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.

The 2013 Theatre Scene

London's West End Theatre Scene

With a number of new productions hitting the stages of the West End in 2013, casting for roles has reached new appendages. Social media has been utilised more and more recently in order for performers to advertise their skills, recent work and aspirations, making the casting process for directors both easier and harder.

With all this toe-tapping talent on display, it may be easy to imagine that there is a lot of information to compare at the push of a few buttons. However, using social media in order to have an idea of casting for a new production may also mean that less and less talent is promoted, and more so an idealised version of the performer angling for work. Despite this, it is clear that social media platforms such as Twitter and YouTube are extremely useful in communicating messages about roles, rehearsal processes, and reviews, for example, but may not be as useful for other aspects of the production process.

The recently released cast list for the leg-warmer and leotard wearing A Chorus Line is just one of those emerging in 2013. The Broadway classic which is returning to the West End for the first time since it was first staged at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, shouts three leading ladies: Scarlett Strallen as Cassie, Leigh Zimmerman as Sheila, and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt as Diana. Other entries for 2013 are Book of Mormon, Dear World, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and tours such as The Full Monty, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Ghost and Wicked.

If the musical theatre scene was not enough to entice audiences, other names which will be appearing on London stages throughout 2013 are Dame Judi Dench, Helen Mirrren, Daniel Radcliffe, Jude Law, Rupert Everett, Felicity Kendal, Vanessa Redgrave, James McAvoy, Rowan Atkinson, Lee Evans, Zoe Wanamaker, and Sheila Hancock.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Diablo Ballet’s Web-Made Ballet

Diablo Ballet Logo

The world’s first “web ballet”, the brainchild of Diablo Ballet, has begun. Merging dance and technology, Diablo Ballet is calling ballet and dance fans all over the world to assist in creating the world’s first ballet of this kind.

Not dissimilar to the ideals of postmodern dance pioneer Merce Cunningham, the ballet of Diablo Ballet, named The Web Ballet, will be the first dance work developed from suggestions made on the internet, and will premiere this March in the US. Internet users can participate from anywhere and be fully involved in the creation of the piece, without having to dust off their leotards or legwarmers.

The Web Ballet will be based on the choreographic ideas submitted to Diablo Ballet’s Twitter page from 8 January 2013, welcoming budding choreographers and enthusiastic fans to submit their ideas and see them transformed into a fully-fledged work. The Twitter hashtag #DiabloWebBallet has been suggested in order for users to communicate ideas such as the mood of the work, the emotion and expression of the dancers and the movement vocabulary itself, using a separate tweet for each suggestion. Users can also vote for their favourite musical accompaniment as one of three works on Diablo Ballet’s YouTube page.

The Web Ballet will be created by Robert Dekkers, a Diablo Ballet dancer, and one of Dance Magazine’s 2011 25 to Watch artists.  Submissions end on 14 February, when Dekkers and Lauren Jonas, Diablo Ballet’s Artistic Director, will select seven choreographic suggestions. Dekkers will have two weeks to assemble the winning ideas, and create a new dance work. Those who tweeted the winning artistic suggestions will receive tickets to the performance, and a photograph of the completed work, autographed by Dekkers.

This is truly combining Twitter with the tutus!

N.B. All idea submissions become the property of Diablo Ballet.

2013 National Dance Awards

National Dance Awards Critics' Circle

28 January 2013 saw the 13th National Dance Awards winners announced at The Place, London. Considered by many as one of the most comprehensive list of dance achievements, 2013 certainly did not fail to deliver, providing a roundup of all the great work that was seen in 2012.

The awards are decided by the 60 members of the Dance Section of the Critics’ Circle after an extensive round of nominations and voting. To be eligible to win an award, performances had to take place in the UK between 1 September 2011 and 31 August 2012.

The 2013 winners are as follows –

DANCING TIMES AWARD FOR BEST MALE DANCER
Akram Khan (Akram Khan Company)

GRISHKO AWARD FOR BEST FEMALE DANCER
Marianela Nuñez (The Royal Ballet)

STEF STEFANOU AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING COMPANY
Royal Ballet Flanders

BEST CLASSICAL CHOREOGRAPHY
Annabelle Ochoa (A Streetcar Named Desire for Scottish Ballet)

BEST MODERN CHOREOGRAPHY
Arthur Pita (The Metamorphosis)

OUTSTANDING FEMALE PERFORMANCE (CLASSICAL)
Ksenia Ovsyanick  (English National Ballet)

OUTSTANDING MALE PERFORMANCE (CLASSICAL)
Zdenek Konvalina (English National Ballet)

DANCERS PRO AWARDS FOR OUTSTANDING MODERN PERFORMANCE (FEMALE)
Teneisha Bonner (Zoonation)

DANCERS PRO AWARDS FOR OUTSTANDING MODERN PERFORMANCE (MALE)
Tommy Franzén (Zoonation and Russell Maliphant Company)

BEST INDEPENDENT COMPANY
Ballet Black

DE VALOIS AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT
Robert Cohan

DANCE UK INDUSTRY AWARD
Jeanette Siddall

The Chairman of the Awards committee, Graham Watts OBE, spoke at the event, and dedicated the 2012 awards to the memories of the late Charles Hedges, John Percival and Freda Pitt, all of whom have died since the last awards. In the year of the Centenary of the Critics’ Circle, the combined years of membership for the three critics totalled a century.

American Ballet Theatre Announces Dancer Exchange

ABT Logo

The Royal Ballet’s Steven McRae and Royal Danish Ballet’s Alban Lendorf are set to dance with American Ballet Theatre in spring 2013 as part of an artist exchange programme at the Metropolitan Opera House.

In return for these tights-and-tunic dancers, American Ballet Theatre will be sending the principal dancer Cory Stearns to The Royal Ballet and soloist Isabella Boylston to dance in the Royal Danish Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker to appear as Exchange Artists.

McRae and Lendorf will be dancing in the spring season, with McRae dancing the role of Lankendem in Le Corsaire in June, and Lendorf dancing the role of Prince Désiré in The Sleeping Beauty in July. As part of the exchange program with The Royal Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet, American Ballet Theatre’s Stearns will appear with The Royal Ballet, and Boylston will dance the roles of Dew Drop and Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker in December. This exchange of dancers not only presents the skills and talents of the dancers to another audience but also enables the dancers to hone their technique under unfamiliar circumstances and in unfamiliar surroundings.

During his career, McRae has had the opportunity to perform roles such as Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, Lensky in Onegin, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, James in La Sylphide, Des Grieux in Manon, Prince Florimund in The Sleeping Beauty, Colas in La Fille mal gardée, the Prince in The Nutcracker and Cinderella, Blue Boy in Les Patineurs and The Chosen One in The Rite of Spring. Lendorf has equally danced roles such as Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, Prince Désiré in Christopher Wheeldon’s The Sleeping Beauty, Gennaro in Napoli, James in La Sylphide, Armand in Lady of the Camellias, the title role in Apollo and principal roles in Etudes, Other Dances, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux and Le Corsaire pas de deux.

English National Ballet’s Rebranding

ENB Rebranded Logo

Following the appointment of The Royal Ballet Principal Tamara Rojo as Artistic Director of English National Ballet, the company has been a world of change, from the management to the pointe shoe clad dancers themselves. As part of her new position, Rojo set both the tutu twirling dancers and those behind-the-scenes a very simple and inspiring vision.

Announced during the company’s first press call with Rojo at the helm, the message was clear: she aimed for English National Ballet to be the most creative and most loved company in the UK through what was produced for stage in cherishing ballet traditions, and also aspiring to the new. January has seen English National Ballet rebrand, discarding their black and white logo for one which is a pink and red quotation mark/pointe shoes, a gentle reminder that everyone has something to say.

In addition to a fresh logo, an important part of their new identity is the focus on collaborating with creative artists outside of the ballet world, such as with fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. This iconic British fashion house has worked closely with the company to eclectically style the dancers, with the images to be used across advertising and marketing material for 2013. Achieving this new vision will also be fulfilled through collaborations with choreographers, designers, artists, and partner organisations.

By presenting the company in a very different light to the world, Rojo aims to bring the artistry of ballet to as many people as possible, and transform the company along its journey. Whilst some may argue that the rebrand will diminish any form of the company’s previous prestige and influence, Rojo’s bold determination and confident creative leadership cannot be faulted. Her aspirations to ensure the company’s artists continue to excite, innovate and challenge mean that the company will be dancing to conjure wonderful, beautiful visions individually.

The Next Speaker in the YPIA Lecture Series

Akram Khan

Young People in the Arts has announced that the next speaker in its YPIA lecture series in association with the Southbank Centre is dancer-choreographer Akram Khan. Founded in 2008, YPIA is a social network for arts professionals at the outset of their careers, running a monthly programme of talks, debates and professional development opportunities, including the chance to network with others who work in the arts.

As one of the most celebrated and respected dance artists, Khan has created work that has significantly contributed to the arts sector in just over a decade. As a dancer with his roots based firmly in the South-East Asian style of Kathak, Khan’s most recent success was at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Khan’s reputation has been built on years of success and dedication, delivering highly accessible productions such as DESH, Vertical Road and zero degrees to audiences all over the world, of many other cultures and artistic disciplines. Previous collaborators of Khan’s include the National Ballet of China, actress Juliette Binoche, ballerina Sylvie Guillem, choreographer/dancer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, singer Kylie Minogue, visual artists Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley and Tim Yip, writer Hanif Kureishi and composer Steve Reich. His work in zero degrees even forms part of the UK dance curriculum today, with the duet becoming an awe-inspiring and extremely moving piece of work.

Khan has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout his career including the Laurence Olivier Award, the prestigious ISPA (International Society for the Performing Arts) Distinguished Artist Award, the South Bank Sky Arts Award and the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award. Khan was awarded an MBE for services to dance in 2005 and is also an Honorary Graduate of Roehampton and De Montfort Universities, and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban.

Images courtesy of Andy Miah at Flickr.

Opportunities at East London Dance

East London DanceThe New Year inevitably brings new resolutions, and if one yours is to “expand your experiences” then look no further! There is a wealth of opportunities in the dance and theatre sector for young people and here a just a selection of what you could be getting your hands on in 2013 for dance…

East London Dance is well-known for providing opportunities for young people. Whether you want to perform at an East London Dance event, audition to be part of one of ELD’s companies, or apply for a professional development opportunity, you can! Let your potential shine with one of these great projects.

Calling all choreographers to Blueprint! Blueprint consolidates the latest trends, freshest moves and a range of styles from young upcoming choreographers in one bursary, with the best competing for the top spot in March 2013. You must be 16-25 years and live in London, and the work should be created already or in development. ELD will be working with a youth panel to select the work presented as part of Blueprint through application and audition.

Street Stories: Dance Collaborations is calling all choreographers, composers, directors, visual artists, film makers, designers and artists from a range of backgrounds aged 18-25 looking for professional and artistic development through collaboration. Experimentation and the development of new relationships with other artists are on offer, an artistic development programme run with the Royal Opera House.

Tailor Made Dance, a third project, focuses on bespoke dance programming: if you are organising an event, putting on a festival or launching your brand and would like to present some high quality dance, East London Dance can design a tailor made programme to suit your needs and requirements.  Information about your event and short brief of what you are looking for, including your budget, is all you need to get started.

Grab your kit bag and get applying!

Scholarships for Italia Conti

Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts

As recently seen in accordance with the Sylvia Young Theatre School, The Stage newspaper is collaborating with stage school Italia Conti in order to award a scholarship value of up to £75,000. The total scholarship fund could be awarded to either one high-kicking, toe-tapping student or two, depended on the candidates who impress the audition panel. The scholarship will cover the winner’s secondary education training fees until the end of Year 11.

Italia Conti is the UK’s oldest theatre training school. The school emerged from the production of Where The Rainbow Ends at the Savoy Theatre in 1911, when the actress Italia Conti was asked to manage and teach the children in the play. Following this, Conti turned her attention fully to teaching and soon after, the Italia Conti School was born, and now covers three sites in London. The winner/s of the scholarship will be based at the theatre school which is at Italia Conti House, a building near the Barbican.

The Italia Conti school prides itself on building students’ confidence, providing excellent academic and vocational training for all those who don their ballet shoes, jazz pants and tap shoes. The school maintains that academic education is almost as important as the vocational training offered, and the breadth of training supports this entirely. Whilst based on tradition, heritage and history, the school’s experience in the field also lends itself to moving with the times and the ever-changing performing arts sector, for example by installing a recording studio and offering video classes.

As a result, the scholarship will provide aspiring performers with the opportunity to build a firm foundation of art through their training in order to secure a future career without the limitations of expense and training fees, meaning Italia Conti won’t lose any young performer who would be capable of carving out a career in the industry.

Judges Announced for ENB’s Emerging Dancer

ENB Emerging Dancer Competition 2013

The judging panel of English National Ballet’s prestigious Emerging Dancer Competition 2013 has been announced, as the annual event moves into its fourth year within the classical ballet diary.

Judging the developing yet hugely accomplished six dancers of the Company will be Darcey Bussell CBE, new President of the Royal Academy of Dance and Strictly Come Dancing judge, Tommy Franzén, runner-up of BBC1’s So You Think You Can Dance and choreographer of ZooNation’s Some like it Hip Hop, Luke Jennings, Author and Dance Critic at The Observer newspaper, Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre and Tamara Rojo, newly appointed Artistic Director of English National Ballet.

The Emerging Dancer competition, taking place on 4 March 2013 at the intimate venue of the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, allows ENB to publicly recognise and praise its upcoming talent, nurturing and encouraging excellence within the Company’s ranks. Last year’s winner was the nephew of renowned Royal Ballet dancer Carlos Acosta, Yonah Acosta, who has since achieved more success throughout 2012, most recently in the Company’s production of The Nutcracker. The young, talented nominees receive the opportunity to perform in an exciting live final with two solos in front of this eminent panel of expert judges. The winner is announced at the end of the evening along with the recipient of The People’s Choice Award, which is voted for by members of the public, closing on 9 February 2013.

Competing in The Emerging Dancer’s Competition for the top spot will be Alison McWhinney, Guilherme Menezes, Nancy Osbaldeston, Ken Saruhashi, Laurretta Summerscales and Nathan Young.

Image courtesy of ENB.