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April 2021 issue

Posted on March 25, 2021

04 Cover April
This month, Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp embarks on a four-part series on diversifying dance. Many months in preparation, and inspired by the stance members of the dance community took in response to the Black Lives Matter protests held last summer, we are delighted that Kenneth, with his extensive knowledge of the UK’s dance sector, has agreed to take on this project for Dancing Times.
Our ambition is that the series will act as a catalyst for a larger debate around the subject from others working on the UK’s dance scene. In addition, we also hear from António Casalinho, winner of the 2021 Prix de Lausanne, from Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Marion Tait, who has just stepped down as assistant director, and from the acclaimed ballroom dancer Arunas Bizokas


Diversifying dance

Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp introduces a new series

16 19 Diversifying dance April“Of course it hasn’t only been the pandemic that has caused a seismic shift in our daily lives. You’d have to be Rip Van Winkle, waking from a 20-year sleep, not to have been impacted in some way, whether directly or indirectly, by the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder in the US, on May 25, 2020, of George Floyd, an African-American man, at the hands, or, more accurately, the knee of a white police officer on the streets of Minneapolis. Anyone who witnessed even a portion of the brutal eight minutes and 46 seconds it took for that officer, Derek Chauvin (who now stands trial for second and third degree murder), to extinguish the life of George Floyd, would be unlikely not to have been deeply affected by seeing such a cold-blooded and callous execution, carried out in broad daylight.

“At which point you could be forgiven as the reader, for asking: ‘Why are you writing about this here, in Dancing Times?’ The short answer is that I’ve been commissioned by the magazine’s editor to write a series of articles exploring the interconnected themes of diversity, equality, inclusion and representation in the dance world. Because this is a big subject and, not unsurprisingly, an often sensitive and even emotive one, where the least helpful approach would be to rush to easy or glib conclusions and say, ‘Right we’ve done that, next’ we have agreed I will tackle the subject across a series of articles over the coming months, with this one serving as an introduction. So please, if you will, bear with me as I try to create a bit of context.”

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Staying close

David Mead talks to Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Marion Tait, who recently stepped down as assistant director after more than 50 years working with the company

30 33 Marion Tait April“Marion Tait acknowledges that, while 52 years might seem like a long time to spend with one company, ‘I really didn’t have to spread my wings and go far to get a very varied and very interesting career.’

“In a conversation punctuated by frequent laughter, she explains how much of that was down to how the company morphed from The Royal Ballet touring company, which she joined in 1968, into the New Group, then Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB). The New Group was especially exciting for her, with the likes of Glen Tetley and Christopher Bruce creating work. Although she never danced with the main Royal Ballet company, she remembers Kenneth MacMillan approaching her about dancing Manon. ‘He asked me if I’d seen it and I said no. That probably didn’t help,’ she said chuckling, ‘but it wasn’t really my scene. I needed the regular performances.’

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The politics of dancing

Alison Gallagher-Hughes hears from “super-champ” Arunas Bizokas on life at the top, learning to travel again and time for change

52 55 Arunas Bizokas – April“Bizokas became involved behind the scenes in the dance world while he was still competing, becoming chairman of the Competitors Commission. ‘With success, I felt responsible for representing others in the industry,’ he confides. On his retirement from competition, he and a number of other professionals decided to create a new organisation to address ‘things that we didn’t think were quite right and could be done better.’

“Many leading professionals have supported the resulting World Dance Organisation (WDO). There was a sense that ‘established organisations were not fulfilling expectations,’ Bizokas asserts. A key trigger was the creation of the World Dance Council Amateur League and a perceived ‘lack of transparency’ around its legal status as a limited company.

“‘It was disappointing to many, including myself. We felt that it was not really serving the interests of the wider dance community. We trusted the people at the top but felt that they had let us down,’ he says.”

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Also in the April issue…

Teresa Guerreiro catches up with Prix de Lausanne winner António Casalinho

Nicola Rayner finds out about boleadoras from Sarah Louis-Jean

Jack Reavely looks back to the 1973 Blackpool Dance Festival

Deborah Weiss talks to Kate Simmons about KS Dance, her school based in Warrington

Rambert’s Rooms online

James Whitehead offers tips on tango

Nathalie Harrison reflects on her decision to step down as a dancer with The Royal Ballet during the coronavirus pandemic

Phil Meacham considers the importance of changes in shape in ballroom

Matthew Paluch reviews Performance Psychology for Dancers, just published by Crowood Press

Jack Anderson watches Paul Taylor Dance Company live on stage

Laura Cappelle on protests on the closure of French theatres

Pete Meager hears from same-sex dancers who have competed outside of equality dance competitions

Igor Stupnikov sees Natalia Osipova with the Mikhailovsky Ballet

Debbie Malina looks at golf and its relationship with dance

Margaret Willis meets Northern Ballet’s Mariana Rodrigues


04 Cover AprilBirmingham Royal Ballet’s new assistant director, The Royal Ballet returns to the stage, Threat to the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Theatre and Performance Collection, The Jerwood Foundation’s Blue Sky Fund, London theatres one year on from lockdown, American Ballet Theatre dances works by Alexei Ratmansky, Ballroom dates for your diary, Aljaž and Janette’s Remembering The Oscars; Sarasota Ballet dances live on stage in Florida; Patrick Dupond and Jimmy Gamonet de los Heros remembered in Obituaries; Stuttgart Ballet’s “bubble” photography project; Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Rambert School returns to face-to-face teaching, Northern School of Contemporary Dance forms new partnership with Hofesh Shechter Company, Elmhurst Ballet School; calendar dates for performances in the UK and abroad; we look back to April 1981

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



Simon Oliver has been production editor of Dancing Times since 2010 and is highly experienced in design across print and online magazine production. Throughout his career, Simon has worked on a diverse range of subjects including music, family history, book collecting and poker.

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