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August 2016 issue

Posted on July 26, 2016

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Our August issue goes from politics to reaching audiences, as we examine the impact of the EU referendum on the dance world, look at dance styles from flamenco to ballroom, and profile Shanghai Ballet, who come to the London Coliseum this month. Our cover stars are the company’s Wu Husheng and Qi Bingxue in Echoes of Eternity.

“Uncertainty is the biggest problem”

Nicola Rayner hears from ballroom, Latin and flamenco dancers about their fears and feelings about Brexit

Brexit-grab“No one thinks of the dancers,” says Tomasz Wężykowski, a professional ballroom dancer living in London, on the subject of Brexit. “Usually we don’t think of politics because we have much better things to do… but it’s really sad that – not everybody, because I know a lot of people in England, in London, appreciate Europeans – there are 52 per cent of the people for whom we are not so welcome here… I got a few messages from Poland straightaway: are you coming home? Of course, my family were scared, because nobody knew what was going to change.”

Dance in the UK is a European industry. “None of us think of it as being anything else,” says La Joaquina, director of Flamenco Express, who brings flamenco artists over from Spain to perform every month. “They are completely baffled about why this should happen,” says Joaquina. “They regard coming to work in London the same as I regard going to work in Spain: you get on a bus or you get on a plane. There are no boundaries, and this suddenly changes the mentality entirely…”

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How to cure dance phobia

Marianka Swain shares her tips

Dance-phobia-grab“When I invite non-dance friends or family to see a dance show, a frequent response is apprehension, uncertainty, confusion or outright dread. They’re not alone: many people in the UK seem to suffer from dance phobia. Why? Perhaps they’re haunted by one modern dance performance involving close-up nudity and obscure political statements, or perhaps they’ve never even ventured into a dance audience. Here, then, are some of my possible treatments…


“As much as I decry the use of pop songs on Strictly (and that’s a lot), it’s one tool used to bring timeworn dance styles into the 21st century. Cha cha may have been around for a while, but pairing it with a song that just hit iTunes gives it immediate resonance… There could also be more crosspollination: mixing styles, bringing dance into new venues, as Drew McOnie recently did with Jekyll and Hyde at the Old Vic, introducing dance to drama (Dominic West’s disco moves in Pride stay with me), or, as Matthew Bourne has done so successfully, adding modern references, dilemmas and humour to classic works. If Shakespeare still speaks to us today, 400 years on, why shouldn’t dance? It needn’t be an historical artefact, bound by outmoded social roles and ideas, rather it can illuminate our contemporary experience in a unique way – whether touching on gender, sexuality, family relationships, loss, class or identity…”

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Barbara Newman sees the Disney stage production in London’s West End

Aladdin-grabOnly [director/choreographer Casey] Nicholaw’s choreography can hold its own against those production values. Sticking to the designers’ pattern of excitement by cumulative effect, he has whipped up a hectic boogie for Aladdin and his sidekicks, sharp with flexed feet and the flattened arms of hieroglyphs, and topped that with the Genie’s Big-Band showstopper, “Friends Like Me,” which slides from the looselimbed jive of swing into a sequined tap sequence straight from 42nd Street…

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Also in the August issue…

As Shanghai Ballet returns to London, Paul Arrowsmith explores the company’s history, and its present

Graham Watts goes looking for duende, the passion at the heart of flamenco style

Martin Cutler concludes his report of the Blackpool Dance Festival

Audiences behaving badly: as complaints rise about audience etiquette, Debbie Malina discovers that theatre and dance audiences have always had attitude

Dancer of the month: Margaret Willis talks to Rambert’s Brenda Lee Grech

Picture perfect: Alison Gallagher-Hughes goes behind the scenes as DSI-TV film the Blackpool Dance Festival

Graham Watts discusses the impact of Brexit in this month’s Talking Point column

Simon Selmon interviews swing legend Lance Benishek

Same-sex dance: Marianka Swain reports on the Helsinki Eurogames

Tips on technique: James Whitehead on togetherness in the slow foxtrot

Doctor Dance: Phil Meacham explores worries with the whisk and chassé

Jack Reavely remembers the wisdom of ballroom dancer Byron Charlton

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Plus news of Strictly Come Dancing, Will Tuckett’s Nutcracker, Hofesh Shechter at the Tower of London, the Eton Bridge milonga, promotions and farewells at Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet and Northern Ballet

Reviews of Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin in works by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant and Arthur Pita, LA Dance Project, Ballet Theatre UK in Pinocchio, Birmingham Royal Ballet in The Taming of the Shrew, The Australian Ballet in London, Royal Danish Ballet in Kim Brandstrup’s Shaken Mirror, Hong Kong Ballet in Serenade and new works, Stuttgart Ballet in Demis Volpe’s Salome, Gauthier Dance in Marco Goecke’s Nijinsky, Royal Ballet Flanders in a Ravel-inspired programme, New York City Ballet in Paris, Paris Opéra Ballet in William Forsythe’s new Blake Works I, American Ballet Theatre in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Golden Cockerel, the Mikhailovsky Ballet in new works by Ivan Vasiliev, Stephanie Jordan’s book Mark Morris – Musician Choreographer

Obituaries of Jill Anne Bowden, Desmond Heeley and Jacki Mitchell

Education news of Ballet West, Performers College, London School of Salsa, Dance World Cup, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, the Royal Academy of Dance and Matthew Bourne, English National Ballet School and Du Boisson Choreography Competition

The August 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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