tue 11/08/2020

dance

Best of 2016: Dance & Ballet

Hanna Weibye

The criteria used by theartsdesk's critics in selecting pieces for this list are simple, but demanding: did a piece or a programme stir and shake us? Did it move us, and make us still - weeks or months afterwards - think, yes, I'd go see that again in a heartbeat?

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Strictly Come Dancing 2016 Final, BBC One

Jasper Rees

What is light entertainment for? It won’t save the world or heal the sick or bring warring factions to the negotiating table. It’s teeth and smiles and bread and circuses on a Saturday night and it shouldn’t have to bear any greater weight. The Generation Game was never required to offer vital balm during the Three-Day Week. Barrymore didn’t nurse us all through Black Wednesday and Britain’s exit from the ERM.

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The Red Shoes, Sadler's Wells

Jenny Gilbert

Anyone expecting a knockout punch from Matthew Bourne’s latest creation is in for a let-down. His hotly anticipated take on Powell and Pressburger’s 1948 film, unlike his Swan Lake, is not going to send anyone out into the night weeping into their hankie. Nor is it likely to turn unbelievers into ballet fans, and yet it is probably his best piece of work to date.

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Swan Lake/Loch na hEala, Sadler’s Wells

Jenny Gilbert

Booking a ticket for a show devised by Michael Keegan-Dolan has always required an act of faith, and this is no exception. ‘If I say this is a house, it’s a house,” says the evening’s laconic compere, Mikel Murfi, gesturing with his cigarette to three breeze blocks on the floor. And if Keegan-Dolan says this is Swan Lake you’d better believe it and brace yourself for wrenching tragedy.

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Conceal/Reveal, Russell Maliphant Company, Messums Barn

ismene Brown

An inviting gap in the market, a dark, mysterious place, was left beckoning when the dance theatres of Britain cashed in on expensive refurbs in the name of public accessibility. Putting an end to mystique, they homed in on IKEA style, all glass, pale wood and airport foyer briskness. The theatre as a continuum with our office space, blank, unprejudicing, unintoxicating, all about efficiency and the bottom line.

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The Nutcracker, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Christmas - in the shape of Peter Wright's Nutcracker - has arrived earlier than usual at the Royal Opera House. This is to make space for a 70th anniversary run of The Sleeping Beauty that starts on 21 December: the two will run in tandem through the holiday period, scheduling that assumes audiences can't get enough of Tchaikovsky-and-tutus at Christmas. And I'm sure they can't, when the purveyors of said delights are the Royal Ballet.

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Akram Khan's Giselle, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Thank God for Akram Khan, English National Ballet, and Tamara Rojo. Their new Giselle, which finally arrived at Sadler's Wells this week after its Salford premiere in September, is a work of intelligence, power, beauty, and - most gratifying of all in this age of lies, damned lies and politics - stunning integrity. This is a ballet about issues that matter, made by people who know what they're doing.

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Wayne McGregor triple bill, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

"My mission is to create new dance with new music and new design that is intimately plugged in to the world we live in today. I am motivated to make contemporary work that speaks of now and that is totally present-tense," Wayne McGregor explains in the programme note for last night's triple bill of his works at the Royal Opera House. It's the McGregor-speak that we have all come to know: a vanishingly tiny message wrapped up in obfuscatory verbiage.

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Anastasia, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

The reception of Kenneth MacMillan's ballet Anastasia has some similarities with that accorded the Berlin asylum patient who some believed to be the lost Romanov Grand Duchess. For supporters who wanted to believe in the fairytale, Anna Anderson's awkwardness, her lack of Russian, her facial dissimilarity to the Tsar's youngest daughter, could all be turned to postive account; her unlikeness became evidence of likeness.

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Shakespeare triple bill, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Sadler's Wells

Hanna Weibye

Shakespeare has always been a fertile source of inspiration for story ballets.

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