10 Years of Breakin’ Convention

Breakin Convention 2012

It’s time for the next generation of dancers to shine at Breakin’ Convention, with 2013 marking its 10 year anniversary! To celebrate this special occasion, Breakin’ Convention will be offering two different opportunities for youth dancers in the new year, meaning it is time to don those new urban dance trainers and hit the studio! The festival will run from Saturday 4 – Sunday 6 May 2013.

“Breakin’ Convention 10 x 10” signals the start of a fantastic new platform in the creation of a special Breakin’ Convention crew of ten 10 year olds. An exclusive one-off performance will follow, on the main stage of the Breakin’ Convention festival at Sadler’s Wells. Young dancers will have the opportunity to show off their skills and perform at one of the biggest hip hop dance events in the world in front of an audience of nearly 2,000 people. Members of the crew will have the opportunity to learn from some of London’s most talented and successful artists including Boy Blue’s Vicky ‘Skytilz’ Mantey, and Bruno ‘Boom’ Perrier.

In addition, “Future Elements” will be a scheme aiming to showcase some of the UK’s best up-and-coming youth dance companies that have taken the future of funk in their hands and channelled it through their dancing. Saturday 9 March 2013 will see the best youth dance companies from in and around London present their work, with submissions for Breakin’ Convention’s Future Elements Night now open.

Past companies and dancers who have performed at Future Elements have included:

  • Da Bratz – Boy Blue Entertainment’s next generation of dancers
  • Enigma Dance Company – founded by Botis Seva of Far From the Norm
  • ME:I – Myself Dance Company’s up and coming youth group
  • Kieran Lei – member of K-Lic and star of forthcoming street dance film, AllStars

So far 2013 is looking like a wealth of opportunity for dancers everywhere!

The 120th anniversary of The Nutcracker

Nutcracker Google Doodle December 2012

Just before Christmas 2012, the 120th anniversary of one of the epitomes of classical ballet, The Nutcracker, was celebrated by Google, which launched a doodle to commemorate the first performance of the ballet. The doodle worked to depict a few of the scenes of the ballet, particularly apt in the run up to Christmas with dancers everywhere becoming sugarplum fairies in their tights, tutus and tiaras.

The Nutcracker premiered at the Mariinsky theatre in St Petersburg on 18 December 1892 to a score by Pyotr Ilyich-Tchaikovsky, which has become world-famous and is instantly recognisable. Today The Nutcracker is performed all over the world by many different ballet companies, become various versions for film and even screened to cinemas in the UK recently. However, the ballet was poorly received before US-choreographer George Balanchine re-imagined the original choreography by Marius Petipa, transforming it completely.

As a result of this, it is presumed that much of the original choreography of Petipa’s production debut is no longer seen by audiences, flocking to theatres worldwide to experience this festive production full of magic and sparkle. Balanchine’s version of the ballet saw new elements make their way into the choreography and synopsis for the New York City Ballet in the twentieth-century, gradually spreading around the world.

Alternative versions of this ballet favourite include Nutcracker: The Motion Picture (1986), The Nutcracker Prince (1990), Barbie in the Nutcracker (2001), and The Nutcracker in 3D (2010), in addition to Matthew Bourne’s version as Nutcracker! and Mark Morris’ The Hard Nut as additional re-imaginings.

Unfortunately Tchaikovsky died aged 53, less than a year after The Nutcracker’s release, meaning he was unable to enjoy the ballet’s success, yet today there is plenty of opportunity to experience the captivating production.

The Promotion of Vadim Muntagirov

English National Ballet Logo

Following an outstanding performance of The Nutcracker this December, Vadim Muntagirov of English National Ballet was awarded with a new Lead Principal title on stage by Artistic Director Tamara Rojo, in recognition of his exceptional dance ability. This new category for Muntagirov makes way to acknowledge the Company’s new artistic direction under Rojo, who has lots in store for 2013.

Muntagirov comes from a family of ballet dancers – both his mother and father were Principal dancers – and was trained at the Perm Ballet School, of which his father and sister were both graduates. In 2006 Muntagirov joined the Royal Ballet School and in his final year Wayne Ealing (former Artistic Director of ENB) offered him a contract with the Company as a First Artist. Muntagirov progressed through the ranks, promoted to First Soloist in 2010 and Principal in 2011.

Muntagirov’s first performances with the Company were in Barcelona where he partnered Senior Principal Daria Klimentová in the lead role of the Poet in Les Sylphides as part of the Ballets Russes centenary celebration. He has continued this phenomenal partnership with Klimentová across his career with ENB, including roles such as Albrecht in Giselle, and as her Prince in The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty. With ENB, Muntagirov has received the challenging role in Derek Deane’s Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall as Prince Siegfriend, originally intended to partner world renowned Polina Semionova, but later dancing with Klimentová on opening night.

Muntagirov is captivating on stage, having flourished as a technically assured and commanding performer, attacking the most difficult roles in classical ballet repertoire. It seems his work has only just begun, presenting even more challenges by ENB and encouraging him to emerge even further as one of the most prominent male ballet stars of the twenty-first century. Muntagirov was the winner of the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Male Performance (Classical) in 2010.

Rambert Dance Company in 2013

Rambert Dance Company Logo

2013 will mark much shift in the dynamics of Britain’s oldest dance company, Rambert, seeing them move their headquarters to the Southbank, first and foremost. Construction is now well under way and the Company recently celebrated the building’s ‘Topping Out’, when the highest part of the structure was put in place.  The facility will not only enhance the work seen by audiences on stage but will offer unique opportunities for choreographic and music development, and double the reach of the Company’s learning and participation work, good news for both those donning leotards and those who would rather remain in the auditorium.

Before this move, however, 2013 looks extremely busy for the dancers. The Labyrinth of Love tour will continue, spanning the full length of the country from Inverness to Truro, reflecting bitterness, ecstasy, irony, despair, hope, sadness and humour. Having already been welcomed with open arms earlier in 2012 by Sadler’s Wells, Labryinth is set to a commissioned score by one of America’s most performed composers, Grammy Award-winning Michael Daugherty, and accompanied live on stage by a soprano. The programme will also include works by esteemed choreographers Richard Alston, Mark Baldwin, Merce Cunningham, Javier De Frutos, Itzik Galili, Tim Rushton and Paul Taylor.

As ever, Rambert will remain committed to developing new choreographic talent, with the creation of new work the lifeblood of the Company. April will see a 3-day residential masterclass for emerging choreographers and composers, led by renowned American choreographer, Mark Morris and composer/former Musical Director for Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG), Ethan Iverson, in consultation with Rambert’s Artistic Director, Mark Baldwin, and Music Director, Paul Hoskins. Mark Morris is one of the world’s leading choreographers, and the Mark Morris Dance Group shares Rambert’s commitment to commissioning and performing live music, which makes them ideal collaborators for this project. The Season of new choreography will return to the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre in May, drawing from Rambert’s in-house development programme. Designed to nurture new talent from within its ranks, the evening will feature new works from four Rambert dancers; Miguel Altunaga, Kirill Burlov, Dane Hurst and Patricia Okenwa.

Finally, in June, Rambert will host a fundraising gala, celebrating the life of Britain’s most significant and longstanding contemporary dance company as it enters an exciting new phase. Guests will enjoy an evening featuring an exclusive performance by the Company.

Diversity in 2013

Diversity Limitless

Dance troupe Diversity has announced a new touring show for 2013 – Diversity Limitless – which will be a 12 day UK tour taking place across three weeks in December next year. Diversity announced the news just a few days after their Royal Variety performance, with the tour following on from the release of their previous arena tour show on DVD, Diversity Digitized: Trapped In A Game.

There is currently nothing else known about the show Diversity Limitless, created by dance crew leader Ashley Banjo,  with other details about the show’s storyline yet to be revealed. However, dance fans and street dance fans everywhere should be confident that the show will be full of the crew’s charm and cheek, with some up-to-the-minute urban dancewear and tasty trainers thrown in to add to the flavour.

Since winning the popular TV show Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, Diversity went on to star in the film Street Dance 3D as a cameo appearance. Banjo was then recruited as a judge for Got to Dance on Sky1 and the group went on to release Diversity: Dance Fitness Fusion on DVD. Ahead of the crew’s Diversity: Digitized arena tour, Banjo also filmed a spin off Ashley Banjo’s Secret Street Crew. In addition to their hard work to date, a Diversity film has also been announced named Diversity Rise, set to be filmed in April 2013.

The show will be touring to:

  • Dublin O2 Arena (30 November),
  • Newcastle Metro Radio Arena (3 December),
  • Liverpool Echo Arena (4 December),
  • Nottingham capital FM Arena (6 December),
  • Bournemouth BIC (7 December),
  • Birmingham NIA (8 December),
  • Glasgow Hydro Arena (10 December),
  • Manchester Arena (11 December),
  • Sheffield Motorpoint Arena (12 December),
  • Cardiff Motorpoint Arena (14 December),
  • Brighton Centre (15 December),
  • London O2 Arena (16 December).

Choreographer Trisha Brown Sets Final Works

Trisha Brown Dance Company

The Trisha Brown Dance Company of New York have announced that two new dances by choreographer Brown are to be performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in January, and will be the final works of her career. Brown, as a pioneer in developing the modern dance era is aged 76. The last time Brown performed with the company was in 2008 at the Joyce Theatre, NYC, and has remained in her role as the company’s Artistic Director since, despite not taking to the stage in full costume in recent years.

Brown founded the company in SoHo in 1970 and went on to choreograph more than 100 dances and win a number of prestigious awards. These included the National Medal of Arts and 1991 marked Brown as the first female choreographer to win a MacArthur “genius” grant. Brown was active in instating the Judson Dance Theatre era in the 1960s and developing what was known as post-modern dance to the twentieth-century eye, the focus of dance no longer on narrative or emotive works.

The two new dances to be performed, both created in 2011, will have their New York premiere as part of Brown’s coming season at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I’m going to toss my arms — if you catch them they’re yours is to be a collaboration with the composer Alvin Curran (who will perform live) and the artist Burt Barr. Les Yeux et l’ame will be a set of interconnected dances adapted from Brown’s version of the Baroque opera Pygmalion, which was first performed in 2010.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music programme will also include older works from Brown’s repertoire, including a recent reconstruction of Newark (1987) and the statement work Set and Reset, a 1983 collaboration with Laurie Anderson and Robert Rauschenberg that celebrates the 30th anniversary of its own premiere at the academy.

Richard Alston Dance Company Spring Tour

Richard Alston Dance Company

Richard Alston Dance Company has recently announced its spring tour for 2013, providing audiences all over the UK with the chance to see an inspirational company take to the stage and feed the artistic hungers of the audience. The tour will takes the company’s 10 dancers to 17 theatres around the UK for 26 performances featuring 6 repertoire pieces and 1 world premiere.

The tour will open in London at the New Wimbledon Theatre on 9 February 2013 with the world premiere of Richard Alston’s Buzzing Round the Hunnisuccle. This brand new commission from the San Francisco based Columbia Foundation continues Alston’s long-held fascination with the music of Japanese composer Jo Kondo. The evening will also contain the newly revived and revised The Devil in the Detail, a joyous and effervescent dance to Scott Joplin’s rags.

Later in the tour, the programme will include Shimmer, one of Alston’s best loved masterpieces, to the evocative music of Ravel, with delicate crystal-encrusted cobweb costumes by fashion designer Julien Macdonald. Roughcut will also be danced to Steve Reich’s New York and Electric Counterpoints, a euphoric display of pure energy, and Unfinished Business, choreographed to the beautiful, lucid and flowing K533, by Mozart. The spring repertoire will be completed by a revival of Lachrymae, set to the compassionate and tender music of Benjamin Britten, a piece originally commissioned in 1994 by The Aldeburgh Festival. This intense piece spins emotional variations on a gentle song by John Dowland which is quiet but deeply moving.

The spring season will culminate in a special event at the Barbican on 29 May as part of the season Dancing Around Duchamp.  Richard Alston Dance Company will perform a one-off event, with choreography by Merce Cunningham, one of the true visionaries of modern dance, especially meaningful for Alston himself who studied with Cunningham from 1975 to 1977.

The Truth Behind Shin Splints

Shin Splints“Shin splints” is the term for the ache and pain around the tibia and fibula which are the bones at the front of your leg that run from your ankle to your knee. They can be treated and prevented, but here’s the low down on the truth behind this troublesome condition.

Dancers are prone to shin splints because dance puts repeated stress on the lower leg. However, some dancers are more susceptible to shin splints than others which can be the result of many factors. Poor bone alignment, feet which roll in and joint laxity are all genetic factors in determining whether you may suffer from shin splints when you dance so it is easy to get caught up in the pain of the problem rather than working to solve it.

Shin splints can cover a whole host of problems such as stress fractures (tiny breaks in the bone which occur when the muscles around the bone become too fatigued to absorb shock, such as the impact from landing from a jump), periostitis (an inflammation of the outer lining of the bones caused by repeated stress on the muscles attached to bones) and chronic exertional compartment syndrome (caused by the muscles around the bone swelling and the lining encasing those muscles getting too tight, cutting off the oxygen and blood supply, causing an ache after dancing). These conditions can be caused by similar factors (in addition to genetics), such as your dance environment (such as a floor that doesn’t provide shock absorption or is “raked”), your dance shoes (which may lack support for your arches), and the level of activity your dancing encompasses (such as the amount of jumping you do, or simply how much you dance).

Despite the worry that shin splints cause, they can be treated, with recovery times varying through the intensity of the condition. Resting, icing and elevating your legs for a few days may be enough in some cases of shin splints, but more severe injuries may require therapy or even surgery. Most importantly, shin splints can be prevented! Shoes with support for your arches and sprung floors mean that the dancing you do and your body will be aided in its work, and you will have the best possible start.

The h.Club 100 winners!

Hospital Club

Earlier this year the Hospital Club and popular magazine Time Out devised the h.Club 100, a search for the most original and influential people in the UK creative and media industries. Having counted all the votes up the results are available to view, and below is a snapshot of the performance and theatre winners, the talent that is shaping the future after an incredible year for the arts in the UK.

Wayne McGregor – Choreographer, Wayne McGregor | Random Dance, Royal Ballet

In the last 12 months Wayne McGregor | Random Dance has toured, presented participatory performances, including Big Dance Trafalgar Square 2012, and worked on collaborations such as Rain Room at the Barbican Centre. McGregor advocated that during the London hype of the Olympics, new work and visiting international productions was on the top of his list of priorities as part of that spectacular event. He then felt motivated to be more risk-taking, daring and adventurous to test the unusual and challenging, with London’s richly diverse audiences and participants.

Tim Minchin – Performer

Over the last year Minchin has become the ‘darling’ of the West End, as the co-writer of Olivier Award-winning hit Matilda the Musical and after a critically acclaimed portrayal of Judas in the summer 2012 UK tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. Minchin seems set to continue this journey of success into 2013, taking the theatre world by storm.

Sheridan Smith – Actor

Having already starred in a variety of productions such as The Royale Family and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Smith has since won two Olivier Awards in two consecutive years for her roles in Legally Blonde and Flare Path. Her triumph in Hedda Gabler suggests that a serious star is born – watch this space!

Image courtesy of The Hospital Club.

The Nutcracker’s Royal Touch

Margrethe II of DenmarkDuring the festive season, the dance world is abundant with Holiday inspired productions, and 2012 is no different. The Nutcracker is always a sure-fire family favourite, full of ballet slippers, magic and mystery, however one version this year is standing out for a very different reason. Queen Margrethe of Denmark, it has been discovered, has designed all the costumes (more than 100) and four large stage sets for The Nutcracker which is currently being performed in Copenhagen by the Royal Danish Ballet at the Tivoli Theatre until 22 December 2012.

Choreographed by Artistic Director Peter Bo Bendixen, The Nutcracker is displaying Royal flourishes as a result of the Queen’s talents. For the past two years the Queen has been immersed in every aspect, from sketching each costume individually (as a celebrated artist under a pseudonym) to designing the set and correcting the choreographer on historical and cultural inaccuracies. Members of the ballet company have had to experience costume fittings with the Queen, and she has been fully involved in the whole process, regarding the production as “work” and making the dancers feel as comfortable as she possibly can.

This year the Queen of Denmark celebrated forty years on the throne, but has demonstrated a clear talent in the land of theatre, ballet, and the Kingdom of Sweets, drawing upon much knowledge and research to aid her life beyond the palace walls. The director of the production aimed to make the Danish Nutcracker ‘feel’ very home-grown and Danish, with the Kingdom of Sweets replaced by Copenhagen’s Tivoli gardens, and the fairy-tale writer Han Christian Anderson distributing the presents on Christmas Eve.

It is clear that 72-year-old Queen Margrethe devotes much of her time to the arts, having attended almost every ballet shown in Copenhagen in addition to having taken ballet classes for the past thirty years with a group of her childhood school friends.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.