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Plain and Fancy

When George Balanchine choreographed Chaconne in 1976, he chose Suzanne Farrell and Peter Martins for the principal roles. They were the leading lights of New York City Ballet at the time, and people naturally wanted to see them in anything they might dance. The Balanchine historian Nancy Reynolds has described Chaconne as “a series of […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 5

In a firm bid to counter the Sean(n) Scandal of ’18, Strictly gave us lots of new things to gripe about this week – from Couple’s Choice (of which much more anon) to someone channelling the medicated enthusiasm and incoherence of Bruno Tonioli, if not the occasional dashes of lyrical expertise. Yes, it was another […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 4

Everything’s fine, we’re all lovely, why do you ask, oh I’ve always had that twitch, silly really, just keep smiling, did I mention I rescued an orphaned puppy from a fire last week, no reason, that’s just me, and of course you know my charming children, darling where’s that smile, smile for Mummy, don’t mind […]

Hands, Eyes, Mind, Emotion

How often do you want to see a performance repeated right away, immediately, from start to finish? That’s what I longed for at the end of Shane Shambhu’s Confessions of a Cockney Temple Dancer, a solo brimming with more subtle invention and detailed information than I could absorb in one viewing. Speaking, dancing and miming […]

Shooting Stars

Rudolf Nureyev’s passion for challenge has rarely been equalled. After his defection to the west in 1961, he repeatedly claimed he wanted to explore as many different ways of dancing as possible. Having conquered the classical repertoire and created roles at The Royal Ballet for Frederick Ashton, Kenneth MacMillan, Roland Petit, Rudi van Dantzig and […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 3

Ah, Movie Week – two words about as likely to deliver satisfaction as “Southern Rail”, “Theresa May” or “Topshop feminism”. So, it comes as little surprise (though sinking disappointment) to see couples slathered in Minions yellow or trying to jam a paso down the throat of hagiographic nonsense The Greatest Showman. And yet! A few […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 2

After the electrifying opening show, a Strictly comedown was inevitable, but even so, Week 2 was quite the slump. A combination of overambitious routines, daft concepts, erratic judging and all the nerves so happily absent last week – the latter probably due to a looming elimination – made for a show, in Steps terminology, better best […]

Stepping out

The city of New York doesn’t feel like any other part of the US I’ve visited. When you’re walking down Sixth Avenue, or jumping on to a subway at Times Square, you walk a bit quicker and hold a little more elasticity in your body; you could go anywhere and do anything. In the middle […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 1

Hello, new young people viewers to Strictly Come Dancing! Snapchat this on your Tide Pod slime, amiright? Yes, in Joe Sugg’s honour, the BBC has – I’m sorry to say – decided it must become hip to the kids of today. Please God let the try-hard shower of emojis that accompanied Joe’s dance never appear […]

Strictly Speaking – 2018 Launch Show

Marianka Swain introduces the contestants… Hello again, Strictly fans! It’s Series 16! Woohoo! Series 16, AKA the one where Marianka continually squawks “A YouTuber?” at her screen in the manner of Lady Bracknell’s “A handbag?” and feels about 102 and begins to contemplate the yawning void of mortality, and then remembers the state of the world […]

Organic gardening

The word “organic” isn’t often associated with musicals, but it exactly describes the history and content of Little Shop of Horrors, which runs until September 22 at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Created for a tiny off-Broadway stage in 1982, this show has roots in the science fiction tales of the 1930s and 1950s […]

From ballet to Broadway

I travelled to Asia for the first time this June to watch my partner perform in the production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh’s musical Cats that is currently in tour in China. My ten-day stay in Shanghai is a talking point in itself. Reading J G Ballard’s Empire of the Sun as a […]