fri 06/12/2019

dance

Le Corsaire, English National Ballet, Coliseum

Jenny Gilbert

It’s being sold as the ideal ballet for first-timers, but I would blush to introduce even my neighbour’s cat to this Carry On Up the Harem hokum. Worse, its silliness verges on offensive. When, in Rudolph Nureyev’s 1990s production of La Bayadère for Paris Opera Ballet, a chorus of blacked-up picaninnies appeared for about three minutes, you blinked and put it down to an unwise attempt at historical accuracy.

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Until the Lions, Akram Khan, Roundhouse

Hanna Weibye

As its first gift to dance fans, the new year has delivered not one but two chamber pieces about extraordinary women. Down in Covent Garden this week, Will Tuckett's Elizabeth for Royal Ballet dancers is exploring the life and loves of Queen Elizabeth I, while up in Camden Akram Khan's Until the Lions takes a fresh look at the story of princess Amba, from the Indian classical epic the Mahabharata.

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Elizabeth, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

Please, sir, I want some more. Will Tuckett and Alasdair Middleton's Elizabeth is soul food for the hungry dance fan; an ingenious blend of words, music and dance that beguiles and entertains in equal measure.

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Cinderella, Scottish Ballet, Edinburgh Festival Theatre

Hanna Weibye

When producing Cinderella, the main question is: sweet or sour?  That Prokofiev score is splendid, but it's no walk in a candy shop; in Act I the stepsisters have passages so scraping, spiky and dissonant that sugar-coating would seem to be out of the question.

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Best of 2015: Dance & Ballet

Hanna Weibye

It was business as usual in the British dance world in 2015. Looking back over the year, theartsdesk's dance critics see the industry's many talented, capable people continuing to do their jobs well, but we don't recall being shaken, stirred or surprised as often as in other years, or at least not by new works: our top moments of the year are concentrated in the farewells of great dancers Sylvie Guillem and Carlos Acosta, and in classic productions of classic ballets.

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Nutcracker, English National Ballet, London Coliseum

Hanna Weibye

Christmas legends are not born; they are made. In the case of the Nutcracker, its Christmas indispensability in Britain and America stems not from the original 1892 St Petersburg production, but from 1950s reinterpretations by emigré Russians (Balanchine and Karinska in the US, Lichine and Benois in the UK). Like most other story ballets, there is no stable text - apart from the Tchaikovsy score, of course, but Balanchine was happy to cut and rearrange that too.

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The Little Match Girl, Lilian Baylis Studio Theatre

Hanna Weibye

I habitually skipped over Hans Christian Andersen's Little Match Girl in my childhood fairy tale compendium because I couldn't bear the sadness (see also: The Happy Prince *sob*).

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Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty, Sadler's Wells

Jenny Gilbert

If Matthew Bourne never made another story ballet, his company New Adventures could probably carry on touring his back catalogue till the end of time. The Sleeping Beauty is only on its second London outing, and although it lacks the emotional clout of his Swan Lake, it’s clearly set for a similarly long life as a Great British Export.

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Carlos Acosta: A Classical Selection, London Coliseum

Jenny Gilbert

“Every time I go on stage it could be the last,” Carlos Acosta warned a few years back. And now that moment has come – or very nearly. There are a scant six performances of this farewell gala at the Coliseum (largely a reprise of an Olivier-winning programme he presented in 2006). Then he picks it up again next May, with different supporting dancers, for a fleeting regional tour.

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The Nutcracker, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

With its hybrid Romantic-kitschy plot, chocolate-advert Tchaikovksy tunes, and baggage of obligatory Christmas cheer, the Nutcracker is harder to get right than you might think if you've only ever seen Sir Peter Wright's Royal Ballet version, now over 30 years old and still practically perfect in every way.

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