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Daniel Pratt celebrates The Nutcracker

Clement Crisp and Peter Brinson wrote pithily of The Nutcracker: “other productions proliferate.” This 1892 ballet is seen across the globe in countless versions and is an obligatory ingredient to the perfect Christmas. Though dancers – and critics – can groan at the annual reappearance of the work, it occupies a special place in our […]

Strictly Speaking – The Final

And then we came to the end. All in all, it’s been a cracker of a series, and the final really was the, er, brandy cream on the pudding. We had a great run of dances from all four couples, and I found my allegiance switching regularly between them – the sign of an excitingly […]

Stars Experiment

Encouraged by their international acclaim, well-known dancers often abandon the ballets on which they’ve built their reputation to test themselves on the unknown. Well before she became a household name, Margot Fonteyn went off to dance with Roland Petit in Paris, and Maya Plisetskaya radically redefined herself in Albert Alonso’s Carmen Suite and Maurice Béjart’s […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 12

Two dances is theoretically a good test of range, growth and performance at this crucial stage, but can often make for a night of half-finished numbers – the pros’ steely ambition exceeding the knackered celebs’ execution. So it proved in some cases, but not all, and we actually wound up with a pretty clear view […]

Log-in From London

In the second instalment of a regular series of blogs, Graham Watts summarises the dance he has seen in London during November November’s dance in London came in a succession of pairs. There were two world premieres by the same choreographer; two programmes by Birmingham Royal Ballet; The Place offered two thoughful and topical pieces […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 11

Musicals Week – where ballroom comes to die. Well, not entirely, but it did feel for much of the evening as though we were watching the backdoor pilot episode of spin-off Strictly Come Auditioning For The West End (Who Are We Kidding – Touring Will Do). From Mollie getting 9s (9s!) for open-mouthed contempowaft with […]

Let’s see what you’ve got

Daniel Pratt watches World Ballet Day, and considers the magic of seeing behind the scenes Thursday, October 5 was the online international celebration of ballet, World Ballet Day. I will admit to you, with no embarrassment, that I set my alarm clock half an hour earlier so I could watch the live feed before I […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 10

Another week, another “shock” dance-off entrant. Yes, nothing will quite match Aston’s exit, but this is still an enjoyably open series. Two more frontrunners (and judges’ favourites) have now landed in the bottom, while those of the genus dark horse are jostling for position. Deserving or not in dance terms, any of the celebs remaining […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 9

Well, this wasn’t exactly a vintage Blackpool Week. Alexandra was pretty much the only celebrity to rise to the heights of breathless “Mecca of Ballroom” hyperbole, and even then she had the ever-irritating Human Props to contend with. Otherwise, we had a string of just OK numbers – some beset with errors, some wallowing in […]

Shiny trinkets by Barbara Newman

Michael Somes once reported that in the early days of the Vic-Wells Ballet, Ninette de Valois would ask Frederick Ashton for “a romantic ballet at Christmas and then a 20-minute abstract ballet by Easter.” Years later she justified her demands: “There was no repertoire – there was a vacuum… The work had to be done.” […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 8

Pre-Blackpool Week saw many couples in something of a dilemma: do we go easier and hope to win over the audience with a fun performance, or risk tougher routines to impress the judges? Actually, I think voters also appreciate growth, particularly at this stage, but the majority’s adherence to technique yielded distinctly mixed results. At […]

Log-in from London

In the first instalment of his new blog, dance writer Graham Watts summarises what he has seen on stage in London during October October. A month of darkened afternoons, falling leaves and frequent need of an umbrella. It’s also the time to unfurl the Dance Umbrella, the annual festival that pops up in mainstream theatres, […]