Saturday, 31 December 2016

Terpsichore Titles: Company of the Year


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As Ted Brandsen, Ernst Meisner, David Dawson and Cristiano Principato were my choreographers of 2016 and Artur Shesterikov and Daniel Silva my outstanding male dancers it will come as no surprise that the Dutch National Ballet is my company of the year. How could it be otherwise?  I have seen three outstanding full-length ballets at the Music Theatre - Mata Hari in February, La Bayadere in November and Coppelia earlier this month - as well as a dazzling gala and the magnificent Junior Company at the Meervaart in February.  I congratulate everyone in the company and wish them all a happy and prosperous New Year.

Although the Dutch National Ballet is regarded as one of the world's top five ballet companies the above video shows that it is also a relatively new company.  It was founded in 1961 which was four years after the Royal Ballet received its royal charter, 20 years after the famous wartime tour of the Royal Ballet (then known as Sadler's Wells Ballet) to the Netherlands and 30 years after the formation of the company. It is also younger than English National Ballet, Scottish Ballet which started in Bristol as Western Theatre Ballet and, of course, the Birmingham Royal Ballet which is the Royal Ballet's sister company. Compared to the Paris Opera Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, the Bolshoi and the Mariinsky, the Dutch National Ballet is a mere stripling. To have achieved so much is so short a time is not far short of miraculous.

The complete list of Terpsichore Titles is as follows:

Company of the Year      Dutch National Ballet

Contemporary Company of the Year  Phoenix Dance Theatre

Choreographers of the Year   

- Full Length Works  Ted Brandsen
- Short Works Ernst Meisner
- Best New Work in the UK  David Dawson
- Young Choreographer  Cristiano Principato 

Ballet of the Year     Bolshoi's The Taming of the Shrew

Ballerina of the Year   Lauren Cuthbertson, Royal Ballet

Premier Danseur Noble of the Year    Artur Shesterivov, Dutch National Ballet

Outstanding Male Dancer (Smaller companies) Damien Johnson, Ballet Black

Outstanding Young Dancers

- Male   Daniel Silva, Dutch National Ballet

- Female  Gwenllian Davies, Ballet Cymru

This has been a tremendous year for Terpsichore, particularly this last month.  We have already received 25,369 page hits in December which is almost double the number of page hits we received in November which was itself a record month, and there is still the rest of the day to run. Our growth reflects a growing interest in adult dance (and particularly adult ballet) throughout the UK and indeed the rest of the world, We plan to do more to help those who want to dance to access classes, workshops and performances next year.

As this is my last post for 2016 I wish all my readers a happy New Year.

Terpsichore Titles: Contemporary Company of 2016

(c) 2016 Jane Lambert
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I've seen a lot of contemporary dance this year:  the National Dance Company of Wales and BalletLorent in Huddersfield (see Cambriophilia 19 March 2016 and BalletLorent  3 Oct 2016), Rambert at the Lowry (see Red Hot Rambert 1 Oct 2016) the Royal Ballet's Wayne McGregor triple bill at Covent Garden (see McGregor Triple Bill 18 Nov 2016) and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and Nederlands Dans Theater 2 at the Bradford Alhambra (see Prickling - NDT2 in Bradford 1 May 2016 and Alvin Ailey in Bradford 29 Sept 2016) and the Lowry (see NBT2 at the Lowry 24 April 2016 and Alvin Ailey in Salford 8 Oct 2016). But for me, 2016 was the year of Phoenix.

It is 35 years since David Hamilton, Donald Edwards and Vilmore James founded Phoenix Dance Theatre in Leeds.  As the tour page on the company's website put it:
"From small beginnings in inner-city Leeds, Phoenix Dance Theatre has grown to be one of the UKs leading contemporary dance companies."
The company has some of my favourite dancers such as Carmen Vazquez Marfil, Sandrine MoninSam Vaherlehto, Vanessa Vince-Pang and Prentice Whitlow. It also has in its artistic director, Sharon Watson,  an excellent choreographer and it has just commissioned for the first time a work from one of its own dancers (see Calyx 8 Dec 2016).

As I said in Phoenix's 35th Anniversary Tour 18 Feb 2016:
"Phoenix contributes much to the cultural life of the North of England and the nation not only through its performances but also by its educational and outreach work which includes workshops on tour, academies for young people in Leeds and the North East and schools partnerships. The statistics are impressive. According to the programme for yesterday's performance there were 641 workshops engaging 2,379 young people in Leeds between 2014 and 2015 and a further 228 engaging 1,360 young persons outside the city with a total audience of 91,128."
The "performance" to which I referred was a celebration of Phoenix's 35th anniversary at the West Yorkshire Playhouse on 17 Feb 2016 with Sharon Watson's Melt, Kate Flatt's Undivided Loves and Itzik Galili's Until.With/Out.Enough.  It was a very special evening.

For all these reasons Phoenix Dance Theatre is my contemporary company for 2016.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Terpsichore Titles: Best Choreographers


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Three awards this year and they all go to choreographers associated with the Dutch National Ballet.   The first is for full-length ballets, the second for one act works or less and the third is for the best new full-length ballet in the United Kingdom. My choice for the first category is Ted Brandsen, for the second Ernst Meisner and for the third David Dawson.

Two of the highlights of my year were Mata Hari (see Brandsen's Masterpiece  14 Feb 2016) and Coppelia (see Brandsen's Coppelia 12 Dec 2016 and Pictures of Coppelia 15 Dec 2016) and they were both created by Ted Brandsen. I also saw two of my favourite young dancers, Cristiano Principato and Emilie Tassinari, in Brandsen's Replay when I went to Italy in June (see From Italy with Love 1 July 2016). These were very different works but each and every one was a masterpiece in its own way. As I said in my last post, there has been some brilliant full-length works by Bintlley, Dawson, Maillot and Marston this year and they all have merits but Brandsen wins it on points.

If Brandsen won the full-length contest on points, Meisner won the short works title with a knockout. I fell in love with No Time before Time when I saw the video from Lausanne. I was amazed when I saw it at the Meervvart in Ballet Bubbles on 14 Feb 2016 and carried to my feet with the crowd's acclamation when I saw it at the gala in September. In my review of the gala I wrote:
 "The first time I saw the video of Ernst Meisner's No Time Before Time was in the Prix de Lausanne finals. I fell in love with it there and then. When I saw it live for the first time in Ballet Bubbles at the Meervaart Theatre on my birthday on Valentine's day it was the best present anyone could possibly receive. I expressed my appreciation in Thank You Ernst a few days later. Ernst Meisner is an extraordinary choreographer. His Saltarello had been the highlight of the Junior Company's Stadsshouwburg show of 24 Nov 2013. The performance of Embers by Nancy Burer and Thomas van Damme to the haunting music of Max Richter was my favourite of the following year. I described it my review as quite simply one of the most beautiful ballets I have ever seen. Well, No Time Before Time is Ernst's best work yet."
In the video above Ernst Meisner talks about his craft. It is well worth a listen.

Dawson's Swan Lake was so good that it has to be acknowledged (see Empire Blanche: Dawson's Swan Lake 4 June 2016). It was the best new full-length work for a British company all year though Cathy Marston and David Bintley were not far behind. Dawson produced a work of which Peter Darrell would certainly have been proud and Petipa too perhaps.

The Terpsichore Titles: Ballet of 2016


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John Cranko is my all time favourite choreographer and my favourite of his ballets is and has always been The Taming of the Shrew (see Cranko's "Taming of the Shrew": Now's our chance to see one of the Ballets everyone should see before they die 21 Sept 2013). But in January I was introduced to another ballet also called The Taming of the Shrew to which I took an immediate shine (see Competition for Cranko: The Bolshoi's Taming of the Shrew streamed from Moscow 25 Jan 2016);

When the Bolshoi visited Covent Garden I was in the audience for the British premiere. It was an extraordinary night and the applause exploded. Especially when Jean-Christophe Maillot appeared to take his curtain call. In Bolshoi's Triumph - The Taming of the Shrew 4 Aug 2016 I wrote:
"The Bolshoi Ballet has always been respected in this country but until last night I don't think it has ever been loved. There are many reasons for that, not least the fact that the company was seen as an instrument of Soviet soft power during the cold war coming to London as it did in the year the tanks rolled into Budapest. That may have changed with the London premiere of Jean-Christophe Maillot's The Taming of the Shrew for the audience really warmed to the show. Standing ovations are quite rare in the Royal Opera House but when Maillot appeared to take a bow several members of the audience (including yours truly) felt compelled to rise."
Cranko remains my all time favourite choreographer and Shrew had my favourite of his works but, as I said in my review, there are features of Maillot's production that I think I prefer.Cranko's work and Maillot's are very different but each has its strengths.

There have been so many fine new ballets this year. The Tempest by David Bintley,  David Dawson's Swan Lake, Ted Brandsen's Mata Hari and Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre not to mention shorter works such as Chris Marney's To Begin, Begin, Wayne McGregor's Multiverse and Carbon Life. In any other year I would have chosen any of them as my ballet of the year. But Jean-Christophe Maillot's Taming of the Shrew made a special impression on me and it would have been unjust not to recognize it.

An American View of the London Nutcrackers


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I have not been to any of the productions of The Nutcracker that I previewed in The Good Nutcracker Guide 31 Oct 2016 other than the live screening on 8 Dec 2016 (see The Royal Ballet's Nutcracker in the Merrie City 14 Dec 2016) but Roslyn Sulcas of the New York Times has and she does not seem to have been too impressed (see Roslyn Sulcas London Nutcrackers Defy Logic, and Still Delight 28 Dec 2016 NY Times).

She begins her article with the observation:
"LONDON — It hasn’t always been an inevitable truth here that 'The Nutcracker' plays during the holiday season. But things seem to be changing, perhaps influenced by the belt-tightening in British arts funding and the moneymaking powers of this ballet: For the past few years, the English National Ballet and the Royal Ballet have both had long December-into-January runs of 'The Nutcracker.'”
After summarizing the traditional scenario derived from Hoffmann's tale of The Nutcracker and the Mouseking she discusses the way the story has been adapted by different choreographers in the past. She observes:
"The English National Ballet and Royal Ballet versions are no exception to the choreographic desire to mess about, even if they do keep the period setting of a prosperous 19th-century German household and the basic structure of the plot."
She is particularly critical of Sir Peter Wright's version which is said to reconstruct parts of Petipa's scenario and Ivanov's choreography:
"But Petipa certainly never imagined an incomprehensible back-story for the ballet that involves Drosselmeyer’s nephew, Hans-Peter, being turned into the Nutcracker doll by a wicked Mouse Queen as punishment for his uncle’s invention of a mousetrap that has killed off half the rodent population. (Yes, read that again. I always have to.)"
Unless you have read this is the £7 programme (it is a long time since I last visited the USA so things may have changed but on all previous visits to the theatre in that country programmes were included in the ticket price), Ms Sulcas points out, you are unlikely to understand
"why Drosselmeyer is gazing longingly at a portrait of a young man in his study, or whether the perky ginger-haired assistant has anything to do with this (she does not), or that Drosselmeyer gives the Nutcracker doll to Clara in order to free his nephew from his wooden imprisonment. What’s more, the breaking of the spell needs the love of a young girl as well as the Mouse King’s defeat. Why the king, then, if the queen had cast the spell?"
Now that the critic mentions it, I did wonder whar was going on when I saw the opening and closing scenes of the ballet in the cinema.  She concludes:
"Drosselmeyer’s reunion with his nephew ends the ballet; we haven’t lived through a child’s magical dream, but an adult soap opera."
She concedes that she may be griping - and if and to the extent that she is I have every sympathy because I don't like change for change's sake either. However, I don't think Sir Peter Wright is the worst culprit by a long chalk. I have seen far worse, believe me.  Ms Sulcas notes with a hint of exasperation that "London audiences and the British dance critics love Mr. Wright’s (sic) version."  Maybe it is a case of faute de mieux.  I should love to know what she makes of shillelagh-wielding wilis or bikes in Swan Lake.

Ms Sulcas is a little kinder to Wayne Eagling's version for English National Ballet. She says that "under Ms. Rojo, the English National Ballet seems to be improving from production to production". But not even that production escapes criticism:
"The Mouse King (a valiant James Streeter on Thursday) just can’t be killed, which rather obviates the reward trip to the land of sweets, and he doesn’t stop popping up in Act 2 until he is — with a strange lack of theatricality — put to rest offstage."
Ooh! That irritates me too.  The Bolshoi is just as bad in that regard by the way (see  Clara grows up- Grigorovich's Nutcracker transmitted directly from Moscow 21 Dec 2014). Ms Sulcas does not seem to like Clara's morphing into the Sugar Plum:
"And then there is the fact that Clara is a child in Act 1, but changes into an adult dancer (the wonderful Alina Cojocaru) halfway through; and Drosselmeyer’s nephew (Cesar Corrales, a new star) and the Nutcracker (James Forbat) incomprehensibly keep switching places as they partner her."
That's another thing that the Bolshoi does and I don't like it either.

Next Christmas it may be worth Ms Sulcas's while taking a trip to Edinburgh to see Scottish Ballet perform Peter Darrell's version of The Nutcracker for that's a real treat (see Like meeting an old friend after so many years 4 Jan 2015).

Thursday, 29 December 2016

The Terpsichore Titles: Outstanding Female Dancer of 2016


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I have seen some great ballerinas this year as I mentioned in The Year of the Swans: My Review of 2016 27 Dec 2016.  Two great stars of the Bolshoi for a start:  Anna Nikulina in Swan Lake and Ekaterina Krysanova in The Taming of the Shrew. Amber Scott of the Australian Ballet in Cinderella (see Ratmansky's Razzmatazz 24 July 2016) and Robyn Hendricks as Odette in Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake (see The Australian Ballet's Swan Lake - Murphy won me over 17 July 2016). But there were three performances that stick in my memory and I will take them all in chronological order.

First, there was Anna Tsygankova in Ted Brandsen's Mata Hari (see Brandsen's Masterpiece 14 Feb 2016 and Anna Tsygankova as Mata Hari 21 Feb 2016). I wrote:
"As Anna Tsygankova stood alone on stage for her curtain call after last night's performance of Ted Brandsen's Mata Hari every single person in the Amsterdam Music Theatre or Stopera rose as one. She would have got a similar standing ovation anywhere - even snooty old London - for her portrayal of the life of the tragic adventurer and dancer (Margaretha Geertruida "Margreet" MacLeod) was compelling It is not often that one sees theatre like that in any medium and I think the sounds and images of that performance will remain with me for the rest of my life."
It is not often that one sees a performance like that.

But on the 2 April 2016 I saw Lauren Cuthbertson in Giselle.  That ballet had always been a problem for me as I explained in Cuthbertson's Giselle 3 April 2016:
"In an interview with the journalist Mark Moynihan which is transcribed in the Royal Ballet's programme notes for this season's Giselle, Sir Peter Wright said:
'When I first saw Giselle way back in the early 1940s I used to think: 'That's silly. That doesn't make sense. So when John [Cranko] asked me to do Giselle my first reaction was, 'Oh no, I couldn't do that - that poor young girl going mad'. The ballet always seemed rather inconsistent to me and sometimes downright stupid.'
Until last night that had been my reaction too. I had always been troubled by the libretto (possibly for the same reason as Wright for he had been brought up as a Quaker and I have become one) as the second act is very dark, superstitious, even a little satanic, or so it had appeared to me for many years. My coping mechanism until last night had been to put the story out of my mind and concentrate on the dancing as though it were an abstract work like Jewels or Les Sylphides."
However, Sir Peter changed his mind on Giselle. He saw Galina Ulanova dance Giselle when the Bolshoi first came to London and realized what an extraordinary work it could be. I explained that that is because the libretto is coded or perhaps or rather subsists on more than level. I added: "Sir Peter needed Ulanova to unlock the work for him and it was Lauren Cuthbertson last night who did the same for me."

The third especially memorable performance was Bethany Kingsley-Garner's as Odette in David Dawson's Swan Lake in Liverpool on 3 June 2016 (see Empire Blanche: Dawson's Swan Lake 4 June 2016). I wrote:
"The star of Swan Lake is, of course, Odette-Odile. It is a role that not every ballerina can dance convincingly because it requires the projection of two personalities from the same body. I may be wrong but I should imagine the easier part is probably the seductress Odile despite all those fouettés because she is manifestly human. It must be far more difficult to become a swan. Bethany Kingsley-Garner, who has recently been elevated to principal, was perfect in both. She first came to my notice as Cinderella in Edinburgh (see Scottish Ballet's Cinderella 20 Dec 2015) and she has already entered my canon of all time greatest ballerinas. The only other Scottish dancer in that rare company is Elaine McDonand (see Elaine McDonald in her own Words 11 March 2014)."
So how do I choose between those three?  In my review of Giselle,  I asked myself what was so special about Cuthbertson's performance. I could not put my finger on it but, as I noted at the time, "I saw not a ballerina dancing Giselle but Giselle herself and for the first time I really understood the ballet." Eight months on, I would qualify that remark by saying that I am beginning to understand and appreciate that ballet but I owe my understanding and appreciation to Lauren Cuthbertson.

For that reason, Cuthbertson has to be my ballerina of 2016.

Terpschore Titles: Outstanding Male Dancers


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I have decided to make two awards in this category:  one for principals and soloists of major companies who dance leading roles in full-length ballets and another for the rest. I do that to acknowledge brilliant performances in one act ballets and to avoid comparing the incomparable such as Alvin Ailey's Revelations with the Bolshoi's Swan Lake. In both categories I am looking for a male dancer who has spoken to me in a special way in 2016.

In the latter category, the choice is easy.  It is Damien Johnson of Ballet Black. I have described him as "one of the most exciting dancers on the British stage right now" and I repeat those words now.  I have seen him in no less than five shows this year - three of Ballet Black's triple bill and two of Dogs Don't Do Ballet and in rehearsal at the Barbican. In each performance he has delighted me whether as the Obama-like dad accompanying his excited daughter with her dog in tow to the theatre to see Madame Kanikova in Christopher Marney's Dogs or as the sailor in Christopher Hampson's Storyville which I reviewed for the first time in Ballet Black made my Manchester Day on 20 June 2016. Johnson is one of the reasons why I go to Ballet Black, why I support it not only with my pen (OK keyboard) but also with my widow's mite as a Friend and also why I love that company so.

But where do I start with the first category? There have been so many great performances this year starting with James Hay in Rhapsody and Alexander Campbell in The Two Pigeons in January (see The Royal Ballet's Double Bill 18 Jan 2016); continuing with Artur Shesterikov in Mata Hari, Joseph Caley as Oberon and Jamie Bond as Beliaev in Ashton's Double Bill in February; Tyrone Singleton's magnificent performance as Romeo where he stepped in for Bond at the last moment in March (see A Good Outcome from an Unhappy Event - Singleton's Fine Performance 6 March 2016); Federico Bonelli for his memorable performance as Albrecht (see Cuthbertson's Giselle 3 April 2016) and Vadim Muntagirov in The Winter's Tale a month later; Javier Torres as Cathy Marston's Rochester, Victor Zarallo as Siegfried and Nicholas Shoesmith as Benno in David Dawson's Swan Lake for Scottish Ballet (see Empire Blanche: Dawson's Swan Lake 4 June 2016), Yonah Acosta's Siegfried in English National Ballet's (see Swan Lake in the Round 13 June 2016) and Iain Mackay in The Taming of the Shrew (see Birmingham Royal Ballet performs my favourite ballet at last 21 June 2016) all of which took place in June; Rudy Hawkes as Siegfried in The Australian Ballet's Swan Lake (see The Australian Ballet's Swan Lake - Murphy won me over 17 May 2016). Ruslan Skvortsov as Siegfried in the Bolshoi's (see Grigorovich's Swan Lake in Covent Garden 31 July 2016) or Ty King Wall in Zatmansky's Cinderella, a great ballet that I forgot to discuss in my review of 2016 (see Ratmansky's Razzmatazz 24 July 2016) in July; Vladislav Lantratov as Petrucchio in  Jean-Christophe Maillot's The Taming of the Shrew in August (see Bolshoi's Triumph - The Taming of the Shrew 4 Aug 2016); Mackay and Singleton again in David Bintley's new ballet The Tempest in October; Jozef Varga as Solor in the Dutch National Ballet's La Bayadere in November and Shesterikov again in Coppelia.

There were a handful of performances that really stood out for me this year, namely Singleton's Romeo in March, Bonelli's Albrecht in April, Zarallo and Shoesmith in Dawson's Swan Lake, Varga's Solor and Shesterikov in Mata Hari and Coppelia. I have been twisting and turning all night trying to decide this issue - particularly between Bonelli and Shesterikov. A choice has to be made. I have chosen Shesterikov because of his mastery of two very different roles in two very different ballets. In making that choice I am comforted by the knowledge that I am in very good company for Shesterikov is also the most recent winner of the Alexandra Radius prize (see Principal Dancer Artur Shesterikov wins Radius Prize on the Dutch National Ballet website).

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Not just Christopher Hampson who makes onstage promotions: Michaela DePrince's Promotion to Soloist

On 28 May 2016 Graham Watts tweeted:
It seems that Christopher Hampson is not the only artistic director who keeps the great ballet tradition to which Watts refers for Ted Brandsen has just posted the following message to Facebook:
"Michaela DePrince and Remi Wortmeyer, just after their second show of Coppelia- and Michaela' s promotion to Soloist ( Tweede soliste) !!! Congratulations!"
The post appears just below a photo of the two dancers which I hope Richard Heideman will license me to reproduce.   I should add that they were dancing in a matinee this very afternoon.

I am delighted for Ms DePrince and also for the company. I started to follow her even before she joined the Junior Company (see Michaela DePrince  4 March 2013) and I have reported regularly on her progress ever since. It was she who drew me to the Junior Company and it was the Junior Company that drew me to the Dutch National Ballet.

Ms DePrince is making more frequent appearances in London. She is due to dance Myrtha in English National Ballet's Giselle on the 13, 14, 17 and 20 Jan where I am sure she will be welcomed with great enthusiasm and considerable affection.

The Terpsichore Titles: Outstanding Young Choreographer

Cristiano Principato
Photo Robin dePuy
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There is a lot of great, young choreographic talent here and overseas. For the last two years Northern Ballet has been showcasing some of it at its Tell Tale Steps choreographic workshops in Leeds (see My Thoughts on Saturday Afternoon's Panel Discussion at Northern Ballet 21 June 2015 and Tell Tale Steps 2 17 June 2016). One of the participants in last year's lab was Charlotte Edmonds who had created Fuse for Ballet Bubbles at the Meervvart.

I described Edmonds's work as the most polished and dramatic which was not surprising given her talent and experience. Having also been impressed with Fuse, I thought she would be a shoe-in for my outstanding young choreographer title.

But then I went to Italy and saw Palladio.

Palladio was one of several works created for the Gala for Alessia at Trecate by Cristiano Principato who is one of the Dutch National Ballet's most talented young dancers.  This is what I wrote about his ballet in From Italy with Love on 1 July 2016:
"In the video about the ballet Cristiano explains that it is about a young girl who breaks her heart but recovers and moves on. It explores her sadness but then her strength as she creates new relationships. Cristiano cast all the Amsterdam dancers in this piece including himself. This is a very sophisticated work and quite a remarkable piece for one so young. Though completely original I could see the influence of Meisner - but not just Meisner for I was also reminded of Jerome Robbins. Balanchine and Jose Limon's The Moor's Pavane. Most choreographers' early works are quickly forgotten but I don't think this will be one of them. I think it will be performed time and again, I might add that I think it will be popular in England as Cristiano's choreography is well suited for dancers trained in the English style."
Cristiano created that work before his 21st birthday which makes it all the more impressive.

Given a fair wind this talented young gentleman can look forward to great things. He is, of course, a fine dancer but he can also direct and manage. At Trecate he acted as artistic director, choreographer, principal dancer, lighting engineer - you name it he did it. Don't be surprised if he ends up running one of the world's great ballet companies or opera houses one of these days.

There was one other new work that I saw just before I went to Italy which I really should mention. That was Small Steps created by Cara O'Shea who is one of my teachers at the Northern Ballet Academy. Small Steps is about the Kindertransport which rescued large numbers of Jewish children from Nazi Germany.  I saw it at the Leeds CAT end of term show and wrote in Small Steps and other Pieces - Leeds CAT End of Term Show 2 July 2016:
"Small Steps was a very beautiful work and I was profoundly moved by it for two reasons. The first is that the dancers were about the same age as the children who were sent abroad. They looked so bonny but also so lost and vulnerable. The second is that Cara chose very appropriate music - Arvo Pärt's Für Alina and Spiegel im Spiegel, Lee Holdridge's Into the Arms of Strangers, the intermezzo from Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana and Paul de Senneville's Marriage d'Amour. The ballet explored the conflict in the parents' minds and the pain of separation. Although she challenged her dancers her choreography was restrained and sombre - and as I have said before profoundly beautiful."
Cara is a fine teacher who is loved and respected by each and every one of her pupils - none more than me - but she is also a talented dance maker. I hope we shall see more from her.

The Terpsichore Titles: Outstanding Young Dancers of 2016


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In The Year of the Swans: My Review of 2016 27 Dec 2016 I wrote:
"Every so often one spots a dancer with what I call the wow factor. Michaela DePrince had it when I first saw her in Amsterdam in 2013 and described her as "quite simply the most exciting dancer I have seen for quite a while" (see The Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet - Stadsshouwburg Amsterdam 24 Nov 2013 25 Nov 2013)."
I have already mentioned Michaela DePrince. Xander Parish stood out in much the same way when I saw him for the first time in York in July 2007.  The outstanding young dancer title is for a young man or woman who impresses me in very much the same way as they did. Such performances do not grow on trees. For many years it may be impossible to make a selection.

Also, such a selection will always be very unfair. As readers can see from the above YouTube clip, all the young dancers in the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company are excellent and they are just one company. Because I live near Manchester most of the performances that I see are in Britain or the near continent. There must be so many great performances that I do not see in Russia and other countries in the former Soviet Union, in the United States the other great powerhouse of dance, not to mention China, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Cuba and the rest of South America and the entire continent of Africa. Indeed, as I live 200 miles north of London, 250 south of Glasgow and at least 100 from Birmingham there will be many breathtaking performances in my own country that I never get to see.

This year there are two dancers who stand out in the way that Parish did in 2007 and DePrince in 2013 and I want to acknowledge them both.

One is the young Brazilan dancer, Daniel Robert Silva, who began Ernst Meisner's No Time before Time at the Meervaart Theatre on 14 Feb 2016 (see Ballet Bubbles 16 Feb 2016), in Lausanne where the ballet was premiered and at the opening gala of the Dutch National Ballet's season. I saw Silva again as the bronze idol in La Bayadere and he impressed me again even more (see Dutch National Ballet's La Bayadere 14 Nov 2016).

The other is Gwenllian Davies of Ballet Cymru. In the Riverfront Theatre on the banks of the Usk in Newport on Guy Fawkes night, I witnessed something extraordinary (see A Romeo and Juliet for our Times 7 Nov 2016). I have seen many of the world's greatest ballerinas dance Juliet. Technically and indeed artistically their performances were brilliant. But when I saw them dance I knew that I was watching Seymour, Tereshkina and Cojocaru. When Davies danced I saw only Juliet. That is why her performance was spellbinding. Perhaps on another night it would not have been but magic was wrought that night.

I want to express my appreciation and gratitude to all the excellent young dancers whom I have admired but not yet acknowledged in this way and to wish them all the very best in their careers and lives.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

The Year of the Swans: My Review of 2016


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In 2016 I saw no less than five versions of Swan Lake, three of Romeo and Juliet, and two each of Giselle, The Taming of the Shrew, The Sleeping Beauty and Coppelia as well as Makarova's La Bayadere and Ratmansky's Cinderella.  I saw new full-length ballets by David Bintley, Ted Brandsen and Cathy Marston.   I took another look at Christopher Wheeldon's The Winter's Tale and David Nixon's  Beauty and the Beast and found that I liked them rather better second time round.   I attended performances by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the National Ballet of China and NDT2 as well as shows by Ballet Black, Phoenix Dance Theatre and Rambert.  I attended the Dutch National Ballet's gala for the new ballet season in Amsterdam, Ballet Cymru's debut in the Wales Millennium Centre, one of the first performances of the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company's tour and a brilliant charity gala by some of the world's best young dancers in Italy. I saw Matthew Bourne's transposition of The Red Shoes to the stage. I watched fine student performances by Ballet West and Northern Ballet School.

The performances of Swan Lake that I liked best were English National Ballet's Swan Lake in the Round at the Royal Albert Hall on 12 June 2016 (see Swan Lake in the Round 13 June 2016) and David Dawson's for Scottish Ballet in Liverpool on 3 June 2016 (see Empire Blanche: Dawson's Swan Lake 4 June 2016). The one I liked least was Nixon's for Northern Ballet, mainly for its libretto and changes to the score, though there was some excellent dancing by the cast (see Up the Swannee  17 March 2016). I had not expected much of Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake for the Australian Ballet and was pleasantly surprised (see The Australian Ballet's Swan Lake - Murphy won me over 17 July 2016). On the other hand, I was less than overwhelmed by the Bolshoi's despite the virtuosity of Anna Nikulina as Odette-Odile and Ruslan Skvortsov as Siegfried, possibly because I had arrived at Covent Garden confidently expecting it to be best in class (see Grigorovich's Swan Lake in Covent Garden 31 July 2016). Again, changes to the libretto including the quite unnecessary anonymization of Siegfried as "the prince" and Rothbart as "the evil genius" and the rather dowdy designs disappointed me.

The three productions of Romeo and Juliet that I saw last year were by the Birmingham Royal Ballet (see  A Good Outcome from an Unhappy Event - Singleton's Fine Performance 6 March 2016), Northern Ballet (see Romeo and Juliet after the Shrew 15 Oct 2016) and Ballet Cymru (see A Romeo and Juliet for our Times 7 Nov 2016) and I liked them all. I suppose the winner on points was Birmingham Royal Ballet simply because that company is so powerful in every department and at every level but the most memorable was Ballet Cymru's largely for the remarkable performance of Gwenllian Davies. I wrote in my review:
"One of the reasons why I loved the show so much was Gwenllian Davies's remarkable performance as Juliet. Davies is in her first year with the company and this is her first job. Consequently, she is barely older than Shakespeare's Juliet. As I told her after the show, I have seen some of the world's greatest dancers in the role including Lynn Seymour and more recently Alina Cojocaru and Viktoria Tereshkina, but never have I seen a more convincing Juliet. Davies danced with passion and energy and, for a while, I saw in that talented young artist what Shakespeare must have imagined."
Every so often one spots a dancer with what I call the wow factor. Michaela DePrince had it when I first saw her in Amsterdam in 2013 and described her as "quite simply the most exciting dancer I have seen for quite a while" (see  The Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet - Stadsshouwburg Amsterdam 24 Nov 2013 25 Nov 2013). Davies has the wow factor too.

As Cranko is my favourite choreographer of all time and The Taming of the Shrew is my favourite of his ballets I had expected the Birmingham Royal Ballet's production of that work to be one of the highlights of the year (see Looking Forward to 2016 30 Dec 2016). It was indeed one of those highlights but, to my great surprise and delight, I found a version that I like even more. That was Jean-Christophe's for the Bolshoi (see Bolshoi's Triumph - The Taming of the Shrew 4 Aug 2016). I was in the Royal Opera House for the premiere of that production in the United Kingdom and wrote:
"The Bolshoi Ballet has always been respected in this country but until last night I don't think it has ever been loved. There are many reasons for that, not least the fact that the company was seen as an instrument of Soviet soft power during the cold war coming to London as it did in the year the tanks rolled into Budapest. That may have changed with the London premiere of Jean-Christophe Maillot's The Taming of the Shrew for the audience really warmed to the show. Standing ovations are quite rare in the Royal Opera House but when Maillot appeared to take a bow several members of the audience (including yours truly) felt compelled to rise."
If I was slightly disappointed by the Bolshoi's Swan Lake that company more than made up for my disappointment with Shrew. There were brilliant performances by Ekaterina Krysanova as Kate, Vladislav Lantratov as Petrucchio. Olga Smirnova as Bianca, Artemy Belyakov as Kate and Bianca's father and Georgy Gusev as Grumio.

I think I saw the best Giselle ever in April with Cuthbertson in the title role and Bonelli as her Albrecht (see Cuthbertson's Giselle 3 April 2016). I wrote:
"I am not a newbie when it comes to ballet. I have seen Giselle many times by several different companies with some of the world's greatest ballerinas in the title role. The best compliment that I can pay to Cuthbertson is that she unlocked the ballet for me much in the way that Ulanova appears to have done for Sir Peter. Yesterday I saw not a ballerina dancing Giselle but Giselle herself and for the first time I really understood the ballet which has far more substance than I had previously supposed."
I had been expecting something special from English National Ballet when I attended the premiere of Akram Khan's Giselle and although the production was not without its merits it simply did not live up to its hype (see Akram Khan's Giselle 28 Sept 2016)

In April the Hungarian Ballet staged Sir Peter Wright's version of The Sleeping Beauty which I remember mainly for the charming performance as the white cat by the young Canadian dancer Danielle Gould (see Sir Peter Wright's The Sleeping Beauty in Budapest 23 April 2016). She impressed me so much that I interviewed her a few weeks later (see Meet Danielle Gould of the Hungarian National Ballet 5 June 2016). I might add that I saw the Chelmsford Ballet's Beauty in March and liked that too (see A Real Beauty: Chelmsford Ballet's The Sleeping Beauty 25 March 2016).

On 11 Dec 2016 I saw Ted Brandsen's Coppelia which in the running for my ballet of the year with two other HNB candidates, Brandsen's Mata Hari and Makarova's La Bayadere. Having seen David Nixon's Swan Lake and Akram Khan's Giselle I approached the Music Theatre somewhat gingerly. I wrote:
"I am usually pretty scathing about updates of well-loved ballets as readers of this blog well know. I don't like bikes on stage in Swan Lake. I bristle at shillelagh-wielding wilis. As I said in Manchester City Ballet's Coppelia 10 Dec 2016, Coppelia already addresses contemporary themes like coming to terms with artificial intelligence, low-level youth crime and elder abuse so why update it? With all these thoughts in mind, I was a little apprehensive as I entered the Music Theatre auditorium yesterday afternoon. I need not have been. Brandsen had made some changes to the story and he had set the scene int the present, but those changes were changes for a reason rather than change for change sake."
It turned out to be excellent and I recommended it as the best Christmas show within easy travelling distance of most parts of the British Isles.  Immediately before I flew to Amsterdam I was reminded of the traditional version by Manchester City Ballet's performances on the 9 and 10 Dec 2016 (see Manchester City Ballet's Coppelia 10 Dec 2016).

Brandsen's Mata Hari was quite different.  It was a study of the life of the Dutch adventurer and exotic dancer who was executed for espionage after a travesty of a trial in 1917 (see Brandsen's Masterpiece 14 Feb 2016). Brandsen cast Anna Tsygankova as Mata Hari and she danced that role magnificently. I wrote:
"As Anna Tsygankova stood alone on stage for her curtain call after last night's performance of Ted Brandsen's Mata Hari every single person in the Amsterdam Music Theatre or Stopera rose as one. She would have got a similar standing ovation anywhere - even snooty old London - for her portrayal of the life of the tragic adventurer and dancer (Margaretha Geertruida "Margreet" MacLeod) was compelling It is not often that one sees theatre like that in any medium and I think the sounds and images of that performance will remain with me for the rest of my life."
There were also strong performances by Artur Shesterikov, Casey Herd, Roman Artyushkin and other members of the cast. Brandsen commissioned Tariq O'Reagan to compose a beautiful and haunting score, Clement & Sanôu to design the sets and Francois-Noël Cherpin to create the costumes.

Immediately after watching La Bayadere I wrote in Dutch National Ballet's La Bayadere 14 Nov 2016:
"There were gasps, sighs and murmurs from members of the audience as the image of Nikiya appeared momentarily before a disconsolate Solor. Nobody tried to shush them. They could not help themselves. The scene was just so beautiful. I've seen a lot of ballet in my time but I can't (for the moment at any rate) think of a more beautiful production than the Dutch National Ballet's La Bayadere."
That production was created by Natalia Makarova who had created that work for American Ballet Theatre and staged it for the Royal Ballet. Solor was danced by Josef Varga and Nikiya by Sasha Mukhamedov.

The new full-length ballets that impressed me most were Brandsen's Mata Hari, Maillot's Taming of the Shrew, Dawson's Swan Lake, Bintley's The Tempest and Marston's Jane Eyre. I have already discussed the first three above. The Tempest appeared not long after Akram Khan's Giselle and was somewhat overshadowed by it which is a shame because I found Bintley's a stronger and much more satisfying work (see The Tempest  9 Oct 2016). Immediately after seeing it, I wrote:
"I think it is my favourite work by David Bintley so far. In fact, I can't remember a time when I was as excited as I am now about a new British full length ballet since the days of Sir Frederick Ashton."
I described Bintley's choreography as "sparkling" and there were strong performances by Iain Mackay as Prospero, Jenna Roberts as Miranda, Joseph Caley as Ferdinand. Mathias Dingman as Ariel and Tyrone Singleton as Caliban. It was perhaps no more than was to be expected of a company that I have already described as "powerful in every department and at every level" but it was still impressive.

The new work that I was most glad to see was Martson's Jane Eyre for Nothern Ballet (see Northern Ballet's Jane Eyre: the best new Ballet from the Company in 20 Years 2 June 2016). As I said in my Tribute to Moira Shearer 25 Dec 2016 I started to attend the performances of the company now known as Northern Ballet in its golden age and Marston's work reminded me of those days:

"With one enormous break between 2004 and 2011 I have been following Northern Ballet ever since I returned to the North in 1985. The company has given us some lovely ballets over the years - Cinderella, A Christmas Carol, A Simple Man and, more recently, Madame Butterfly and A Midsummer Night's Dream. In my humble, rustic and simplistic opinion the company's golden age was 20 years ago. At least I thought so until this evening for tonight I saw them perform Jane Eyre at Richmond. I was reminded of their glory days which I never thought I would see again."
Northern Ballet lost some of its costumes in a flood and two of its "premier" or principal dancers took leave of absence this year. It launched its new season with Wuthering Heights and Maillot's Romeo and Juliet which it had last run in 2015 and has revived Beauty and the Beast which I liked somewhat better second time round (see Much Less Beastly - Indeed Rather Beautiful 18 Dec 2016). It may be that Northern Ballet will have a better year next year with three new full-length ballets. I certainly hope so.

Other highlights of the year were the visits by NDT2 (see NDT2 at the Lowry 24 April 2016 and Prickling - NDT2 in Bradford 1 May 2016), Alvin Ailey (see Alvin Ailey in Bradford 29 Sept 2016 and Alvin Ailey in Bradford 8 Oct 2016) and The National Ballet of China (see The Peony Pavillion 27 Nov 2016). I enjoyed Wayne McGrgor's triple bill, particularly his Carbon Life when I saw it at the Royal Opera House on the 17 Nov 2016, Ballet Black's programme which included new work by Christopher Marney and Arthur Pita as well as Christopher Hampson's Storyville (see Ballet Black made my Manchester Day 20 June 2016, Never Better: Ballet Black in Leeds 16 Oct 2016 and Ballet Black in Doncaster 3 Nov 2016 and David Murley's review Ballet Black at the Barbican 22 March 2016), Ballet Cymru's debut at the Wales Millennium Centre (see Ballet Cymru's "Sleeping Beauty Moment" 5 Dec 2016), the Dutch National Ballet's Gala, the Junior Company's Ballet Bubbles at the Meervaart Theatre in Amsterdam, an impressive gala by that company's Cristiano Principato in his hometown of Trecate (see From Italy with Love 1 July 2016), Sir Matthew Bourne's staging of The Red Shoes (see Red Shoes Bourne Again 3 Dec 2016 and The Red Shoes Second Time Round 4 Dec 2016), Phoenix Dance Theatre's 35th anniversary tour with a brilliant piece  by Late  Flatt (see Phoenix's 35th Anniversary Tour 28 Feb 2916) and Rambert's 90th (see Red Hot Rambert 1 Oct 2016).

With so much excellence it was difficult for us to select a ballet of the year, choreographer of the year, male dancer of the year et cetera but we had to try. I listed by nominations in November (see The Terpsichore Nominations 5 Nov 2016). Tomorrow I announce my first set of awards for young male and female dancers, choreographer of the year and so on,

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Tribute to Moira Shearer

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Every performance of Sir Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes at Sadler's Wells is sold out.  Having seen the show twice at the Lowry (see Red Shoes Bourne Again 3 Dec 2016 and The Red Shoes Second Time Round 4 Dec 2016) I am not surprised, The show was inspired by the film The Red Shoes which I reviewed on the 15 Nov 2015. The star of that film was Moira Shearer who danced from 1938 until 1987. Through that film she probably did more to inspire children to learn to dance, and the public generally to take an interest in dance, than any other artist, Margot Fonteyn not excepted. She certainly inspired me and by all accounts, she also inspired Sir Matthew.

Shearer was born in Dunfermline in 1926. She made her first professional appearance at Cambridge in Mona Inglesby's Endymion in 1938 when she would have been only 12 and it was Inglesby who gave Shearer her first job in Inglesby's newly formed International Ballet in 1941 at the age of 15. Shearer's last performance was in Gillian Lynne's A Simple Man for Northern Ballet Theatre in which she danced Lowry's mother (see Northern Ballet's A Simple Man 14 Sept 2013). I saw the ballet shortly after I had returned to Manchester. It was the first time that I saw the company (although I had followed it in the dance press since its formation) and it is the first and remains the main reason for my support of the company.

It is, of course, The Red Shoes for which Shearer is best known and its two short ballet sequences. The first is the extract from Swan Lake at the Mercury Theatre where Vicky Page is discovered by the impresario Lermontov (see  The Red Shoes (1948) ~My Favourite Movie YouTube). The second is the premiere of Lermontov's The Red Shoes at Monte Carlo (see The Red Shoes (1948) - Ballet Sequence YouTube).

Shearer retired as a dancer in 1953 but continued her career as an actor for many years. She married the journalist and broadcaster, Sir Ludovic Kennedy, in 1950 in the chapel of Hampton Court palace. Their wedding seems to have generated enormous attention (see the newsreel clip on YouTube). She and Sir Ludovic had four children. She died in Oxford in 2006.  She was a distinguished artist of two mediums, loved by many and greatly missed.

As this article appears on 25 Dec, I should like to wish all my readers around the world a very merry Christmas.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Mona Inglesby

Mona Inglesby as Giselle
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Mona Inglesby ought to be as famous as Ninette de Valois and Marie Rambert as she founded and directed the International Ballet which was for a time Britain's biggest ballet company. She contributed at least as much to maintaining morale during the second world war and developing a mass audience for ballet afterwards as the Sadler's Wells Ballet and Ballet Rambert.  However, in one respect she did even more than de Valois and Rambert. She preserved Petipa's legacy by acquiring Nicholas Sergeyev's collection of choreographic notation, music, designs for décor and costumes, theatre programs, photos and other materials that document the repertory of the Russian Imperial Ballet at the turn of the 20th century.

De Valois and Rambert both became dames for their services to dance. Inglesby received no honours at all. I learned about her and her company only this morning while carrying out research for an article on Moira Shearer. Through that research, I discovered that Inglesby gave the 15 year old Shearer her first job.

Inglesby had trained with Rambert and had danced with her company at the Mercury Theatre in Notting Hill until 1939. In that year she was invited to dance at Covent Garden with the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo. The company also asked her to join its tour of  Australia but she declined volunteering for war service as an ambulance driver. She formed the International Ballet in 1941 upon realizing that she could do more for the war effort by entertaining the troops and essential workers.

The company launched in Glasgow with Moira Shearer and Harold Turner as well as Ingelsby herself in the cast. Throughout the second world war. it made two provincial tours followed by two 6 to 8 week season in the West End every year. After the war, the company toured Butlin's holiday camps and Rank Organization cinemas some of which had over 4,000 seats. As the largest classical ballet company in the UK, the International Ballet was invited to open the Festival of Britain by performing in the Royal Festival Hall in 1951. It also made extensive tours of Italy, Spain and Switzerland immediately after the war. The company appears to have created an enormous repertoire which included Inglesby's own works such as Endymion, Amoras and Planetomania as well as the Petipa classics which were staged by Sergeyev.

Sergeyev had been régisseur of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres from 1903 until 1918 and made the notations of Petipa and Ivanov's ballets in the course of his duties.  He fled Russia with his collection of notations and other materials immediately after the Bolshevik revolution.  He held a number of appointments and collaborated with a number of companies before Inglesby invited him to join the International Ballet as her ballet master and he remained with her until his death in 1951.

Sergeyev's death was a blow to International Ballet. Although Inglesby had acquired Sergeyev's papers after his death she found it hard to continue. Audiences for all forms of live theatre began to tail off with the increasing popularity of television. Anton Dolin's Festival Ballet started to compete for the audience that was left. Inglebsby failed to get financial support from the Arts Council and was obliged to wind up the company in 1953.  She sold Sergeyev's papers and her own company's set and costume designs to the theatre collection of Harvard University (see International Ballet. International Ballet scenery and costume designs, 1941-1951: Guide and Sergeev, Nikolai, 1876-1951. Nikolai Sergeev dance notations and music scores for ballets, 1888-1944: Guide).

Inglesby seems to have been a remarkable woman who made an enormous contribution to ballet. It is time to give her the recognition she deserves.

Friday, 23 December 2016

So what is the rest of Europe watching over Christmas?

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"Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the Royal Ballet's Nutcracker" exclaims the Royal Ballet's trailer. The Birmingham Royal Ballet and English National Ballet seem to agree for they are staging the ballet too (see The Good Nutcracker Guide 31 Oct 2016). There are, of course, alternatives. The Royal Ballet itself is staging The Sleeping Beauty from today as well as The Nutcracker on other days and there is also The Red Shoes at Sadler's Wells which I reviewed when it was at the Lowry in the metropolitan borough of Salford in the county of Greater Manchester (see Red Shoes Bourne Again 3 Dec 2016) and The Red Shoes Second Time Round 4 Dec 2016).

Outside London Scottish Ballet are dancing Hansel and Gretel in Edinburgh which will be wending its way around Scotland early in the New Year before making an appearance in Newcastle where I hope to see it and Belfast in February. I saw the ballet in 2013 and enjoyed it very much (see Scottish Ballet's Hansel and Gretel 23 Dec 2013). Elsewhere in England Northern Ballet's Beauty and the Beast is in Leeds (see Much Less Beastly - Indeed Rather Beautiful 18 Dec 2016) and Ballet Theatre UK will resume their tour of England with Romeo and Juliet after Christmas.

From my Pennine eyrie just to the east of Manchester the great continental cities are nearly as accessible as London and in many cases rather less expensive when you get there.  I have already expressed the view that the Dutch National Ballet's Coppelia at the Music Theatre in Amsterdam is the best Christmas show within reasonable travelling distance of Manchester (see Brandsen's Coppelia 12 Dec 2016 and Pictures of Coppelia 15 Dec 2016).

Both the Bolshoi and the Mariinsky are staging The Nutcracker over the Christmas and New Year holiday season (see the Bolshoi's Schedule of Performances and the Mariinsky Theatre's Playbill) but the Royal Danish Ballet offer Christopher Wheeldon's Alices Adventures in Wonderland, the Paris Opera Jiri Kylian at the Garnier and Nureyev's Swan Lake at the Bastille, the Stuttgart Ballet Don Quixote and La Scala Macmillan's Romeo and Juliet.

Two other bits of news.  

Our contributor Mel Wong who has spent the last 15 months in Hungary is now back in the UK - for the time being at any rate. She is working on an article on Ballet Eifman which we look forward to reading.

In a circular announcing that today is the fifth anniversary of the formation of BalletcoForum, Simonetta Dixon of that forum wrote proudly that "a real community has been established" and "friendships have been forged through BalletcoForum."  I can certainly attest to that. Mel is one of those I met in that way. Linda Morris is another. Aileen is a third.  Helen or Don Q Fan is one more.  Michelle Richer yet another. And, of course, last but not least, Janet McNulty. There are several others who are friends on Facebook and followers on twitter. Today also happens to be the third anniversary of my subscribing to the forum. Although I have had the odd run-in with a moderator and a heated exchange of views with subscribers from time to time I always read my daily email from BalletcoForum with interest. Well done them and long may they continue.

Wishing all my readers around the world a merry Christmas and happy New Year. 

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Melissa Chapski

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On 14 Feb 2016 I attended the Junior Company's performance of Ballet Bubbles at the Meervaart Theatre in Amsterdam (see Ballet Bubbles 16 Feb 2916). One of the artists who particularly impressed me was the young American dancer Melissa Chapski. She appeared in La Vivandiere (see Photos of La Vivandière – Pas de six 19 Feb 2016) and Trois Gnossiennes (see Trois Gnossiennes 9 March 2916).

Chapski and the Italian dancer, Giovanni Princic, were the beneficiaries of a crowdfunding campaign in May (see Crowdfunding for the Ballet 25 May 2016). In that article I wrote:
"I argued in Ballet as a Brand? How to bring More Money into Dance for Companies and Dancers 13 March 2014 that more money could be raised for the arts by licensing, merchandising and sponsorship. The Dutch National Ballet have been particularly innovative in that regard. One of its most imaginative initiatives has been its collaboration in the design and marketing of Bounden, an award winning dancing game for two players (see Bounden - Something that appeals to my Interests in Technology and Dance 17 Dec 2013, Bounden Part II - How it works 1 Feb 2014 and Bounden Launched 28 May 2014). The company's latest fund raising method has been crowd funding."
That is exactly the sort of initiative that I should like companies in this country imitate.  I concluded the article with the observation that "the rewards of giving will be not only the dancers' gratitude but also 'great personal rewards' which I surmise to be great performances some of which could be in London."

Chapski has recently appeared in the above video advertising the Dutch radio station NPO's Christmas programme. The caption "Geniet van kerst op NPO Radio 4" means "Enjoy Christmas on NPO Radio 4." She dances beautifully and this is one of the early rewards of the crowdfunding campaign.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Working off the Christmas Pud

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Good old Danceworks. I could give Lesley Osman and her teachers a hug right now. The only days they will be closed will be Christmas Day, Boxing Day and News Year Day which is reasonable enough. The rest of the time between now and the first week of January they will be open for business and you will find their Christmas timetable here. I can't wait till Monday 9 Jan 2017 when Northern Ballet and KNT reopen so I shall be packing some shoes, leotard and tights when I trek down to London for my grandson's birthday on the 28 Dec.

The other studio that I attend in London is Pineapple and they will shut between 22 Dec and 3 Jan 2017. There are, of course, a lot of other dance studios and teachers in London which I have not checked out and many of them are listed by London Dance.

Outside London, term starts at Birmingham DanceXchange on 9 Jan as it does at Northern Ballet and KNT in Manchester. Dance Studio Leeds reopens on 3 Jan 2017 and there will actually be some classes on that day though most will re-start later in the month.  Term also starts on 3 Jan  2017 at Dancecity in Newcastle. In Glasgow, Scottish Ballet's classes appear to start on various dates from the second week of January.

Should any dance studio or accredited teacher run a class in any dance style anywhere in the UK between now and 9 Jan 2017 I will publicize it here, in Facebook and on twitter. Indeed, I shall even try to attend and review it if it is at all possible.