December 2011

This Christmas has been a surprisingly good one for dance on television.  I interrupted frantic Christmas preparations to take in a re-run of the Royal Ballet Nutcracker on December 23rd, only to discover that the Royal Ballet was again visible with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on Christmas Day itself.  The day continued with Darcey Bussell Dances Hollywood, the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special and later a BalletBoyz documentary about their new young male ensemble.  Or you could have switched to Matthew Bourne’s Christmas on More4 – having only a few days previously been able to see the recent recording  of his Swan Lake on Sky Arts 2.  How wonderful to see dance prominently featured in festive programming – but can we now expect a famine after such a feast?  What were your highlights of the dance offered on television over the festive season, and why?

Check out Diarmaid O’Meara’s thoughtful appraisal of Darcey Bussell Dances Hollywood on his blog Dance Dialogue…

Maggie Watson writes:

Sleeping Beauty, broadcast live from the Royal Opera House to the Oxford Phoenix, 15 December 2011

Sleeping Beauty is my favourite Petipa/Tchaikovsky ballet both for the music and the classical choreography, and because it has a happy ending (there’s no suggestion in this version of the story that Aurora has acquired as mother-in-law who will try to eat her!).
Lauren Cuthbertson was a charming and very English Aurora inhabiting the role with a lovely clean and uncluttered style.  There were some wobbles in the Rose Adagio (did she not like her third prince very much?), but her acting carried the audience, and she became increasingly secure, always showing a subtle feeling for mood and contrast.  Her prince, Sergei Polunin, was elegant and noble, landing softly from his jumps, and performing with apparent ease throughout.  Together, they made a happy partnership in the third act.  Claire Calvert gave us a smiley and cheery Lilac Fairy, who was not afraid to take risks with the choreography, confidently shooting into her arabesques penchées.
I’d have liked to have seen more of the excepts from rehearsals that were shown in the first interval, and there is indeed more on the ROH website , where Monica Mason rehearses Carabosse.

Some of you may remember the talented Diarmaid O’Meara from the Ballet in Small Spaces performances in May and June this year; also from the BiSS Masterclass featuring him and Bethany Elliott with choreographer Susie Crow at the URC in March, where they previewed some extracts from new ballet Inside Out.  Diarmaid has since been dancing with National Ballet of Ireland in their new production of Scheherazade.  But he has also begun a new blog, Dance Dialogue, at

Subtitled “Opinion, Debate, Review”, the blog has already hosted a stream of short thoughtful pieces from a dancer’s perspective on current issues in ballet – worth a read and response!

With ever decreasing space and opportunities for in-depth discussion of dance in print media, blogging and online magazines seem to offer a way forward for developing critical debate about dance.  Despite concerns about lack of traditional editorial control, and the possible disappearance of the informed dedicated critic with years of viewing experience, blogs can provide a space not only for aficionados but for artists such as Diarmaid to develop a voice and articulate a view.  What may be the effects for dance of losing the professional critic and gaining the blogger?  Check Dance Dialogue out – and please share other dance blogs you have found to be of interest…

Not too late to catch the second weekend of this year’s Cohesion Festival programmed and organised by Oxford Improvisers.  The Oxford Improvisers have some stunning musicians among their number and many of the group have contributed to a wide variety of dance projects over the years, so give them your support!  Exciting events on both Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd, with the final performance at the Pegasus involving not only musicians of the Improvisers and their distinguished guests, but also dancers and visual artists from the Drawing Dance Project.


     Artistic Direction: Pat Thomas
On Friday, 2 December and Saturday, 3 December Oxford Improvisers present two further concerts as part of COHESION 2011. The first is an inventive and edgy community piece called Boundaries.  The second piece called New moves; new sounds is a collaboration across the arts, featuring exceptional musicians, dancers and graphic artists from Oxford’s creative arts communities. Both of these concerts involve workshops to which local music communities from around Oxford are warmly invited to participate.

Friday 2 December   4.45 pm and 9.15 pm
Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Cowley Place Oxford OX4 1DY Entry: £5.00

Boundaries  a multi-layered work combining live contributions from Oxford’s vibrant musical communities, vocal and instrumental, with soundscapes from the edge of town.
Workshops and rehearsals are held throughout the month of November,
contact or 01865 721564 if you wish to take part.

Saturday 3 December afternoon and evening

Pegasus Theatre Magdalen Road Oxford OX4 1RE

New moves; new sounds

1.30-3.30 pm  Taster workshop on improvisation techniques. Cost: £3
4.00-6.00 pm   Open session. An open rehearsal and discussion prior to the evening performance. Cost: Free (booking required).

8.00 pm  Concert: £7, £5 concessions, £4 U18

An exciting live collaboration across the Oxford arts communities featuring three exceptional guest musicians:

Tunde Jegede (kora, cello),

Hafeez Al-Karrar (percussion),

Ahmed Abdul Rahman (erhu)

Four remarkable Oxfordshire based dancers:

Susie Crow (Ballet in Small Spaces )
Ana Barbour (Anadance )
Aya Kobayashi (Anjali Dance Company )
Jason Manito (Anjali Dance Company )

Three well known Oxford visual artists from the DEC Drawing Dance Project:

Clare Bassett, Kassandra Isaacson and Susan Moxley

Four established members of Oxford Improvisers: 

Pete McPhail (flute/sax), Jill Elliott (viola), Sarah Verney Caird (voice) and Pat Thomas (electronics)

Information and tickets: <> <> <> .  <>

Direct contact:  Email: or tel: 01865 721564.