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November 2020 issue

Posted on October 28, 2020

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This month, we celebrate the return of The Royal Ballet to the stage of the Royal Opera House, find out more about Uprooted, a remarkable new documentary film about jazz dance, ask how safe our dance schools are, and discover how Birmingham Royal Ballet has been preparing to get ready to perform again.

No more snooze button

Graham Watts asks how safe our dance schools are

17 19 Safeguarding Nov20 updated“I encountered a commonly-held perception that safeguarding training is not rigorously applied. It is, for example, difficult to ensure that all visiting staff have been trained appropriately. There is also a view that lack of oversight means safeguarding problems are more acute in the private sector, where the delivery of dance is often subject to ‘old school’ methods justified by such phrases as ‘this is how it has always been done!’ If we are to heed this ‘wake-up call’ it is these outdated belief systems and teaching practices that require the most intervention. Teachers in private dance schools must also be required to carry out regular safeguarding training.

“The role of the parent is crucial for the effective safeguarding of their children, but, as Ruth Mair explained: ‘I’m often appalled when I see children dressed inappropriately [in dance pants and crop tops] in adult open dance classes, gyrating and performing sexualised dance moves; and their parents are nowhere to be seen. The first rule should be age-appropriate classes at all times.’”

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Dance Scene UK

Jonathan Gray reviews the return to the stage of The Royal Ballet

37 39 Dance Scene UK November“It felt very odd going back to Covent Garden that night – there was no fighting your way against a throng of commuters crossing Waterloo Bridge or dodging the tourists who usually flock to theatreland. Arriving at the Royal Opera House, you had to wait in an orderly queue before you were allowed in through the theatre’s doors. Your bag was checked remotely through a Perspex screen, you stood in line for a temperature check, and then you were directed (by chief executive Alex Beard, no less) via a one-way system to your seat. For a theatre that usually holds up to 2,000 people, only 400 audience members were present for the performance (although it was also broadcast to thousands over the internet), so the Opera House never felt crowded or unsafe. In addition, all of the seats in the stalls had been removed so that the orchestra could be safely spaced to play for the performance.

“This arrangement for the musicians proved an entirely unexpected bonus to the evening, as the music, conducted by Jonathan Lo, welled up into the theatre with such visceral force it literally made your body vibrate. Opening with the dramatic (and appropriate) introduction to Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty, as the orchestra played I could feel the tears starting to well up in my eyes, and my heart begin to palpitate – yes, we really were going to experience an evening of live dance in a theatre at last. I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t quite believe it wasn’t all a dream; it really was happening.”

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Blackpool, but not as we know it…

How do you move the world’s oldest and biggest ballroom dance festival online? Nicola Rayner finds out

25 27 Blackpool Nov20updated“Before this, it was only ever World War II that prevented the dance festivals in Blackpool from running, says Michael Williams, managing director of Blackpool Entertainment Company at the Winter Gardens. ‘The coronavirus pandemic is only the second thing that’s stopped them and it has been very tough. Back in March when the pandemic had taken hold of the UK, we had the forthcoming Europeans, the Junior Dance Festival and Blackpool Festival, all scheduled in their usual slots in April, May, running into June. We realised at that stage that clearly those dates were vulnerable, given that we were going into lockdown, so we moved them to September, in the hope, naively as it would appear now, that the pandemic would be over and things will be back to normal. Unfortunately, things haven’t improved.’

“Back in the summer, the team began to look at online options instead – an idea that started, as Williams admits, ‘more as a PR opportunity just to make sure people were still aware of the Blackpool brand… From discussions with a number of dance school teachers and adjudicators, we felt we needed to do something for the dancers – to give them the opportunity to compete.’”

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Also in the November issue…

Marianka Swain talks to Zak Nemorin about a new film on jazz dance

Matthew Paluch considers COVID-19’s impact on dance professionals

Francis Yeoh on the importance of dance notation

Dominic Antonucci describes the process of getting Birmingham Royal Ballet ready to return to the stage

Alison Gallagher-Hughes meets Richard Gleave, ballroom dance royalty

Margaret Willis interviews our Dancer of the Month, English National Ballet’s Victor Prigent

Debbie Malina talks to Dr Nick Allen, clinical director of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Jerwood Centre

Barbara Newman reviews Pippin and The Last Five Years

Laura Cappelle attends dance festivals in Biarritz and Montpellier

Graham Spicer reports on dance in Italy

Simon Selmon considers the challenge of online teaching

James Whitehead shares tips on positioning the body in relation to your partner in ballroom

Graham Watts views a flamenco festival in Seville online

Phil Meacham discusses split weight

Jack Reavely remembers Henry Jacques

Jack Anderson watches dances online in New York

Igor Stupnikov sees the premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s Seven Sonatas in St Petersburg

Marianka Swain discovers the Pink Jukebox Trophy is going online in 2021

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01 Cover Nov20A socially distanced season at Sadler’s Wells, winner of English National Ballet’s Emerging Dancer Award announced, Joffrey Ballet cancels 2020-21 season, Scottish Ballet goes online for the winter, Queens Birthday Honours, new body launched to promote safeguarding in dance school, English National Ballet to bring The Nutcracker to the London Coliseum, Bavarian State Ballet and the Royal Swedish Ballet reviewed, Joanne Nisbet remembered, new John Cranko School opens in Stuttgart, Ballet Central’s new film, Calendar dates for performances in the UK and abroad, we look back to November 1980

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

Jonathan Gray is editor of Dancing Times. He studied at The Royal Ballet School, Leicester Polytechnic, and Wimbledon School of Art where he graduated with a BA Hons in Theatre Design. For 16 years he was a member of the curatorial department of the Theatre Museum, London, assisting on a number of dance-related exhibitions, and helping with the recreation of original designs for a number of The Royal Ballet’s productions including Danses concertantes, Daphnis and Chloë, and The Sleeping Beauty. He has also contributed to the Financial Times, written programme articles for The Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet, and is co-author of the book Unleashing Britain: Theatre gets real 1955-64, published in 2005.

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