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Dancing Scènes de ballet

This month is a piece of self-indulgence. I’ve been working on Frederick Ashton’s Scènes de ballet for Sarasota Ballet, and the work has become a bit of a “personal helicon”, to reference Irish poet Seamus Heaney. Dancers are always reminded of the evanescent nature of our job: once a performance is over, you have little […]

Barbara Newman on “Snapchat” choreography

  The so-called “interactive generation” is currently addicted to Snapchat, the messaging app that allows you to post anything you like in the knowledge that every post vanishes automatically after it’s viewed. One sociologist has called it “a way to connect without judgment,” a phrase you could now apply, surprisingly, to dance and its public. […]

A little older?

February is my birthday month, so amongst cards and cake, I’ve been musing on aspects of age within ballet. Although I’m only in my mid-twenties, I have a little anxiety about getting older, and I think most dancers have a similar sensitivity. It’s silly and neurotic when you look at the wider media, where we’re […]

Daniel Pratt has some New Year wishes

January is a strange month. Christmas probably seems like a distant memory now. I’m always disconcerted by how bare my living room looks once all the decorations have been taken down; the red-berry warmth that infused our exchanges as we anticipated the Holiday season is replaced with an altogether more minimalistic, somewhat beige, mood. As […]

Barbara Newman on music and dance

Mark Morris’ Behemoth has no music and lasts for 38 minutes. When his company brought it to the Edinburgh International Festival years ago, he told me “It’s a big task for an audience to watch that piece… And not one person walked out of the theatre.” Wishful thinking. At the performance I saw, you could […]

All I want for Christmas is… Jewels

Christmas isn’t about presents – though I am preoccupied thinking about them during the festive season. For dance-goers the world over, The Nutcracker embraces all that Christmas represents. For me, though, this much-loved work can instead seem like the balletic equivalent of those utilitarian gifts you always expect to get: socks, ties, underwear. Happily, I […]

Barbara Newman sees dance by Boris Eifman and Shobana Jeyasingh

The second definition of “translate” in my dictionary is “to turn into one’s own or another language.” Choreographers do this all the time, turning ideas, words, music or images into movement, hoping their translations will measure up emotionally and intellectually to the original material. George Balanchine said, “There are no mother-in-laws in ballet,” convinced that […]

Strictly Speaking: The final

Marianka Swain on the last dance There was something of an elegiac feel to this year’s final, as Len Goodman, Strictly institution, finally hung up his “Seh-ven!” paddle, gave us one last scrambled metaphor and waltzed off to the great golf course in the sky. We can only hope ballroom doesn’t follow suit, but continues to […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 12

Marianka Swain on a closely fought semi-final Two-dance week: often a recipe for disappointing half-dances. But this was actually a decent semi-final, if inconsistent – in performance and in judging. Ah yes. Overmarked, undermarked, wandering free. The judges of Strictly, erratic are we. At this point, Bruno’s 10 is more devalued than the pound, and […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 11

Marianka Swain watches Strictly get mired in musicals Perhaps this is an unfashionable stance in the “tired of experts” era, but for me Strictly’s Musicals Week highlighted a more general issue with this series: we’ve had too much of our ballroom dancers attempting other styles, rather than their own. The pro numbers are overwhelmingly contemporary […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 10

This year’s couples largely managed to avoid the crippling malaise that is Blackpool Hangover Week, although I could have done without the continuation of bizarre scoring, plus dubious Cha Cha Challenge choices. It’s no secret that the judges have firm views on potential finalists versus also-rans, but attempting to erect a Berlin Wall on the […]

Going high when others go low

I always planned my November blog to use the US Presidential Election as a departure point. I started writing this on the morning before the polls opened. I finished it on the day after the election result. My ideas about what I’d write this month changed radically as I went about my ballet business over […]

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