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All I want for Christmas is… Jewels

Christmas isn’t about presents – though I am preoccupied thinking about them during the festive season. For dance-goers the world over, The Nutcracker embraces all that Christmas represents. For me, though, this much-loved work can instead seem like the balletic equivalent of those utilitarian gifts you always expect to get: socks, ties, underwear. Happily, I […]

Barbara Newman sees dance by Boris Eifman and Shobana Jeyasingh

The second definition of “translate” in my dictionary is “to turn into one’s own or another language.” Choreographers do this all the time, turning ideas, words, music or images into movement, hoping their translations will measure up emotionally and intellectually to the original material. George Balanchine said, “There are no mother-in-laws in ballet,” convinced that […]

Strictly Speaking: The final

Marianka Swain on the last dance There was something of an elegiac feel to this year’s final, as Len Goodman, Strictly institution, finally hung up his “Seh-ven!” paddle, gave us one last scrambled metaphor and waltzed off to the great golf course in the sky. We can only hope ballroom doesn’t follow suit, but continues to […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 12

Marianka Swain on a closely fought semi-final Two-dance week: often a recipe for disappointing half-dances. But this was actually a decent semi-final, if inconsistent – in performance and in judging. Ah yes. Overmarked, undermarked, wandering free. The judges of Strictly, erratic are we. At this point, Bruno’s 10 is more devalued than the pound, and […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 11

Marianka Swain watches Strictly get mired in musicals Perhaps this is an unfashionable stance in the “tired of experts” era, but for me Strictly’s Musicals Week highlighted a more general issue with this series: we’ve had too much of our ballroom dancers attempting other styles, rather than their own. The pro numbers are overwhelmingly contemporary […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 10

This year’s couples largely managed to avoid the crippling malaise that is Blackpool Hangover Week, although I could have done without the continuation of bizarre scoring, plus dubious Cha Cha Challenge choices. It’s no secret that the judges have firm views on potential finalists versus also-rans, but attempting to erect a Berlin Wall on the […]

Going high when others go low

I always planned my November blog to use the US Presidential Election as a departure point. I started writing this on the morning before the polls opened. I finished it on the day after the election result. My ideas about what I’d write this month changed radically as I went about my ballet business over […]

Going further

Many people consider Wayne McGregor’s choreography the latest development in classical ballet, the next step after William Forsythe. Unlike Forsythe, however, he was not trained in ballet, yet he tinkers with its vocabulary obsessively, manipulating human bodies to their physical limits, distorting their alignment, disturbing their balance, and twisting joints to the extreme of their […]

Strictly Speaking – Week Nine

Marianka Swain reports on Strictly Come Dancing‘s annual pilgrimage to Blackpool Ah, Blackpool Week: forced VTs, drama, sky-high scoring and the odd great performance amidst the hysteria. The best part for dancers is the chance to use that giant sprung floor – or at least it would be, but once again the couples spent their routines […]

Strictly Speaking – week eight

Marianka Swain is comforted by Strictly Come Dancing’s sparkly pleasures In this year, it may seem relatively minor, yet it’s still worth acknowledging: #BallsToBlackpool is actually a reality, as 2016’s unlikely saviour prances on. At this rate, he could be Prime Minister by Christmas. Or maybe Reality TV Captain of Galactic Emperor Trump’s Make Space Great […]

La Fille mal gardée

What has happened to La Fille mal gardée? When did a generic pantomime dame replace Widow Simone’s individual character? Why doesn’t Alain offer the spurned engagement ring to the entire audience? Why do the lights dim for the final joyous pas de deux? Why are the sheaves now bound in actual raffia, which makes them […]

Strictly Speaking – Week Seven

Marianka Swain on musical mistakes and a triumph for ballroom nerdiness We’ve reached the halfway point, and with the leading pack tighter than Ore’s salsa trousers the “shock” bottom twos keep coming. Well, it was rather a shock that Doomed Daisy somehow survived a dismal slot in the running order and the most saccharine routine known […]

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