This wonderful but exasperating documentary film celebrating the art of Rudolf Nureyev almost succeeds both as a work of art in its own right, and as a discussion of the role of dance in mid-twentieth century European history. Although it suffers from too much material and too many ideas for its thematic structure to accommodate, the mode of presentation, which includes the use of dance to embody meaning, is highly original in a documentary format. Magnificent montages of archive film and newly created dance footage overlaid one upon another provide a depth of experience that is sometimes exhausting: watching Russell Maliphant’s choreography, accompanied by Alex Baranowski’s score, while listening to a Russian language interview translated by subtitles is almost overwhelming. (more…)

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Over 30 years ago, Barbara Newman embarked on a series of interviews with dancers about dancing, and for this book she returned to those who were still alive to find out what they had to say about their subsequent choices and their opinions on dance today.  The oldest (Alicia Alonso) was born in 1920, the youngest (Nina Ananiashvili) in 1964;  they work all over the world, from London to New York and from Havana to Tbilisi, and yet their concerns are remarkably similar.

It is common, perhaps fashionable, to talk about the globalization of ballet, but it is clear from these interviews that it does not have to entail homogenization, that the differences between different schools and companies still matter, and that dance is not all about virtuosity.   Lynn Seymour complains about the vulgarity of dancers showing their knickers in Giselle, while Ananiashvili says:  “When I see new modern choreography I just see splits, splits, splits”.  Whether it is Alonso or David Wall, Merrill Ashley  or Donald MacLeary, there is a clear determination to draw out the distinctions between different works and to understand the choreographers’ choices.  (more…)