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December 2015 issue

Posted on November 27, 2015


As Christmas approaches, Dancing Times gets ready for The Nutcracker and for the final rounds of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing ­– which appears on our cover for the first time, with cover stars Jay McGuiness and Aliona Vilani. We also meet promising young dancers – ballroom and Latin couple Glenn Richard Boyce and Alexandra Krivushkova and English National Ballet’s Isabelle Brouwers – and look at dance schools in the UK and the US, and discover the role of the cheese grater when it comes to dancers’ shoes…

Sense and talent

pippa-moore-grabPippa Moore, Northern Ballet’s longest-serving principal, speaks to Zoë Anderson about change, camaraderie and experience:

“It’s one thing to observe real people for family roles, but how do you prepare to play Lucy, a vampire bride? ‘There’s so much out there these days in terms of films and series and books and everything,’ she says happily. ‘A lot, when I was a child, had to come from your imagination, but nowadays the world’s your oyster when it comes to research.

‘It’s encouraged, as well. They want you to know what you’re portraying. Nobody’s just decorating the stage here, we do workshops and read sections from the books with the company, so that everybody feels part of it. There’s nothing worse than not feeling that spirit on stage. There’s no point just having a star couple and then everyone else clueless as to what’s going on. Even if the character you’re doing doesn’t have a name, you should give yourself a name, to give yourself a personality. Know where you’ve come from, what your motivation was for being in this scene…’”

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Only connect

strictly-social-media-grabVikki Jane Vile explores the relationship between fans, social media and Strictly Come Dancing:

“Log on to Twitter today and you’ll come across a wealth of fan pages, not only for each [Strictly] professional individually but for each couple from series past and present. They are all religiously updated by a hub of dedicated enthusiasts who, each September, think up a host of zany team names for their top couples. My favourites from the current series include Team Glita for Anita Rani and Gleb Savchenko, and Team Der Beke for Katie Derham and Anton Du Beke.

“I asked why they feel so motivated to put so much effort into social media like this. ‘I like spending time supporting them by running team pages,’ Chantelle tells me. ‘I find it rewarding because I know they appreciate any support they get… I also like to help “spread the word” by sharing info that other fans may have missed. The fan-site in particular is a great place for this, as I can post news stories, share videos, upload pictures to the massive gallery we have and so on.’ The more I delved into this world the more it feels like both parties are benefiting equally. For the fans, investing such effort is a form of escapism that is simultaneously appreciated by the wider, more casual Strictly audience. For the professionals, they have a 24/7 PR machine, free of charge…”

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Not to be eaten

shoes-grabFans of the 19th-century ballerina Marie Taglioni once cooked and ate her shoes after a performance, complete with special sauce. Dominic Antonucci reveals how dancers treat and prepare them for daily use…

“As their most important tool besides their own body, dancers often develop unique and sometimes amusing habits in preparing their shoes. For the uninitiated, a visit backstage to a professional ballet company can be bewildering… Ballerinas can be seen exacting all sorts of violence onto their pointe shoes. Bashing them against walls, crushing them between doors, scraping them with cheese graters and ripping the insides out…”

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Also in the December 2015 issue…

Nicola Rayner profiles 14-year-old Glenn Richard Boyce, the UK’s brightest hope in competitive dancesport, and his new partner Alexandra Krivushkova

English National Ballet’s Isabelle Brouwers speaks to Margaret Willis

Marianka Swain explores modern-day ballroom etiquette

Laura Dodge visits leading musical theatre college Laine Theatre Arts

David Mead looks inside the School of American Ballet

Theatre director Jack Thorpe Baker looks at today’s dance scene, from the perspective of an aspiring dance leader

In an excerpt from Strictly Come Dancing: The Official Annual 2016, Aliona Vilani and Kevin Clifton reveal their fitness routines

James Whitehead gets to grips with the festive Viennese Waltz in our Tips on Technique series

Take that look off your face! Phil Meacham has advice on facial expressions for dancers

Simon Selmon learns to love electro swing

Jack Reavely remembers the elegance of postwar dinner dancing

Debbie Malina looks at the links between theatre, dance and puppetry

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Plus news of National Dance Awards nominations, Natalia Osipova and the new Sadler’s Wells season, social dancing at London’s Southbank Centre this Christmas, a tribute to Jonathan Ollivier, hip hop choreographer Hakeem Onibudo, Carlos Acosta’s Royal Ballet farewell and more

Reviews of this year’s Dance Umbrella, including Walking Stories and La Veronal, Birmingham Royal Ballet in Theme and Variations, Enigma Variations and The King Dances, The Royal Ballet in Carlos Acosta’s new Carmen and more, including Francesca Hayward’s debut as Juliet, ZooNation’s Into the Hoods: Remixed, Hussein Chalayan’s Gravity Fatigue, Chotto Desh from Akram Khan Company and MOKO Dance, Rambert in Kim Brandstrup, Didy Veldman and Christopher Bruce, Sasha Waltz and Guests in Sacre, Phoenix Dance Theatre in works by Caroline Finn, Itzik Galili and Sharon Watson, The Australian Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty, Royal Ballet Flanders in Hans Van Manen and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo in works by Jean-Christophe Maillot, Onegin, Ohad Naharin, Jirí Kylián and Nacho Duato at the Staatsballett Berlin, Elf and In the Heights, Ballet Nice Méditerrainée in St Petersburg and debuts at the Maryinsky Ballet, American Ballet Theatre in Mark Morris’s new After You  and Ballet Memphis in New York;

Reports from the UK Fun Competition, the Scary Salsa Weekend at the Boship Hotel, Blanche Ingle Bateman’s anniversary ball and the London Area Medallist Festival in Crawley

the latest book and DVD releases

obituaries of David Drew, Selena Wylie, Mandev Sokhi and Yolanda Sonnabend

education news, including success for the Rambert archive, a new director for the Prix de Lausanne, Urdang Academy, Rosemary Butcher, Bath Dance College, Guildhall School and reports from Dance Proms and Performers College

The December issue is now in stores – including branches of WHSmith – or you can buy your print copy here or buy your digital copy from all good app stores

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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