thu 20/06/2019

dance

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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The Sleeping Beauty, Australian Ballet, cinema broadcast

Hanna Weibye

Australian Ballet's cinema broadcast on Tuesday night appears to have been a little under-publicised

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Carlos Acosta, The Classical Farewell, Royal Albert Hall

Hanna Weibye

This is it. This is absolutely, definitely, finally Carlos Acosta's farewell to classical ballet.

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La Fille mal gardée, Royal Ballet

Hanna Weibye

In a world of terrifyingly serious news, the opening of the Royal Ballet season with Frederick Ashton's pastoral frolic La Fille mal gardée might seem like a wanton disregard for reality, like a brass band playing "Oh I do like to be beside the seaside" as the Titanic goes down. But that is to misunderstand the reason Fille is so beloved is that it has at its heart a perfectly serious and realistic topic: young love.

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The Flames of Paris, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House

Hanna Weibye

The Flames of Paris, in Alexei Ratmansky's 2008 reworking, is a ballet of contrasts. Between the first and second acts, so different in pace and quality, between the naturalistic intimacy of certain pas de deux and the stylised posturing of the crowd scenes, between the tedious masque in Act I and the fireworks show-off variations in Act II, between the liquid velvet blood-red curtains and the flat black-and-white line drawing sets.

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The Taming of the Shrew, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House

Hanna Weibye

What do women want? Ballet plots are not the best guide, since the main desiderata – a well-paying job, coffee dates with girlfriends, not to die young of a broken heart – are rarely the lot of ballet heroines. Comedies at least tend to have the not-dying part covered, but they often fall down on at least one of two other big requirements: that one's family should be supportive, and that one's romantic partner should not be a chump.

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