Posted on March 27, 2019
In the latest issue of the magazine, we focus on dance teachers, talk to two leading male dancers, Ivan Putrov and Vincent Simone, see the revival of a rarely-performed ballet by Frederick Ashton, and find out how the stage designer Jürgen Rose is going to give Kenneth MacMillan’s Mayerling a new look.
Jonathan Gray sees a fine revival of a long-lost work by Frederick Ashton
“No one could have predicted, more than 30 years after his death, that the company that would play the most significant role in keeping alive the works of Frederick Ashton, one of the greatest choreographers of the 20th century, would be based not in the UK, his homeland and the country where he created his greatest ballets, but in the US, in a small city in Florida that faces out onto the Bay of Mexico. As The Royal Ballet – for whom Ashton was founder choreographer – continues to minimise his presence in the repertoire to just a handful of over-familiar pieces, one must turn instead to Sarasota Ballet if one is interested in becoming better acquainted with Ashton’s choreography. There, you can obtain a sense of his extraordinary range and variety as a creator, and get the opportunity to discover unfamiliar works.
“For its 2018–19 season, Sarasota Ballet presented six works by Ashton (twice as many as The Royal Ballet), including two not seen in over 30 years, and since 2007 the company, under the artistic direction of Iain Webb, alongside his wife and former ballerina, Margaret Barbieri, has staged in total more than 25 ballets by the master. Good as it was to see it revived again, Varii Capricci, presented in January, is a minor work in Ashton’s canon, created late in his career as a vehicle for two of his favourite dancers, Antoinette Sibley and Anthony Dowell, but Sarasota Ballet’s production of Apparitions was a much more significant occasion.”
Vincent Simone talks to Nicola Rayner about his new touring show with Ian Waite
“‘Any chance to please the ladies!’ jokes Italian dancer Vincent Simone when I ask about his new show The Ballroom Boys. ‘It was an idea that Ian Waite had,’ he goes on to explain. ‘It hasn’t been done before that a pair of boys from Strictly get together to do a show – it’s usually a couple. He asked me if I’d be happy to do something like that and, of course, I said yes. We’re both involved with the making of it,’ he continues. ‘Ian has done his own shows before, while I’ve never done anything quite like this.’
“Best known for his long-term dance partnership with fellow Italian Flavia Cacace, Simone has starred in four very successful stage shows with her – Dance ’Til Dawn, The Last Tango, Midnight Tango and Tango Moderno – and she has given this new project her blessing.
“When I speak to him in late February, Simone and Waite have yet to start rehearsals. ‘We’ve had a few meetings about music, concept and ideas for the show through FaceTime and over the phone. I love his ideas of how to approach the show, the audience, choreography and so on.’”
Graham Watts meets Christiana Stefanou, a ballet master for the 21st century
“It might be easier listing the ballet companies where Christiana Stefanou has not taught. Regular glimpses of her Facebook page will generally identify new, temporary locations while she guest teaches around the world.
“Stefanou graduated from the State Academy of Munich and her career as a dancer was almost exclusively with the Bayerische Staatsoper. Nowadays, she returns to Munich regularly, to coach at her former company, but just as often she might be found in Budapest, Prague, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Boston, Rome or other cities where major ballet companies reside. Home is Athens, where Stefanou was director of ballet at the Greek National Opera in 2010 (succeeding Irek Mukhamedov), although it is on the island of Crete where we met to discuss her career.
“Stefanou’s passion for ballet is infectious, which must be the first attribute of any great teacher. ‘For me, ballet is like breathing,’ she explained. ‘I was blessed to be able to dance, to direct a national company, to choreograph and to teach, but, if I couldn’t do any of those things, I would be doing costumes, or whatever I could to enjoy being part of ballet. I could be content just being in the audience.’”
Jonathan Gray talks to Ivan Putrov about his latest venture
Lee Knights explores the benefits of live music for Latin dancing
Gerald Dowler concludes his series on ballet in the Soviet Union
Paul Arrowsmith meets Jürgen Rose, designer of Stuttgart Ballet’s new production of Mayerling
Fátima Nollén continues her look at the dance scene in Paraguay
Laura Dodge interviews English National Ballet School’s Carlos Valcárcel
Marianka Swain talks to Strictly Come Dancing’s Oti Mabuse about her theatre choreography debut, Ain’t Misbehavin’
Phil Meacham on Brexit and the ballroom and Latin American dance world
English National Ballet’s Francesca Velicu is our Dancer of the Month
Tips on technique: James Whitehead on the samba
Jack Reavely remembers the inaugural team match at Blackpool Dance Festival
Barbara Newman sees three new musicals in London’s West End
Debbie Malina considers how to channel performance anxiety (“stage fright”) into a more positive form of energy
English National Ballet’s 70th anniversary, dance on the BBC, new directors for New York City Ballet, the 2019–20 season at the Paris Opéra Ballet, Breakin’ Convention, John Macfarlane Swan Lake exhibition, tributes to Gillian Freeman and Mel Tomlinson
Reviews of Ballet am Rhein, Ballet Black, the BalletBoyz, Eifman Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet, Kidd Pivot, Mikhailovsky Ballet, New York Theatre Ballet, Northern Ballet, Norwegian National Ballet, Paris Opéra Ballet, Richard Alston Dance Company, The Royal Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Russell Maliphant, The Washington Ballet