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September 2017 issue

Posted on September 4, 2017

sept slideshow

September 2017 issue

New season, new beginnings! We look ahead to the dance events of autumn, including the return of Strictly Come Dancing, Ben Duke’s new work for Rambert and ballerina Svetlana Lunkina on her new life in Canada…







Life after the Bolshoi

Margaret Willis meets former Bolshoi ballerina Svetlana Lunkina

“Then, around the same time as the attack on [Bolshoi director] Sergei Filin – though unconnected – came the shock and horror of a scandal that involved her husband and threatened not only Svetlana’s career as a ballerina, but made her fearful for her own safety. [Her husband, entrepreneur Vladislav] Moskalyev was accused of owing $4 million to a business partner when a joint project – a film about the Imperial Russian ballerina Mathilde Kchessinska – fell through, and now ‘heavies’ were leaning on him.

“‘I was afraid for my life. It was a nightmare,’ Lunkina began when we met after her rehearsal. ‘I couldn’t face anything about ballet at all, and couldn’t see a future for myself. It was like a black hole. The situation had nothing to do with what was happening at the Bolshoi, though it was around the same time… I started receiving menacing calls asking me when I was coming back [to Russia], and I feared I would be in danger if I returned to Moscow…’”

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Judgement time

As Shirley Ballas joins the Strictly Come Dancing panel, Marianka Swain delves into the world of ballroom judging

“One of the joys of Strictly Come Dancing is that, come Saturday night, an entire nation feels empowered to judge ballroom. ‘You call that a six?’ ‘I can’t believe that didn’t get a ten!’ And it’s not just scoring… you’ll find furious discussion about the couples’ relative foot action, arm placement and chemistry.

“Of course, spectators have the luxury of lengthy discussion, and of passing comment in relative obscurity. The Strictly judges must make their decisions in a limited amount of time, both selecting a score and expressing a pithy, TV-ready opinion – all in front of millions of viewers.

“Adjudicators in the regular ballroom world aren’t on display in the same way, but they still have to make important decisions very quickly. Rather than watching just one couple and scoring them, they’re making speedy assessments of several at once, whittling down multiple heats…”

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Willing to show

Ben Duke tells Zoe Anderson about his new work for Rambert, and how it was shaped by the events of this summer

“Duke is both articulate and unpolished, ready to follow a train of thought or to stop and question it. ‘The idea of the studio, and what you leave outside. I think a lot of dance training encourages the idea that you leave it outside, you do your thing, and then you pick it all up again as you go out. We started rehearsals on June 5, the day after the Borough Market attack. We spent an hour in the morning talking about that, and I realise that’s had a huge impact on the piece we’ve ended up creating…

“‘In [his award-winning solo work] Paradise Lost, I’d been playing with this idea of bringing my own stuff into the room. It’s one thing to do by myself, it’s another thing to encourage a room of 18 dancers to do that. They felt overwhelmed by the weight and the sadness, so there’s been a moving towards that and a retreating, as we go. How do we turn this into something that we can manage, that we can bear without collapsing into a huge heap?’”

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Also in the September issue…

Gala for Grenfell Photographs by Elliott Franks of the gala raising money for those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire

Rambert’s Stephen Quildan is our Dancer of the Month

Chagall on stage: Jonathan Gray introduces a new exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Talking point: Shobana Jeyasingh on her response to Marius Petipa’s La Bayadère

Building a successful dance school Sarah Gittins offers business advice for teachers

Somewhat elevated: Nicola Rayner speaks to exhibition dancers Micheline Marmol and Gerhard Van Rooyen about hair-raising lifts and vanishing shirts

Jenny Veldhuis reports on performance opportunities for students of Berlin’s State Ballet School

In our final excerpt from Nadia Nerina’s memoirs, the ballerina describes her decision to stop dancing

Tamás Solymosi, director of Hungarian National Ballet, speaks to Graham Watts

Debbie Malina marks the fifth anniversary of the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science

Same-sex dance: Marianka Swain reports on the first Bright Diversity Games Same Sex Dance Championships

Tips on technique: James Whitehead on improving your hold

Our dance doctor, Phil Meacham, asks readers to use their heads – that is, their head weight

Simon’s guide to swing: introducing Athens swing dancer Mariangela Salichou

Lee Knights reports on a new salsa festival in Plymouth

Jack Reavely on ballroom legend Glenn Boyce, and a memorable correspondence

Obituary of sculptor Nathan David

Last dance: our archive page looks back at Baryshnikov with American Ballet Theatre in London, an Imperial Society Congress and Phillida’s views on jewellery for the ballroom

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Plus reviews of Trajal Harrell’s Hoochie Koochie, Kokoro Dance, Tanguera, Chrysalis London in Lilith, English National Ballet in Romeo and Juliet, Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company in Flamencura, Tero Saarinen Company, Julie Cunningham and Company

International reviews of the a 50th anniversary Jewels with New York City Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet and the Paris Opéra Ballet, the Vaganova Academy’s 275th graduation performance, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo in new works by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Jeroen Verbruggen, dance at the Avignon Festival, National Ballet of Canada’s A Streetcar Named Desire, Stuttgart Ballet in Don Quixote and Death in Venice, Colours Dance Festival in Stuttgart

News of Acosta Danza, Strictly Come Dancing, results from the UK Closed Competition in Bournemouth, dance and dementia, the Rural Touring Dance Initiative and more

Education news of Dance School of the Year 2017, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Northern Ballet School, The Gielgud Academy, Tring Park School, Yorkshire Ballet Summer School, Performers College and The Royal Ballet School


The September 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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