mon 08/08/2022

dance

theartsdesk in Milan: The Farce of Romeo and Juliet at La Scala

Natalie Wheen

How often has one sat at a first night at the opera or ballet, groaning at missed cues, horrors with costumes, disasters with lighting:  one thinks they should surely have got it right by this time? And the rest of the evening is somehow diminished by this upset. But then, how much do we in the audience understand about what it takes to put on a performance, where there are so many elements to co-ordinate and where, therefore, so much conspires to go wrong?

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Reconstructing Ballet's Past 2: Master Restorer Sergei Vikharev

Ismene Brown

When Russia was plunged into Revolution in 1917, a chief balletmaster inside the Imperial Ballet in St Petersburg feared the worst. It was not simply the death of Tsars he feared, but the death of all culture associated with them, including the classical ballet that had grown to become an opulent wonder of the world. For 25 years all the ballets in the repertoire had been notated, their choreography, how the steps fitted the music, what costumes and sets should be.

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Reconstructing Ballet's Past 1: Swan Lake, Mikhailovsky Ballet

Ismene Brown

You need very little for a Swan Lake. Tchaikovsky’s music, white swan-girls, a mooning boy, and 32 fouettés for the ballerina in black. That's about it, isn't it? Every traditional Swan Lake we see now is a sort of balletic pizza - a musical base scattered with ingredients collected from a familiar buffet, piled up by its stager or so-called choreographer according to taste (and often a large measure of vanity for sauce).

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Two ballerinas retire - how grateful are we?

Ismene Brown

Two leading ballerinas retired this week on either side of the Atlantic, Darci Kistler of New York City Ballet and Miyako Yoshida of the Royal Ballet. Both are in their mid-forties (not old for a ballerina) and each is an exemplar of certain best qualities of their companies, yet each seems to have outstayed their welcome in some way.

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theartsdesk in Toronto: Luminato Hosts Wainwright and Malkovich

Rebecca Ritzel Operatic history of Aids: Peter McGillivray embraces Neema Bickersteth in Dark Star Requiem

To get a feel for whether an arts festival has truly penetrated a city’s psyche, it helps to strike up a conversation with local Starbucks baristas. That’s why I was grateful to be asked one recent evening in Toronto, “So what exactly is Luminato?”As the green-aproned server handed me a post-show cup of tea, I thought, good question: what is Luminato? Four years after the festival’s founding, it seems many Toronto residents remain unsure. I explained that it’s an arts festival with many...

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Olivier Awards 2010: All Surprises

Matt Wolf

Furthering their reputation as the least predictable prize-giving organisation out there, the Laurence Olivier Awards last night gave their top prizes to a host of productions that have long departed London, starting with Best Play for Tennessee-born writer Katori Hall's The Mountaintop. You were thinking Enron or (my personal best) Jerusalem? You'd be wrong.

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Film Q&A Special: Only When I Dance

Ismene Brown

There are gunshots outside in the street, a boy sits behind his front door desperate to get to ballet class, the two sides of his life colliding in front of his eyes - reality and dream. It’s a favela in Rio, one of the most dangerous cities in the world, a vast estate of poverty riddled with drug crime and addicted young lads with no future other than dealing, until they get shot or jailed. Ballet... well, what an irrelevance.

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Interview: Anne-Marie Duff plays Margot Fonteyn

Sheila Johnston

Anne-Marie Duff doesn't really resemble Margot Fonteyn. Blonde, fresh-faced and blue-eyed, she has nothing of the exotic, olive, Latin complexion that Fonteyn inherited from her Brazilian grandfather. And she never learned ballet, even if, with her long, lean frame and elegant swan neck, she looks more like a dancer than the rather more compact Peggy Hookham of Reigate (as Fonteyn started out in life).

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How To Design The Nutcracker

Ismene Brown

Christmas ballet would be unthinkable without The Nutcracker. But what kind of Christmas should it be? This year the UK fields an astonishing array of visions, from Biedermeier formality at the Royal Ballet, to Fanny and Alexander romanticism at Birmingham Royal Ballet, Elvis cartoons at English National Ballet, and expressionist German psychodrama at Scottish Ballet.

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Psychoanalysing Ballet

Ismene Brown

As a new biography of the Royal Ballet's great choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan by Jann Parry reveals, MacMillan's ballets are often about characters in shadowy explorations of inner states of mind.

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