sat 24/07/2021

dance

Beauty Mixed Programme, Royal Ballet review - no dancers? No problem

Jenny Gilbert

Crisis-management has always been part of a choreographer’s skillset, but staging a new ballet with two large alternating casts has rarely been fraught with so much risk. It was one hell of a week for Valentino Zucchetti, first soloist at the Royal Ballet and creator of Anemoi, the 20-minute work that opens the final programme in the company’s 90th birthday season.

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Solstice, English National Ballet, RFH review - a midsummer treat

Jenny Gilbert

“A tonic to the nation”. That was the hoped-for effect of the Festival of Britain in 1951, and its concrete legacy was the Royal Festival Hall.

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British Ballet Charity Gala, Royal Albert Hall review - a celebration of sorts

Jenny Gilbert

The Royal Albert Hall – 150 years old this year and with a commemorative £5 coin to prove it – is a great  space for many kinds of spectacle but has done few favours for ballet. I make an exception for Derek Deane’s in-the-round Swan Lake, if only on the grounds of its having been seen by 750,000 people many of whom might never have set foot in an actual theatre.

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Balanchine and Robbins, The Royal Ballet review - style and substance

Jenny Gilbert

People often ask why it is that in ballet there are different casts on different nights, a practice alien to opera, musicals and theatre. The most obvious reason is practical. Ballet companies keep a number of principal dancers on salary who need regularly to strut their stuff.

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Dark Days, Luminous Nights, Manchester Collective, The White Hotel, Salford review - a sense of Hades

Robert Beale

Did you wonder what all those creative musicians and artists did when they couldn’t perform in public last winter? Some of them started making films.

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The Royal Ballet: 21st-Century Choreographers review - dancers rise to fresh challenges

Jenny Gilbert

The Royal Opera House wasn't taking any chances when it welcomed its first ballet audience since December this week. There was no printed programme on offer, nor even a cast sheet. “Not till October” said the uniformed man on the door. Some ballet companies have learnt the hard way not to trust that newly lifted lockdowns (lockups?) will stay that way for long.

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Reunion: An Evening with English National Ballet review - back on stage and fabulous

Jenny Gilbert

You could hardly call this back to normal at London’s premier dance house. For a start, there was too much red plush visible in the stalls, not all of it the result of COVID-safe spacing.

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New York City Ballet 2021 Spring Gala online review - Balanchine and Robbins shine in a dark theatre

Jenny Gilbert

It’s official. Masks are coming off across America while theatres remain dark. Over here, theatres are about to re-open and masks must be worn. An identical situation gives rise to different responses prompted by local preoccupations. Local preoccupations are at work in ballet too.

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Best of 2020: Dance

Jenny Gilbert

Hard as it is to recall how it felt to sit elbow to elbow in a red plush seat, plenty of us did that during the first 10 weeks of 2020, with no heed at all to who might be breathing over us. I have since wondered what proportion of the dance sector had any inkling of the wrecking ball that was about to hit. None, to judge by the many weeks it took for dance companies and theatres to reinvent themselves online, and to start dredging their archives for decently recorded material.

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The Nutcracker: an end-of-year obituary

Jenny Gilbert

If dance lovers have learnt anything in recent months it's to take nothing for granted. How could we ever have been so blasé about The Nutcracker, whose annual reappearance in multiple productions was as inevitable as crowds on Oxford Street?

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