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A Context to Pepperland

Call me old-fashioned, but when I go to see dancing, I want to see it. Regardless of the subject, if you can’t distinguish the bodies and their arrangement in space, why watch them? I also want the movement to hang together somehow. Improvisation has its uses, but apparently random activity often resembles incomplete ideas. If […]

Richard Alston; Yolande Yorke-Edgell; Internationaal Theater Amsterdam

The news of Richard Alston’s knighthood in the New Year Honours List followed the announcement, two months earlier, that his company will close in 2020. Having made dances for 50 of his 70 years and led his own troupe to its 25th anniversary, Sir Richard might be considered the backbone of contemporary dance in the […]

The Power of the Prix

February has always been an exciting month for me. My birthday falls at its start; Valentine’s and Pancake days usually add further cause for diversion (though Shrove Tuesday makes a later appearance in March 2019). Since I’ve spent successive Februarys stateside, my appreciation for pop culture standouts like the Super Bowl, Golden Globes and Oscars […]

The American Clock

Arthur Miller’s masterpiece, Death of a Salesman, came to Broadway in 1949 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The author was 34 years old. In 1980, toward the end of a long, illustrious career, he wrote The American Clock, basing its loosely connected vignettes on his own life and those recounted in Hard Times, […]

Liam Scarlett Asphodel Meadows, Frederick Ashton The Two Pigeons, TRIO ConcertDance

When The Royal Ballet Upper School left its Barons Court home in 2003 and moved into brand-new facilities in Covent Garden, directly across the street from the stage door that every pupil hopes one day to enter, I was told that the quality and convenience of the new premises were bound to improve the quality […]

Unfamiliar location

January is that month where all the clichés come out. After all the exuberance – and excesses – of Christmas, it feels good to refocus, take stock of what’s been and aim to fill the endeavours of the coming year with happy pragmatism. Sometimes I get irritated at the pressure to work on oneself, to […]

Ashton’s Les Patineurs, Nureyev’s Cinderella, Bourne’s Swan Lake

Many people consider The Nutcracker the best Christmas ballet, because it’s short, tuneful, easy to understand, and rich with roles for small children. The 1957 and 1958 television broadcasts of George Balanchine’s production for New York City Ballet launched it as a holiday favourite, but, after its first season on stage in 1954, one critic […]

Barbara Newman sees works by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Mark Morris

What do you take away when you leave a dance performance? Does the movement stay with you, or the music, or designs or overall effect? I’m asking because I’m beginning to wonder what the dance public prefers. A friend who teaches a course entitled Performance: Design and Practice at Central Saint Martins recently told me […]

Strictly Speaking: The final

Another year, another bloated final that winds up being totally irrelevant to the results. At some point, the bosses of Strictly Come Dancing might need to look into that… For my money, of the last four, Ashley was the strongest dancer, Joe the most improved, Faye the best on the night, and Kevin, I mean […]

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 […]

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