wed 24/07/2024

dance

Coppélia, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House

Ismene Brown

Coppélia is the name of the doll in the ballet-comedy - not that of the heroine, who is a bad pixie named Swanilda, a girl of youthful capriciousness but a heart of gold.

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Laurencia, Mikhailovsky Ballet, London Coliseum

Ismene Brown

Rape, marauding soldiers, peasants on the warpath and a flash hero - are we at the Bolshoi’s Spartacus once again? No, we’re at the Mikhailovsky Ballet down the road at the Coliseum where a rather more Erroll Flynn-type spectacle is being offered, Laurencia.

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Spartacus, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House

David Nice

Roll up, roll up for the ancient Roman circus of a production almost as old as I am. Thrill to the catchy tunes and the oom-pah basses of flash Aram Khachaturian, played with the kind of lurid splendour you thought could only be faked on Soviet-era Melodiya recordings. Enjoy the pageant of sword-waggling, goosestepping cohorts, flagellated slaves, skimpy-tunicked maidens and golden-wigged ephebes.

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Gala programme, Mikhailovsky Ballet, London Coliseum

Ismene Brown Le Halte de Cavalerie: 'A Clouseau-like performance from Andrei Bregvadze's Colonel (right) saves the show'

The Mikhailovsky Ballet is full of surprises. Predictably for a Russian company it brought a gala programme yesterday - unpredictably, it brought a rare example of St Petersburg 19th-century ballet comedy and a new commission of contemporary ballet. Neither of these is box office, so how refreshing is that? Then there were the thongs-and-glitter pas de deux of the strenuous 20th-century Soviet athletic style, and a classical jewel from Sleeping Beauty, and a wholly delightful court...

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Swan Lake & Giselle, Mikhailovsky Ballet, London Coliseum

Ismene Brown

It would be tough for any Russian ballet company to come into worldly, balletwise London just ahead of the great Bolshoi, but the Mikhailovsky Ballet make a very pleasing impression in their first week at the Coliseum with a pretty and historically interesting Swan Lake and a gently antique Giselle, and dancing that more than most underscores the rare pleasures of period style.

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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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