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Nourishment for the imagination

Before current events hijack all our concentration, I want to tie up some loose ends from 2019. Engulfed in fairytales as that year wound down, I kept thinking about choreographers who write for adults. Their dances lodge in your thoughts, sometimes for years, nourishing the imagination and spreading their impact in all directions. Though illness […]

Balanchine’s Nutcracker

It’s become a habit that I think about The Nutcrackereach Christmas for this blog, even on the years when I haven’t danced in it. Tchaikovksy and Lev Ivanov’s ballet is so integral to a dancer’s DNA it doesn’t quite feel like Christmas unless you’re performing in a version somewhere. Christmas has now been and gone, […]

The National Ballet of China’s La Bayadère

La Bayadère    National Ballet of China, Tianqiao Theatre, Beijing – December 7, 2019 The National Ballet of China (NBC) has been performing Natalia Makarova’s production of La Bayadère since 2016, and it is already so well established it was like a much-loved part of its heritage. Rarely have I seen the ballet danced with […]

National Ballet of China in The Crane Calling 

Think of a bird in classical ballet and inevitably a swan comes to mind. In China, however, since 2017 a rival has been calling. The crane is a beautiful creature, venerated in Chinese culture for millennia for its loyalty (they mate for life) and grace. Special nature reserves and wetlands are dedicated to their protection […]

Strictly Speaking: The Final

We came to the end! The week’s second nationwide ballot (and, let’s face it, by far the more important) yielded – in my humble opinion – exactly the right result, with the consistently brilliant Kelvin and Oti lifting the glitterball trophy. This hard-working team has been a pleasure throughout the series, strong across all the […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 12

The semi-final offered up the two-dance challenge, which usually gives a strong indication of who’s ready for the final itself. But, in case you were in any doubt, the judges made their views very clear – i.e. no Chris under any circumstances! His (admittedly just OK) dances were given the full killing them with kindness […]

Boys in Ballet

Back in January 2017 I wrote an article for Dancing Times about Project B, the initiative developed by the Royal Academy of Dance to bring focus on increasing the number of boys who are exposed to ballet. It aims to bring dance to more people in more places for their centenary celebrations in 2020. I […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 11

Ah, Musicals Week – AKA Dressing-up Box Explosion 2: Wig Warz!. Pretty unsubtle work here from the Strictly producers and judges, with a clear division between sensible theme/dance matches and bizarre combos, and between sky-high quarter-final scores and mediocre ones. Add in bias in the show’s running order, plus the online system going down for […]

All that it seems?

A children’s riddle asks, When is a door not a door? The answer is, When it’s ajar, which made no sense to me until I learned the meaning of “ajar.” I remembered the question, though, when Akram Khan’s Giselle for English National Ballet (ENB) and Matthew Bourne’s new Romeo and Juliet appeared in quick succession […]

The Royal Ballet on stage and on the big screen

When Frederick Ashton retired as the artistic director of The Royal Ballet in 1970, the company arranged a gala in his honour featuring selections from 34 of his creations and his contributions to Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle, presented to the excited public without a printed programme. The details were distributed as the […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 10

So, there are flat post-Blackpool shows, and there’s… whatever this was. Barely one rung up from everyone calling in sick while still nursing their hangovers on the tour bus. We’re in the closing stages of hard-fought competition, and yet by far the highlight this week was Bruno Tonioli “singing”. I know! The dance picks were […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 9

For once, Blackpool Week just about lived up to the hype, with some fun, exciting and truly outstanding performances. However, as so often in this changeable series, erratic scoring led to another shock elimination. Michelle and Giovanni, one of this year’s most consistent and creative couples, and likely finalists, lost out in the dance-off, as […]

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