Woolf Works opens with a recording of Virginia Woolf herself reading from her lecture On Craftsmanship, “Words, English words, are full of echoes, memories, associations …”. If the purpose of ballet is ultimately communication, Wayne McGregor has set himself a problem: how is it possible to add to what Virginia Woolf has already said with words in the three books that inspire the ballet? The depth and density of Woolf’s writing as she moves in and out of the minds of her characters cannot be directly replicated in dance, but by taking themes in the novels as a jumping-off ground, McGregor and his dancers are able to use movement to delve into the human psyche. (more…)

Rick Guest’s What Lies Beneath strips away the glamour from the dancer’s life and yet this exhibition in the gleaming white gallery at the Hospital Club is magnificently glamorous. Guest captures his subjects against luminous blue backgrounds in larger than life portraits that show the physical and psychological strain that lies behind every performance. He has allowed the dancers to reveal themselves as they wish, whether that is confident and in control, hesitant and uncertain or contemplative. They wear battered old practice clothes, their skin is scratched and bruised, and they have bunions, moles and body hair. There is a tension between the perfection and yet imperfection of their extraordinarily beautiful bodies. (more…)

Photographer Rick Guest‘s latest publication What Lies Beneath accompanies the exhibition of the same name to be held at the Hospital Club Gallery in January 2016.  Featuring an incredible range of companies such as The Royal Ballet, The English National Ballet, The Richard Alston Dance Company, The Dresden Semperoper, The Royal Danish Ballet and Wayne McGregor Random Dance, it includes images of dancers such as Alban Lendorf, Tamara Rojo, Sergei Polunin, Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae, Zenaida Yanowsky, Edward Watson, Olivia Cowley, Nehemiah Kish, Hikaru Kobayashi, Federico Bonelli, and Yuhui Choe.  With a foreword by Tamara Rojo, Director and Lead Principal of the English National Ballet and an incisive essay by Sarah Crompton, this book is in a limited first run of 1000 copies, exquisitely printed by PUSH Print, and is in a large format, 300mm x 370mm.

Rick Guest writes:

“I wanted to make a series of portraits of the dancers themselves, as opposed to dancers dancing, to show the character that underpins their performance, to see the determination and sacrifice that it takes to succeed at such a high level.  In an art form that deliberately conceals the enormity of effort that goes into its creation, we are not meant to see behind the curtain, but I think that this does a great disservice to the dancers, and that having a sense of what lies beneath both enhances our experience of the performance and leads to a more profound appreciation of the dancer’s essential being.  These portraits are at once beautiful and brutal.”

What Lies Beneath is available from 15th December 2105 from rg-books.com
Further work can be viewed at rg-dance.com

Check out information about Rick Guest’s previous book of photographs The Language of the Soul here

Exhibition What Lies Beneath

Dates:  22nd-31st January 2016

Venue:  The Hospital Club Gallery, 24 Endell Street, London WC2H 9HQ

The Hospital Club Gallery

 

The Language of the Soul by photographer Rick Guest features images from his 2014 Exhibition at The Hospital Club Gallery, as well as many more in the series.  Working in collaboration with stylist Olivia Pomp, and featuring such luminary dancers as Edward Watson, Tamara Rojo, Marianela Nuñez, Steven McRae, Sarah Lamb, Sergei Polunin, Zenaida Yanowsky, Nehemiah Kish and Melissa Hamilton, it also includes portraits of Wayne McGregor, Kevin O’Hare, Liam Scarlett and Christopher Wheeldon.  With a foreword by Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet, this book is in a limited first run of 1000 copies, exquisitely printed by PUSH Print, and is in a large format, 300mm x 370mm.

Rick Guest writes:

“Ballet as an art form has always been a collaborative medium, whereby composers, orchestras, choreographers, dancers, artists and impresarios have come together to create something new, something greater than the individual elements. With this in mind, I have deliberately turned away from using photography to document dance as it’s staged for the audience, as important as that is. Instead, I have concentrated on the bringing together of three separate disciplines, that of photography, fashion and dance, in an attempt to create something new and singular.
Away from the constraints of stage, role and costume, the dancers are able to demonstrate their breathtaking capabilities in an uninhibited atmosphere, one that ultimately leads to a purer portrait of the dancers themselves. These images aim to illustrate the key tenets of balletic technique; balance, strength and poise. They are lit and photographed to enhance each dancers’ power and beauty, both physical and emotional, and the images are infused with a fashion edge that is at the same time evocative and playful.”

The Language of the Soul is available from the 15th December 2015 from rg-books.com

Further work can be viewed at rg-dance.com

Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet had casting problems right from the start, when Lynn Seymour and Christopher Gable famously gave way to Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. On Saturday, the cast change was due to injury, and Natalia Osipova was replaced by Sarah Lamb, partnered by Vadim Muntagirov. Lamb and Osipova seem to me to be at opposite poles, the one being a warm, passionate risk-taker, the other cool, restrained and exquisitely accurate. It cannot be easy to perform knowing that the majority of the audience originally booked to see another very different dancer. (more…)

It was a great treat to see four Frederick Ashton ballets (Scènes de ballet / Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan / Symphonic Variations / A Month in the Country) in one programme earlier this week at Covent Garden, and despite some imperfections of performance the sheer quality of choreography carried the evening.

The opening piece, Scènes de ballet, was a disappointment not so much because there were mistakes and some of the cast were clearly not on form, but because evidence of the company’s understanding of Ashton’s style appeared only intermittently. The choreography of this ballet is so subtle, so original and so exquisitely balanced that it cannot fail to delight, but it should have been better danced. (more…)

It is a great privilege to see one of the great ballets of the 21st century so early in its history. I did not witness the original production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, nor of The Rite of Spring; but I have seen the very first production of Christopher Wheeldon’s The Winter’s Tale and that is a truly special thing.

To explain why this particular ballet is so special is very difficult. It was danced beautifully of course, to a standard of excellence which we have come to expect from the Royal Ballet, and the costuming and scenery were meticulous, as they so often are. And yet, I have struggled immensely to write this review. In desperate times I draw on my old friend, cliché: words cannot begin to describe the exquisite nature of this ballet; it has to be seen to be believed! (more…)