The Rudolf Nureyev Foundation Medical Website

Rudolf Nureyev Foundation

The Rudolf Nureyev Foundation medical website has recently been launched, dedicated to dancers and the medical and health professionals who care for dancers. The website provides access to recent and archived articles from leading professionals in the field, in addition to listing up-to-date research and conference proceedings, resources and information and links to international specialist healthcare provision.

The website is currently administered through a partnership between Dance UK and the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation, having been updated as a result of a dance survey conducted to assess the existing digital resources in dance medicine and science. As a result of a successful collaboration with leading dance organisations, as well as a Medical Advisory Board of leading senior health and science professionals dance practitioners, dancers everywhere will be able to benefit from the website’s service. Whether they wear leotards and tights or tutus and pointe shoes, dancers will have access to much information which will aid them throughout their dance studies and beyond.

The website will also be developing the International Dance Healthcare Directory to provide a listing of health professionals with experience in treating dancers, which can be searched by location, name, dance style and in which treatment they specialise. As a result, the website will provide links to existing national listings such as Dance UK’s Medical Practitioners Directory.

Nureyev established the Foundation in 1975 as ‘The Ballet Promotion Foundation’, aiming to invest and manage the Foundation’s endowment fund and to distribute grants to beneficiaries. The Foundation also served to promote ballet through the support of individual dancers, or companies, and performances. The Foundation received its current name in 1994 and remained keen to help young and talented dancers through their studies and in the development of dance as a whole. In addition to this, the Foundation was renowned for supporting medical, scientific and humanitarian projects.

The Royal Ballet School’s End Of Year Performance

The Royal Ballet SchoolThe Royal Ballet School’s end of year performance on 14 July 2013 at the Royal Opera House will see a world premiere performed. The one-act ballet entitled La Destinée has been commissioned especially to be performed alongside works by Maurice Béjart, Jiří Bubeníček and Valentino Zucchetti.

La Destinée will feature a new score by young British conductor and composer, Michael England, and has been choreographed by Mark Annear, The Royal Ballet School’s Head of Outreach and Teacher Training, with sets and costumes designed by former student Gary Harris for the students so used to the regulatory pink tights, ballet shoes and leotards. La Destinée will showcase the exceptional talent of students from all three years of The Royal Ballet Upper School. The piece is not essentially narrative, but will serve to demonstrate the versatility of the company of young dancers.

Excerpts from Maurice Béjart’s Seven Greek Dances will also appear. Having premiered in 1983, this version has been restaged especially for The Royal Ballet School by Jean Yves Esquerre who was a member of Béjart’s company. The young Czech choreographer Jiří Bubeníček will stage his Canon in D Major. The piece was originally part of a longer work entitled Le Souffle de l’Esprit, created in 1992 and inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s studies of the human body. Currently a Principal Dancer at the Semperoper Ballet, Dresden Jiří Bubeníček’s choreography has been performed by New York City Ballet, Zurich Ballet, Vienna State Opera Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, The National Ballet of China, North Carolina Dance Theater as well as for his company in Germany. Former student of The Royal Ballet School, Valentino Zucchetti will stage his Sonata for Six. A Soloist with The Royal Ballet, Valentino Zucchetti first choreographed a piece for the Company’s Draft Works at the Linbury Studio Theatre in 2011: Sonata for Six is a development of the original creation.

The climax of the end-of-year show will be Grand Défilé, featuring all 225 students of the school in a fantastic display of virtuosity.

The World Of Andrew Wright

Andrew Wright is a musical theatre choreographer achieving more and more prominence in the theatre world. Most recently nominated for, and winning, Best Choreographer for Singin’ in the Rain at the Palace Theatre in the What’s On Stage Awards 2013, he is creating fantastic and entertaining work, and looks set to stay at the forefront of the musical theatre industry.

Aside from Singin’ in the Rain, Wright has also recently worked on the High Society and Wonderful Town UK tours, with 2013 alone demonstrating his choreographic talent in encompassing all aspects of the performance industry. Wright has also worked with artists such as Elaine Paige, Jane McDonald, Idina Menzal and Caroline O’ Connor, and worked alongside such directors as Jonathan Church, Paul Kerryson, Braham Murray, Nikolai Foster, Phil Wilmott, Richard Frost and Lisa Kent.

Before choreographing, Wright trained at the Arts Educational School, London, and went on to have his own fair share of West End performance stints. He performed for thirteen years, in shows such as Mary Poppins, Cats, Follies, Anything Goes, Mack and Mabel and Beauty and the Beast, and now works as a full-time choreographer in his own right. To date his career has encompassed a wide range of productions from West End musicals to arena events, working with 400 strong choirs to intimate cabarets of one person. In addition to 2013, 2012 saw Wright nominated for the Best Theatre Choreographer Olivier Award, with his work continuing to spread throughout London and the south.

Next up for Wright will be welcoming Jennifer Ellison to the cast of Singin’ in the Rain as Lina Lamont, taking over from Katherine Kingsley for the West End cast. Other cast members will also be altering, such as those playing characters Kathy Selden and Cosmo Brown, completing the trio made famous by Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Conner in 1952 MGM musical film.

Martha Graham Dance Company Vs Hurricane Sandy

Martha Graham Dance Company

The Martha Graham Dance Company was just one affected by Hurricane Sandy, yet despite all odds the company is drawing itself back up to full height, long skirts and contractions included. The storm flooded the company’s production office, and sets and costumes were severely damaged.

The repertory, created by one of the pioneers of American modern dance, Martha Graham, is one which examines humanity, the soul and all the emotions in between. In order to fulfil the practicalities of being a full-fledged dance company, the company needed many items which were damaged for upcoming performances. Dancers, staff and a crew of volunteers worked to recover items from the company’s basement in order to restore order. Some costumes, many of which are original garments and some even worn by Martha Graham, returned to their pre-Sandy state, whereas others had to be entirely reconstructed.

So far the company has not missed a deadline or a costume requirement due to the sheer effort and support of others. However, Hurricane Sandy has also presented opportunities for the company, such as dancing without sets. The company has been able to experiment in many ways, for example, staging Graham’s 1947 classic Errand Into the Maze without its usual set of a large piece resembling a U-shaped tree that the dancer climbs all over. This enabled a reimagining of the famous setting whilst remaining true to such distinct choreography: the company meanwhile has time to recover more of its belongings.

Sets like those for Errand Into the Maze would have been replaced over time due to normal wear and tear, but Hurricane Sandy forced this to happen in quick succession. Performances in 2013 so far have meant the company borrowing items and solving problems: American Ballet Theatre even loaned its costumes for Graham’s 1949 Diversion of Angels, which has been the ABT repertory since 1999.

Changes Within The Royal Ballet

The Royal BalletFirst Artist Jonathan Watkins is set to leave The Royal Ballet on 23 February to embark on a freelance career as a choreographer/director. Watkins joined the company in 2003, with his interest in choreography sparking as a student at The Royal Ballet School and continued in his transition to larger ballet shoes as part of the company. Watkins has, most recently, choreographed Diana and Actaeon as part of Titian: Metamorphosis 2012 with William Tuckett and Liam Scarlett. His many outside commissions to date include two short films for Channel 4 and serving as movement director for Alan Bennett’s latest play People at the National Theatre. Next for Watkins are numerous projects such as choreographing new works in Russia and America, and a collection of theatre and film projects.

Principal Dancer Mara Galeazzi will also leave, hanging up her pointe shoes and passing down her tutus when she retires in July 2013 at the end of the current season. Galeazzi will focus on new projects, teaching dance and her work for her charity foundation Dancing for The Children which raises funds for sick children in Africa. Galeazzi joined the company in 1992 and was promoted to Principal in 2003. She has danced a wide range of the repertory, both classic and contemporary, including works by Ashton, MacMillan, Cranko, Balanchine, McGregor and Wheeldon. Galeazzi is most well-known for her dramatic interpretation of many leading roles in Kenneth MacMillan’s ballets including Juliet, Mary Vetsera and Marie Larische in Mayerling, Manon and Lescaut’s Mistress in Manon, and the Woman in The Judas Tree. Galeazzi’s farewell performance at the Royal Opera House will be as Mary Vetsera in Mayerling on 13 June, and her final performance with The Royal Ballet will be in Monaco where she will perform the title role in Manon on 29 June.

The Dance Again Foundation

The Dance Again Foundation2012 saw the launch of the Dance Again Foundation, a charity which was created specifically to provide support and advice for professional dancers to help them return to the stage post-injury. Through its work, the Foundation aims to help each dancer manage each injury they have, and even prevent minor injuries develop into major ones through early intervention and enhanced rehabilitation. The injury does not have to have a dance-related cause: for many dancers who have experienced injury through accident, the Dance Again Foundation works to help dancers access the appropriate treatment and therapy to enable them to return to dance.

Luckily for dancers everywhere, the Dance Again Foundation has been able to establish a firm financial base over the last 12 months in order to help dancers achieve optimum recovery with the goal of enabling them to return to their career. The dance community is able to assist this work by becoming involved with fundraising and publicising the charity’s work, and dance teachers are able to particularly assist, making sure their students are aware of the Foundation’s existence. Seeking assistance for injuries, however small, can be made much easier. Several low-key fundraisers are planned for 2013 in addition to corporate sponsorship and other sources of fundraising being investigated. A large-scale gala concert is also being organised for the spring, and a line of dancewear and accessories for male dancers is also being designed.

The Dance Again Foundation initially came into being through the experience of one particular family, whose son was an apprentice with Bern:Ballett, and the Dance Again Foundation was able to assist with addressing the financial and facilitating situations of the family. Dancers dealing with these problematic injuries may find the finances and facilities are limited, yet the Dance Again Foundation works to ensure the dancer will be able to dance again.

Liam Scarlett’s Latest Work

Liam Scarlett

The Royal Ballet’s Liam Scarlett, recently appointed as the Royal’s Artist in Residence, has choreographed again for Miami City Ballet following his last work for the company, having made the transition to choreographing full-time. Hanging up his ballet shoes in the performing sector, Scarlett has seamlessly transferred to the arena of choreography.

Scarlett is seen to be in demand all over the world, most recently premiering his new work Euphotic for Miami City Ballet, which opened on 11 January 2013. Having concluded the company’s Programme II, the performance also featured works by George Balanchine and Marius Petipa, two of the most influential modern and classical ballet choreographers respectively. Euphotic is said to be a ‘closing ballet’, which finishes three classical ballets as a statement for the audience and set to a score of Lowell Liebermann. Scarlett himself designed the scenic and costume designs, with Miami City Ballet blogging the process of working towards Scarlett’s vision and dyeing various pieces of fabrics blue and yellow, representing the sea and the light of the sky.

Last season Scarlett showed off his Viscera for Miami City Ballet, featuring principal dancer Jeanette Delgado, who is also cast as the lead for this season’s Euphotic as a sequel work of twenty-eight dancers. There are three principals and their partners in total leading the movement, fulfilling four movements of dance. The four ballets including Euphotic will also be presented at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples, Florida as Programme I in addition.

Who knows what is next for Scarlett’s choreographic adventures, but he has certainly hit the ground running, now to build on his creativity and spread his talent further.

Image courtesy of ROH at Flickr.

Paris Opera Ballet’s New Director

Opera National de Paris LogoIt has been announced that the Paris Opera Ballet will be taken over by Benjamin Millepied, the choreographer and a former principal at New York City Ballet, in September 2014. The previous director, Brigitte Lefèvre, will retire at the end of the 2013-14 season after nearly ten years at the top.

Millepied trained at the Lyon Conservatory, going on to join the School of American Ballet. His professional career as a dancer was spent with New York City Ballet, where quickly became a principal dancer in 2002. He then retired in 2011 in order to focus on choreography, and founded the L.A. Dance Project last year.

2014 will see Millepied inherit one of the world’s greatest classical companies, complete with 150 talented and tutu clad dancers, and a fantastic history: the company is the result of the very beginnings of ballet at Louis XIV’s court. The dancers of the company almost all come from the Paris Opera Ballet school, and they rarely leave to dance elsewhere once they have achieved a position in the company.

Millepied has had much professional experience. He has created touring groups, and has organised choreographic projects and festivals with musicians and artists. As a choreographer he has created works for major companies which include American Ballet Theatre, NYCB and the Paris Opera Ballet, and has also worked on Black Swan, the blockbuster film. Millepied has created two works for the Paris Opera Ballet and has a third commissioned for next season, ahead of his role as director. When he does step into the role, he will maintain a strong focus on contemporary ballet repertory for the classical company in order to develop a new identity and develop in-house choreographic talent, similar to Tamara Rojo’s aim at English National Ballet.

The future of ballet looks set for a lot of evolutionising!

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s 2013 Choreographics Performance

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Birmingham Royal Ballet recently presented its 2013 Choreographics performance on 10 January 2013 as a unique programme of ballet created by BRB dancers. Rather than donning their usual tutus, tights and pointe shoes, programmes of this kind give the dancers the chance to develop their artistry in a related but separate avenue of dance performance and create to their own tastes.

The pieces, danced by members of the Company, were performed in the studio theatre at Elmhurst School for Dance in Birmingham, with the six dancers choreographing announced as Kit Holder, Matthew Lawrence, Brandon Lawrence, Ruth Brill, Kristen McGarrity and Lachlan Monaghan. The dancer-choreographers choreographed pieces specifically for the event, to music of their own choosing. The projects provide a welcome opportunity to experiment creatively, try new things out with unlimited freedom and take a breath of fresh air from the rigours of the studio, filled each day with leg warmers and buckets of sweat.

Kit Holder, who has previously contributed to the Choreographics evening of 2010, subsequently had one of his pieces Printer Jam included in Birmingham Royal Ballet’s 20th Anniversary Royal Gala and the launch of the Drum’n’Bass awards in Birmingham, before being expanded into a longer piece as part of International Dance Festival Birmingham 2012. Kit is a clear example of the heights emerging choreographers can reach, and especially those usually contained in a classical environment, rather than a more experimental one. In addition to this, Matthew Lawrence has previously had the opportunity to choreograph gymnastically, demonstrating the doors which may be available to the dancers, should they extend their career to choreographing. Royal Ballet dancer Liam Scarlett is also a demonstrator of this, having recently choreographed for Miami City Ballet.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

2013 at Sadler’s Wells

Sadler's Wells Logo

2013 will mark the 15th anniversary of the current Sadler’s Wells building, and the venue aims to celebrate with very special events throughout the year, with all 14 of the theatre’s associate artists contributing to the varied and entertaining programme.

Following its success in 2012, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch will return to the London venue with Bausch’s Two Cigarettes in the Dark, which was created in 1985, and the 2006 creation Vollmund. The Sadler’s Wells flamenco festival is also celebrating this year with its 10th anniversary, castanets and fans galore, in addition to the National Ballet of Canada appearing with their pointe shoes, ready to present the European premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s Romeo and Juliet. The centenary of The Rite of Spring will also be celebrated with A String of Rites, a series of new productions and revivals which will include Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre in Michael Keegan-Dolan’s staging, as Keegan-Dolan becomes the 15th Sadler’s Wells associate artist.

In addition to a number of performances, Sadler’s Wells has announced a new wave of associate artists of the theatre, alongside the existing associate programme of established performers and choreographers. The new young artists will receive a bespoke programme which is tailored to their needs, including much studio time to fulfil those legwarmer needs, in addition to advice and financial support. The aim of the programme is to provide an artistic home for the artists involved: for the first year of the scheme Sadler’s Wells will be supporting Rocio Molina, Random Dance|Wayne McGregor dancer and choreographer Alexander Whitley, Brussels based choreographer Daniel Linehan, visual artist and performer Hetain Patel, Chinese contemporary company TAO Dance Theatre and dancer, choreographer and filmmaker Wilkie Branson.