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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 […]

The Sugar Plum pas de deux

Last year I cast a general gaze over The Nutcracker and how Tchaikovsky’s music reveals it as a work of art more deeply layered than any bauble-dripping fir tree. Though we see it year after year, aspects of the ballet continue to enchant, engage and resonate with us differently on each viewing. The climactic pas […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 12

Semi-final week saw the usual quality drop-off with two dances – although in some cases such technical lack was rebranded as “authenticity” by the ever-erratic judges. We also had the dance and music lottery either boosting or limiting celebs, depending on whether they lucked out with the last remaining caramel swirl in the Quality Street […]

Graham’s Appalachian Spring

Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring premiered at the Library of Congress, Washington DC, in 1944. The composer Aaron Copland initially titled the work “ballet for Martha” when he began writing the commission. Despite Copland’s appellation, working on the role of the husbandman in Graham’s piece was different to any other dance work I’d encountered in my […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 11

Musicals Week! The quarter-finals! All to play for on this jazz hands show, and the combination of high-stakes competition and rampant theming produced… mixed results. Some dances fit beautifully with their songs, others were swallowed whole – and the judges continued to be consistent only in their inconsistency. Now, I’ve always considered that we at […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 10

So, we could talk about the post-Blackpool hangover pervading the week (this show very much brought to you by paracetamol and Alka-Seltzer). We could talk about scoring monstrosities, or the continuing bafflement of Couple’s Choice, or how the ghost of Ramps haunts us all via every single one of his songs being nicked over the […]

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 […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 9

Ah, Blackpool – home of ballroom. Or, in Strictly’s case, home of prop dancers, inflated (in most cases) scores, and alarming combos like fire, feathers and copious amounts of hairspray. At its best, it provides history, spectacle and a thrilling element of risk. Elsewhere…a well-intentioned mess. Highs this year included paddle-tease Craig finally locating his […]

South of the Border

In Mexico, Anna Pavlova danced in a bullring. Serge Diaghilev arranged Ballets Russes performances in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina in 1913 and 1917. De Basil’s Original Ballet Russe appeared in Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Venezuela. Can you point to these countries on a map, or is the entire continent beneath your […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 8

It might seem a strange statement to make while the BBC is shoving Stacey towards the glitterball, and Joe’s YouTube views have now surpassed the last six series, but one thing I’m enjoying is this year’s unpredictability. Who could have guessed that none of Lee, Vick, Dr Ranj or Danny would make Blackpool? Or that […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 7

Post-Halloween Week, and it’s possible the judges were still hopped up on Haribo and egging unsuspecting strangers, with the series’ most inconsistent show so far in terms of scoring and comments. Of course, Strictly is a mix of dancing and entertainment, ringers and J-worders, and subjective interpretations of different styles, but even so, I think viewers […]

World Ballet Day 2018

This month I’d like to offer some thoughts on this year’s World Ballet Day. Last year’s online marathon of behind-the-scenes ballet viewing was, I felt, vital for our industry because it enabled dance-lovers to go behind the curtain and witness the kind of experiences that made me want to spend my life in dance. My […]