sat 04/07/2020

dance

Hofesh Shechter's Political Mother, Sadler's Wells

ismene Brown

In the middle of the pulverisingly loud and utterly thrilling experience that is Hofesh Shechter’s new production Political Mother, I wished suddenly that all dancers could come and see this piece, see what clarion theatre dance can be.

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Royal Ballet School Matinee, Royal Opera House

ismene Brown

The annual tradition that is the Royal Ballet School Matinee at Covent Garden isn’t just some prestige indulgence for the nervous parents of ballet children fortunate enough to survive the militaristic training and dogged enough to want to continue into the beckoning career where there are such frail job prospects. It is a place where the gap between a good student and a potential artist comes clear through the sheer size and one-offness of the occasion.

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David Michalek: Slow Dancing, Trafalgar Square/ Nederlands Dans Theater, Sadler’s Wells

Judith Flanders

One of the most difficult questions to answer is what makes a great performer great? So much that happens on stage takes place in an eye-blink. Dancer A is "better" than Dancer B, but why? Critics talk about "line", about "extension", about how dancers use and shape space. But it is hard to see shapes in words. Now portrait photographer and installation artist David Michalek has, with one deft blow, solved this problem.

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Flamenco Sin Fronteras, Paco Peña Dance Company, Sadler's Wells

ismene Brown

Spain and Venezuela are two countries divided by a common language - in dance and music, as well as in culture. Hence the hook for Paco Peña’s latest production, Flamenco sin fronteras, which while wearing a faintly anthropological air also packs a lot of ebullient performance skills and talking-points. Contrasting “high” Cordoban flamenco (and in Charo Espino and Angel Muñoz, Peña provides two of the most refined dancers to be found in any style) with gutsy, African-influenced...

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Time Gentlemen Please, The Demon Barbers, Theatre Royal Wakefield

graham Rickson Clog hop: street dance meets English folk in Time Gentlemen Please

Yorkshire folkies The Demon Barbers have used English dance in their live shows for several years. Time Gentlemen Please takes the idea a step further, integrating  contemporary dance stylings within a cast of more traditional types. Thus three hip-hop dancers barge into a musty pub and you’re immediately aware of their sense of displacement. Their moves are jerky and uncomfortable, their body language hinting at deep unease. Then on come the clog dancers.

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On Their Toes!, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Birmingham Hippodrome

ismene Brown Dusty Button and César Morales in 'Grosse Fuge': the choreographer Hans van Manen does basic instincts in ballet better than anyone alive

Hans van Manen does basic instincts in ballet better than anyone alive. The Dutch choreographer, nearly 78 and far too little exposed in Britain, is a near-contemporary of Kenneth MacMillan, another specialist in sexual relations, but where MacMillan is fascinatingly drenched in guilt, Van Manen takes a bold, guilt-free stand. Grosse Fuge, which Birmingham Royal Ballet revived in the Hippodrome last night in a smart triple bill to entertain all tastes, is all about mating display...

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Swan Lake, ENB, Royal Albert Hall

ismene Brown

Within two bars of the overture starting, the first flashes could be seen. English National Ballet’s arena Swan Lake at the Albert Hall - they make no bones about it now - is intended for people who rarely go to the ballet. Actually it is in many cases for people who have no compunction about talking and taking pictures through the ballet quite routinely.

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Michael Clark Company, Come, Been and Gone, Barbican

ismene Brown

A second coming for Michael Clark's recent Barbican commission Come, Been, Gone. Eight months after the London premiere (on which I opined unenthusiastically below last October), he has added another 20 minutes of choreography, they said, with new costumes and artworks. The revision is also now artfully retitled Come, Been and Gone. Not comma-Gone. And Gone. Makes all the difference.

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Kabuki, Sadler's Wells

Judith Flanders

It is hard to think of anything more "foreign" than kabuki to the Anglo style of acting, a style which reveres naturalism and makes "reality" its ultimate aim. Yet kabuki is gaining a knowledgeable – and welcoming – audience in London. The Shochiku Kabuki Company was at the Barbican last year, performing in Yukio Ninagawa’s brilliant Twelfth Night, and Sadler’s Wells have become almost regular hosts of Japanese performers.

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Royal Ballet New Works, Linbury Studio Theatre, ROH

ismene Brown Inspired by Balanchine: Melissa Hamilton and Valeri Hristov in Viacheslav Samodurov's fine Trip Trac

Ninette de Valois said the solution to a shortage of choreographic talent was this: “You wait.” Waiting through the Nineties and early Noughties proved the Royal Ballet founder’s point - suddenly new distinctive ballet talent is cropping up all over the place. Taking the pressure off Christopher Wheeldon and Wayne McGregor, young Liam...

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