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November 2019 issue

Posted on October 24, 2019

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In the November issue of Dancing Times, we welcome back Coppélia to the repertoire of The Royal Ballet after a long absence, meet a countertenor with a passion for break dancing, and talk to Motsi Mabuse, the new judge on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Coming back

Jonathan Gray on the return of a much-loved classic

Coppélia was a mainstay of The Royal Ballet’s repertoire for decades, but somehow, in the last quarter of the 20th century, the company seemed to lose faith in the work. Perhaps it was no longer considered grand enough for Covent Garden, but by the late 1970s it had disappeared altogether until revived by Anthony Dowell, then coming towards the end of his tenure as director of The Royal Ballet, at the beginning of the 21st century. I asked the company’s current director, Kevin O’Hare, why the ballet was returning, and in the place of The Nutcracker, too.

“‘It is a long time since we’ve danced it,” O’Hare acknowledges, “but I’ve wanted to bring Coppélia back for a few years, and I think now is the right time for us to do it. If we can have an alternative to The Nutcracker – although the production we do by Peter Wright is absolutely brilliant – that’s a good thing. If we can also persuade people to come along to something different, that’s great.’”

“Like so many people, Coppélia is a ballet dear to O’Hare’s heart, especially the 1954 staging by Ninette de Valois in witty designs by the cartoonist Osbert Lancaster; for this revival it is being overseen by Christopher Carr. ‘I love this production. I think I saw it first in Hull when I was a kid,’ O’Hare recalls, ‘and it made me realise ballet could be fun.’”

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Freedom of movement

Graham Spicer talks to countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński about his love of break dancing

“I chatted with Orliński two days before his Glyndebourne Festival debut as Handel’s Rinaldo in August. He’d just finished a breaking session in the dance studio of Glyndebourne’s newly-built Production Hub.

“‘Dance came naturally to me. I came to it late because I started breaking when I was 18 or 19, but I was always an active kid and in snowboarding, skateboarding and rollerblading I did a lot of tricks: backflips and sliding down rails. A friend suggested we should try breaking and we went to a class. ’”

He describes the experience as being akin to an enlightenment. ‘It was like finding something you were searching for, even though you didn’t know what it was. The freedom of movement, and the music! I so love music. ’”

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Strictly fabulous

Marianka Swain chats to new Strictly Come Dancing judge Motsi Mabuse

“A dedicated teacher, with her own dance school in Germany, Mabuse appreciates how the learning process is encapsulated on Strictly. ‘That’s the biggest reward for the dancers – getting through to their celebrities and helping them progress. It’s good for your soul. Yes, some people have their limits, but even they make steps forward; it’s just a different percentage to others. Everyone should dance, it’s so important; it should be standard. It’s great for your health – there are studies showing it reduces the chance of developing so many illnesses, as it’s good for your heart and fitness. Plus doing the same thing in the gym every time is boring, but with dancing, you get new routines, new music, and you meet people and have fun.’”

“When it comes to judging those Strictly performances, Mabuse is ‘looking forward to them wowing us! I care about dance steps and technique too, but what gets me really fired up is what I feel when I watch the dance. I hope they excite me.’ The dance style she’s most looking forward to is contemporary: ‘The limits for dancers are a bit wider, they can express themselves more, and it comes with a story. I hope we’ll be able to see what they feel – that’s the number one point. Technique is key too, but you can fix that; being able to show your heart and pass on a message when you dance, that’s magic.’”

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Also in the November issue…

Fátima Nollén concludes her look into dance in Cuba

The Bolshoi Ballet’s Jacopo Tissi is our Dancer of the Month

Northern Ballet’s Pippa Moore talks to Gavin McCaig about her new career

Nicola Rayner interviews new Strictly Come Dancing professional Nancy Xu

Marianka Swain attends Mamma Mia! The Party

David Mead visits Déda, Derby’s centre for dance and circus arts

Paul Arrowsmith meets the Royal Danish Ballet’s Gregory Dean

James Whitehead on swing and sway in the waltz

Sarah Woodcock reviews a new book on Murray’s Cabaret Club

Alison Gallagher-Hughes finds out about the dance contents at Blackpool’s new museum

Simon Selmon hears from swing dance teacher Margaret Batiuchok

Laura Cappelle on new productions at the Paris Opéra

Igor Stupnikov watches Diana Vishneva in Sleeping Beauty Dreams

Jack Anderson sees new works by New York City Ballet

Graham Spicer reviews the Ballet of La Scala, Milan

Debbie Malina looks at bone health for dancers

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Sadler’s Wells 2020 spring season announced, Mark Bruce Company unveils Return To Heaven, London debut of Abay Kazakh State Ballet, changes to The Royal Ballet’s schedule, International Championships at the Royal Albert Hall, Dance at the Barbican, BFI launches BFI Musicals! The Greatest Show on Screen season, David Hallberg joins The Royal Ballet as guest principal

Reviews include The Australian Ballet, Ballet Black, Ballet de Santiago, Ballet Estable del Teatro Colón, Ballet of La Scala, Milan, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Black Box Dance Company, Boy Blue, Dada Masilo, Daniele Cipriani Company, Gary Clarke Company, New York City Ballet, Norwegian National Ballet, Open Heart Surgery, Paris Opéra Ballet, Rosie Kay Dance Company, Rubberband, The Royal Ballet,

The November 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

Simon Oliver has been production editor of Dancing Times since 2010 and is highly experienced in design across print and online magazine production. Throughout his career, Simon has worked on a diverse range of subjects including music, family history, book collecting and poker.

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