Posted on August 26, 2021
With the summer coming to an end, we start to think about the new autumn dance season, with theatres and companies reopening right across the country. In this month’s Dancing Times, we take the focus away from London for a closer look at Birmingham, the UK’s second city, which has a distinct dance scene all of its own. Gerald Dowler talks to both Carlos Acosta and Caroline Miller of Birmingham Royal Ballet to find out their plans for the company. In addition, David Mead interviews choreographer Rosie Kay about her new, Birmingham-based version of Romeo and Juliet which opens at Birmingham Hippodrome on September 8. We also travel to Glasgow, via Hollywood and Paris, to learn more about Scottish Ballet’s revival of a work by the great Gene Kelly, and then on to Leamington Spa in Talking Point to hear from Motionhouse’s Kevin Finnan about the company’s new work, Nobody.
Like many of our readers, I will be returning to my adult dance class later this month. As normal life appears to be resuming again, from next month we are planning the return of our extensive UK dance class listings. If you would like us to include your school, or for us to update any previous listings from before the pandemic, please let us know by emailing email@example.com.
“Who would have thought when I started work on Nobody that the premise of the show – to explore the tension between our inner lives and what we present to others – would be thrown into such sharp relief due to a global pandemic.
When COVID-19 hit in March 2020 I’d just started work on making Nobody, and our creation period came to an abrupt halt along with the rest of the world. In retrospect, this unexpected hiatus in the show’s creation has enriched it, completely changing the direction of the production, but at the time it was a daunting situation: how could I create a new production with no access to our dancers and the other collaborators – set designer, composers and filmmakers for the projections? We suddenly had no idea when the show would premiere and when theatres would reopen.”
“Bourne and his company are thrilled to be back in the studio. ‘The thing that I’ve worried about mostly, during this time, is the dancers and the crew and everyone who works for me. They’ve been unemployed for so long, so many of them, which has been very sad. One of the dancers had to give in their notice at Tesco to come and work on this show – they were doing night shifts to earn some money. They’re all freelancers – everyone who works for me is – even though some of them have been with me, as I say, for more than 20 years. That goes for the backstage crew too, but it’s been joyful to be back; it’s lovely to see the looks on their faces and their pleasure at being back with each other, with real human beings.’
“How much did our experience of lockdown and physical isolation feed into The Midnight Bell? ‘In a way it has possibly become more resonant,’ Bourne muses. ‘I usually have an idea quite a long time before [a project], though I suppose I hit on this during lockdown, because I was still pursuing a different idea for a while. So yes, it may have had something to do with it. I didn’t feel particularly lonely myself, but I think some people did. It certainly resonated, that idea of connecting with people, which we couldn’t do for a while. It’s all about finding someone to try to connect with deeply; it’s about finding relationships. I guess that became more relevant as we went along, and it seems more relevant now, coming out of this.’”
“Having relinquished a childhood desire to be a professional baseball player and then dropping out of law school, [Gene] Kelly managed his family’s Pittsburgh dance school in the 1930s. His influential ballet teacher was Berenice Holmes, who had been the original Polyhymnia at the premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s Apollon musagète, choreographed and danced by Adolph Bolm, in 1928 (two months before George Balanchine’s choreography opened in Paris).
“‘It was seeing the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo perform Les Sylphides in Pittsburgh that convinced Gene he had to go to New York to further his career as a choreographer,’ Patricia revealed. ‘He saw that there was something bigger and he had to go and find it. Gene actually auditioned for the company and was offered a place in the corps de ballet, which he turned down because of the pay.’”
Gerald Dowler talks to Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Carlos Acosta and Caroline Miller
David Mead interviews choreographer Rosie Kay about her new version of Romeo and Juliet
Jack Reavely remembers some ballroom legends
Matthew Paluch catches up with ballerina Maria Kochetkova, who returns to dance with English National Ballet this season
Deborah Weiss discovers what has been happening at English National Ballet School since the start of the pandemic
Karen Berry thinks attitude, not aptitude, will determine altitude
Simon Selmon looks at what’s on the horizon of the social dance world
Igor Stupnikov attends the Stars of the White Nights Festival in St Petersburg
Alison Gallagher-Hughes investigates the operation behind the competitive ballroom world
Barbara Newman reviews Anything Goes and Carousel
Pete Meager explores what’s in store for equality dancing in the coming months
Margaret Willis interviews The Royal Ballet’s Téo Dubreuil
Phil Meacham asks what has happened to the hold?
Laura Cappelle sees dance at festivals in Paris and Avignon
Debbie Malina considers why dancers should take a balanced approach when returning to their usual level of activity after lockdown
James Whitehead looks at the double reverse in the waltz
Ukrainian Ballet Gala at Sadler’s Wells, new season at The Place, London Ballet Circle celebrates 75 years, The 7 Fingers to tour the UK, Dance Umbrella 2021 announced, Athelhampton Ballet Charity Gala, No Time Like The Present research-and-development project, English National Ballet announces casting for Akram Khan’s Creature, celebrity line-up for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing revealed, New Arts Club in Cupid’s Revenge, James Cousins Company at Battersea Arts Centre, Fallen Angels Dance Theatre; reviews of live performances in Dance Scene International from the Milton Keynes International Festival, National Youth Dance Company, Singin’ in the Rain at Sadler’s Wells; Philip Chatfield, Eve Pettinger and Patricia Wilde remembered in Obituaries; New books and DVDs; New things to try in Products; Gielgud Academy of Performing Arts, Dance School of the Year 2021, Ballet Central end-of-year show reviewed, YDance, Ballet Associates, Anita Young leaves The Royal Ballet School; calendar dates for performances in the UK and abroad; we look back to September 1981