Posted on July 24, 2019
We talk to two choreographers this month – Christian Spuck and Liam Scarlett – as well as hear from Ballet Black’s Cira Robinson as she is about to appear as a guest artist in Scottish Ballet’s The Crucible at the Edinburgh International Festival. We also discover how the dance scene is continuing in Venezuela, discover how Argentine tango squares up to today’s modern gender values, and hear about some special dance movie memories from Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Dominic Antonucci.
‘“You may be my cherished bailarín but you’re not my inspired ‘Spectre of the Rose.’” Those were Serge Diaghilev’s very words to Vaslav Nijinsky, according to my mother, Sheila Whytock, a dancer in the Ballets Russes who performed under the name Sheilova. She was watching from the stalls at the dress rehearsal of Le Spectre de la rose on the afternoon of that glittering opening night at Covent Garden of Diaghilev’s Russian Ballet season on June 21, 1911. The Ballets Russes had taken Paris by storm in 1909, so expectation was electric. The ballerina Tamara Karsavina, as a beautiful maiden asleep in a chair, has to be wooed and awakened by the spirit of the rose. Diaghilev, the founder and inspiration behind the ballet’s success and a perfectionist, wasn’t getting the effect he had envisaged.”
“In 2018, tango composer, poet and singer Marisa Vázquez organised a female-centric event in Buenos Aires, addressing gender inequality in the tango world. This year saw that event grow into the first official Tango Hembra (or ‘Female Tango’) festival, with Vázquez gathering together a collective of women to share everything from same-sex dance classes and debates on tango gender roles to performances, poetry and a star turn by singer Susana Rinaldi. Following an impressive turnout, the plan now is to hold the festival every March, coinciding with International Women’s Day, explains Tango Hembra’s Maria Cangiano.
“Singer, composer and educator Cangiano grew up in Buenos Aires, and recalls her mother’s fondness for Rinaldi’s music. Cangiano herself became a renowned tango singer in New York, but she also learned of its patriarchal aspects through song lyrics. ‘Most tangos that have women’s names, like Malena, Margo, Maria, were written and sung by men. Women’s behaviour is understood and criticised through a patriarchal lens – they’re either prostitutes or saints.’”
“Ballet Black have collaborated with Freed of London on a new range of shoes, something that started from Robinson’s own questions. ‘I’m a product of pancaking shoes,’ she says, describing the practice of painting shoes with make-up. ‘I’ve done it all my professional life – everything had to be brown. I wear Freed of London shoes, and I pancaked them, but one day I was kind of fed up. It’s hideous and messy and expensive, after a while.
‘“I went into the Freed shop, and I saw all these colours – red pointe shoes, blue and pink – and asked how would I be able to get a brown shoe? I was told that if I could find a brown fabric, they could work something out. I went to the fabric district with a friend, to about six shops, and there was nothing my brown, my hue. I was going to go home, but my friend said, “No, let’s do a couple more.” The next shop had two different browns, but both worked for me.’”
Caitlyn Lehmann interviews choreographer Liam Scarlett
Nicolette Loizou looks at speed-date social dancing
Fátima Nollén explores the dance scene that survives in Venezuela
Alastair Macaulay returns to see The Royal Ballet at Covent Garden
Nicola Rayner sees Neil and Katya Jones in Somnium
Debbie Malina finds out about a bizarre dancing mania
Margaret Willis meets our Dancer of the Month, English National Ballet’s Julia Conway
Graham Watts catches up with Ballett Zürich’s Christian Spuck
Jack Reavely goes “Somewhere in time”
Dominic Antonucci recalls some special movie memories
Jonathan Gray pays tribute to Julia Farron
Dance Umbrella reveals its 2019 programme, FranceDance UK launches across the UK, Adam Cooper returns to Sadler’s Wells, Dane Hurst appears in a new dance project at Wilton’s Music Hall, dancer promotions at Birmingham Royal Ballet, Northern Ballet and The Royal Ballet, Nesta Bellis celebrates her 100th birthday
Reviews of American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Theatre UK, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Boris Charmatz at Tate Modern, Boy Toy, Compañía Nacional de Danza, Flamenco Festival London, Grupo Íntegro, Hong Kong Ballet, Maryinsky Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Paris Opéra Ballet, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Royal Swedish Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Young Talent Festival