October 2013


16th October saw the launch of a major new work of dance scholarship by Dr Susan Jones, Fellow and Tutor, St Hilda’s College, Oxford.  Susan Jones spent fifteen years as a soloist with the Scottish Ballet in Glasgow before becoming an academic. She now teaches English at Oxford, and has written on Joseph Conrad, modernism, and dance history and aesthetics.  Literature, Modernism, and Dance is published by Oxford University Press and is the first extended study of the relationship between dance and literary modernism; it opens up new ways of thinking about modernism by showing the dialogue between dance and literary aesthetics.  It recovers the importance of literature for modernist choreographers, and raises the importance of dance as site for literary scholarship. (more…)

English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire is not to be missed when it comes to Oxford next week:  the company is dancing on dazzling form.

The work itself raises challenging questions about nineteenth century revivals and changing ethical perspectives.  People trafficking and piracy are at the heart of the story, and as Conrad and Medora escape, their companions drown in a storm at sea, in a way terribly reminiscent of recent events off Lampedusa.  The women are chattels to be bartered, pirates are romanticized and the Pasha is a stereotypical figure of fun.  The production doesn’t so much negotiate this minefield as skim the surface without pausing for long enough to make the audience uneasy, which is perhaps surprising, given the dark tone of the pre-production publicity photographs. (more…)

Coming shortly to Pegasus, Chelsea Hotel combines dynamic contemporary dance, physical theatre, live music, film and imagery, to reveal the poetry and tragicomic events from this iconic hotel and its place in contemporary culture in a voyeuristic discovery of its inhabitants’ lives, loves and longings.  Continuing on their New York journey the multi-award winning company Earthfall blaze a trail from Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe to Dylan Thomas and Tennessee Williams, where several stories, true and false, interplay, capturing significant moments in the history of this rebel artist mecca.
Check in to #ChelseaHotel, where every room has a story to tell… (more…)

Following the success of their previous show Made in Heaven, Mark Bruce Company return to the North Wall with Bruce’s newest piece Dracula, made in association with Tobacco Factory Theatre, Pavilion Dance and Wilton’s Music Hall.  Jonathan Goddard plays the infamous Vampire Count, whose sinister and ruthless ambitions challenge the very fabric of Victorian society. As his victims and opponents rally against him they must face the darkness and savagery within themselves. With an eclectic mix of music from Bach and Mozart to Ligetti and Fred Frith.  Bruce’s company of ten exceptional dancers bring Bram Stoker’s haunting erotic tale to life in a heart wrenching and magical dance-theatre production.

“The best thing that Bruce has ever done… kill for a ticket.”  **** The Observer (more…)

It was exciting to see a programme on Saturday that included Richard Alston’s Lachrymae and Illuminations in Benjamin Britten’s centenary year.  The company opened with The Devil in the Detail, to Scott Joplin’s music (piano accompaniment by Faith Leadbetter, the only “live” music in the programme).  Kenneth Macmillan’s Elite Syncopations is a hard act to follow, but Nancy Nerantzi led this gentler dance work with charm and grace, bringing out the delightful sense of fun in the choreography, which ripples through the music like a stream of water.  The only problem is the score, which although pleasure to listen to, doesn’t seem to go anywhere (and so neither can the dance). (more…)

The whole production of NobulusOut of the Shadow is cinematic in its scope. The choice of music throughout the piece is populist in its approach; featuring extremely famous classical pieces and intertextual references intermixed with music from well-known film soundtracks. The first half (undoubtedly my favourite) focusses on the creation of life; the combination of the imaginatively choreographed group-created forms and musical grandeur reminded me of the Rite of Spring and Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony scenes in Disney’s Fantasia.  The large and dynamic cast of dancers  engaging in acrobatics, breaking, ballet and popping and locking helps to create an energetic pace that is steadily maintained throughout the production, which adds to the filmic quality of Out of the Shadow. (more…)

We reprint this review with kind permission of the author on whose blog Rebecca Nice: Dance Writer it first appeared.

Jennifer Jackson and Susie Crow (BIG Ballets), Late Work, opened Wednesday 25th Septembers show sitting well within a billing of several collaborations between artists. This emphasis on collaboration was reiterated by dancers Crow and Jackson who invited musicians Malcolm Atkins and Andrew Melvin on stage by opening two side doors for their entrance. This introduced them as performers and set a precedent for the rest of the night. Built on improvisations between musicians and dancers, Late Work questioned the function of ballet and rebelled, albeit creatively, against its structures. (more…)

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