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Lost Illusions by Barbara Newman

The Royal Ballet and the Maly Drama Theatre make an unlikely couple. One concerns itself with dance, the other with theatre. At capacity, the Royal Opera House accommodates 2,256 people, and the Maly’s home – “maly” means small in Russian – seats only 400, which means the buildings themselves impose different demands on performers. Luke […]

Recording History by Barbara Newman

In 1979, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation and the Dance Film Archive of the University of Rochester in New York restored 15 minutes of silent film shot between 1902 and 1906 and featuring the leading artists of the Royal Danish Ballet. Nine tiny ballet excerpts sprang to life, with added piano accompaniment matching the appropriate music […]

Risks Worth Taking by Barbara Newman

In 1921 when Serge Diaghilev produced The Sleeping Princess (commonly called The Sleeping Beauty) in London, he had trouble selling it. Accustomed to an assortment of styles, subjects, music and design in every programme, the public was disappointed by the endless string of classical ensembles and variations, and the production closed halfway through its intended […]

Come Again

Barbara Newman considers works by Richard Alston and Alain Platel Violette Verdy once told me, “Style is a moving field, moving sand. It can be reproduced but it doesn’t always necessarily reflect something that is present or actual, so it has to be done for itself, as a demonstration. It’s like yoga. Yoga is not […]

New choreography

In 1947, having hit the big time only three years earlier with his first ballet, Fancy Free, Jerome Robbins began choreographing his fourth Broadway musical. A satire about a touring Russian ballet company and the stage-struck heiress who keeps it afloat, the show, which lasted for 188 performances, was called Look Ma, I’m Dancin’! That’s […]

Permeable Borders

By Barbara Newman When is it dance and when is it theatre? Before Pina Bausch turned up in the early 1980s, the term dance-theatre wasn’t bandied about as often as it is now. The defining lines were still quite firmly drawn, so when you booked a performance, you knew what to expect. Mark Bruce has […]

The Brexit Effect by Barbara Newman

Are you worried about Brexit? You should be. Its impact on the arts in the UK could be greater than you might anticipate. In the February issue of Dancing Times, an excellent letter to the editor from Fiona Biddulph in Rutland raises important questions about the opportunities for British dancers that may be limited by […]

Barbara Newman offers some ideas for New Year’s Gifts

On New Year’s Eve, New York City Ballet used to slide tiny jokes into The Nutcracker – I don’t know if this tradition continues – to delight the cognoscenti and relieve the dancers’ exhaustion after weeks of performing the same ballet. If you’re also tired of fairytales and eager for a change of pace, you […]

Stars Experiment

Encouraged by their international acclaim, well-known dancers often abandon the ballets on which they’ve built their reputation to test themselves on the unknown. Well before she became a household name, Margot Fonteyn went off to dance with Roland Petit in Paris, and Maya Plisetskaya radically redefined herself in Albert Alonso’s Carmen Suite and Maurice Béjart’s […]

Shiny trinkets by Barbara Newman

Michael Somes once reported that in the early days of the Vic-Wells Ballet, Ninette de Valois would ask Frederick Ashton for “a romantic ballet at Christmas and then a 20-minute abstract ballet by Easter.” Years later she justified her demands: “There was no repertoire – there was a vacuum… The work had to be done.” […]

Requisite Passion by Barbara Newman

Kevin O’Hare’s brainwave of bringing the UK’s leading ballet companies together to celebrate Kenneth MacMillan’s work has paid off handsomely. Roaming over the choreographer’s exceptional range of dramatic subjects and musical inspiration, the season has filled the Royal Opera House and pleased the public. Comprising four troupes, the two performances I saw at Covent Garden […]

Stamping on Flamenco: Barbara Newman sees Rocío Molina

The most interesting thing about Rocío Molina is her dancing. You might expect that from any attraction in London’s Dance Umbrella, but Molina has decided to upend traditional flamenco and give it a new slant, the sort of decision that usually requires a lot of explaining and extensive programme notes. Unlike many contemporary choreographers, however, […]

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