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Strictly Speaking: Week 5

Well. This was not one of Strictly’s better outings. Our Staycation Blackpool Week sadly took all the worst elements of that usual jaunt – judging hysteria, inconsistent scores – without actually giving us the pleasure of performances at the Tower Ballroom. Add in some unfortunate sexism and another trying week of Judge Anton, and this […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 4

This was quite the Bizarro Strictly, with a sadly absent Nicola and Katya, Motsi joining Bruno in Zoom purgatory, and Anton du Beke finally wearing the producers down and getting his shot at judging – the equivalent of a small child pleading for ice cream repeatedly during a six-hour drive. Yes, fine, don’t spill it […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 3

You know what I didn’t need during a week where I’ve barely slept, my body now programmed to wake up at 3am, lunge for my phone and frantically check the Pennsylvania count? The absolute, unadulterated nightmare fuel that was Strictly Movie Week. Truly there is no punishment great enough for whoever dreamed up that Simpsons […]

Lazuli Sky

Ordinarily, a sprinkling of viewers scattered around the seats at Sadler’s Wells would be a sorry sight, representing all too clearly a general lack of interest in that night’s attraction. Now, however, as they waited eagerly for Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) to present three new pieces – two never performed in the UK before, one […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 2

Marianka Swain on Strictly’s first elimination this year. Is Strictly the last remaining thread holding this nation together? Arguably yes, given that the BBC had to cut away from Boris Johnson’s press conference on Saturday lest riots break out in the streets. Perhaps also because there are only so many ill-formatted graphs one person can […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 1

Marianka Swain reviews the first week of Strictly 2020. Photographs by Guy Levy, courtesy of the BBC This first proper competitive show gave us a chance to assess the “new normal” on Strictly – and, for the most part, it worked absolutely fine. Yes, the performances felt a little muted without a raucous studio audience, […]

Strictly Speaking 2020: The Launch Show

Marianka Swain introduces the Class of 2020. Photographs by Guy Levy, courtesy of the BBC I must begin on an earnest note: what a minor miracle it is to have this sliver of sequinned normality back on our screens. Thank you, thank you to everyone on Team Strictly whose tireless work allowed us to forget […]

On Lockdown

What is a dancer without dance? For me, it’s been over 80 days since the official lockdown began where I’m located (Sarasota, Florida), and the enforced pause in my normal life has afforded space for plenty of thinking. I’ve found the cut and thrust of my old routine made it seem there was just one […]

World Ballet Day

At this current time, I think it’s important people have access to content that shows some of the realities of a dancer’s life. In a world where we are all calibrating to a life of social-distancing and self-isolating, many of us are consuming the arts online. I thought now was a useful time to look […]

Cunningham on the big screen

Making dances is a mysterious process that’s difficult to describe. Recreating a dance’s essential character and original impact is still harder. The works Merce Cunningham left behind when he died in 2009 must now make their own way in the world, without his help but assisted by the dancers who know them and by the […]

In search of nourishment

You could call it a feast of narratives. The Royal Ballet has served up The Sleeping Beauty and Coppélia for Christmas and dances Onegin throughout February. Birmingham Royal Ballet brought The Nutcracker to Birmingham and the Royal Albert Hall; that company has just launched a long tour of Swan Lake. English National Ballet (ENB) followed […]

National Ballet of China in The Red Detachment of Women

The Red Detachment of Women is the signature work of the National Ballet of China, having been performed over 4,000 times since it was first choreographed in 1964, including as entertaining propaganda for President Nixon during his historic 1972 meeting with Chairman Mao. The ballet was adapted from a popular Chinese feature film of the […]

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