Swan Lake

Swan Lake - Royal Swedish Opera

Swan Lake as an iconic and perhaps one of the most ‘stereotypical’ traditional ballets of the arts world is showcased by many prestigious ballet companies each year. Complete with white pointe shoes and feathered head pieces, the twirling tutus of the numerous swans which grace stages all over the world are breathtaking.

A company which engages with the staging of their version of Swan Lake each year is English National Ballet, renowned for its glamour and success, and notable for placing 60 swans on the stage of the Royal Albert Hall in June 2010. This was in addition to featuring the production in an episode of their notorious BBC documentary, Agony & Ecstasy: A Year at English National Ballet.

From 3 – 11 August 2012 at the London Coliseum, ENB will perform its enchanting production during the London 2012 Olympic Games, choreographed by Derek Deane. The opening night will see Daria Klimentová present her experience and beauty, don her tights, and dance the lead role of Odette/Odile alongside Russian star Vadim Muntagirov as Siegfried in their internationally recognised star partnership. Arguably the most powerful ballet ever created, Swan Lake is set to Tchaikovsky’s unmistakable score, featuring some of the most beautiful music in classical ballet repertoire.

Additional events from ENB highlight the extent of Swan Lake’s popularity and ultimate success amongst ballet lovers across the globe, regardless of whether they regularly wear leotards and ballet shoes. A masterclass with esteemed guest repetiteur and artistic advisor Maina Gielgud is included in the available itinerary, in which she will work with two dancers on a challenging pas de deux from Swan Lake.  The ‘Swan Lake Aspire Day’ is also available, in which a fun and informal workshop focusing on Swan Lake will be held at the ENB studios. In addition, an on-stage creative workshop will include the opportunity to watch ENB’s dancers in their practice dancewear, taking part in morning class, as well as the unique chance to watch Company Class.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

English National Ballet’s Summer Party

Kensington Palace

On 27 June 2012, English National Ballet together with Swarovski presented its Summer Party at The Orangery, Kensington Palace. With the Company’s prestigious tutus taking over one of London’s most beautiful outdoor settings, the evening held enchanted images of art, ballet and live performance inspired by the iconic production Swan Lake, ahead of English National Ballet’s season of the work at the London Coliseum from the 3-11 August 2012.

English National Ballet has a glamorous reputation for hosting sparkling events attended by numerous elite London partygoers as part of the Company’s fundraising initiative. For 2012, celebrated individuals were invited to create fantastic works of art inspired by the regal nature of swans. Previous guests have included Kate Moss, Richard E. Grant and Jerry Hall, swapping the usual pointe shoes of English National Ballet for party shoes and Pimms.

The artwork produced is available to view online, and includes pieces by Kimberley Walsh, Beatrix Ong, Pixie Lott and Immodesty Blaize (you can see the full gallery here: ENB Summer Party Art Gallery) . Selected works were auctioned on the evening of The Summer Party by Lauren Laverne, with canvases still to be created to buy by Ronnie Wood, new Artistic Director of English National Ballet Tamara Rojo, Sam Taylor-Wood, Moschino and Swarovski.

Some of the dancers of the Company donned their tights and feathered tutus to grace the exquisite party, with the whole Company proceeding to perform excerpts of Swan Lake in the gardens of the Palace. With the traditional yet both influential and elite production displayed for the guests’ entertainment, they also received goody bags containing luxury spa and hair care products, jewellery and handmade chocolates, contributing much to a greatly anticipated evening in the world of ballet and the tiaras within it.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Sadler’s Wells Summer University

Sadler's Wells Summer University

From the 9 to the 21 of July 2012, Sadler’s Wells will be hosting its Summer University, with fifteen young choreographers returning for the first programme of its kind in the UK, with the second year of the free course running throughout July.

Directed by one of the most respected choreographers in Europe today, award-winning Jonathan Burrows, previously a dancer of Rambert Dance Company, Sadler’s Wells Summer University has given places to students from a vast range of dance styles, from pretty pointe shoes to New Yorkers, ranging in age from 25 to 37. With the programme aimed specifically at choreographers with up to five years professional experience, the four-year programme features a two-week intensive period every summer.

This fantastic opportunity is a fortnight of intensive talks, lectures, discussions and workshops, with additional input from guest artists and speakers. The course focuses on compositional and choreographic processes, performance and philosophies, encouraging participants to question how dance can be made and what it might communicate to audiences. The programme is a long-term approach to choreographic study, designed for artists after their initial training, be it in a tutu or tap shoes, in the early stages of their careers.

It is ambitious in its range of initiative as part of all that Sadler’s Wells offers to support and develop choreographers, with the Jerwood Charitable Foundation supporting the programme as part of the ongoing Jerwood Studio at Sadler’s Wells which began in 2006, to develop creative opportunities for dancers and choreographers to experiment at the start of a project, before being committed to a production. Over the years approximately 75% of these projects have gone on to be commissioned, produced or programmed by Sadler’s Wells, including Matthew Bourne, Clod Ensemble, Jasmin Vardimon, Pet Shop Boys and Javier de Frutos, puppeteer Sue Buckmaster and Arthur Pita, and Hofesh Shechter emphasising the prestigious nature of the programme.

Image courtesy of David Hawgood at Geograph®.

Big Youth Dance Weekend

Big Dance Youth Weekend

As part of Big Dance 2012, Sadler’s Wells is due to present the Big Youth Dance Weekend at the Scoop, More London, on the 7 and 8 of July. Marking the start of Big Dance week, the Big Youth Dance Weekend will celebrate youth dance across the capital, and will also welcome dance groups from further afield, encouraging even more young people to engage with dance, especially during such an iconic dance event for the UK.

The Scoop is an open air “scooped out” ampitheatre next to The Greater London Authority’s City Hall. In collaboration with the Big Youth Dance Weekend, the performance opportunity which arises is a relaxed, informal event, with groups performing one after the other. Hosted by Hakeem Onibudo for Big Dance, his expertise in hip hop and street dance emphasises the sheer variety of dance styles available in the twenty-first century, with each one becoming popular in its own right. Both the spectacular rhythms of Latin and ballroom shoes and the speedy footwork of jazz shoes and leotards, alongside the urban dance moves of street crews make for a fantastic weekend.

Now in its 7th year, the Big Youth Dance Weekend has transformed itself into an outdoor performance event not to be missed. The performance blocks which form the Big Youth Dance Weekend reflect the Big Dance Hubs which aim to welcome dance groups from every London borough to the unique event in order to celebrate Big Dance thoroughly. Both youth and school dance companies are eligible to apply to take part in the event of both primary and secondary school aged young people, with all dance styles welcome, be it the twirling tutus of ballet or the resounding taps of jazzy tap dance shoes. Each dance company will be allocated to a performance block which matches the group’s borough location, split into North, East, South East, South, West and Outside London.

To apply, download the application information and form from the website and get your dancing shoes on!

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Dance GB

Dance GB 2012

Dance GB, between the 4th and 8th July, has been branded as a ground-breaking national celebration of dance inspired by the London 2012 Games, showcasing the collaboration between Scottish Ballet, English National Ballet and National Dance Company Wales. As the UK’s three national dance companies, leotards and pointe shoes will be fused with dynamic dance quality for the first time in a thrilling programme featuring three specially commissioned works from leading contemporary choreographers: Christopher Bruce, Martin Lawrance and Itzik Galili.

Performed in the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, there will not be a tutu in sight, despite the piece being filled with technical brilliance, proving pink performance tights are not needed to create a show-stopping dance event. Dance GB will première in Glasgow before touring to Cardiff and London, including a live webcast from a special Company class featuring all three companies online at www.scottishballet.co.uk from 1.30pm on Friday 22 June. The class will be followed by a Q&A session with dancers from each company, offering dance and non-dance fans alike the chance to ask questions about the dancers’ training, being on tour, and life as a dancer.

Scottish Ballet will dance Martin Lawrance’s Run For It, a high energy work which is said to be inspired by the power of Olympic athletes, tying in directly to the London Olympic Games. Extremely dynamic, the piece is set to the rhythms of John Adams’ Son of Chamber Symphony and features a sculptural installation created by Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Boyce. Christopher Bruce’s Dream features sly musical references to Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean’s sensational 1984 Sarajevo Olympic win, a tribute to sporting bravado and a “tongue-in-cheek” celebration of the iconic event.  This witty piece will be danced by National Dance Company Wales, linking the 2012 Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in a unique piece. The finale is provided by Itzik Galili’s And the Earth Shall Bear Again, danced by English National Ballet. Inspired by John Cage’s prepared music for piano, Galili’s piece turns Cage’s rich and versatile music into an accessible piece of extraordinary dance, inspired by the many “beginnings” of 2012.

Screened with the performances is Dancing Parallel, an awe-inspiring film by Nic Sandiland featuring 60 dancers from London, Cardiff and Aberdeen on a journey through classical ballet, contemporary dance and parkour.

London Contemporary Dance School’s End of Year Season

Each year, the UK’s contemporary dance house The Place announces its annual End of Year Season, in which graduating students from London Contemporary Dance School perform both a varied and excellent programme. This marks the completion of their training at one of the world’s leading conservatoires and inspires the next generation of dancers to harness their dance talents and hone their training.

London Contemporary Dance School Graduation 2012Image courtesy of Benedict Johnson Photography.

Rather than a focus on pretty pink pointe shoes or the West End tap tones, the Robin Howard Dance Theatre is overrun each year with bare footed talent, sporting a range or dance clothing, which is generally thought to set the standard of contemporary dance throughout the rest of the country. The season includes In Performance: Postgraduate Alumni, which will feature the work created by MA Choreography Alumni, celebrating the work produced by the course over a period of 11 years, performed by London Contemporary Dance School’s alumni.

Additionally, EDge, the postgraduate performance company of LCDS, will be presenting a repertoire that has been toured around Europe by the company’s 12 dancers since March 2012, including upcoming choreographer James Wilton’s Through Shards, and Avant Garde Dance’s Founder and Artistic Director Tony Adigun’s Unleashed, inspired by Richard Alston’s iconic Wildlife.

The Graduation Performances will feature over 40 graduating students performing specially commissioned works by professional choreographers, including The Place’s Artistic Director Richard Alston. Alston has restaged his latest piece A Ceremony Of Carols, originally commissioned by The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury and Sadler’s Wells. A selection of the students’ own choreography, chosen from the body of work created over the last year will also be featured to complete the programme. This represents the culmination of the graduates’ experiences at LCDS, completing their BA in Contemporary Dance and Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Dance Studies. The diverse range of works demonstrates the breadth of their studies and the excellence of the performance demonstrates the sheer quality of their training.

Flash Mob, Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Flash Mob

Flash Mob, a dance show starring acts from TV shows such as Got To Dance and So You Think You Can Dance is to debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. Flash Mob will be a “public platform to create sensational routines” without the limitations that are so often encountered when choreographing dance on screen. Adapting choreography for a TV programme especially can limit the creativity of the artists involved, with the main focus being on the dancers, leg warmers and all, rather than the whole construction process from pulling on jazz shoes to the final production clad in outrageous costumes.

However, Flash Mob implies that a piece based on ordinary people can produce extraordinary dancing. Often the winners and finalists from the dance programmes mentioned above – and plenty of others – are quickly nabbed for international tours supporting pop legends and West End productions. The focus of these is usually solely on ‘selling’ rather than the dance aesthetic itself which may run the risk of slowly fading, with artists losing the chance to dance in their own right and simply existing as ‘a name’.

As a result, Flash Mob is a show that will give these artists the opportunity to choreograph their own individual routines for themselves, rather than filling someone else’s dance shoes, and becoming in the process the stars of their own show. The Flash Mob show will be directed by Gary Lloyd, artistic director and choreographer for Thriller Live and artistic director for Hair The Musical. Additional directors will include star hip hop dancers who have found fame on TV talent shows and films, such as Got To Dance 2011 finalists Alleviate. The show will run from 2nd-27th August 2012 at the Assembly Hall, Edinburgh.

Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures turns 25

New Adventures

As part of British choreographer Matthew Bourne’s company New Adventures‘ 25th anniversary celebrations, old works have been revived and new ones are being created.

A triple bill was presented in May this year, showcasing works – for the second time – that launched Bourne’s career, and will undoubtedly propel his choreographic status further today. Spitfire was Bourne’s first creation in 1988, placing the most famous 19th century ballet showstopper in the world of men’s underwear advertising. A far cry from the dance tights and tunics of the day, Bourne’s men are costumed in revealing shorts and vests, a springboard for his success. Town and Country from 1991 saw Bourne’s and New Adventures’ first Olivier nomination as it immortalised the Bourne dance style in its ironically witty yet moving creation. Bygone eras and national characters are explored, a recurring theme in most of Bourne’s work. The Infernal Galop was inspired by 1930s and 1940s French icons, as seen by the “stiff upper lips” of English imagination to delight Bourne’s audiences.

Summer 2012 has recently seen the next instalment of celebrations. Bourne’s Play Without Words, in association with the National Theatre, depicts Chelsea in 1965 and the paradox of domestic social order and struggles for power in a spellbinding production. Its first revival as part of the 25th anniversary since 2002 at the National Theatre is seen to be another critical and popular success, making its debut at Sadler’s Wells and repeating its Olivier nominated work in such a prestigious dance house is a sure mark of the company’s success. Play Without Words won the 2003 Awards for Best Entertainment and Best Theatre Choreographer.

The 25th birthday of New Adventures will culminate with the world premier of Bourne’s latest re-imagining of the ballet classic The Sleeping Beauty. This will complete the trio of ballet masterworks that began with Nutcracker! and continued to reveal the international hit Swan Lake, minus the twirling tiaras of the originals. Again featuring touches of the Olivier, award winners will collaborate to create another Bourne magic, if potentially haunting production as a supernatural love story.

Not one for employing pointe shoes and pristine tutus, Bourne has contributed uniquely to both the British and international dance scene, providing sheer entertainment and arguably igniting a love of dance for many audience members.

Masterclass

Victoria Place

The London initiative of annual “how to” sessions for 16-25 year olds, Masterclass, is 10 years old in 2012, and is celebrating by providing attendees with fantastic ticket offers. Within the arts sector, as with life itself, the reason for its continuance and success is the result of human beings and their individual wants and needs. Many young people who have trained in the stereotypical ballet, tap and modern, donning pretty pink ballet shoes, huge varieties of jazz shoes and every child’s dream of noisy tap shoes. However, not every young thespian or ballerina grows up chasing the dream of performing on stage for most nights of their lives.

Masterclass is a fantastic project which can be an aid to these individuals, providing worthwhile and alternative advice for those who love theatre, but with aspirations sometimes straying from the stage. For example, Masterclass 2012 in London will see a Theatre Careers Advice Panel, a Getting into Drama School, and Musical Theatre talks, catering for numerous involved with the arts, whatever their tastes. A Masterclass event to be held in Sheffield, additionally, will include a Maureen Lipman Masterclass, a Masterclass Patron, at the International Student Drama Festival as one of Britain’s best loved actresses and comedians. As part of the Masterclass vein, Lipman, CBE, will share her invaluable knowledge of working on the British stage with the next generation of emerging theatre artists.

Many are inclined to forget those who are responsible for theatre and the arts sector who are not in the spotlight on-stage in the high-heeled New Yorker shoes and shining show tights. However, in order to make the show in hand possible, numerous backstage and administration staff are required, all of whom in the making are catered for at Masterclass.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Mass Movement Agency

Mass Movement

A new dance collaboration has been launched by Mass Movement, a London based dance talent agency sourcing and representing some of the best choreographers and dancers in the world, ranging across the board with a number of different specialities and abilities. Their new project group, “The Movement”, encompasses a tight-knit and powerful collaboration of respected industry chorographers and dancers. Each Mass Movement choreographer offers different styles and skills across Modern Commercial, Contemporary, Jazz, Street Dance and Hip Hop, with extensive experience in Artist Creative Direction and New Artist Development contributing also. The works of the choreographers of Mass Movement have been featured in a variety of media, such as music tours and videos, TV specials and commercials, and live corporate events.

Self-titled as the UK’s latest dance phenomenon, The Movement hosts 16 remarkable dancers fusing dance disciplines. Aiming to take the dance sector to an entirely new level that has never been seen before, The Movement is operating under the direction of Creative Director Christian Storm and some of the most highly acclaimed choreographers of the industry. Fusing a multitude of dance genres with fantastic skill ranges and talents, The Movement looks set to become a “super group”, creating a remarkable new concept for dance. Whether your interest is “pretty in pink” pointe shoes, the dapper tap shoe or the urban skills of those in dance trainers, Mass Movement is sure to hit the spot.

Storm’s enthusiasm for the dance and leotard clan of Laine Theatre Arts where he trained, lead him to open his own talent agency and live event production company, having worked in this capacity for so many of his own performing and choreographic years.  Mass Movement ensures that the very best talents and the most elite professional dancers in varying genres are within easy reach of clients. Storm’s choreographic and directive success relies on his unique combination of incredible talent and innovative, creative ideas which are delivered by his personable yet professional nature. Storm is renowned also for instinctively knowing how to achieve the best from the performers and clients he works with, instilling confidence that Mass Movement is able to deliver with style.