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April 2018 issue

Posted on March 29, 2018

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The April issue of Dancing Times has the thoughts of several leading company directors, from an interview with The Royal Ballet’s Kevin O’Hare to Scottish Ballet’s Christopher Hampson on standards of behaviour in the ballet world. We also look at gender fluidity in dance, speak to dancers from Chicago to ballet, and offer our regular mix of reviews, reports and features on the worlds of stage and social dance…





Exuberant and open

Kevin O’Hare, director of The Royal Ballet, talks to Jonathan Gray about his plans for the company

“On the immediate horizon is The Royal Ballet’s new production of Swan Lake, the first in more than 30 years. Although O’Hare promises it will remain a traditional version of the ballet (including, he adds, swans in classical tutus), he relishes the chance to make some changes. ‘We are not throwing everything away, it is going to be a “Royal Ballet” production, but I wanted us to look at it with fresh eyes, so that meant new designs. It will be a new Swan Lake for a new generation of dancers.’

“The production is to be staged by choreographer and artist-in-residence Liam Scarlett, with sets and costumes by John Macfarlane. ‘Liam loves classical ballet and The Royal Ballet,’ O’ Hare continues. ‘He’s a young man with a great interest in the company and I knew he would respect that. I want us to cherish The Royal Ballet’s heritage of Swan Lake, but we must make it feel fresh and relevant. It’s been great working with John. He’s designed Swan Lake before and was keen to do another version.’

“Although he says there will be no great surprises, O’Hare, without giving too much away, reveals that the character of Von Rothbart is to be enlarged. ‘He’s more present throughout the whole thing, and there is going to be a context to why he is there’ it’s going to help the clarity of the storytelling…’”

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All that jazz

As the stage musical Chicago returns to London’s West End, Nicola Rayner hears from Sarah Soetaert and Josefina Gabrielle, who star as Roxie and Velma

“Veteran musical theatre performers, both Sarah and Josefina are classically trained. What does that mean for taking on [choreographer] Bob Fosse’s unique style? ‘Oh, I think it’s absolutely fantastic,’ says Sarah happily. ‘The lines! Having a ballet background is so…’ she pauses. ‘The smoothness and the lines and the core of it. If you have that background, it’s absolutely unique.’

“Josefina agrees: ‘Even Fosse himself, his background was classical ballet and he made a highlight of what he considered were his weaknesses: so with turn out, he turned in; I think he had one hip higher than the other, so he sank in his hip; he was losing his hair, so he wore hats. He just inverted certain things. Even though it’s kind of the opposite of classical dance, it has that same discipline and strength… The hardest thing I find with Fosse,’ she continues, ‘is the more you can isolate, the more impressive it looks. To be able to just raise your shoulder without other things coming up with it or turn your head and not knock your spine. It’s truly a wonderful thing when every part of your body can move separately – it’s the most glorious thing to see and that’s hard to achieve…’”

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Gender fluidity

As society grapples with a more flexible approach to gender, so too does the dance world, reports Marianka Swain

“‘Is there such a thing as male or female movement?’ ponders pioneering choreographer Matthew Bourne. ‘People can still find it funny if you give ‘female’ movement to men, or they’re impressed by women doing lifts, because were programmed to expect certain things, but a lot more companies now are challenging those perceptions.’

“It’s a hot topic in the already progressive same-sex ballroom world. Though renowned for its welcoming inclusivity, competitions generally feature men’s and women’s categories, and on a crowded social floor, dances may be called likewise. So, should ‘same-sex’ dance be defined by gender or sex? What about those who are gender fluid, non-binary or transgender?

“…Lar, who also dances in the same-sex arena, now identifies as gender queer. ‘Because I look male after taking hormones, that’s how I’m taken – people might get confused if I do a female dance. It’s fine in classes, because I go to those that welcome gay people are open to me dancing either role.’ Lar says that everyone they’ve told has been supportive, but sometimes it’s a matter of speaking up. ‘If I go tell Jacky Logan, who DJs the Pink Jukebox social, who I am and where I’d like to dance, then it’s not a problem. Not everyone might want to do that – it’s a private and sensitive process – but do acknowledge that we’re pioneers and we’re pushing boundaries. If we want change, we have to be open and communicate with people.’”

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Also in the April issue…

Scottish Ballet’s Christopher Hampson writes on behaviour in the ballet world

The Royal Ballet principal Alexander Campbell tells Zoë Anderson about his approach to his roles

English National Ballet’s Precious Adams is our April Dancer of the Month

Robert Greskovic highlights the centenary of choreographer Jerome Robbins

Simply the best: Adrienne Warren, star of the new Tina Turner musical, talks to Marianka Swain

Fátima Nollén looks at Uruguay’s Ballet Nacional SODRE, and speaks to its departing director Julio Bocca

Tips on technique: James Whitehead on the double reverse spin

Our dance doctor, Phil Meacham, conquers the dread of left foot heel leads in tango

Talking point: Elmhurst Ballet School’s Sara Wells and Annelli Peavot on an innovative approach to student wellbeing

Zoë Anderson reports on two masterclasses devoted to choreographer Frederick Ashton

Swing Dance UK’s Simon Selmon on lindy hop legend Frankie Manning

Pawlet Brookes, artistic director of Let’s Dance International Frontiers, tells Zoë Anderson about the Leicester-based festival

Dance health: Debbie Malina looks at overheating and dehydration

Jack Reavely remember’s Blackpool’s silver jubilee, and the starring role played by Professional champions Wally Fryer and Violet Barnes

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Plus news of Michaela DePrince, Rosie Kay and the Commonwealth Games, new seasons from English National Ballet and The Royal Ballet, the fifth UK Tango Festival and Championship, David Bintley and Mark Baldwin

Reviews of Flamenco Festival London, including the return of La Chana, Birmingham Royal Ballet in The Sleeping Beauty, The Royal Ballet in The Winter’s Tale and Giselle, Russian Ballet Icons Gala, Mark Bruce Company’s Macbeth, Germán Cornejo Company in Tango After Dark, Sasha Waltz and Guests in Körper, Ballet British Columbia in works by Crystal Pite, Sharon Eyal and Emily Molnar, Russell Maliphant Company, Candoco Dance Company in works by Yasmeen Godder and Hetain Patel, Ballet Black’s double bill by Cathy Marston and Arthur Pita, Pippin at Southwark Playhouse, English National Opera’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with early choreography by Matthew Bourne

International reviews of the Paris Opéra Ballet in Onegin and the Concours de promotion de ballet, the Mikhailovsky Ballet, New York City Ballet in Balanchine , New York Theatre Ballet in works by David Gordon, Gemma Bond and Antony Tudor, Wayne McGregor’s Autobiography in New York, the Bavarian State Ballet’s Cranko fest, Gauthier Dance in Bullshit, Staatsballett Berlin in Don Quixote, Ballet du Capitole’s all-Roland Petit programme of Les Forains, L’Arlésienne and Carmen, new works at Washington Ballet

Reports from The Universal competition, the Pink Jukebox Trophy and the Bill and Sylvia Mitchell Tribute Day

Obituaries of Scott Ambler, Maribel La Manchega and Nini Theilade

Education news of the Dance Teacher Conference 2018, Rambert summer classes, Champion of Champions,The Dance Clinic, Tanzolymp, Dance School of the Year Awards 2018

The April issue is now in shops – including branches of WHSmith – or you can buy your print copy here or buy your digital copy from all good app stores

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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