By Robert Penman
Founded in 1982 and now well-known and widely respected throughout Europe and North America, the appearance of San Francisco-based choreographer Alonzo King LINES Ballet at the Festival Theatre on August 26 was a Festival first for the UK. With King’s ballets already established in the repertoires of major companies on both continents, the UK has been particularly slow to come to the party (especially as the British politician Oona King is a relative).
By Gerald Dowler
For the third year running, Henry Roche, devoted company pianist for The Royal Ballet, has brought young dancing friends and musical colleagues together to raise money for a small charity, Ashanti Development, which works in Ghana to help local communities. At the Royal College of Music’s delightful Britten Theatre, he put together this year a toothsome evening of small-scale instrumental and dance works, not the least of which was a personal revival by the ballet’s owner, Jelko Yuresha, of Anton Dolin’s famous Pas de Quatre. Before that, however, were several dance vignettes, starting with a rare glimpse of the Bride’s solo from Frederick Ashton’s war-time ballet The Wise Virgins; a short excerpt focusing mainly on plastique and an almost oriental placing of hands and wrists, it was serenely danced by Romany Pajdak.
With its backdrop of graffiti-covered walls, the convincingly grubby-looking set is littered with the detritus of urban life: a traffic cone, a shopping trolley, a decrepit sofa. So far, so predictable. But the stereotype works precisely because it is a stereotype, and that is the crux of this captivating piece of dance theatre.
So far, family shows have been the biggest dance success at the Linbury Studio Theatre. Following Will Tuckett’s dance/theatre hybrids – The Wind in the Willows, Pinocchio – Aletta Collins has created a show without words, mixing dance with puppetry. It’s a simple, bouncy tale, most vivid in the interaction between people and puppets.
The Blank Album
With The Blank Album, Glasgow-based choreographer Natasha Gilmore presents her dancers as a pop band, as comedians, as attention-seekers. It’s set up as a series of songs, with quarrels or bursts of affection between the band members. Performances are lively, but The Blank Album strains too hard for versatility.
Ballet Week 2009
The Bavarian State Ballet celebrated two anniversaries during its annual Ballet Week, held this year from May 3-10: the company’s 20th birthday as an independent institution and the centenary of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.