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February 2016 issue

Posted on February 1, 2016


february-2016-coverWe celebrate a world of dance this month, from ballroom in Shanghai to New York City Ballet choreographer Justin Peck and former Strictly professional Robin Windsor. Our cover stars are Cira Robinson and Mthuthuzeli November of Ballet Black.

Ready to move on

robin-windsor-grabNicola Rayner meets former Strictly Come Dancing professional Robin Windsor to talk about life after the show…

“At the end of the last season of Strictly, Robin’s fellow pro dancers Ola Jordan and two-time winner Aliona Vilani revealed they would be leaving the show, as did Robin’s professional partner, Kristina Rihanoff… ‘Kristina and I have a great relationship and we will always dance together. I know Ola is moving on to other things and Aliona wants to start a family. I think the time comes when you have to move on and make way for some new blood to enter the show.’

“…Another resolution for 2016 is to get the UK dancing. ‘I want to start a beginner ballroom class in every ballroom school across the country. Having me front it would bring more people in and then I could leave and let the dance school continue with the class week upon week. I’ll host the first class and then I’ll say, ‘Listen, I’ll come back in six weeks and see how you’re getting along’… Any kind of dancing is enjoyable, of course, but what makes ballroom special is that you’ve got a partner in front of you, and you’re learning something together and communicating with another person, which can make it even more fun…’”

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On the fast track

justin-peckDavid Mead talks to Justin Peck, New York City Ballet’s choreographer in residence

“Apart from the importance of musicality, for Peck, choreography has always been about trying to find the right balance between the classical tradition and pushing boundaries. ‘I’ve always thought art in general is an evolution, and especially with an art form like ballet, which has such a classical basis, it’s important to pay your respects to that while taking steps forward.’ He says it’s also important to recognise the nature of today’s society in art in general and in choreography. ‘A lot of my work has maybe a more equal basis to it than ballets of the past. It does reflect sociological patterns and where we are at nowadays. There is equality between the sexes, less stardom and an interest in building something more collective…’”

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From seaside to Shanghai

blackpool-in-china-grabWhen a global brand is anchored to a seaside town in the north-west of England, how do you give it a new cultural identity? Alison Gallagher-Hughes finds out about Blackpool Dance Festival China

“You can take the festival out of Blackpool… but can you transport it 5,700 miles to a different continent with a different culture and put Blackpool into the festival? That’s what’s proposed when Shanghai plays host to the new Blackpool Dance Festival China this August – three months after Blackpool’s British Open. Its home will be the Shanghai Grand Stage, a vast round building which normally stages concerts and sports events, with an audience capacity of 10,000.

“Over the years, Blackpool’s May festival has attracted more and more international competitors. It began in the 1950s, when a box in the Empress Ballroom was reserved ‘for our foreign visitors’, and over the years has become a truly international affair. Currently around a third of all competitors travel from the Far East to take part…”

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Also in the February 2016 issue…

Gerald Dowler meets Manuel Legris, the Paris Opéra Ballet étoile who now directs the Vienna State Ballet

As Birmingham Royal Ballet stage Frederick Ashton’s A Month in the Country, Paul Arrowsmith investigates the ballet and its sources

Jenny Veldhuis reports on the Royal Danish Ballet School

Preserving butterflies: Gerald Dowler sees how the legacies of Frederick Ashton and George Balanchine are cared for

Nights in the theatres of Spain: Barbara Newman watches traditional and contemporary dance in Madrid and Mallorca

Ballroom and Latin teacher Phil Meacham on making new dancers feel welcome

Lee Knights explores new hustle, a 1970s style brought up to date with street dance elements

Tips on technique: James Whitehead on swing, sway and shaping

Our dance doctor, Phil Meacham, asks if the quickstep is necessarily quick?

Simon Selmon looks at the career of Swedish swing hero Lennart Westerlund

Same-sex ballroom and Latin: Marianka Swain enters the world of queer tango

Jack Reavely remembers ballroom legend Josephine Bradley

Margaret Willis speaks to Ashley Shaw of New Adventures, our Dancer of the Month

Debbie Malina concludes her survey of postgraduate courses in dance medicine and science

Mark Bruce tells Zoë Anderson about his new production of The Odyssey

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Plus news of Scottish Ballet, the UK Open, DV8, the new season at The Place, the new tap archive from the Library of Congress, New Year honours for dance, Jonathan Ollivier, Caroline Miller, new dance books and a chance to win Giselle cinema tickets

Reviews of Carlos Acosta’s Classical Selection, Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, English National Ballet in Le Corsaire and The Nutcracker, The Royal Ballet in The Nutcracker, Will Tuckett’s Elizabeth, Hong Kong Ballet in Romeo and Juliet and a choreographers’ showcase, Alessandra Ferri in John Neumeier’s Duse, the Paris Opéra Ballet in La Bayadère, Pina Bausch, Christopher Wheeldon and Wayne McGregor, the Bavarian State Ballet in George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Aszure Barton’s Adam Is, the Huajin Dance Drama Ensemble in Opera Warriors, the Ekaterinburg Ballet in St Petersburg and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York

Obituaries of Madeleine Lytton, Joan Kent and Mary Schon

Education news, including Chelsea Ballet Schools and English National Ballet, the English Folk Dance and Song Society, UKA medals with the London School of Salsa, adult classes at Trinity Laban, AMDA College and Conservatory for the Performing Arts, Northern Ballet School’s Giselle, the Royal Academy of Dance, Dance Works, Centres for Advanced Training in eastern England, the British Ballet Organisation and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School

The February 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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