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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. […]

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 […]

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