Posted on December 17, 2020
This month, we find out from Rebecca Haw how to audition during the pandemic, talk to Strictly Come Dancing’s Oti Mabuse, and hear how Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Dominic Antonucci got back into shape. We also find out how dance companies in France and the US have been coping with COVID-19.
“As a direct result of all this auditioning, Haw decided to set up her Audition Educator programme. ‘I felt there had been a need for it for a very long time, and I had the lightbulb moment during the summer, fresh out of lockdown. I seemed to be a magnet for people asking me to look at their CVs or videos, dancers who I’d taught at summer schools. I’ve written a blog for years, and contributed to a dance magazine. If you’re going to start something up, you need to be passionate about it, not get bored, and be able to talk about it for days – and I can!
“‘I started experimenting in digital media way back, but began a web design company two years ago. I’ve been doing graphic design and product design for years as a hobby, and also for clients. I like all that sort of thing. I had to move to an e-commerce website for the Audition Educator programme, honing it for a huge members’ area and filling out the infrastructure. I’ve done this sort of thing before, so I just had to get the social media marketing going.’”
“Did the death of George Floyd over the summer and the Black Lives Matter protests that followed cause Mabuse to think about whether the ballroom world has a problem with race? ‘Well, I grew up in that world,’ she says, ‘and for me, being from South Africa, where race has always been a strong thing, our goal in life was always to succeed with our talents. That’s what my mum always fought for, and we were always the first to do everything, you know: the first Black family to be at a South African Championship; the first Black family to dance at Blackpool; the first Black family to do Strictly, so it wasn’t new.
“‘For us, it was never something that we saw as a problem – not to take that away from other people – but it was always about us trying to kick the door down, to make it accessible and open for everyone. Whether it is a problem, I don’t think at the moment, that’s the issue – the problem for now is that it is quite an expensive sport. I’m just speaking from my experience in South Africa – it was really difficult: you have to pay for lessons; you have to pay for travel. It is tough for a lot of families, especially when you come from developing countries. I think once people can have food to eat at home and education and clothes on their back, then they can enjoy luxuries like competitive ballroom and Latin dancing.’”
Dominic Antonucci, ballet master with Birmingham Royal Ballet, explains how he took up boxing to help get back in shape
“During my dancing career, I had incorporated elements of boxing training to great effect. I felt this type of physical exercise helped me with my stamina and strength for performing. It kept me in good shape aesthetically and I had always enjoyed it. From my youth I held a conflicted fascination for boxing. Conflicted because I detest violence and its consequences, but on the other hand I was drawn to boxing’s raw physicality, its drama and romance. The single-minded focus of training for boxing reminded me of my own experience with ballet.
“The physical shape of certain boxers was also something that I wished I could attain for myself. Heavyweights like Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali would hardly remind anyone of a ballet dancer, although Ali always proclaimed he would ‘Dance! Dance!’ in the ring. Instead I was looking at fighters such as the great ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinson, who had a beautiful dancer’s body and an elegant movement quality. In fact, as his career as a boxer came to an end, Robinson toured extensively as a dancer.”
Andrew Foster concludes his article on Vaslav Nijinsky’s dismissal from the Imperial Russian Ballet
Sarasota Ballet’s Daniel Pratt offers a view of how dance companies in the US have been coping with the coronavirus pandemic
Phil Meacham on the benefits of dancing solo
Margaret Willis interviews The Royal Ballet’s David Donnelly, our Dancer of the Month
Marianka Swain looks back at the 2020 season of Strictly Come Dancing
Northern Ballet’s Gavin McCaig thinks outreach must take centre stage in the dance sector’s recovery
A photographic essay on The Royal Ballet’s Elizabeth McGorian by Kristyna Kashvili
James Whitehead offers some tips on jive
Laura Cappelle on how the dance scene in France has been tackling COVID-19
Jack Anderson sees online works from American Ballet Theatre and Paul Taylor Dance Company in New York
Simon Selmon introduces his Five-a-day Swing practice
Igor Stupnikov sees Svetlana Zakharova portray Coco Chanel on stage in St Petersburg
Marianka Swain previews the 2021 same-sex dance scene
Memories from the dance floor by Derek Young
Debbie Malina considers why the hip is such an essential part of the body
Jack Reavely remembers Josephine Bradley
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Dane Hurst to be new director of Phoenix Dance Theatre, American Ballet Theatre cancels 2021 Metropolitan Opera House season, Marion Tait steps down as assistant director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, Here Come the Boys in the West End, Royal Albert Hall celebrates 150 years, win Romeo and Juliet DVDs from Opus Arte, Theatre for one pound, Southbank Centre’s Unlimited festival goes online; The Royal Danish Ballet’s new La Sylphide reviewed in Dance Scene International; Patricia Beatty, Diana Payne-Myers and Susan Robinson remembered in Obituaries; new books, CDs, DVDs and dance products; Prix de Lausanne moves online, Royal Academy of Dance discovers footage of Margot Fonteyn, Elmhurst audition applications move online; calendar dates for performances in the UK and abroad; we look back to January 1981