Dance Direct’s New Look!

Dance Direct's New LookFor over a decade, Dance Direct has striven to provide the best value in dancewear, so dancers can focus more on their training and less on their kit. Although a lot has changed during this time, our ultimate goal of making affordable, high quality dancewear widely available remains at the heart of the Dance Direct brand.

Like you, we are passionate about dance, and we are also inspired by customers such as yourselves everyday. Your feedback drives much of what happens within Dance Direct HQ and has been integral to the launch of our new branding.

With a fresh new look and a new, easy-to-use website soon to be launched, we hope that our continuous desire to remain your No.1 dancewear supplier is clear to see. Our collection continues to offer both amateur and professional dancers great quality and affordable dancewear, perfectly designed for both basic and performance needs.

We look forward to sharing your dance stories, photos and more via the Dance Direct community and hope to hear from you soon!

Project Plié’s First Yyear

ABT Project Plie LogoAs American Ballet Theatre celebrates its 75th anniversary, it will also celebrate the first birthday of Project Plié, its national initiative focusing on increasing racial and ethnic representation in ballet. Even in the US ballet is still incredibly streamlined, with nearly every major ballet company being made up mostly of Caucasian dancers.

Project Plié seeks to combat this issue of deficient racial diversity through dance scholarships for non-white dancers, complimentary training for teachers who work with ethnically diverse populations, partner companies around the country who reach specific populations, free classes for children through Boys & Girls Clubs of America (how ballerina Misty Copeland began) and masterclasses that introduce youth to ABT in each of New York City’s five boroughs.

The initiative aims to assist ballet students from diverse backgrounds reach their full potential by providing them with the support and active engagement of teachers, mentors and current professional dancers. ABT believes that diversifying the art form at its training level will strengthen and broaden the pipeline of future artists and help ensure ballet’s continued relevance in the 21st century. So far the project has been well received with many embracing the mission of the programme and reaching out to get involved.

Since the project began, there has already been a rise in the number of dancers who have auditioned for ABT’s summer and full programmes. In addition, ABT has been able to award 40 merit-based scholarships for talented students. Project Plié was also able to provide six teachers National Training Curriculum scholarships, giving them the means to travel to New York, train with ABT and learn to creatively and collaboratively address barriers to young dancers’ participation in their communities.

Overall, the long-term goals of the many outreach initiatives of Project Plié are to see America’s ballet companies diversify and reflect the country’s multiculturalism to remain relevant, recognising that the demographics of the country are changing.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Dance Track

Birmingham Royal BalletBirmingham Royal Ballet has recently celebrated the success of its Dance Track programme, which seeks out and nurtures dance talent from primary schools across the City of Birmingham. It enables primary school pupils to access ballet, opening Birmingham Royal Ballet’s doors to those who would not ordinarily be introduced to the art-form.

Over the 2013/14 academic year Dance Track has reached out to 31 schools across North and South Birmingham and delivered workshops to over 1,700 Year 1 pupils: three Dance Track students are to train full-time at Birmingham Royal Ballet’s associated school Elmhurst School for Dance from September, and one is to train at Young Dancers Academy in London. By participating in schools’ workshops, students’ confidence, communication skills and creativity is greatly enhanced. Dance Track continues to work with students who display a particular talent by preparing them for auditions for ballet schools.

In 2013/14 and over the course of the Dance Track audition process, Birmingham Royal Ballet visited 17 affiliated schools in the south of Birmingham and a further 14 affiliated schools in the north of the city and delivered workshops. From these students, 171 were invited to ‘final’ audition days held at Birmingham Royal Ballet studios. Following the finals, 41 students from the south were selected to start classes at Queensbridge School in Moseley and 30 students from the north started classes at The Lighthouse in Aston.

Some former students now train full time at ballet schools or study dance regularly with associate programmes as a result of previously recognised talent and passion shining through. Not only does Dance Track open participants’ eyes to ballet but also their families, teachers and friends, and the wider community involved. Arts Council England believes that great art should be accessible to everyone and Birmingham Royal Ballet is achieving that with the Dance Track programme.

The London Theatre Report

London Theatre ReportThe recently finalised London Theatre Report, which has been described as the “most comprehensive” study that has ever been published on the size, number and location of theatres in the capital, includes a number of interesting findings. Unlike previous reports, it includes data from non-West End theatres and the fringe too.

Co-commissioned by the Society of London Theatre and the National Theatre, the report shows that in 2012/13, a total of £619 million was spent on theatre tickets by 22 million people in London – up from an estimated £609 million in 2011/12. The report also reveals that at any one time, London’s professional theatres are engaging 3,141 performers, with more than 6,600 people working full-time in offstage or backstage roles. Only 20% of performers are paid national minimum wage in the fringe sector, with around a third being paid nothing at all.

It is hoped the data from within London Theatre Report will be used to conduct meaningful conversations with arts policymakers, so the value of London theatre can be properly reflected, as well as becoming an annual publication. The report maps venues’ size, range and engagement, and considers the activity of all professional theatres across London.

There are 241 professional theatre spaces in London, with more than 110,000 seats. The largest space used for theatre is the Coliseum, with 2,359 seats, while the smallest professional theatre is the Lord Stanley pub in Camden, with 30 seats. Commercial theatre accounts for more than half of all capacity in London, with 56,000 seats in 59 venues. 12 of the largest London venues engage more than 900 performers, equating to almost a third of performers across the capital.

Richard Alston Dance Company’s Autumn 2014 Tour

Richard Alston Dance CompanyThis autumn acclaimed choreographer Richard Alston is reviving his classic piece Overdrive, exhilarating non-stop dance to the pulsating rhythms of Californian minimalist Terry Riley. The ten dancers of Richard Alston Dance Company will perform to Riley’s relentless musical patterning, in intricate movements and sounds.

Overdrive is one of 12 prescribed professional works for GCSE Dance on the AQA syllabus: Richard Alston Dance Company has produced a teacher’s resource pack to accompany this which can be downloaded from the beginning of the school autumn term at Launched in 1994, Richard Alston Dance Company is one of the UK’s leading choreographer-led companies, for which its founder Artistic Director Richard Alston has created over 40 dance-works. Richard Alston is also Artistic Director of The Place, London’s leading centre for contemporary dance, where the company is based. The company focuses on Alston’s new choreography but combines this with the re-creation of past works from Alston’s career.

The company’s upcoming tour opens on 26 September with the world premiere of Martin Lawrance’s brand new commission from the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh. This new dance is inspired by the passionately intense Dante Sonata of Franz Liszt, which will be played live by pianist Jason Ridgway. Lawrance is rapidly becoming known for his musically alert and inventive choreography, including last season’s immensely successful Madcap for Richard Alston Dance Company. Alongside Overdrive, the programme is completed by Alston’s most recent work Rejoice in the Lamb.

Another highpoint of the season will be the company’s return to Peak Performances, Montclair State University, New Jersey in that the company has been selected to celebrate Peak Performances’ tenth anniversary. An all-live music evening includes Rejoice in the Lamb, to the music of Benjamin Britten, sung live by Vocal Accord. This is only the third time it has been performed with a live choir. Also performed live will be Hölderlin Fragments, an intimate cycle of Britten songs for voice and piano, and Illuminations, Alston’s 1993 choreography of Britten’s masterpiece.

Xander Parish

Mariinsky LogoXander Parish is the first and only British ballet dancer to have joined the Mariinsky Ballet: he was scouted and consequently taken to Russia in 2009 by Artistic Director Yuri Fateyev, due to his desire to work hard and push beyond his limits. As a former Royal Ballet dancer Xander has now had the opportunity to dance principal roles as a soloist, recently making his principal debut in Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake in London recently in the company’s tour to the UK.

As a British dancer, Xander trained at the Royal Ballet School and then joined the Royal Ballet. After five years he was invited to join the Mariinsky, with Fateyev impressed by his artistic potential. At the Mariinsky Xander now has more chance to perform as a soloist, as Russian ballet rank determines the number of shows danced. His work ethic also places him in good stead, as with many other dancers at the Mariinksy, welcoming invites to learn principal roles to expand their talent and learn new things about performing.

Being part of the Mariinsky Ballet means Xander has lots of opportunities to tour and also perform as a guest with other ballet companies. The level of opportunity at the company in Russia appears fantastic for any young dancer: in 2012, for example, Xander danced 11 principal, 35 soloist and 21 corps de ballet performances which included 9 debuts. Parish has since toured to Germany, the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Italy and the United Arab Emirates with the Mariinsky Ballet, and Fateyev has given Xander many more exciting opportunities as a result of his desire to work hard and achieve.

New Movement Collective

New Movement CollectiveNew Movement Collective, an associate company of Rambert (Britain’s oldest dance company), has recently announced this year’s performances of its 2012 debut work Casting Traces. The company will be joined by a new team of talented performers including Niku Chaudhari (of the Sidi-Larbi Cherkaoui company Eastman), Hannah Kidd (Richard Alston Dance Company) and Eryck Brahmania (Rambert).

Dance, architecture, film and specially commissioned music will meet to create a world of illusion, mystery and shadow play, where nothing is what it seems, with remaining dates in Brighton and Winchester.

Founded in 2009, New Movement Collective is a new generation of choreographers with a long collaborative history. Working as acclaimed dancers and dance-makers, NMC members have a shared history through many of Europe’s leading ballet and contemporary companies including Rambert, Gothenburg Ballet, English National Ballet, Wayne McGregor | Random Dance, New Adventures, Scottish Dance Theatre and Company Chameleon.

Creating a nourishing and supportive environment for artistic growth, the collective aims to create refreshing and innovative work of the highest standard. The company aims to develop work that is directly presented in response to different and unusual theatrical settings. As a result, NMC has a strong commitment to collaborative working methods. Blurring the boundaries between dance, architecture, film and music NMC aspires to change and evolve the landscape of contemporary theatre, unlocking performance potential from the hidden parts of cities.

In 2013 the New Movement Collective was nominated for ‘Best Independent Company’ in the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards. It’s association with Rambert sets its in good stead for success considering its support and collection of talented performance artists from across the field of dance.

Bolshoi Ballet On Stage And Screen

Bolshoi Theatre at NightThe Bolshoi Ballet have plans for both stage and screen during their 2014-15 season, with its stage plans including a new ballet based on the Shakespearean story of Hamlet, Yuri Possokhov’s new Hero of Our Time, and a major revival of Yuri Grigorovich’s The Legend of Love. For the screen, Grigorovich will also dominate the company’s cinema season with two ballets and several productions also included in the programme.

The production of Hamlet will be staged by choreographer Radu Poklitaru and director Declan Donnellan, the team which was behind the Bolshoi’s controversial production of Romeo and Juliet. Hamlet will have its premiere on 11 March 2015, with audiences eager to discover the new production. Negotiations are currently underway as to the use of two Shostakovich symphonies to be used as the production’s music.

Possokhov’s new ballet will also be made for the Bolshoi’s new stage – in addition to Hamlet – and will premiere on 13 June 2015. It is based on Mikhail Lermontov’s novel which is set within the Caucasus mountains and features a Byronic hero. The Legend of Love, which will return to the stage on 23 October of this year, will also be the first broadcast in this season’s cinema programme. Many of the productions will be related live from the Moscow theatre to Cineworld and Picturehouse cinemas on Sundays.

The Legend of Love will be followed by Pierre Lacotte’s staging of the production Pharaoh’s Daughter, and Grigorovich’s stagings of La Bayadère, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, and Ivan the Terrible.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Les Ballets C de la B

Les Ballets C de la BFounded for a dare in 1984, les ballets C de la B is mix of surrealism, slapstick and semiotics within the sphere of dance. It’s ethos has consequently made it one of the world’s most influential dance theatre companies. Since then it has become a company that enjoys great success at home (Belgium) and abroad. Over the years it has developed into an artistic platform for a variety of choreographers and the company still keeps to its principle of enabling artists from various disciplines and backgrounds to take part in this dynamic creative process.

Les ballets C de la B is not easy to classify however it is possible to pin-point a house style (popular, anarchic, eclectic, committed), and its motto is ‘this dance is for the world and the world is for everyone’. As a result, Danceworks in London is presenting a 2-day workshop with the company in September, a great opportunity for aspiring dancers.

This workshop will be taught by dancer Bérengère Bodin who was born in 1980 in Fonteenay-le-comte, France. She studied at the CNDC in Anglers and then joined leading performance companies such as Raimund Hoghe, Joëlle Bouvier, Carolyn Carlson and Euan Burnet Smith, Kubilai Khan Investigation, JoJi Inc Cy, Isabella Soupart and Robyn Orlin, before joining les ballets C de la B.

Bérengère will encourage the dancers participating to feel and even redefine the emotions of life. This will be an opportunity to enter a world of not-knowing and she will work with individuals to examine their meaning and relationship to emotion, and this will be developed throughout the workshop. There will be opportunities to improvise, share and perform and the workshop is for those who wish to move to another deeper level in their dance and emotional expression

Participants must be 18 years of age or over.

Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Ballet Bartkowski Is Launched

Ballet BartkowskiBallet Bartkowski is a new professional company for ballet students working at a high level of classical dance, aged 18 to 23. Based in Croix, near Lille in France, Ballet Bartkowski was founded by Heidi and Waldemar Bartkowski with the aim to open the company in September of this year.

The new company will train talented and committed students who aspire to a professional dance career. Along with the usual daily classes in classical technique, the new students will follow a variety of workshop programmes in order to learn and develop different styles of classical ballet. The founders, Heidi and Waldemar, feel this is crucial in helping the young students to respond to the varying demands of choreographers, company directors and the industry itself.

Building up the students’ versatility is a sure fire way to make them employable and likeable as professional dancers who are able to apply themselves. The dancers will also have the chance to perform original works, including performances in both France and further afield. The combination of daily classical classes, workshops and performance opportunities looks set to develop students who are both prepared for professional careers and eager for them too.

Both Heidi and Waldemar Bartkowski had international dance careers before they began their own dance school in 2007. The reasoning behind their founding of the company is simple: the founders wanted to develop each of their students’ technical artistic talents in order for them to reach their full potential. Young dancers attending other vocational training institutions have a tough challenge on their hands in having to mature quickly enough in order to make it successfully onto the professional performing scene. The founders feel the stage experience provided by Ballet Bartkowski is essential for the students to secure their first professional engagement.