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September 2015 issue

Posted on August 26, 2015

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sept-2015-squareThis month, we speak to two star dancers with more strings to their bows. Alessandra Ferri talks about her return to dance, while Johan Kobborg explains how he’s taken on the directorship of the Bucharest National Ballet. Elsewhere, we look at male dancing in a new book and at Birmingham Royal Ballet, find out about Bird College and the Vienna State Opera’s junior company and more…


ferri-grabAlessandra Ferri tells Paul Arrowsmith about her return to dance, and her work with choreographers, including Wayne McGregor and Kenneth MacMillan, who discovered her as a teenager:

“Ferri is clearly drawn to creating new work. ‘With Woolf Works I came not knowing what to expect. I was worried, in fact, because I had seen Wayne’s work,’ she admits. ‘At the beginning, Wayne was searching for what he wanted to express, exploring what to do. I let him do what he wanted, which was to work something out on me. That was nicely collaborative. Really it was a special creative experience.’

“Ferri describes a typical choreographic process: ‘We gathered different movements. Wayne chose what he needed to insert into the different scenes and I coloured them as I felt. He allowed me to do that.’ Asked to compare this experience with working with MacMillan, Ferri says, ‘The main difference is my experience of life. With Kenneth I was raw. I only had instinct and talent. Kenneth had immense experience and was clear what he wanted. He pulled a lot out of people…’”

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 What Johan did next

kobborg grabGraham Watts travels to Romania to meet Johan Kobborg, former Royal Ballet star and now director of the Bucharest National Ballet:

“‘We have fantastic space,’ says Kobborg, directing his gaze to the walls of this vast office, ‘but we had nothing but space: no physio department, no ice machine for injuries. Basic things I took for granted, just weren’t here.

“‘The situation with pointe shoes was horrific,’ he continued. ‘It used to be that dancers would get one pair of pointe shoes per year until, quite some years ago, Alina [Cojocaru, the Romanian-born ballerina] asked Gaynor Minden to give her quota of pointe shoes (for being one of their ‘faces’) to the company, enabling soloists to receive two pairs per season.’ Putting this into perspective, he added: ‘How can you push ballerinas to do better without the pointe shoes to work in! You can’t work harder in shoes that are falling apart…’”

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 Dancing kings

dancing-kings-grabDominic Antonucci looks at the emerging male talent at Birmingham Royal Ballet, speaking to director and choreographer David Bintley about his recent, male-dominated work The King Dances:

“David explains that while the concept for The King Dances was decades in the making, he felt this was the right group of dancers finally to create the piece on. ‘I have this theory that there must have been a fantastic collective spirit, almost a military camaraderie behind the creation of Le Ballet de la Nuit. It was 100 men creating a dance piece together; there must have been a powerful dynamic driving that. I feel this particular group of men at BRB have that. There’s an extraordinary esprit de corps among them. You’ve only got to see them on an opening night with all the man-hugs going around to know that it’s there. It’s wonderful to see. Our men our fiercely competitive but it’s never negative, they’re always rooting for each other and pushing each other.’”


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 Also in the September issue…


Dr Brian Mucci discusses the benefits of medical imaging for dancers

Laura Dodge investigates the success of Bird College

Jenny Veldhuis introduces the Junior Ballet Company of the Vienna State Opera

les danseurs: new dance photographs by Matthew Brookes

Northern Ballet’s Kevin Poeung speaks to Margaret Willis

Paul Arrowsmith wonders how to balance old and new works in the repertoire

Debbie Malina looks at issues around self-harm

Zoë Anderson looks at Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo – and the ballets they fondly parody

Plus news of Sergei Filin, Rupert Pennefather, Dance UK’s Healthier Dancer conference, Aakash Odedra, NDCWales, Corey Baker Dance and Christopher Hampson; reviews of New Adventures’ The Car Man, Ardani 25 Dance Gala with Natalia Osipova, Ivan Vasiliev, Marcelo Gomes and Edward Watson, Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández, New Art Club’s Hercules, Queensland Ballet’s La Sylphide, Balé de Rua’s Baila Brazil, St Petersburg Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake with Irina Kolesnikova, Denis Rodkin, Natalia Matsak and Kimin Kim, Ballet Preljocaj’s Return to Berrathem, young talent at the Mikhailovsky Ballet, Jessica Lang and Daniel Ulbricht’s Stars of American Ballet at Jacob’s Pillow; reviews of Richard Glasstone’s autobiography and Lyndsey Winship’s Being a Dancer; an obituary of Jonathan Ollivier; dance education news, including reports of Hammond School, Tring Park School, London Contemporary Dance School, Rambert School, Gielgud Academy of Performing Arts and The Royal Ballet School; and more!

The September issue is now in stores – 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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