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March 2016 issue

Posted on March 1, 2016


Welcome to our biggest ever issue! This month’s Dancing Times casts a spotlight on France, from Benjamin Millepied’s shock departure from the Paris Opéra Ballet to the dance scene as a whole. There’s tango with cover stars Germán Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi, ballroom and Latin at the UK Open, crossovers between theatre and dance and more…

Escaping definitions

Laura Cappelle casts her gaze over the dance scene in France

“While the Paris-regional divide appeared to grow starker under [Benjamin] Millepied, his resignation and the appointment of Aurélie Dupont means most of the top ballet companies in the country will soon be directed by Paris Opéra Ballet étoiles. In the capital, Millepied’s attempt to steer the Paris Opéra Ballet towards US-style neoclassicism and the global club of choreographers who dominate programming around the world, from Christopher Wheeldon to Justin Peck, proved ill-fated: his choice of repertoire met with resistance from many in France, who value national giants such as [Serge] Lifar, Roland Petit and [Maurice] Béjart, all conspicuously absent this season and next, as well as the narrative ballets popular under Brigitte Lefèvre, who directed the company from 1995 to 2014. Millepied’s public disregard for French training was another damning factor: in a television documentary about his 2015 creation, Clear, Loud, Bright, he claimed that he was “still looking for the ‘French excellence’”….”

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Fire in his belly

Nicola Rayner talks to Germán Cornejo about Immortal Tango, his new show at London’s Peacock Theatre

“Even in a cast of international tango dancers, [Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi] stood out: there’s a sensuality to their dancing – they tango like they really mean it. Their lifts and tricks are dizzying: in one trademark move, Germán, an intense, compact dancer, holds leggy Gisela with just one hand clean above his head; in another, standing in front of him, she raises a leg and curls an elegant ankle around Germán’s neck, her stiletto-sharp tango shoe inches away from his head, capturing a sense of the eroticism and danger for which tango is famous.

“In interview, too, Germán’s passion spills out… When asked a question about his new show, Immortal Tango, Cornejo is unstoppable, speaking uninterrupted for several minutes at a time with barely a pause for breath… ‘The stereotypical tango show is very solemn, very dramatic, very mysterious,’ he explains. ‘We want to show a fresher, more youthful aspect of tango…’”

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Open season

Nicola Rayner reports on this year’s UK Open Championships, held in Bournemouth

“…the UK Open is an event for adults only, and an important competition for the world’s top ballroom and Latin dancers. The atmosphere is friendly, perhaps as a result of the seaside location, with spectators wandering out for fish and chips or a windswept stroll along Bournemouth Pier in breaks between the dancing.

“[Professional Ballroom winners Arunas Bizokas and Katusha Demidova] are tall, powerful dancers with impeccable technique, but the criticism I’ve heard most commonly levelled at them is that their personalities don’t always shine through in their dancing. For the judges, looking at the technical side of things, this not necessarily a problem, but the audience likes something to talk about later. On the dancefloor, Katusha has the sort of blonde, glacial beauty favoured by Alfred Hitchcock, which perhaps adds the approachability problem…”

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Also in the March 2016 issue…

Zoë Anderson reports from the 16th Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards

Gerald Dowler reports on Benjamin Millepied’s departure from the Paris Opéra Ballet

Iris Fanger remembers Vernon and Irene Castle, one of the 20th century’s most influential ballroom couples

Has dance reached its physical limits? Jeanette Andersen speaks to Alistair Spalding of Sadler’s Wells, Bettina Wagner-Bergelt of the Bavarian State Ballet and designers Michael Simon and Hussein Chalayan about at crossovers and choreographers

Six years on: Mark Rasmussen of Harlequin Floors revisits Scottish Ballet’s Tramway headquarters, finding how its lavish studios have stood the test of time

Zoë Anderson explores dance and theatre at London’s Young Vic theatre, from a choreographed Macbeth to a new collaboration between actor/singer Jane Horrocks and choreographer Aletta Collins

Dancing in heels: Debbie Malina looks at keeping dancers’ feet healthy in high-heeled shoes

Preserving the legacy: in the third part of the series, Gerald Dowler speaks to Dieter Gräfe and Deborah MacMillan about guarding the works of John Cranko and Kenneth MacMillan

Margaret Willis speaks to National Dance Company Wales’ Josef Perou, our Dancer of the Month

What’s on at MOVE IT 2016, the UK’s biggest dance event

Clemmie Cowl speaks to Beryl Grey and Monica Mason about the merger of the Royal Ballet Benevolent Fund and the Dance Teachers’ Benevolent Fund

Former Strictly pro Andrew Cuerden and veteran band leader Ross Mitchell tell Lee Knights about musicality for dancers

Tips on technique: James Whitehead urges dancers not to rest in the rumba

Our dance doctor, Phil Meacham, explores breathing technique for dancers

Simon Selmon on the changing fortunes of swing dance

In our same-sex dance column, Marianka Swain addresses the issue of senior age categorisation

Jack Reavely continues his memories of ballroom legend Josephine Bradley

From the archives… We remember the premiere of Frederick Ashton’s A Month in the Country and a 1920s extravaganza at the Royal Albert Hall

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Plus news of English National Ballet plans, Paris Opéra Ballet plans, Great American Dance cinema screenings competition, Kit Holder’s new work, Akram Khan and female choreographers, Natalie Lowe and Ian Waite on tour, Ivan Vasiliev, new dance DVDs

Reviews of Resolution! at The Place, The Royal Ballet in Rhapsody, The Two Pigeons and a Christopher Wheeldon triple bill, Akram Khan Company’s Until the Lions, Peter Brook’s Battlefield, Alexei Ratmansky’s Swan Lake for Zurich Ballet, a new Firebird from Tim Rushton, Ballet am Rhein in Antony Tudor, Bournonville and Terence Kohler, Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Going Home Star, Radu Poklitaru’s Symphony in three movements for the Maryinsky Ballet, Daniil Simkin’s Intensio in New York, American Dance Machine for the 21st Century and Company XIV’s Snow White

Obituaries of Violette Verdy, Nadine Senior and Mrinalini Sarabhai

Education news, including the Prix de Lausanne, Early Dance Circle, Dance Forward, Spanish Dance Society, Theatre Dance Council International, Hammond School, Eve Pettinger Gala and Susan Robinson School of Ballet

The March issue is now in shops – 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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