Posted on August 26, 2020
Although Dancing Times is able to report this month on recent performances in France and Italy seen by Laura Cappelle and Graham Spicer, it is with a heavy heart that I realise it may be some time before professional ballet and contemporary dance companies are able to return to our theatres and dance venues in the UK. This month, Gerald Dowler talks to a number dance professionals across the country in order to find out how things are progressing. In addition, Nicola Rayner investigates how COVID-19 has affected major ballroom and Latin American dance championships.
On a happier note, we highlight two people who have made significant contributions to dance in this country – English National Ballet’s Jane Haworth and Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Doug Nicholson – as hear from four upcoming young male dancers in the worlds of classical ballet and same-sex dance competitions.
“Both venues and companies are having to think hard about preparing for future performances. At Birmingham Royal Ballet, the dancers were desperate to get back into the studio: ‘Everyone has continued training and keeping fit but there will be a lot of work involved in getting everyone back to the standard we were before,’ says its spokesman; Scottish Ballet developed at ‘Return to Work’ strategy of ‘a 12-week plan which brings the dancers back to performance fitness safely,’ explains [Christopher] Hampson. From Wales, [Darius] James adds a note of caution: ‘Physically it’s hard, but mentally there is going to be a lot of fallout. We [Ballet Cymru] are planning a longer rehearsal period in 2021 if we can afford it. We aim to be a supportive company – we have to stick together.’”
“The choreographer’s adherence to the mantra of a good night out means there is always scope for comedy in his [Silvestrini’s] work, often delivered through spoken text (a link back to his initial performing arts training). Silvestrini is quick to acknowledge that often the humour comes directly from his performers. ‘I don’t particularly search for humour,’ he observed, ‘but during improvisation, I seem to be able to spot its potential, usually in contrasting moments of lightness. Comedy is a powerful tool that allows really important things to be said with a light touch.’”
“Most students and dancers readily accept the pattern of their daily routine – from regular dance classes to the familiar activity involved in preparing for a performance or competition. When the lockdown was put into place this spring, theatres, academies and studios were closed, performances, competitions and tours cancelled; consequently, dancers from all areas of the dance world would have experienced the loss of a sense of structure.
“For many, perhaps the most upsetting aspect of the situation is that under normal circumstances their lives are strongly tied up with those of other students and dancers. Some may be living a long way from their home and regard their particular dance community – albeit school, class or company – as a form of family, and have found it especially difficult to cope without this comforting environment.”
Laura Cappelle and Graham Spicer report back on dance returning to the stage in France and Italy
Deborah Weiss talks to Jane Haworth about her career with English National Ballet
Paul Arrowsmith considers the existential threat to live theatre
Simon Selmon reflects on what five months of lockdown has meant for social dancing
Gavin Larsen concludes her interview with the School of American Ballet’s Susan Pilarre
Nicola Rayner speaks to competitors, teachers and dance promoters about the postponement of this year’s Blackpool Dance Festival and other major competitions
Lee Knights talks to Dr William Li about how we can eat our way to strong immunity
Paul Arrowsmith meets Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Doug Nicholson, a veritable man of the theatre
Igor Stupnikov hears from the Maryinsky Ballet’s Konstantin Zverev
Marianka Swain speaks to new same-sex competitors Dean Thirwell and Orion Russell
Jack Reavely remembers Frank Ford
Margaret Willis interviews our Dancer of the Month, Northern Ballet’s Joseph Taylor
James Whitehead and Phil Meacham offer some tips on technique
Jack Anderson watches some online dance festivals in the US
Jonathan Gray highlights some new releases on DVD and Blu-ray disc
Northern Ballet postpones Merlin, The Royal Ballet’s Doncaster Dances, Strictly Come Dancing, National Youth Ballet, Blackpool Online Festival of Dance, news from Birmingham Royal Ballet and The Royal Ballet, Sadler’s Wells enters consultation process, Michael Clark exhibition coming to the Barbican Centre, Ballet West, Prix de Lausanne 2021, Dance School of the Year Awards, Swindon Dance, Rambert Grades, plus Zizi Jeanmaire and Jelko Yuresha remembered in Obituaries