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…)

It was courageous of the Bolshoi Ballet to take this quintessentially American ballet into their repertoire and then to relay it live around the world.  Created by George Balanchine in 1967 for a cast that included Violette Verdy, Patricia McBride and Suzanne Farrell, each of the three acts of Jewels (Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds) is thought to celebrate a city (Paris, New York and St Petersburg) and its school of dance.

Emeralds weaves a pattern of music and dance, entwining the dancers in exquisite groups as they glide and subside, arranging them like gems in their settings in a jewellers’ window. (more…)