Posted on July 29, 2020
August 2020 issue
Yes, the headline on the front cover of this month’s Dancing Times is correct – dance really has been returning to the stage in several countries, although it hasn’t quite happened here in the UK just yet. As lockdowns are eased around the world, in Dance Scene International our critics report on performances that have taken place recently in Hong Kong, Germany and Switzerland. These are small steps into some kind of new normality for the performing arts, so let’s hope this is the start of a trend and not a premature blip that will lead us straight back into lockdown.
There is also a focus on teaching in this month’s issue, as we hear from Susan Pilarre of the School of American Ballet, and Geraldine Morris, who has just made a film about Ninette de Valois’ 1947 teaching syllabus, as well as a number of ballroom, Latin American and partner dance teachers working in the UK. Dance studios are starting to open again here in the UK, although it’s far too early to say how effective the new government guidelines on teaching dance in classrooms, rather than online, will be.
Finally, Dancing Times was very pleased to receive such a positive response to our focus on Black Dancers Matter in last month’s magazine – it’s good to know our readers are keen for greater diversity in the art form we love. We did, however, receive a negative response from someone writing under a false name, but that letter – as will all others written to us by racists – ended up in the dustbin, where it belonged. It is a reminder that the process of greater equality for all, in all walks of life, is only just beginning.
“November was raised by a single mother in Zolani, near Cape Town. Money was short but there was football and ‘from very young, I was dancing kwaito in the street, putting steps together and making dance.’
“One afternoon he skipped football and joined his brother at the Dance for All outreach programme. ‘When I told my name to the teacher, Fiona, she heard “Tutu” and she got excited, thinking I’d make a great ballet dancer! She encouraged me to come back the next day. It got to the point where I ad to choose sport or ballet, and I definitely think I made the right move.’”
“GL: You were promoted to the rank of soloist in 1971. How did that happen? Did you have an inkling you were up for promotion?”
“SP: Well, I was doing some solo roles, but it was a surprise. Getting promoted in those days was not like it is now. You were a corps [de ballet] member dancing solos for a long time before a promotion came. I learned all the Raymonda and Divertimento No 15 variations, but I think the first thing I learned that I thought was so hard was the demi-soloist in the first movement of Bizet [Symphony in C]. I remember practising it by myself, alone in the studio, just trying to make myself do it over and over again. Some people say it’s the hardest thing in the entire ballet, in terms of stamina…”
“In March too, choreographer Bryn Walters flew to Tokyo expecting to be there until July but, as Japan closed its borders to non-nationals, he was back in London within days. His role as a live action director for the opening ceremony [for the Olympic Games] was suspended before it had begun.
“Having assisted mass movement choreographer Wanda Rokicki at the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002, Walters says he was ‘bitten by the bug’ of assembling the serried ranks required for stadium events.”
Jeannette Andersen, Natasha Rogai and Maggie Foyer report back on dance returning to the stage in Germany, Hong Kong and Switzerland
Nicola Rayner hears from ballroom, Latin and other partner dance teachers and school owners about the reopening of dance studios
Matthew Paluch concludes his interview with Deborah Bull
Alison Gallagher-Hughes meets David Douglass
Roanne Cox offers an ode to her fellow graduates of 2020
Igor Stupnikov watches dance online
Marianka Swain reports on same-sex classes in and post-lockdown
Geraldine Morris on a new film that demonstrates Ninette de Valois’ 1947 teaching syllabus
Jack Reavely remembers the British Amateur Ballroom Championship in 1950
Margaret Willis interviews our Dancer of the Month, Scottish Ballet’s Grace Horler
Debbie Malina looks at how beasts of every description weave their way into the very fabric of dance
James Whitehead and Phil Meacham offer some tips on technique
Simon Selmon remembers Lance Benishek
Jack Anderson sees a new version of Anna Sokolow’s Rooms
Laura Cappelle on the state of contemporary dance in France
Arts rescue package in the UK, Outstanding Performer award for Stuttgart Ballet’s Friedemann Vogel, bbodance’s 90th birthday celebrations, vocational schools unite in auditions for September 2021, UK theatres to reopen, new commissions from the Lawrence Batley Theatre, we look back to August 1980, plus Sally Banes and Nikolai Fadeyechev remembered in Obituaries