UK, dancer, dancers, Birmingham Royal Ballet, The Royal Ballet, Tamara Rojo, artistic director, Frederick Ashton, Elroy Josephz, George Balanchine, English National Ballet, London, Andonis Foniadakis, Gene Goodman, Pearl Primus, Aakash Odedra, John Ringling, Ballet Across America, Martin Sutherland, Corn Exchange Tel, Faye Huddleston, Strictly Come Dancing, ballet company, Covent Garden Royal Ballet companies, Civil Service Club, The abomination, Symphony Hall Tel, Ballet Theatre, Royal Opera House Tel, Congress Theatre Tel, Katherine Dunham, Eddy Toussaint, African Americans, Graham Watts, Steven McRae, The Ballet Association, English National Ballet School, Royal Academy of Dance, principal dancer, Arsenije Jovanovic, White Lodge, London Ballet Circle, Dame Monica Mason, Andrej Uspenski, Highness Prince Phillip, Nacho Duato, Centre Andrej Uspenski, Mikhailovsky Ballet, Vitor Menezes, English National Ballet Guilherme Menezes, Frank Freeman Summer School Scholarship, Palace Theatre, White Lodge Museum, John Talabot, White Lodge, Richmond Park, Ballet Resource Centre, National Ballet, Darcey Bussell, Sarasota Ballet, Jenna Russell, Incognito Dance, Richard Fleeshman, Wizard Video Productions Limited MEDIA, Livio Salvi, Bavarian State Ballet, State Ballet, Junior Company, Royal Ballet, Konstanze Vernon, contemporary dance, Johan Persson, dance teachers, Clerkenwell Green London EC1R 0EB, Anderson Alexander Whitley, Advertising Department Dancing Times Limited, Urdang Academy, Alexander Whitley, St James Theatre, Sisco Gomez, The Scottsboro Boys, Danielle Allan, city of Munich, Munich, Iain Webb, Ivan Blackstock, Margaret Barbieri, John Moores University, Anton Du Beke, North America, Beck Theatre Tel, Blake Theatre Tel, transatlantic slavery, London Olympia, African countries, social dancing, ballet dancers, Royal Ballet School, Heinz Bosl Foundation, Munich Junior Ballet, Alexandra Stewart, Allegro Brillante, Frankie Manning, African slaves, Jan Broeckx, company members, Linbury Studio Theatre
MEDIA PACK www.dancing-times.co.uk [email protected]
All the most important dance news Vintage Fonteyn and Symphonic Variations footage rediscovered
A BBC SEASON OF BALLET on television will include recently discovered footage of Margot Fonteyn in The Sleeping Beauty and the original cast in rehearsals for Frederick Ashton's Symphonic Variations. The season, which runs from March 1 to 9 on BBC Two and BBC Four, will also include documentaries with Darcey Bussell and Tamara Rojo. Fonteyn '59: Sleeping Beauty, scheduled for March 7 on BBC Four, is an hour of highlights from The Sleeping Beauty, a studio recording first shown in 1959. Footage of Act II, believed lost, was recently rediscovered, mislabelled in the BBC archives. Starring Fonteyn and Michael Somes, highlights will be shown on television, with the full 95-minute film available online. David Bintley presents Dancing In The Blitz: How WW2 Made British Ballet, to
be shown on BBC Four on March 5. The documentary
Margot Fonteyn and Michael Somes in the "Awakening Scene" of the BBC's 1959 production of e Sleeping Beauty. tells the story of the Sadler's Wells Ballet in wartime, including rare archive footage and interviews with Gillian Lynne, Beryl Grey and Henry Danton. During his interview, Danton remembered that an amateur cameraman had filmed rehearsals for Symphonic Variations. Archivists at the British Film Institute have now discovered the colour footage, which will be shown
for the first time in 60 years. In Darcey's Ballerina Heroines, on BBC Two on March 1, Bussell explores the history of the ballerina, from Marie Sallй to the present. Good Swan, Bad Swan: Dancing Swan Lake, on BBC Four on March 9, shows Tamara Rojo preparing to dance Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, including rehearsals, a performance, interviews and specially filmed workshops. Programme schedules may change check listings guides to confirm transmission times.
Dance and aesthetic sports conference
DANCERS, ICE SKATERS, gymnasts and divers
share common ground
, needing athletic strength
and aesthetic skill. Dance UK and the Royal
Society of Medicine will hold a major conference,
Aesthetic athletes and dancers: training and
optimising performance in London on April 7.
Building on lessons learned at the London
2012 Olympics, this will be the first conference
to bring dancers and aesthetic athletes together
to discuss performance and training methods.
It will include international teachers, coaches, athletes, dancers, researchers and medical health specialists, sharing knowledge and expertise.
Ko Aidoo Appiah of Tring Park School for the Performing Arts.
The speakers include rhythmic gymnastics
coach and judge Vicki Hawkins, diving
physiotherapist Gareth Ziyambi, gymnastics nutritionist Mhairi Keil, Nick Allen
of Birmingham Royal Ballet's Jerwood Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of
Dance Injuries, psychiatrist and eating disorder specialist Jon Arcelus and Matthew
Wyon, leader of the MSc in Dance Science at the University of Wolverhampton.
Topics will include strength and conditioning, body composition, nutrition, core
stability, hyper-mobility, bone health and the prevention of disordered eating.
The conference will be held at the Royal Society
of Medicine. Tickets are priced from
Ј30 to Ј110, with early bird discounts available until March 10. See rsm.ac.uk/academ/
spe04.php for tickets. See also Dance UK's website, danceuk.org.
Photographs: Top Courtesy of the BBC. Bottom Brian O' Carroll.
WWW.DANCING-TIMES.CO.UK · MARCH 2014 · 7
News in brief Xander Parish, the first British dancer to join the Maryinsky Ballet, makes his debut as Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake on March 1, with further performances this season. The Maryinsky danced the company premiere of Wayne McGregor's Infra on February 24. Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre will tour the UK from April 1 to May 3 with a Stravinsky double bill. This is the first time Michael KeeganDolan's productions of The Rite of Spring and Petrushka have toured the UK. See Calendar. Errol White Company has launched Evolve, Scotland's first paid dancer apprenticeship programme, aiming to improve standards among young professional dancers in Scotland. See errolwhitecompany.com for details, and Calendar for spring tour dates. Ј441 million of National Lottery funding
went to arts projects in the last financial year, with 6,052 grants going to arts groups. This year's National Lottery Awards celebrate funded projects to enter a project, see nationallotteryawards.org. uk or call 020 7293 3599. Tap Factory's UK tour continues this month, with performances across the country. The show features hip hop, comedy and aerial acrobatics as well as tap dancing. See tapfactory.com for more information.
English National Ballet's Emerging Dancers Junor Souza as Ali in Le Corsaire.
ENGLISH NATIONAL BALLET HAS announced the finalists for this year's Emerging Dancer Competition. Now in its fifth year, the competition is an annual opportunity for the company to recognise the talent of its up-and-coming dancers. The finalists for 2014 are Madison Keesler, Senri Kou, Alison McWhinney, Ken
Saruhashi, Junor Souza and Joan Sebastian Zamora. Throughout the year, English National Ballet's artistic, music and administrative staff, along with its principal dancers, have been voting for their favourite emerging dancer. Tickets are now on sale for the final of the competition, which will be held at London's Lyceum Theatre on
May 19. The six dancers will perform in front of a panel of judges. The winner will be announced at the end of the evening, along with the winner of the People's Choice Award, which is voted for by members of the public. This year's final will be directed by English National Ballet's associate artist George Williamson. The competition is generously supported by restructuring experts Talbot Hughes McKillop. The winner receives Ј2,500, the People's Choice award-winner receives Ј1,000 and all nominees receive Ј500. Call 0844 871 3000 or see ballet.org.uk for tickets.
Dance on film at The Lowry and the BFI DANCE MOVES FROM THE stage to the screen this spring, with a new exhibition at The Lowry and post-punk dancing at the BFI. In the Frame: Dance on Film at The Lowry celebrates work created especially for the camera, with work by choreographers, dance companies and visual artists. Running at The Lowry, Salford, from March 8 to June 29, In the Frame includes screenings of All This Can Happen, the first film by choreographer Siobhan Davies, and Happy to be So, a 2009 documentary about Oleg Briansky and Mireille Briane, former principal dancers and now international teachers, who have been a couple for more than 50 years. New York City Ballet presents New Beginnings, a performance of Christopher
Wheeldon's After the Rain danced on the 57th floor of The World Trade Centre, rebuilt on the site damaged by the September 11 attacks
. The film was recorded at sunrise on September 12, 2013. The exhibition also features two films by Rashaad Newsome exploring voguing, the dance style developed in New York's gay ballroom scene. Universal Everything is a digital film created by art collective Universal Everything and choreographer Benjamin Millepied. Admission is free. Call 0843 208 6005 or see thelowry.com for details. In London, BFI Southbank's season This is Now: Film and Video After Punk explores post-punk works. The season launches on April 4 with a live performance by 23 Skidoo, set against a film collage by Richard Heslop, including footage of dancer Michael Clark
and performer Leigh Bowery. Call 020 7928 3232 or see bfi.org.uk/southbank for details. Oleg Briansky and Mireille Briane in Happy to be So.
8 · DANCING TIMES
Photograph: Top ASH. Bottom Courtesy of e Lowry, Salford.
Dance Matters - March.indd 7
20/02/2014 12:14 Dance_Matters.indd 8
A PAGE TURNING CAREER As Ashley Page creates his latest full-length ballet in Vienna, the choreographer talks to Paul Arrowsmith
T he overdose of Viennese confectionary that heralds each new year has been less saccharine this past couple of Januaries thanks to Ashley Page's typically witty dances. He is back in the Austrian capital next month to unveil Ein Reigen, his take on Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde. A bold choice. Glen Tetley's ballet of the same sexual hokey cokey did not add lustre to his reputation. Page's first professional work at The Royal Ballet was 30 years ago this summer. Riding the popular wave of Peter Greenaway's film The Draughtsman's Contract and a score by Michael Nyman, the presciently titled A Broken Set of Rules was the product of Norman Morrice's enlightened encouragement of
emerging choreographers. It was seen as a latter-day Symphonic Variations. Some debut but the ballet was performed only a handful of times. The winner of the first Frederick Ashton Choreographic Award, Page was frequently cast by Kenneth MacMillan. He experienced the creative process first hand in Gloria, Isadora and Valley of Shadows. In Orpheus, as rival angels, Page and Wayne Eagling grappled for the soul of Peter Schaufuss. Page flexed his contemporary muscles at Rambert and for Dance Umbrella but the expectation was that The Royal Ballet had found its next choreographer. Cheating, Lying, Stealing brought a non-dance audience at the Barbican to its feet during the company's wilderness
Clockwise from top right Ashley Page; dancers of the Vienna State Ballet in costumes designed by Vivienne Westwood for the TV broadcast of the 2014 New Year's Day Concert from Vienna; Ketevan Papava and Eno Peci in rehearsal for Ein Reigen. years away from the Royal Opera House during its redevelopment. Yet after a 27-year performing career with The Royal Ballet and with 18 created works for them, Page was passed over as the company's next director. Audiences were no longer so indulgent of the latest "New Ashley Page." Provocatively titled, This House Will Burn was Page's farewell to Covent Garden, but it was the ballet that was quickly junked. Page was noticeably absent from the roster during Monica Mason's subsequent decade at the helm.
Photographs: Ewa Krasucka; ORF/Gьnther Pichlkostner; Wiener Staatsballett/Barbara Pбlffy.
WWW.DANCING-TIMES.CO.UK · MARCH 2014 · 29
Ashley Page - March.indd 29
Post to e Editor, Dancing Times, 45-47 Cler enwell Green, London, EC1 0EB, or email [email protected]
Star Letter Dear Editor I do so agree with Gerald Dowler's article on audience behaviour. What does one do if the offending person is a "personality"? I've experienced a very famous actor texting throughout a ballet, and a TV presenter repeatedly talking to his companion. Another bugbear is the women who can't seem to stop playing with their hair. A young ballet-goer told me that she would never return to the Royal Opera House as, on her visit, she was terrified that the camera phones constantly flashing before the performance might trigger an epileptic attack. I would have thought that this was a serious health and safety concern, but the staff didn't seem bothered. Yours sincerely, Robert Iles Salisbury Each month the author of our Star Letter will win a year's subscription or an extension to a current subscription
Natalia Osipova Dear Editor I'm sure that I will not be the only person writing to you to release the joy in my heart following Natalia Osipova and Carlos Acosta's performance in Giselle on January 27, but this joy is overwhelming and just keeps resurfacing. So, Natalia Osipova, thank you indeed. We have all known about her bounding, bouncing, boundless and whirling technical brilliance and the joie de vivre that she infuses her every performance; this combination has already set her apart from other leading names. But I was just not expecting such a revealing, testing, visceral and human interpretation of what is usually a highly stylised role for a principal dancer. Somehow, she broke and re-shaped the boundaries whilst being true to the style. She really was the beautiful young girl who just wanted to live
life to the full for as long as her weak heart permitted her to; she really was the corpse spirit struggling to stay in this world to save her one true love, to defy the odds and give him the chance to seek atonement. I have never seen anything like it; the closest I've seen was Irek Mukhamedov's explosion into our consciousness as a completely human, and vulnerable, Spartacus. Natalia Osipova clearly thought very deeply about her interpretation, how to re-imagine the steps and shapes, so that we could recognise their humanity. As Sir Peter Wright said in interview before the live cinema broadcast on January 27, she makes ballet look totally natural; I'd go further and say that she makes ballet look incidental, easy, so totally in command is she of her technique and character. We are very, very lucky to be witnessing and experiencing,
not just watching, Natalia Osipova's comet soaring through the ballet sky, casting a life-affirming light. So we all need to sit up at the back of class and pay attention. Just like Jimi Hendrix's arrival on the guitar scene forced all others before him to shove down the bench a little to make space for him at the top, so is this happening in ballet. We must enjoy the fact that ballet is being redefined before our very eyes, its magic is being humanised and infused with real soul, at last. I'm not sure we'll see her like again so we should enjoy this new, Osipova era to the full. Finally, thank you too Carlos Acosta; it takes two to tango, you were clearly her perfect Albrecht. Yours sincerely, Paul Sinnadurai Brecon Ebor Morris Dear Editor Forty years ago, on May 1, 1974, the newly-formed Ebor Morris danced in public for the first time outside the Lord Collingwood pub in Upper Poppleton (pictured below).
On May 1 this year, after 40 enjoyable years dancing Cotswold and Yorkshire Longsword dances, locally, nationally and internationally, the current members (including some of the original dancers) will dance at the Lord Collingwood again from 8pm. Everyone is welcome. Then, on Sunday, May 4, they will also be dancing at places around the Bar Walls on their annual "Walls Tour" starting at 11am at Walmgate Bar and then to Monk Bar, Bootham Bar and onwards! The group would like to reunite with any former dancers and musicians who can come and help celebrate the anniversary. Former members, or anyone who would like to join, can email [email protected]
Anyone who would like further information about Ebor Morris, or danceouts including the York Traditional Dance Festival taking place on September 6 and 7, please email or visit the website ebormorris.org. uk. Yours sincerely, Paul Sanderson Ebor Morris
Letters must be accompanied by a full name and address although this may be withheld on request. Letters may be edited. Anonymous letters can never be considered.
10 · DANCING TIMES
Photograph: courtesy of Ebor Morris.
Letters - March.indd 10
Bill Harpe considers dance and slavery
Liverpool's International Slavery Museum is currently hosting British Dance: Black Routes, open until March 23. This exhibition draws upon the findings of the British Dance and the African Diaspora
Research Project, during which memories of black British dancers involved in the artform from the 1970s onwards were explored. The research project was led by Christy Adair, professor of Dance Studies at York St John University, and Ramsey Burt, professor of Dance History at De Montfort University. It is appropriate that the exhibition is hosted in Liverpool, as it was the world's leading slave port at the height of four centuries of transatlantic slavery. However, in the literature associated with the exhibition circulated for the seminar held at the Royal Festival Hall on January 16, where the findings of the research project were discussed little or no importance is given to the issue of slavery. This viewpoint is expressed in the exhibition catalogue
by Adair and Burt: "This socio-political context
makes the work of British-based dancers who are Black different from the work of Black dancers in the United States. Books about African American
dance often position slavery and
the chain gang as a point of origin... The abomination of slavery is not a key reference point for British dancers who came from African countries
that were until the 1950's and 1960's British colonies." It is not a viewpoint that is shared by Elroy Josephz, who, having travelled from Jamaica, made his home in the UK, becoming in 1979 the first lecturer in AfricanCaribbean dance at what is now Liverpool's John Moores University. As the museum catalogue makes clear, "central to his work was his understanding of the historical importance of transatlantic slavery and its legacies". It's a view that is also shared by such established practitioners as Beverley Glean, artistic director of IRIE! Dance Theatre, and such emerging practitioners as Ivan Blackstock of hip hop ensemble BirdGang. When it comes to the historical importance of slavery in relation to dance, surely Elroy, Beverley, and Ivan have got it right. For, whatever the issues relating to legacies that must be addressed, the greatest contributions to social and professional dancing in the 20th and 21st centuries in North America
and the UK have come to us from African slaves. We owe the creation of the Cakewalk, Charleston, and Black Bottom, and later the Lindy Hop, to thoseAfrican Americans
who were descendants of slaves and former slaves. Through these dances, which swept through North America and Britain from the 1920s, the framework of social dancing changed. A low centre of gravity was embraced, the whole body was in motion, and improvisation was expected. Lindy Hop maestro Frankie Manning led the way, "dancing at a sharp angle to the ground like a track runner, instead of the upright, stiff ballroom position". That dancing attitude, which was something of a revelation to Frankie Manning himself, came as a bequest from African slaves. It's a bequest that continues today in social dancing around the world, and which benefits today's hip hop generation. Professional dancing, on stage and screen in North America and the UK is similarly indebted to African slaves. The community of African-American dancers, including such luminaries as Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, the Nicholas Brothers, Pearl Primus and Katherine Dunham
, have (with support from subsequent generations) turned around much of the way in which
professional dancing and training is undertaken in North America and Britain. There remains, of course, a legacy of pain as well as achievement. Elroy Josephz describes the dancing we inherited from African slaves as originally "either a release or a cry for help". Peter Blackman, founder of British-based dance and music group Steel An' Skin, describes a legacy of slavery as "inappropriate behaviour" today, deriving from inherited habits and attitudes that were acquired to survive 400 years of oppression. It's amazing to remember that when slavery was abolished, British slave owners
received over Ј20 million in compensation while the slaves received no compensation at all. Yet, just imagine, if the rich dancing (and musical) bequest of African slaves were to be costed today in financial terms and then reimbursed... For whilst this would not constitute direct compensation (still being sought by some countries) it would surely serve in one go to pay off the whole of the "third world's" so-called "debt", including Africa's. n
"Professional dancing, on stage and screen, is indebted to African slaves"
HAVE YOUR SAY: We should very much like to hear your views on the subjects discussed here, on any of our other articles or reviews, or indeed on anything else dance-related that you feel strongly about. Please email [email protected]
or post your letters to the address on page 4. Please note: the opinions expressed in this column are the author's own and are not necessarily shared by Dancing Times. 12 · DANCING TIMES
Talking Point - March.indd 12
ASHTON IN SARASOTA See Frederick Ashton's ballets. Get a tan. Combining those two pastimes is rarely possible in London, but, writes Leigh Witchel, you can do it in Sarasota, Florida
T he Sarasota Ballet will be presenting an Ashton Festival from April 30 to May 3 featuring 11 of the master's works. The monumental undertaking came about through the dedication and hard work of the company's artistic director Iain Webb. Wiry and puckish, what shines through in conversation is that he's mad about ballet, its history and Sir Frederick Ashton. "There are things as a director you want to do and things you have to do this is something I needed to do. This festival is about Sir Fred, his ballets and the man behind them." A former dancer with both the Sadler's Wells and Covent Garden Royal Ballet companies, Webb, with the help of his wife, former ballerina Margaret Barbieri, has spent the last seven years building an outpost for British ballet in the Sunshine State. A small city on the gulf coast, Sarasota was planned a century ago by circus magnate John Ringling as a resort community and a magnet for the arts. A city just breaking 50,000 people boasts a ballet company 45 dancers strong as well as a nationally known opera company, an orchestra and several theatre groups. The ballet company was founded in 1987 as a presenting organisation; it became a performing company three years later and past directors have included Eddy Toussaint and Robert de Warren. But Webb is pushing the company from being a regional troupe to one with national recognition. Several of Webb's principals have been with the company since he arrived in 2007, and have developed with him. The secret lies almost entirely in the repertory. The first pair of ballets in Webb's tenure set the tone: George Balanchine
's Allegro Brillante is standard fare for US regional companies; popular with audiences and good for dancers. With it, Webb partnered Ashton's The Two Pigeons, a masterwork infrequently seen on these shores.
Amy Wood as Sacred Love in Ashton's Illuminations. The choice was practical. Barbieri had a strong relationship with Ashton and the ballet; she was the first dancer to perform both of the female leads, the Young Girl and the Gypsy. Webb and Barbieri had just staged the work in Japan, but Webb was also laying the ground for the future. "We knew staging it would have us in the studio all the time and the dancers would know what they were in for." The ballet stretched the company to the limit one injured dancer would have been a nightmare. But it showed the audience as well what they were in for top-notch dances by Ashton, Balanchine, Antony Tudor and Paul Taylor as well as beloved bits of the British repertory, Ninette de Valois'
Checkmate or John Cranko's Pineapple Poll that were not standard in the US, and set the company apart. It vaulted into the national arena last year when invited to participate in the Ballet Across America showcase at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Seizing the opportunity, Webb brought his A-game to the capital. He cast Les Patineurs with his top dancers, Barbieri scrupulously drilled it, and the snow globe of a ballet was pronounced the gem of the season. I n the last few years, Webb has stepped up the presentation of Ashton works, with Valse Nobles et Sentimentales, Monotones I and II, Symphonic Variations and Birthday Offering as well as La
Photograph: Frank Atura.
WWW.DANCING-TIMES.CO.UK · MARCH 2014 · 45
Ashton Festival - March.indd 45
Dates for your diary
These listings are made as comprehensive as possible but inclusion does not necessarily mean recommendation. Copy deadline for possible entries is always the 1st of the preceding month. Please send to [email protected]
or post to the usual address. Entry subject to space available.
Inclusion of dates is dependent upon information received. In addition, we have details of some advance programmes from overseas/UK companies and UK tours. For more details (subject to availability) email as above or call 020 7250 3006. All programmes, casts and information subject to change
UNITED KINGDOM Companies Aakash Odedra Company www.aakashodedra.com Tour of Rising, featuring new works by Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Russell Maliphant MARCH 6: LONDON, Artsdepot Tel: 020 8369 5454 Anton Du Beke Ballroom to Broadway www.raymondgubbay.co.uk Anton Du Beke partners Summer Strallen, with ensemble dancers including Faye Huddleston and music from the Raymond Gubbay Big Band and singer Lance Ellington. MARCH 1M&E: MANCHESTER, Bridgewater Hall Tel: 0161 907 9000 2M&E: GATESHEAD, The Sage Tel: 0191 443 4661 6M: EASTBOURNE, Congress Theatre Tel: 01323 412 000 8: READING, The Hexagon Tel: 0118 960 6060 9M: BIRMINGHAM, Symphony Hall Tel: 0121 345 0603 12: WATFORD COLOSSEUM Tel: 0845 075 3993 14: DERBY, Assembly Rooms Tel: 01332 255 800 15M&E: YORK, Barbican Tel: 0844 854 2757 28: CROYDON, Fairfield Halls Tel: 020 8688 9291 29: PORTSMOUTH, Guild Hall Tel: 0844 847 2362 30M: Milton Keynes
THEATRE Tel: 0844 871 7652 Ballet Black www.balletblack.co.uk Tour of A Dream Within a Midsummer Night's Dream (ch: Pita), new Lawrance work, new Marney work MARCH 1-4: LONDON, Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House Tel: 020 7304 4000 APRIL 14-15: CAMBRIDGE ARTS THEATRE Tel: 01223 503 333 MAY 1: GUILDFORD, G-Live Tel: 0844 770 1797 27-28: EXETER NORTHCOTT THEATRE Tel: 01392 493 493 BalletLORENT www.balletLORENT.com Tour of The Night Ball (ch: Lorent) MARCH 3-4: OXFORD TOWN HALL Tel: 01865 305 305
Ballet Theatre UK www.BalletTheatre-UK.com Tour of The Little Mermaid (ch: Moore) MARCH 13: COVENTRY, Albany Theatre Tel: 024 7699 8964 14: MONMOUTH, Blake Theatre Tel: 01600 719 401 15: MANSFIELD, Palace Theatre Tel: 01623 633 133 16M: TUNBRIDGE WELLS, Assembly Hall Tel: 01892 530 613 22M&E: WARWICK, Bridge House Theatre Tel: 01926 776 438 23M&E: HAYES, Beck Theatre Tel: 020 8561 8371 28: BURNLEY, Mechanics Tel: 01282 664 400 29M&E: STAMFORD, Corn Exchange Tel: 01780 766 455 30M&E: LOUGHBOROUGH, Town Hall Tel: 01509 231 914 Ballet West www.balletwest.co.uk Tour of Swan Lake MARCH 1M&E: PITLOCHRY FESTIVAL THEATRE Tel: 01796 484 626 Balletboyz - The Talent 2013 www.balletboyz.com Tour of Torsion (ch: Maliphant) and Serpent (ch: Scarlett) MARCH 4-5: COLCHESTER, Mercury Theatre Tel: 01206 573 948 8: SWINDON, Wyvern Theatre Tel: 01793 524 481 10: DARTFORD, Orchard Theatre Tel: 01322 220 000 12: YORK, Grand Opera
House Tel: 0844 871 3024 13: SOUTHPORT, The Atkinson Tel: 01704 533 333 26: BUXTON OPERA HOUSE Tel: 0845 127 2190 31: NOTTINGHAM PLAYHOUSE Tel: 0115 941 9419 bgroup www.bgroup.org.uk Tour of Just As We Are (ch: Wright) MARCH 7: EASTLEIGH, The Point Tel: 023 8065 2333 15-16: LONDON, The Place Tel: 020 7121 1100 20: BRIGHTON, Corn Exchange Tel: 01273 709 709 23: BATH, ICIA Tel: 01225 386 777 28: ABERDEEN, LEMON TREE Tel: 01224 641 122 Birmingham Royal Ballet www.brb.org.uk MARCH
SUNDERLAND, Empire Theatre Tel: 0844 871 3022 7-8: Elite Syncopations (ch: MacMillan), Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (ch: Balanchine), `Still Life' at the Penguin Cafй (ch: Bintley) PLYMOUTH, Theatre Royal Tel: 01752 267 222 19-22: The Prince of the Pagodas (ch: Bintley) LONDON COLISEUM Tel: 020 7845 9300 26-29: The Prince of the Pagodas Breakin' Convention www.breakinconvention.com The international festival of hip hop dance theatre returns. This year's line-up includes ILLAbilities, Ukweli Roach and Wanted Posse MAY 3-5: LONDON, Sadler's Wells Tel: 0844 412 4300 10: DONCASTER, Cast Tel: 01302 303 959 13: KINGS LYNN, Corn Exchange Tel: 01553 764 864 16-17: INVERNESS, Eden Court Tel: 01463 239 841 20-21: BIRMINGHAM HIPPODROME Tel: 0844 338 5000 24: WHITLEY BAY PLAYHOUSE Tel: 0844 248 1588 27-28: BRIGHTON DOME Tel: 01273 709 709 31: BRISTOL, Colston Hall Tel: 0844 887 1500 JUNE 3: BLACKPOOL, Grand Theatre Tel: 01253 290 190 7: BOURNEMOUTH PAVILION Tel: 0844 576 3000 Candoco Dance Company www.candoco.co.uk Tour repertory includes Miniatures (ch: Anderson), new Hauert work, Two for C (ch: De Frutos) and Set and Reset/Reset (ch: Brown) MARCH 4-5: WARWICK ARTS CENTRE Tel: 0247 652 4524 The Chelmsford Ballet Company www.thechelmsfordballetcompany.co.uk Amateur ballet company, founded in 1949, in a large-scale production of The Nutcracker MARCH 19-22: CHELMSFORD, Civic Theatre Tel: 01245 606 505 Compagnie Kдfig www.danceconsortium.com Tour of Boxe Boxe, which fuses boxing and dance with street and contemporary dance choreography by artistic director Mourad Merzouki. MARCH 25-26: MILTON KEYNES THEATRE Tel: 0844 871 7652 29: NEWCASTLE, Theatre Royal
WWW.DANCING-TIMES.CO.UK · MARCH 2014 · 103
March Calendar.indd 103
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Bavarian State Ballet II
Bavarian State Ballet II
Jenny Veldhuis introduces the junior ballet company for young dancers based in Munich. Photographs by Charles Tandy
T he reason the combination of ballet and Munich is known throughout the world is due to the work of Konstanze Vernon. The ballerina commenced her ballet classes with Tatiana Gsovsky from the age of six, and she eventually joined the ballet company based in Berlin at the age of 14, where she was promoted to soloist three years later. In 1963 she was invited to join the State Opera and Ballet of Munich, and soon afterwards, whilst continuing to dance herself, she became interested in teaching talented young dancers. By 1964 Vernon's teaching was of a sufficiently high standard to be incorporated into the faculty of Munich's University of Music, and thus a vocational ballet academy was founded. Later, in 1988, the State of Bavaria invited Vernon to reorganise the then Opera Ballet into what is the Bavarian State Ballet, shaping it into the company now firmly established at Munich's National Theatre. During this time, quite a number of Vernon's students had attracted the attention of the ballet-teaching world by the way they had been trained and the many prizes they won at competitions. This success
Above from left to right Jonah Cook and Alexandra Stewart in Allegro Brillante; Marta Navarrete and NicholasVillalba in Jardi Tancat; Elisa Mestres and Sebastian Goffin in Concertante; Alisa Scetinina, Sebastian Goffin, and Alexander Bennett in Streichquintett. was recognised by the city of Munich, which undertook the establishment of the teaching facilities that are required by a world-class dance conservatoire. They renovated a former city tram shed and turned it into a school with no fewer than six dance studios. To cover the expense for such an institution, the Heinz Bosl Foundation named after Vernon's dance partner who died at an early age in 1975 was established in 1978. Later, in 1995, a teachers' training course for dancers was also begun, which sadly lasted just a few years, and in 1991 Vernon started a "Junior Company" that was part of the ballet academy. E ventually, Vernon handed the running of the Academy over to Robert North in 2007, who stayed there until 2010. He was succeeded by Jan Broeckx, a former student from the Royal Ballet School in Antwerp who had danced with the companies in Marseille and Munich, and who was also an experienced teacher.
Broeckx was well aware of the changes that needed to be made in Munich, and systematically set about developing a better teaching system. In the same year, a collaboration between the State Ballet and the Academy was launched, which resulted in the birth of the present Junior Company, known as Bavarian State Ballet II. The responsibility for its dancers is shared jointly by Broeckx and Ivan Liska, director of the ballet company. Four hundred candidates applied to join the company during its inaugural year, from which 200 were invited to audition and 16 eventually chosen to become company members. During the present 2013/14 season, eight young women and eight young men ranging in age from 17 to 22 have been accepted into the company. Five of these are graduates from Munich's Academy, of which three are German nationals. As nearly all of the dancers are not residents of Munich, they are housed in the "Heinz Bosl Home", which is situated close to a large dance studio where daily classes and rehearsals take place. These are led by former dancer Jens Graf. L ike other junior companies, the dancers of Bavarian State Ballet II are engaged for a specific period of two years. During the first year they are supported financially by a Heinz-Bosl scholarship, and in the second they are engaged by the Bavarian State Ballet as "voluntary dancers" and paid more or less as members of the corps de ballet.
38 · DANCING TIMES
They participate in the main company's performances, but also have a repertoire of their own that includes works by George Balanchine, Jirн Kyliбn, Hans van Manen and Nacho Duato, as well as the usual classics by Marius Petipa et al. By the end of the second year, Liska and Graf have to make the decision as to
who to invite to join the Bavarian State Ballet permanently, or how to advise a dancer who they think would be best employed elsewhere. However, contracts with the Bavarian State Ballet are entirely dependent on the number of positions that become available each season. Sadly, Konstanze Vernon died in 2013,
but at least she was able to witness the birth of Bavarian State Ballet II, the company that she had long wished to see established in Munich. n For further information on Bavarian State Ballet II, visit bayerische.staatsoper.de.
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TAMARA ROJO TALKS
Ballerina Tamara Rojo became artistic director of English National Ballet in September 2012. She talks to Zoл Anderson about dancing, directing and her vision for the company Tamara Rojo is eager to communicate. "That's the most important part of dance," she says, "communication between the audience and the dancer." She's known for the drama of her own performances a passionate Juliet, a Manon who is both naпve and scheming. She speaks fluent, articulate English with great energy. There's a real relish to the way she says "picky", when describing her attitude to opportunities away from her company. Born in Canada to Spanish parents, Rojo trained in Spain before coming to the UK. She danced with Scottish Ballet, English National Ballet (ENB) and The Royal Ballet, returning to ENB as director and ballerina in 2012. What attracted her to ENB? "I liked the spirit of the company," she says now, remembering her earlier time as a member of ENB. "I liked the ethos, from the beginning. The original vision, to bring ballet of the highest quality to audiences around the UK, wherever they are, whatever their means I always felt that was a very beautiful and still very relevant mission." The mission, she explains, attracts "the kind of artist I wanted to work with, the kind of dancer who had the generosity of spirit they need to have to tour, in not luxurious conditions, and to give the best, wherever you are to feel that every performance counts, every rehearsal counts, that you're here because you love the art form. I knew that, because those ingredients were already there, you could do very much with this company. They were hungry for new things, new choreographers to come in. They will be able to assimilate this and give the best." Her long-term hope is "to create pieces that will last a very long time, beyond my own directorship. Just as we have repertoire that we know comes from Diaghilev, from the Maryinsky, from the Bolshoi, I want to create the same, I want to create a company Photograph: Jeff Gilbert.
WWW.DANCING-TIMES.CO.UK · APRIL 2014 · 13
Tamara Rojo - April.indd 13
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Dominic Antonucci, ballet master with Birmingham Royal Ballet, poses some questions about the daily use of mirrors in the life of a dancer P rofessional ballet dancers spend an extraordinary amount of time in front of mirrors, usually beginning early in their lives. One can find mirrors being used as a training tool in nearly every space where ballet is practised around the world. Dancers work for hours with their own reflection in the studio every day, and also spend reflected time in the dressing room putting on make-up and costumes. It's a struggle to find other professions that compare to ballet in these terms. Figure skating, gymnastics and bodybuilding are some that come to mind. Each of these sports use the mirror as a training tool in a similar way to ballet. Comparisons aside, ballet dancers must spend more time critically examining their own reflected image than just about any other group of people in the world. While the purpose of the mirror in the studio is well known and easily identified, surprisingly little research
has been done on the overall impact that long-term training using mirrors has on a dancer's performance and their mental or emotional condition. The reason for this is that any investigation must cover a range of disciplines, making the data extremely difficult to collect and understand. Science, psychology, practical knowledge and individual experience all have to be considered, so bringing that information together becomes a complicated task. For a tool that is so widely used and accepted, most of us know relatively little about how mirrors really work. We may well be deceived by what we think we see. Dancers tend to believe what they see in the mirror and take that to heart, whether it be good or bad. It's difficult not to. As a result, there are a range of ways the mirror can affect their working behaviour. A list of different tactics dancers use to cope with life in front of the mirror makes for good, and sometimes amusing, reading. Some can't get enough of the mirror while others can't get away from it. Some wear "junk" or warm-up clothing on Tuesdays and next to nothing on Wednesdays. Some change their place at the barre every day and others have worn their
Clockwise from top le Laлtitia Lo Sardo in class; Laura Purkiss; Delia Mathews in rehearsal; Ambra Vallo and Cйsar Morales in rehearsal for Giselle; Cйsar Morales checking his costume. footprints into the studio floor from years of standing in the same spot. How we feel about our appearance in the mirror each morning can have a big effect on how we feel for the rest of the day. Dancers know this better than most and make adjustments daily in an effort to stay positive about themselves as they work. I spoke to several colleagues at Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) about the issues and approaches they have regarding the mirror. Each dancer described a unique working attitude and set of practices that were different from one person to the next. The common thread through every conversation was the impact their own reflected image had on selfesteem and confidence. The mirror seems to exaggerate positive or negative feelings about self-image. An odd question possibly gives some insight into this dynamic: "What size is your reflected image on the surface of the mirror in relation to the actual size of your body?" The replies were "bigger", "the same size", and "it
Photographs: Clockwise from top le Tim Cross, Richard Battye, Roy Smiljanic, Richard Battye.
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Mirrors - April.indd 35
Dance Scene This month, Flamenco Festival London, Ballet Black, Paris Opйra Ballet
Wim Vanlessen and Laura Hidalgo in Slava Samodurov's new production of Romeo and Juliet for the Royal Ballet of Flanders. 40 · DANCING TIMES
Photograph: Marc Haegeman.
Dance Scene - United Kingdom
Triple Bill A Ceremony of Carols, Illuminations, Rejoice in the Lamb Richard Alston Dance Company, Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury February 12, 2014 Richard Alston Dance Company celebrated the centenary of the birth of composer Benjamin Britten
with a lovely season at the Barbican in London late last year (see Dancing Times, December 2013). As a kind of coda to that celebration, the company presented an equally enjoyable second all-Britten programme at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury at the beginning of its spring tour, which included the world premiere of Alston's Rejoice in the Lamb. The bonus in performing at Canterbury was the fact that the company could invite the Choir of Canterbury Cathedral to appear with them for the two performances, and it was wonderful to hear Britten's choral music
sung live on February 12 just a short distance from the grounds of the Cathedral itself. Rejoice in the Lamb, a cantata composed in 1943 to mark the 50th anniversary of the consecration of St Matthew's Church in Northampton, was Britten's response to a poem by Christopher Smart, an 18th-century English poet susceptible to bouts of religious fervour. With the choir arranged at the rear, Nicholas Bodych, the personification of Smart, stood at the centre of a group at the beginning of the work with the stance and intensity
of a dedicated believer. He then led the cast who all wear stylised 18th-century costumes designed by Peter Todd in a joyful dance of flitting lines and patterns. A playful duet follows for Bodych and Nathan Goodman, who perhaps represents Smart's cat, Jeoffrey. Bodych holds Goodman's body in what look like poses of comfort or faith, and then observes as Goodman rolls away on the floor, after which he raises his arms heavenwards in thanks. As Boych's dances grow in intensity, the other dancers become alarmed. They eventually draw him back into the centre of their circle, however, accepting his zeal. Crouching around him, the cast watch as Bodych raises his arms upwards and dances alone. Alston's choreography is light and playful, responding to the music Nathan Goodman and Nicholas Bodych in Rejoice in the Lamb.
Photograph: Pari Naderi.
"Alston's choreography is light and playful, responding to the music with wonderful fluency and a beautiful sense of line"
with wonderful fluency and a beautiful sense of line. I appreciated, also, the subtle way Alston is composing danced duets that explore relationships between men, depicting shifting tensions and emotions through partnered holds and lifts that often arrive at surprising conclusions. This was true also of the central work of the evening, Illuminations, which explored the tortured love affair between the 19thcentury French poets Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine. Danced to Les Illuminations, Britten's musical setting of Rimbaud's poems, Liam Riddick expresses Rimbaud's restlessness with agitated arm movements before finding some
solace when reclining backwards over the thigh of Goodman's Verlaine. In a moment of calm, the couple lie on the floor next to each other, knees raised, before they erupt into an argument over Verlaine's wife. Both men danced beautifully for Alston, who gives then movements based on curves, circles, dips, crescents and low arabesques. The evening opened with the dancers and choristers, along with harpist Camilla Pay, in A Ceremony of Carols, a congregation of dance in which Alston combines his limpid, lowkey movement vocabulary with religious images that evoke the passion of Christ. JONATHAN GRAY
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By Barbara Newman
Credited to many sources, the phrase "Neither fish nor fowl" succinctly describes Urinetown. Arriving at the St James Theatre after a three-year run on Broadway, where it won three Tony awards, the ambitious musical piles drama, romance, parody and satire on top of each other, and ends up as none of them. A compendium of overlapping social issues
, the show tackles individual morality, corporate greed, environmental threat
s, political corruption, wanton violence and personal hygiene. Greg Kotis' book and lyrics touch on all these subjects, establishing each one in a few light declarative strokes without ever lingering long. Eventually the cumulative strokes emerge as the show's entire content, legible as a cartoon and as thin as the paper it could be printed on. The premise concerns a mythical future when water is so precious that private toilets have been outlawed and everyone has to pay to use public conveniences. The Urine Good Company manages those loos and, predictably, gets rich on everyone else's misery. By chance, the boss's daughter meets the dashing young hero who cleans the toilets, Bobby Strong; predictably, they fall in love while she opens his eyes to the good feeling of doing good. Imagine The Fantasticks as interpreted by Bertolt Brecht,
complete with a narrator who steps out of the action to explain the story, not that it needs explaining. Framed by a slick clever production, this fable revels in its own sophomoric simplicity and obvious humour. The narrator and his sidekick policeman are named Lockstock and Barrel. Hope, the heroine, personifies... well, hope, and the slatternly Mrs Pennywise naturally collects the fees for peeing. Because little happens that you can't anticipate, I won't reveal the show's final twist, which isn't really a surprise at all. The surprise is that the scattershot attacks rebound instantly from their subjects, as if deliberately deflecting our involvement. When and where don't exist Urinetown, we're told, is not a place but death, an oppressive lie, or a home for the hopeless. Launching their revolutionary protests, the righteous victims of big business suddenly become a lynch mob, losing our sympathy, and just as quickly regain their common sense and swing their outrage back to the moneygrubbing authorities. Who can care about characters who never escape their twodimensional outlines, either as humans or as ghosts? However, the director, Jamie Lloyd, and the choreographer, Ann Yee, deploy the large cast deftly
on a tight two-level set with a revolve. Though there's not enough dramatic substance to fill the two hours, the staging insures that there's always something to watch. From our first glimpse of the raggedy poor, squeezing their legs together and wriggling with impatience as they creep toward the only available toilet, the choreography plays a supportive role, underpinning each song physically but seldom taking the stage by itself. As the violent cops celebrate their power in "The Cop Song," the ghastly, blindfolded "dead" writhe and flail, miming the effect of truncheon blows that never actually touch them. In "Mister Cladwell," the boss's sycophantic staff undulates adoringly as they swim around him like 1930s showgirls, and the angry crowd holding Hope hostage teeters on the brink of a rumble, knives in hand. They
Richard Fleeshman as Bobby Strong and Jenna Russell as Mrs Pennywise with the cast of Urinetown at the St James Theatre. run in slow motion to escape their pursuers, and they clap and sway rhythmically to the rousing gospel "Run, Freedom, Run." No surprises there, and not many laughs either; though the production has been labelled "hilarious," it's a long way from the maniacal fun of The Book of Mormon or The Producers. It's also not bitter enough to make you think hard about injustice, as The Scottsboro Boys did, nor as sophisticated or biting as the Kurt Weill and Sondheim scores to which it refers. Maybe it's just a postmodern show, a network of references that meets its goal as long as you recognise them. Or maybe it's meant for another audience, probably a young audience, whose idea of entertaining comedy and music differs radically from mine. n Urinetown is at the St James Theatre, London, until May 3.
Photograph: Johan Persson.
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Variety Lights - April.indd 57
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M OVE IT, the UK's biggest dance event, graced London Olympia once again this year from March 7 to 10. The three days of dance classes, performances, advice and shopping attracts around 20,000 visitors and, as the event covers a range of styles, from ballet to Bollyfitness, We Will Rock You workshops to Chinese fan dance, it's easy to see why MOVE IT is the go-to event for dancers, dance teachers, students and parents. Having only ever experienced MOVE IT through the colourful tales of my dancing peers, it was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I found myself walking through the doors of London Olympia on March 7. The first thing that struck me was how busy it was. Everywhere I looked there was something happening; eager faces enticing you to take their college information packs, dance crews practising routines in the corner and stall after stall buzzing with activity, handing out freebies. My day started with a Ballet Fitness class, which was the perfect warmup. Focusing on stretching and sculpting the body, it combined barre work with yoga stretches to tone the arms, legs and core. The pace of the class was set so that ballet novices would feel comfortable and not out of their depth whilst the varying levels of difficulty within exercises meant the seasoned ballerinas in the room weren't left feeling bored. I also took the opportunity to try some new dance styles, the first being the "Fiery and Fun Flamenco" class, which certainly lived up to its title! From the offset we were told that flamenco was sharp, fierce and definitely not soft. We did toe digs like Carmen stamping out a cigarette and kept our chins down as teacher Danielle Allan explained the gypsy origins of the dance meant exposing the jugular could be potentially fatal. To emulate the feeling of having big shoulders and small hips, we were given the slightly obscure example of Disney Pixar cartoon character Mr Incredible, but it worked in getting the room to puff out their upper bodies. The class ended with a short demonstration from Allan and four of her pupils who transported us to Spain with their rhythmic stamping, clapping and hand articulations. During the afternoon, I got to live out
my Strictly dream through Incognito Dance's "Introduction to Cha Cha". We triple-stepped our way through a short solo phrase before moving on to partner work. The majority of those taking the class had no previous experience, so the prospect of partnering up became less daunting. The final half of the class was spent learning a short, paired sequence that involved cross body steps and underarm turns. Now that I've mastered the basics, hopefully I'm one step or rather a body roll closer to my fantasy of lifting the BBC's glitterball! My only slight disappointment of the day was the Contemporary Jazz class I finished on. The space was small considering the number of people attending and when teacher Livio Salvi's microphone stopped working it became impossible for anyone near the back to hear his instructions. Nonetheless, his emotive and lyrical style of movement made up for any irritation at the technical failings and the 45-minute session seemed to fly by. I n the time between classes, there was an abundance of entertainment to keep visitors occupied. The Main Stage
, situated at the far end of the hall, provided a feast for the eyes and drew the biggest crowds throughout the day. The whooping and screaming every half hour signalled the start of the next round of schools and colleges to "show off" what they could do. There was an assortment of themes on display, ranging from a jazz piece that had a heavy tribal influence to a more contemporary piece based on the film The Hunger Games. However, it was a performance by former Britain's Got Talent semi-finalist Four Corners and dancers from Urdang Academy that received the loudest cheers. As the area attracted more attention it became difficult at times to see the action. Perhaps a camera could have been linked up to the screen that hung behind the Main Stage to project the action out to the people who hadn't arrived quickly enough to get to the front? The Interview Sofa was ideally positioned next to the Main Stage it drew in the crowds when the action there took a break. The biggest buzz on the Friday was for last year's Got To Dance winner Lukas McFarlane (who Right: Performances and classes at MOVE IT 2014.
18 · DANCING TIMES
MOVE IT - May.indd 18
MOVE IT 2014
discussed his new company UnTitled alongside co-founder Stephen Aspinall) and international choreographer and dance supremo Sisco Gomez. Both talked about their paths to success and the clear message was to train in all disciplines of dance as Sisco put it, "even the ones that make you look like an alien" as it is the versatile dancer who makes it in the business. Another over-arching theme of the interviews was the issue of pay. The young dancers hanging off Sisco's words were told not to accept the Ј50 jobs as "they are better than that" and should not sell themselves short. It was uplifting to be reminded and to have it reaffirmed that dancers are like athletes; they train hard, some from the age of three to 30 and put effort into honing their craft. The Interview Sofa allowed those in training and on the brink of emerging into the industry to hear tips first hand from those who have successfully done it.
MOVE IT 2014 Sophie Warner, a recent contemporary dance graduate from the University of Chichester, attended the UK's largest dance event for the rst time. Photographs by Murray ompson
A s a first-timer to MOVE IT, I found it easy to navigate, clearly laid out and there was never a dull moment. It's clear why it attracts the sheer volume of people it does each year. The event is a young dancer's dream, everything they could want in one place clothes, classes with industry insiders and a plethora of dance colleges to aspire to go to. For parents, the day offers useful information about what a career in dance could hold for their child, and for visitors with just a general interest in dance, it highlights and gives access to the variety of styles dance has to offer. Coming from a contemporary dance background, it was pleasing to see the likes of Wayne McGregor, Jasmin Vardimon and BalletBoyz' artistic directors Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt scheduled to take to the Interview Sofa on the Saturday and Sunday. I had a preconception that MOVE IT was predominantly for, and about, the commercial side of dance and whilst that element of the industry did have a large presence, it was encouraging to see all forms of dance getting a look in and holding their own.
MOVE IT returns to London's Olympia next year, from February 13 to 15. Visit moveitdance. co.uk for further information.
WWW.DANCING-TIMES.CO.UK · MAY 2014 · 19
17/04/2014 14:16 MOVE IT - May.indd 19
r o aBdr eo ard e r Thinking
Dancer and choreographer Alexander Whitley has launched his own company. He speaks to Zoл Anderson
Alexander Whitley in Solo.
"I t's slightly chicken and egg," Alexander Whitley admits. "A first-time company, a new company, needs to have enough support and interest to get tour bookings, because you need the tour bookings to get funding to make the piece. So there's a lot of work to be done, convincing people." In Whitley's case, plenty of people in the dance world are already convinced. He is an affiliate choreographer with The Royal Ballet and a New Wave associate at Sadler's Wells, while his
new company has an associate position at Rambert's shiny new building on the South Bank. He has experience with all three organisations: after training at The Royal Ballet School and dancing with Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB), he went on to a distinguished career with Rambert and contemporary companies including Wayne McGregor's Random Dance. This month, his company perform two works at the Linbury Studio Theatre, at the start of a UK tour. "I've learned an awful lot over the last year," Whitley says now, laughing but slightly rueful. "I've learned just how much work is involved in getting the dancers into the studio in the first place. There's a lot of background administrative work to secure the funding. There's developing the support to get those resources together. I guess I chose to start the company because of the support I'd been given by the Royal Opera House and Sadler's Wells. That gave me the confidence." The tour features a new, expanded version of The Measures Taken, Whitley's collaboration with the extravagantlynamed digital artists Marshmallow Laser Feast. "I chose to scale the project up step by step, so I could invite people to see the ideas I was developing, even though they weren't fully realised," he explains. "Hopefully, it would give them enough confidence in the work for them to commit to it, so that I could get the resources to make it properly. Obviously, with a digital collaboration, it's been quite expensive to develop the technology, to employ the digital artists, the administrative team to produce and co-ordinate the whole thing." The Measures Taken uses motion tracking technology. Whitley wanted to contrast a "scientific, logical" way of measuring and recording data with the emotional response to "watching another person move. The essence of dance what's moving about
Photograph: Renaud Wiser.
WWW.DANCING-TIMES.CO.UK · MAY 2014 · 15
Alexander Whitley - May.indd 15
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Notes From NEW YORK
Jack Anderson attends seasons by the Martha Graham and Paul Taylor companies
Jubilation prevailed when two great modern dance groups performed in March the Paul Taylor Dance Company at Lincoln Center, and the Martha Graham Dance Company, at City Center. Yet, as I heard several dancegoers remark, it seemed the end of an era, for the nagging question arose: what's next for these companies? Since Graham's death in 1991, her organisation has danced gallantly on while trying to formulate its future. Taylor is still choreographing, and this latest season was his company's 60th, but he has been thinking ahead with plans to turn it into a repository of works by many choreographers. Once again, we have the prospect of a modern-dance repertory troupe, a dream of visionaries since the 1930s. It briefly became a reality with American Dance Theater at the recently opened New York State Theater during the 196465 season, only to fade away shortly thereafter. Now we shall see if Taylor can make the dream come true. Meanwhile, his company is dancing superbly and he has given us two new works. Neither, however, is substantial. Indeed, American Dream
er scarcely exists. It shows dancers frolicking or courting to sentimental and vivacious songs by Stephen Foster, but these vignettes remain the vaguest of sketches. The marginally better but still unsatisfactory
Blakeley White-McGuire and Abdiel Jacobsen in Clytemnestra.
Marathon Cadenzas (to perky music by Raymond Scott) appears to be attempting two things simultaneously: recreate corny old vaudeville routines, and evoke the gruelling marathon dance competitions of the 1930s (hence the title). Both themes suggest that dancing can be wearisome, rather than invigorating, yet Taylor never successfully unites the work's parts. More gratifying was a revival of a long unseen older piece: Fibers, in which two men in helmets and masks and two women in ghostly make-up scurry to Schoenberg. As costumed by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, these depersonalised figures could be seen as cousins to the equally odd depersonalised characters of Three Epitaphs, but whereas the Epitaphs creatures slouch and slump, those in Fibers move with mysterious determination. Watching them is like studying the enigmatic behaviour of some newlydiscovered insect species. The company celebrated its anniversary on March 23 with a programme that paired an exhilarating
account of Esplanade with a special production of From Sea to Shining Sea in which Taylor's present dancers were augmented by numerous company alumni, all displaying fine timing in this deflation of images from American history
and popular culture. Like many Taylor comedies, this one is sour as well as funny but that's life, Taylor might say. The Graham season brought its own revivals, including a luminous Appalachian Spring and Graham's version of The Rite of Spring, which has some impressive ensemble patterns. Graham, however, made a great compositional mistake by having the Chosen One chosen too soon, thereby dulling the choreography's momentum. Clytemnestra made a curious comeback. Janet Eilber, the company's present director, and Linda Hodes have abridged this epic from three acts to one, but unless memory deceives me, longer was better. The characters in this abridgment moved earnestly, but as if summarising the drama rather than enacting it.
Two premieres contributed little. In Nacho Duato's baffling Depak Ine, to strident music by Arsenije Jovanovic and John Talabot, creatures emerging from shadows attacked a victim, and then retreated only to return. Although this violent cycle was totally inexplicable, Duato's turbulent choreography made it hypnotic. Andonis Foniadakis roiled mythological waters in Echo (to music by Julien Tarride) by locking two unnamed men, presumably Narcissus and his reflection, in passionate embraces, despite attempted interventions by a woman (presumably Echo). Although there was little character development, there was much implicitly erotic action. Graham, of course, often choreographed myths and rituals. Perhaps for that very reason, other choreographers for the company should avoid such material; imitation may prove fatal. Instead, they would do well to stake out territories of their own. An opportunity to see more by Foniadakis came when Le Ballet du Grand Thйвtre de Genиve devoted a week at the Joyce Theater to his Glory, in which, for more than an hour, dancers raced and leaped to Handel always with great technical agility and sometimes merged into beautiful groupings. Because the pace stayed relentless, however, the unrelieved hyperactivity soon became choreographic babbling.
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New York Notes - May.indd 59
e latest news of people in dance Darcey Bussell exhibition Danceshorts
AN EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTING THE life and career of Darcey Bussell, one of The Royal Ballet's most celebrated principal dancers, and now president of the Royal Academy of Dance, as well as a judge on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing, opens to the public at The Royal Ballet Lower School's White Lodge Museum and Ballet Resource Centre in Richmond Park on May 6. The exhibition charts Bussell's career from her
student days at White Lodge to her triumphs on the Covent Garden stage, and includes costumes worn in Kenneth MacMillan's The Prince of the Pagodas and Song of the Earth, and Frederick Ashton's Sylvia (pictured right). Also on display will be photographs, rare film footage and other fascinating artefacts. Darcey Bussell; from Student to Star of The Royal Ballet runs until October 30. Call 020 8392 8440 (option 7) for further details. Steven McRae in print
THE ROYAL BALLET'S Steven McRae is the subject of a new book of photographs by fellow dancer Andrej Uspenski, which will be published by Oberon Books next month. Titled Steven McRae: Dancer in the Fast Lane, the book is a photographic record of 12 months in the life of one of company's
most popular male dancers, and shows him rehearsing and performing with some of the world's leading ballerinas, including Evgenia Obraztsova (pictured left with McRae), Natalia Osipova and Iana Salenko. The book is published in paperback and retails for just Ј14.99.
TWO FIGURES IN THE world of dance have recently received awards. ASSIS CARREIRO (pictured left with her son, Sebastian), former director of Dance East and now artistic director of the Royal Ballet of Flanders, received her MBE from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace on March 21. Meanwhile in St Petersburg, Mikhail Messerer presented a bouquet to the Mikhailovsky
Ballet's EKATERINA BORCHENKO (above) on March 29 following the announcement that she had become an Honoured People's Artist of the Russian Federation
Dutch National Ballet has announced that LARISSA LEZHNINA, a principal dancer with the company for 20 years and a former ballerina with the Maryinsky, will give her farewell performance with the company in its Ballerina programme in Amsterdam on May 20. JAMES HAY, a soloist with The Royal Ballet, will be the guest of The Ballet Association at its meeting on May 28. The meeting commences at 7.30pm at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church
. Visit balletassociation. co.uk for further information. DAME ANGELA LANSBURY, the Hollywood and musical theatre star, will give an onstage Q&A at BFI Southbank on May 25, preceded by a screening of her 2013 stage performance in Driving Miss Daisy. RAMBERT was honoured with a visit from Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness Prince Phillip on March 21, to officially open its new home on the South Bank. During the visit Her Majesty met staff and dancers and unveiled a plaque. LAUREN CUTHBERTSON, ballerina with The Royal Ballet, is the guest of London Ballet Circle at its meeting on May 19, which is held from 7.30pm at the Civil Service Club, 13-15 Great Scotland Yard
. Members Ј5, nonmembers and guests Ј8.
Photographs: Top Bill Cooper. Centre Andrej Uspenski. Bottom le Courtesy of Assis Carreiro. Bottom right Graham Watts. WWW.DANCING-TIMES.CO.UK · MAY 2014 · 63
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Having an identical twin certainly has its advantages, especially when each is as full of life as the two Menezes boys. They are not only the closest of buddies but, by following the same career, they have the advantage of "seeing themselves" in the other's dancing. "We watch each other and learn from the other's corrections," says Vitor, who is older by five minutes than his twin Guilherme. Fortunately for me, though identical in facial expressions, humour and conversation, I was able to differentiate (mostly) who was who since their hair was parted on different sides and Vitor was sporting a small beard and had a black T-shirt with a "V" written on it. Even so, it was like talking to one person, as, with Olympic speed, they finished off each other's sentences and were full of laughter and fun. It was fun for me, too, even though they hardly drew breath and my note taking got more and more scrawly. Vitor and Guilherme were born in 1992 in Sгo Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, and have a sister who is 11 years older. They were so alike when newborn that their mother burst into tears one day not knowing which baby was which. "After that she put name tags on us!" they said. "Later, she could tell as we liked to cut each other's hair and made a terrible mess of it!" laughed Guilherme (or was it Vitor?). "We were not sporty kids like most Brazilian boys. We were different. Our house was filled with classical
Dancers of the month
Guilherme and Vitor Menezes of English National Ballet
BORN: 1992 STUDIED/TRAINED: Academia de Ballet Elisa, English National Ballet School MAJOR PERFORMANCES: Swan Lake Pas de quatre, No Man's Land
music mum had about ten CDs of the top classics and we loved the whole thing, dancing around the room to the music. She had wanted to dance as a child, but was one of 13 children and didn't have a chance. So she was pleased when we decided we wanted to dance."
"One of our neighbours was doing ballet and invited us to her school's performance," Vitor continued. "The moment we saw the children dancing on stage, we both said, 'We want to do that'. We had taken acting classes for a while and liked being
"We used to watch VHS recordings all night, playing them over and over again. That's how we learned Paquita every role in it completely by heart"
on stage with costumes, but we liked the look of the ballet thing better." At the age of nine, the twins enrolled at the Academia de Ballet Elisa and stayed there until they were 16. "We were put into different classes all girls and our first teacher was female and told us to watch videos to see male dancers. Then we had a male teacher and took private lessons with him, which we liked so much. We did exams, though our results were never the same. When one got better marks, our mother would be diplomatic and say, `He must have been better on that day.' We accepted that and usually at the next exam, the other one would come top. It was much fairer on us than if we had been marked identically each time." As in many Brazilian dance schools, there was great emphasis on competitions. "We were always training and it seemed that each weekend we were in a different city in a different competition. These gave us confidence, stage experience and great enjoyment, and though we were competing against each other, we felt proud if the other brother won. The ballet school was like home to us as we spent so much time there after regular school. It was just around the corner from our apartment when my sister moved out, my parents bought a home near to the school, so we didn't have far to go,"said Guilherme with Vitor's help. The two boys competed every year in the Joinville Dance Festival, the biggest
Photographs: Courtesy of English National Ballet.
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Above Diane Van Schoor with students of The Royal Ballet Lower School.
RBS farewell to Diane Van Schoor The Royal Ballet Lower School's Ninette de Valois Junior Choreographic Award 2014 took place at White Lodge, Richmond Park, on March 27, and from the 24 entries, 14 works by students from Years 7, 8 and 9 were shortlisted to compete. The eventual winner, chosen by the judges Dame Monica Mason, Sara Matthews and Sir Peter Wright, was Gene Goodman for his ballet Arachnid. Gene was also awarded The James Monahan Medal for the most promising choreographer. In joint second place were Elijah Trevitt for Lockdown and Samara Langham for Intuition, and third prize went to Mirabelle Seymour for Infinite Life. The April Olrich Award for Dynamic Performance went to Amelia Palmiero and the new Frank Freeman Summer School Scholarship, sponsored by Malcolm Stewart, went to Albjon Gjorllaku. The Valerie Adams Prize for exceptional talent in musicality and dance quality went jointly to Isabella Knights and Daniel Myers, and the John Mitchell Prize for the
choreographer who submits the best choreography folder went to Lydia Baker for The Waltzing Cat. Also that day, Dame Monica unveiled Martin Sutherland's reproduction of Leslie Hurry's backcloth for Robert Helpmann's ballet Hamlet, which she has donated to The Royal Ballet School it is now on display adjacent to the entrance of the Margot Fonteyn Studio Theatre. These important events in the White Lodge calendar also marked one of Diane Van Schoor's last duties as ballet principal of the Lower School, a position she has held with success for more than a decade. In an impromptu speech to the assembled audience, Dame Monica paid a warm and heartfelt tribute to a woman she considers to have made an immense contribution to The Royal Ballet: "Diane has worked tirelessly and selflessly in her ten years here as ballet principal. She has been at all times completely devoted and committed to the students and to her team. In my opinion, she is one of the great teachers in dance today, and she will have
influenced a generation of dancers." Turning to speak directly to Van Schoor, Dame Monica continued: "You are exceptional and extraordinary, and I salute you." GCSE and A Level Dance in England Dance GCSEs and A Levels in England are to be made more demanding, as part of a larger reform of artsbased subjects. The reformed exams, to be introduced in September 2016, promise more "rigorous" content, to be developed by exam boards with advice from experts such as Arts Council England and the Music Education Council. At GCSE level, art and design, music, drama and dance will be reformed on this timetable, along with citizenship, computer science, design and technology, PE and religious studies. At A Level, music, drama, dance, design and
technology, PE and religious studies will be reformed. In a statement, the Department for Education said: "These new A Levels will ensure that students have the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in demanding undergraduate courses
." The Department for Education is providing more than Ј340 million for arts and cultural education program
mes over the 2012 to 2015 period. Governmentsupported arts initiatives have included the Dance and Drama Awards (scholarships which support young performers at leading dance and drama schools), the Music and Dance Scheme and the National Youth Dance Company. Youth Dance England (YDE), the national organisation supporting excellence in dance for children and young people, has responded: "YDE supports the review of examinations in dance and
Back to the Barre
Above Doreen Wells coaching Grace Horler at Back to the Barre in 2013. One of the aims of this annual week of classes and coaching sessions is to bring out the joy of movement in dance. Each day, morning classes help prepare the students for repertoire sessions which, for 2014, will be taught by Doreen Wells and Anita Young. This year, Back to the Barre runs from August 26 to 30, and the preparation will be for choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton. Telephone Anya Grinsted on 01483 533 971 for more details, or see page 78.
Photographs: Top Brian Slater. Bottom Jonathan Constant.
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