty tomes and a niggling sense of obligation – this is...

The Nutcracker, Royal Ballet review - a still-...

David Nice

Once a year is never too often to revisit one of the most perfect of all orchestral scores (not just for the ballet), a climactic Russian Imperial...

The Unknown Soldier, Infra, Symphony in C, Royal Ballet, review - WWI ballet honours obscure tragedy

Jenny Gilbert

The storyline goes missing, presumed dead, in this Armistice commission

Carlos Acosta: A Celebration, Royal Albert Hall

Theartsdesk

Candid images of retired ballet legend on stage

'It’s more fun to dance in a tutu': Tory Dobrin of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

Jenny Gilbert

The artistic director of the Trocks explains how he keeps his ballet parodists on their toes

theartsdesk in Riga - 43,290 Latvians sing and dance for their country

David Nice

Individual souls conjoined with a passionate belief in peace and music achieve miracles

Enter theartsdesk / h Club Young Influencer of the Year award

Theartsdesk

In association with The Hospital Club's h.Club100 Awards, we're looking for the best cultural writers, bloggers and vloggers

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

Jenny Gilbert

Kenneth MacMillan's timeless staging brings out the best in ENB

Michael Chance on continuing opera in Hampshire: 'good people like to work with good people'

Michael Chance

The countertenor turned impresario launches a second season of The Grange Festival

Swan Lake, Royal Ballet review - beautiful, heartfelt

Hanna Weibye

Liam Scarlett and John Macfarlane's new version of the classic takes wings

Elizabeth, Barbican review - royal romance under scrutiny

Jenny Gilbert

Words and music form an equal alliance with dance to probe the love life of the Virgin Queen

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!

Theartsdesk

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

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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