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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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

Going further

Many people consider Wayne McGregor’s choreography the latest development in classical ballet, the next step after William Forsythe. Unlike Forsythe, however, he was not trained in ballet, yet he tinkers with its vocabulary obsessively, manipulating human bodies to their physical limits, distorting their alignment, disturbing their balance, and twisting joints to the extreme of their […]

La Fille mal gardée

What has happened to La Fille mal gardée? When did a generic pantomime dame replace Widow Simone’s individual character? Why doesn’t Alain offer the spurned engagement ring to the entire audience? Why do the lights dim for the final joyous pas de deux? Why are the sheaves now bound in actual raffia, which makes them […]

Can they dance like nobody else?

Alvin Ailey’s first company, established in 1958, consisted of seven black dancers and the intention of showcasing black culture. Over the years, as the troupe’s size and reputation continued to grow, it had an unmatched impact on dance in the US. Though predominantly African-American, the roster was integrated in 1964 and has included white and […]

Dance as window-dressing?

Dance maligned, dance misused, dance as window-dressing. You wouldn’t expect a live performance to inspire such thoughts, but in less than a week I’ve seen two that do, and the combination was quite unsettling. Let’s start with the worse offence, perpetrated by the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre. A new version of an old story, Her […]

Performing as professionals

In her fascinating book, But First A School, a history of New York’s School of American Ballet, Jennifer Dunning examines its annual Spring Workshop Performances, remarking that “the Workshop tradition… has given visibility to the School as a productive vocational institution.” The phrase “productive vocational institution” doesn’t quite suit the end-of-year performances here, which are […]

Barbara Newman sees Natalia Osipova in a new triple bill

In case you hadn’t noticed, branding works just as effectively in dance as in the supermarket. The Sadler’s Wells production titled simply Natalia Osipova is on its way to the Edinburgh International Festival in August, back to the Wells in September, and into the gaping cavern of the New York City Center in November. It […]

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