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Shakespeare’s Legacy by Barbara Newman

Ashton retold A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 70 minutes. Balanchine slipped the narrative into one act and filled the second with pure dancing. John Neumeier dressed the lovers in sleek silvery unitards and the mechanicals as circus clowns. The greatest artworks open themselves to infinite interpretations, which is why choreographers keep reinventing Shakespeare’s plays. No […]

Old Ways Going Forward

In July 2016’s Dancing Times, Dominic Antonucci wrote about dancers on holiday, so in the spirit of summer, this month my own vacation to Italy is my starting point. It was the first time I had visited the country, but amongst much fun, photo-taking and pasta-eating, my mind didn’t stray too far from ballet. Associated […]

Protest and Provocation by Barbara Newman

Take off most of your clothes, paint your body white, and move as if you’re drugged or hypnotised or a ghost or a dream. The art of butoh often involves all these things, along with extremely slow and highly controlled movement, playful and despairing moods, hands cramped into claws and grotesque positions. This indefinable dance-theatre […]

Music Notes by Barbara Newman

Pictured: les ballets C de la B in nicht schlafen. Photographs: Chris Van der Burght. 1. Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker/Rosas in Rain at Sadler’s Wells In Lucinda Childs’ Melody Excerpt, created in 1977 and seldom if ever revived now, the dancers’ feet in trainers supplied the only music. Grouped in varying combinations, the five performers […]

Travelling to see Miami City Ballet           

In the summer, our thoughts turn to the holidays, but I had something of my own busman’s holiday back in March when I went to see Miami City Ballet performing for one night only in a south Florida town called Naples. It was a Tuesday night, the drive took two hours, and I’d had a […]

Something Old, Something New

A distinguished dance critic once declared she never wanted to see Swan Lake again. If the statement strikes you as extreme, don’t forget there are lots of fish in the sea, and it’s often more fun to reel in a fresh one than to catch what you expect. The spring season landed new winners, new […]

Daniel Pratt considers how technology can be beneficial to ballet

I’m plundering conversations I’ve had this month to reflect on technology; I want to begin a dialogue about its potential within dance. The application of new technology within dance medicine is increasingly documented, and progress in more sophisticated lighting and stage techniques affords creative teams a broader palette to paint from, but is technology transforming […]

Barbara Newman on cultural identity

Suddenly, the most engaging dances around deal with cultural identity and immigration, the same topics that fill newspaper headlines. In 2015, Shobana Jeyasingh conceived Material Men to display two performers and their specialised talents – Shailesh Bahoran’s for hip hop, Sooraj Subramaniam’s for Bharata Natyam. Enlarging the original piece to absorb a slice of history, […]

Taking a risk

Last month, I watched Patricia McBride coach two New York City Ballet dancers, Lauren Lovette and Daniel Ulbricht, in the pas de deux and short solo passages from George Balanchine’s Rubies. McBride had created the woman’s role in 1967, and the Balanchine Foundation’s Interpreters Archive had organised the coaching session as part of its ongoing […]

Lost in music

George Balanchine said he didn’t require dancers who wanted to dance. The choreographer instead wanted dancers who needed to dance. That imperative desire to move, as urgent as the necessity for oxygen for our unique breed, comes from music. We dance for different reasons on different days – sometimes it’s to prove something; sometimes it’s […]

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. […]

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