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August 2015 issue

Posted on July 24, 2015

august 15 square

august 15 squareThere’s a Russian feel to this month’s issue, as we speak to Bolshoi director Sergei Filin, look back at a turning point for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and report from a St Petersburg conference on the future of ballet choreography. Elsewhere, we look at The Australian Ballet’s new production of The Sleeping Beauty, and come back to the UK to report on London Contemporary Dance School and dance at this month’s Edinburgh festivals…



Bolshoi hero

filin-grabNatasha Rogai meets Sergei Filin, artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet

“It’s no secret that Filin’s policy of introducing a more modern, international repertoire is bitterly opposed by the conservative faction that remains entrenched at the Bolshoi. When asked how he feels about those people, Filin replies, deadpan, ‘I love them.’ Sensing my bewilderment (is my Russian so bad I didn’t understand that simple phrase?), he adds: ‘Look, if you live in a house and the neighbour doesn’t like you – maybe you’re too modern, too rich, you have a better car than he does – what do you do? Move out? The only thing you can do is… Love your neighbour.’”

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Learning from Beauty

beauty-costume-grabCaitlyn Lehmann goes behind the scenes at The Australian Ballet’s new production of The Sleeping Beauty…

“This year, the emphasis on fashion-mag femininity reaches a crescendo, with 2015 branded ‘A Year of Beauty’ ahead of the premiere of a brand new production of The Sleeping Beauty next month.

Ironically, it might just be this production that reveals something of the dancers’ own gender agenda. Artistic director David McAllister is promising a traditional production complete with pastel tutus and fairytale charm, but he also foreshadows an Aurora with ‘an inquisitiveness and an intelligence’ befitting a future head of state. ‘In my mind I have that whole image of the 20-something-year-old Princess Elizabeth becoming Queen Elizabeth,’ he muses. ‘There’s that sense of duty and the responsibility of monarchy. There’s a real sombreness to that…’”

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Flying by themselves

choreography-forum-grabGraham Watts joins a discussion about the future of ballet at the third St Petersburg International Cultural Forum, discussing support for young choreographers – and for female choreographers…

“This gender imbalance in choreography received little sympathy from anyone on the panel other than Feng Ying [artistic director of National Ballet of China] who acknowledged it was an issue she is trying to improve in China. On the other hand, several young women in the audience gave anecdotal evidence of the barriers confronting them in Russia that thwart their efforts to get work.

“[The choreographer Boris] Eifman revealed that no young choreographer had ever approached him with the request to observe his choreographic process. His mentor had been the great Soviet choreographer, Leonid Jacobson, and Eifman confessed that their friendship had been difficult to develop since Jacobson was reluctant to share his secrets. ‘He would often throw me out of the studio,’ said Eifman, ‘but I would always sneak behind the scenes and carry on watching, often through the window…’”

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Also in the August issue…

Zoë Anderson highlights some of the dance at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival and on the Fringe

Andrew Foster looks at a turning point for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, with a revealing archive photograph

Daniel Pratt talks to Sandra Jennings about her work with the Balanchine Trust

Laura Dodge reports from London Contemporary Dance School

Dancing horses: Debbie Malina looks at the relationship between dance and the equine world, from the Spanish Riding School of Vienna to Peregrine the pony

Margaret Willis interviews to Delia Mathews of Birmingham Royal Ballet

Why is Les Patineurs so exhausting? Daniel Pratt wonders if today’s dancers have the stamina to tackle the existing repertoire

Plus news of The BENCH, a new programme for female choreographers, dance at the National Theatre’s Riverside stage, a chance to win a scholarship to Urdang Youth Academy, autumn at DanceEast and American Ballet Theatre, Birdgang at the Young Vic and more; reviews of Birmingham Royal Ballet in Sylvia and The King Dances, Paco Peña Flamenco Dance, and Wayne McGregor’s Tree of Codes at the Manchester International Festival, Dutch National Ballet’s Cinderella, Wendy Whelan and Edward Watson, Hong Kong Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Cool Britannia at Dutch National Ballet, the Stuttgart Ballet in Cranko, Colours International Dance Festival, A Damsel in Distress at Chichester Festival Theatre, graduation performances in St Petersburg, The Royal Ballet in New York, obituaries of John Auld, Albert Evans and Colette Marchand, appointments and promotions at The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet and Northern Ballet, dance education news and more

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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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