Posted on March 29, 2022
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has left the world in shock, and, like many of our readers, I have been appalled to watch scenes on the television news of innocent people in Ukraine taking shelter from Russian bombardments in the basements of their own homes or attempting to flee the country for their lives. Many people have been affected by this horrific situation, including members of my own family who live and work in Kyiv, the capital city, and Russia has rightly received strong condemnation, as well as economic sanctions, from around the world. Condemnation has also come from many of those employed within the dance industry, who have added their voices to the outrage felt about the situation, especially those dancers, teachers, choreographers and directors who are either Ukrainian by birth or are Russian with strong links to the country.
In light of this terrible situation, and with an extremely heavy heart, I have made the difficult decision from next month onwards to cease publishing for the forseeable future Igor Stupnikov’s popular Letter from St Petersburg – in this issue you can find his most recent letter, written by him and received by us long before the invasion took place. Any performances taking place in Russia and listed in our Calendar pages have also been removed. To find out more about how dance has been reacting to the war in Ukraine, see our News pages.
“GD: You have recently staged Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake for The Royal Ballet. Has that development come from you?
‘LM: That has come from the company. I have been teaching for quite some time and the pandemic allowed me to think deeply about what might fulfil me in the future. Meditation and contemplation have made me much calmer about shaping the next stage of my life.
‘Then, unexpectedly, something came out of the Seven Deadly Sins project that never happened [Morera was due to star in a staging of Kenneth MacMillan’s version at Wilton’s Music Hall in London]. It was quite a traumatic time for the cast as the production crumbled around us, but those younger dancers who weren’t Royal Ballet still wanted to understand more about MacMillan and, even though the whole situation was difficult for me, I decided I could help with that, so whatever happened, they would get something out of it all.
‘Deborah MacMillan happened to see me with them and how I was trying to convey his essence and she asked me later to oversee the MacMillan repertoire at The Royal Ballet, and Romeo and Juliet this season was a good place to start!”
“In Paris, meanwhile, another Ukrainian company found an unexpected residency. The Kyiv City Ballet arrived not long before Russia invaded Ukraine, with 38 dancers and sets only for a family-friendly version of The Nutcracker.
“The Théâtre du Châtelet stepped in with an offer to let them rehearse and work in its studios. It is practically a throwback for the Châtelet, which has played host to many significant ballet performances over the years but has moved away from presenting big classical companies in recent times. Since Ruth Mackenzie was fired abruptly in 2020, it has also been without an artistic director, with Thomas Lauriot Dit Prevost (who formed a team with Mackenzie) acting only as general director.
“While it has meant a lack of overall vision lately, the institution’s quick reaction to the Ukraine crisis is to its credit. In addition to hosting the Kyiv City Ballet, the Châtelet put together a special fundraising performance on March 8. The Paris Opéra Ballet got involved, too: its director, Aurélie Dupont, led the Ukrainian company in an onstage ballet class alongside Bruno Bouché, the director of the Ballet de l’Opéra du Rhin.”
“Since 2015, my favourite professional on Strictly Come Dancing has been the incredible South African dynamo Oti Mabuse – or, as readers of our Strictly Speaking blog may know her, Goddess Oti. An exceptional performer, teacher, choreographer and all-round star, she is the only professional to have lifted that glitterball trophy two years in a row, and she has created some of the series’ most cherished moments. I have been in mourning since she announced her departure from Strictly in February.
“Yet we did know this was coming. Speaking to Dancing Times in January 2021, Mabuse outlined an intimidatingly busy schedule. Not only was she competing on Strictly, but she and her husband Marius Iepure had opened a dance school in north London and were preparing for a national tour, I Am Here, which, following a delay owing to the pandemic, begins this month. Plus she’s been choreographing stage musicals, judging on TV shows, writing children’s books, and planning a BBC documentary about South Africa.”
Eduardo Vilaro, artistic director and CEO of Ballet Hispánico, introduces his company
Nicola Rayner meets Jonzi D, director of Breakin’ Convention
Imogen Aujla looks at freelancers in the UK dance industry
James Whitehead shares some pointers in the quickstep
Margaret Willis talks to three young dancers from London Children’s Ballet, our Dancers of the Month
Laura Duester explores the world of pre-school ballet classes
Phil Meacham discusses leading and following in ballroom and Latin
Barbara Newman watches two shows at London’s Barbican Centre
Simon Selmon concludes his reminiscences of four decades in the dance world
Igor Stupnikov reviews a gala at the Mikhailovsky
Leigh Witchel sees New York City Ballet in George Balanchine’s one-act version of Swan Lake
Pete Meager seeks out some new equality dance classes
Debbie Malina considers the evolution of first aid treatment for soft-tissue injuries
Jack Reavely remembers Blackpool Dance Festival in the 1950s
The dance world responds to war in Ukraine, English National Ballet’s plans for the remainder of 2022, Brighton Festival, Northern Ballet’s autumn 2022 tour, Michael Clarke: Cosmic Dancer opens in Dundee, Dance Consortia North West, Scottish Ballet in 2022, the return of Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, new collaboration between Opera North and Dane Hurst, Northern Ballet’s Merlin on the big screen, Federico Bonelli’s farewell to The Royal Ballet, a celebration of the dance photographer Anthony Crickmay to be held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Javier Torres to give his farewell performance with Northern Ballet; Reviews of live performances from Ballet du Capitole, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Hungarian National Ballet, Lost Dog, Mark Bruce Company, Miami City Ballet, NDT2, The Royal Ballet and the Royal Swedish Ballet; Clement Crisp, Henry Danton, Josephine Gordon, Joseph Horovitz and Dorothea Zaymes remembered in Obituaries; New things to try in Products; bbodance online conference, Jazz Theatre Arts UK, Helsinki International Ballet Competition, new patron at Rambert School, Royal opening of Royal Academy of Dance’s new building; Calendar dates for performances in the UK and abroad; Where to learn to dance in the UK; We look back to April 1982