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Budding stars

In 2013, French television broadcast a six-part series titled Graines d’Étoiles (Budding Stars), in which the director Françoise Marie documented a year’s activity inside the Paris Opéra Ballet School. Housed in gleaming premises in Nanterre, seven miles from Paris, the school numbers about 130 pupils aged eight to 18, nearly two-thirds of whom board full-time. […]

Rainbow interpretations

The LGBT+ movement still has plenty of battles to fight, but finding representation in the theatre is not one of them. The Southbank Centre has launched a season of “queer cabaret, drag kings and queens, and DJ collectives” that runs through the summer, featuring dance, comedy, films, happenings and exhibitions, many of them free, from […]

Inspiring artists

Isn’t it curious how much ballet dancers differ? By the time they can call themselves professional, they’ve been taught to respect the academic vocabulary and deliver it with precision. Most performers honour those twin obligations faithfully even if they lack imagination, but many go further. The Royal Ballet’s revival of A Month in the Country […]

Against the Stream and She Persisted

In the last few years, allegations of sexual impropriety have run rampant through the performing arts, assaulting film producers, opera and ballet directors, choreographers and performers as they pass. Dance has developed a powerful social conscience, and gender identity is such a hot topic that entire programmes are planned around it. For his second excursion […]

A Context to Pepperland

Call me old-fashioned, but when I go to see dancing, I want to see it. Regardless of the subject, if you can’t distinguish the bodies and their arrangement in space, why watch them? I also want the movement to hang together somehow. Improvisation has its uses, but apparently random activity often resembles incomplete ideas. If […]

Richard Alston; Yolande Yorke-Edgell; Internationaal Theater Amsterdam

The news of Richard Alston’s knighthood in the New Year Honours List followed the announcement, two months earlier, that his company will close in 2020. Having made dances for 50 of his 70 years and led his own troupe to its 25th anniversary, Sir Richard might be considered the backbone of contemporary dance in the […]

The American Clock

Arthur Miller’s masterpiece, Death of a Salesman, came to Broadway in 1949 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The author was 34 years old. In 1980, toward the end of a long, illustrious career, he wrote The American Clock, basing its loosely connected vignettes on his own life and those recounted in Hard Times, […]

Liam Scarlett Asphodel Meadows, Frederick Ashton The Two Pigeons, TRIO ConcertDance

When The Royal Ballet Upper School left its Barons Court home in 2003 and moved into brand-new facilities in Covent Garden, directly across the street from the stage door that every pupil hopes one day to enter, I was told that the quality and convenience of the new premises were bound to improve the quality […]

Ashton’s Les Patineurs, Nureyev’s Cinderella, Bourne’s Swan Lake

Many people consider The Nutcracker the best Christmas ballet, because it’s short, tuneful, easy to understand, and rich with roles for small children. The 1957 and 1958 television broadcasts of George Balanchine’s production for New York City Ballet launched it as a holiday favourite, but, after its first season on stage in 1954, one critic […]

Barbara Newman sees works by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Mark Morris

What do you take away when you leave a dance performance? Does the movement stay with you, or the music, or designs or overall effect? I’m asking because I’m beginning to wonder what the dance public prefers. A friend who teaches a course entitled Performance: Design and Practice at Central Saint Martins recently told me […]

Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem at English National Opera

English National Opera (ENO) has developed close ties with Benjamin Britten’s music since giving the world premiere of Peter Grimes in 1945. In the wake of that historic event, the company has presented five further stage works, including, during this year alone, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Turn of the Screw, and the operetta Paul […]

Shobana Jeyasingh’s Contagion and Scottee’s Fat Blokes

In 1918, just as World War I was drawing to an end, humanity sustained another lethal attack, this one from the influenza epidemic known as Spanish flu that infected 500 million people. Fifty to 100 million died, roughly three to five per cent of the world’s population. Life expectancy in the US fell by about […]

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