News from New Adventures

New AdventuresThe 25th anniversary of Matthew Bourne’s company New Adventures was 2012, and was perhaps one of the busiest in the company’s history. With the continued success of Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty in 2013, it seems there is no stopping the contemporary, theatrical company.

New Adventures recently announced that Sleeping Beauty will tour the United States from September this year, playing two week seasons in Cleveland (Playhousesquare), New York (City Center) and Los Angeles (Ahmanson Theatre) in addition to a week-long engagement at the prestigious Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Opening at the Civic Center in Des Moines on 27 September, the three month tour will also travel to Schenectady (Proctors) and Charlotte(Blumenthal Performing Arts). The US tour will follow the current record-breaking UK tour of the production, which is also due to visit The Ravenna Festival in Italy (29 May – 2 June) and the company’s fifth visit to The Chekhov International Festival in Moscow (11 -16 June).

Holiday plans have also been announced, with the original cast of Sleeping Beauty being filmed at the Bristol Hippodrome in May for later broadcast on UK and International television over the Christmas period. This will be followed by a subsequent DVD release: the film will be directed by Ross MacGibbon, who has collaborated many times with Matthew Bourne on previous award-winning New Adventures films, including the recent Imagine Documentary, “A Beauty Is Born”.

In the unveiling of another production for the company, Scottish Ballet will be presenting Highland Fling having been granted the rights to perform it. Highland Fling was originally produced in 1994, and was revived in 2005 before the exclusive 2013 Scottish Ballet production as an imaginative reworking of the classic romantic ballet La Sylphide with a wickedly wry Scotch twist.

NYCB’s Next Season

New York City Ballet LogoNew York City Ballet company, founded in 1948, has announced its 2013-14 season, and it is set to be incredibly exciting for eager ballet and dance fans of all genres. The new season is set to include the world premieres of ballets by Peter Martins, Justin Peck, Angelin Preljocaj and Liam Scarlett, a good result due to the speculation surrounding his absence from the next Royal Ballet season.

NYCB has carved its fantastic reputation as one of the foremost dance companies in the world, with a company of dancers who excel in their field and are unparalleled in their talent and repertory. As a result of the founders George Balanchine and Lincoln Kerstein’s dedication and commitment in its early years, the company quickly became renowned worldwide for its athletic, modern and contemporary style.

The season for NYCB will also include 22 works by company co-founder and the esteemed choreographer Balanchine, with an additional 7 works by choreographer Jerome Robbins. The iconic and traditional production of Balanchine’s Nutcracker will also run for the annual season over Christmas as part of the company’s 50th anniversary at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, which has been the Company’s home since the New York State Theater (now the David H. Koch Theater) opened in April 1964. In total, the season features performances of 50 ballets in the celebration.

First up for the season, beginning on 17 September, will be 6 performances of Martins’ Swan Lake and a gala performance with a premiere of work by Preljocaj. This season will also incorporate a family programme which will feature Christopher Wheeldon’s Carnival of the Animals, Martins’ Jeu de Cartes and Robbins’ Four Seasons. In the New Year, there will be a week-long festival of 21st-century choreographers, with 11 ballets by 10 choreographers, showcasing Peck’s world premiere and also including 2 fully Balanchine programmes.

Image courtesy of New York City Ballet.

Natalia Osipova To Join The Royal Ballet

Natalia OsipovaThe Russian superstar, and incredibly versatile, ballerina Natalia Osipova, most recently seen in the Mikhailovsky Ballet’s stint in London, is to join the Royal Ballet Company. Previously dancing with the Bolshoi Ballet, Osipova went on to leave the company two years later for the Mikhailovsky, in which she became a balletic household name. Her 2006 performance with the Bolshoi made her an overnight star when then-director Alexei Ratmansky picked her out of the corps de ballet.

Osipova danced as a guest with the Royal Ballet last year in Swan Lake alongside Carlos Acosta, displaying her dramatic acting range and sheer talent which was a clear hook for the British company. The next season for the Royal Ballet, beginning on 30 September, will be Osipova’s first, and she will be taking on the full range of the company’s heritage and modern repertory.

Osipova is hoped to be dancing the lead in Acosta’s new production of Don Quixote, with critics believing that Osipova will rise easily to the fantastic virtuosity and brilliance that is demanded by the role with the Royal Ballet, having honed the leading role herself worldwide previously, perhaps even her signature with the iconic head kick-jeté that is so recognisable.

Currently a principal at American Ballet Theatre until the end of June as well as the Mikhailovsky, Osipova intends to continue performing with both companies in addition to the Royal Ballet. She will also remain involved in the three-year agreement for freelance engagements with her on- and off-stage partner, Ivan Vasiliev, which expires in 2016 but will be arranged around her Royal Ballet schedule. The pair will next perform in California with the American premiere of Roland Petit’s Le jeune homme et la mort, alongside a new creation, which will also be performed in Moscow. Osipova and Vasiliev are also returning to London this summer for a performance with the Bolshoi, and the pair will be moving to the UK.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Maria Tallchief

Maria Tallchief (Dance Magazine cover photo February 1954)Maria Tallchief, the muse of celebrated choreographer George Balanchine and fantastic ballerina died on April 11th 2013, aged 88. She became one the most brilliant American ballerinas of the 20th century, and was even one of Balanchine’s wives, securely marking her place in modern ballet history.

Tallchief was renowned for her work with Balanchine’s New York City Ballet, dazzling audiences with her speed, energy and fire. Her stepping stone into fame took place in 1949, in which Tallchief danced the title role in the company’s version of Stravinsky’s Firebird, which was one of many roles that Balanchine created for her during their time together. Many dance fans from world-over may compare Tallchief to British ballerina Margot Fonteyn, each the epitome of their country’s work in the arts.

Tallchief began ballet lessons in Colorado Springs and later took classes in Los Angeles, and from then on a star began its journey into American dance, becoming known worldwide. At 12 years old she began studying with Bronislava Nijinska, a former choreographer for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, formidable but encouraging. From then on Tallchief began dancing roles cast to her by Nijinska, and Agnes de Mille, who later encouraged Tallchief to adopt her name by which she is known.

By 1944 Tallchief had danced mostly with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, but this marked the year that she danced in a Broadway musical choreographed by Balanchine. Balanchine went on to remain resident choreographer for the company, casting Tallchief in works such as Danses Concertantes, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, Ballet Imperial and Le Baiser de la Fee. Balanchine paid close attention to Tallchief, and in return she admired him as a choreographic genius, marrying him in 1946 but then divorcing him in 1950.

Balanchine went on to create his own ballet company, which Tallchief went on to be one of its acclaimed stars in roles in ballets such as Swan Lake, Nutcracker and Orpheus, the first performance taking place in 1948, and her last in 1965.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

New Adventures to hit NYC

Matthew Bourne's Sleeping BeautyMatthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, which completed his Tchaikovsky trilogy of the composer’s ballet masterworks, is preparing for a run in New York City in autumn following a hugely successful London season and UK tour. The trio began in 1992 with Nutcracker!, continuing in 1995 with his international hit Swan Lake.

Bourne’s acclaimed reimagining of the iconic classical ballet production will run during October and November at the New York City Center, and will be the company’s New York premiere of Sleeping Beauty. This is following Bourne’s Swan Lake also hitting the City in 2010 after its first visit in 1998 when the production played on Broadway and won three Tony Awards.

The original production of tutus and tights, The Sleeping Beauty, was choreographed in 1890 by Marius Petipa, inspired by Charles Perrault’s fairytale about a young girl cursed to sleep for 100 years. As a result, The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker were all re-imagined by Bourne in terms of choreography, set, and interpretation, expanding audiences and combining classic stories with contemporary and theatrical dance.

For Sleeping Beauty, Bourne sets his production in the original year of 1890, setting the christening of the central protagonist Princess Aurora at the height of the fin de siècle period, full of fairies, decadence and vampires which fed into the gothic imagination of the era. The narrative then moves forward into the Edwardian era of with Aurora’s coming of age, and into the modern day with her waking after a century-long sleep.

Bourne’s production of Sleeping Beauty was the fulfilment of a great ambition in order to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Bourne’s company New Adventures in 2012, and also to complete his choreographing of three great Tchaikovsky ballets.

BGT’s Pudsey – Where Is He Now?

Ashleigh Butler and PudseyThe loveable, fluffy winner of the 2012 series of Britain’s Got Talent has certainly been busy since he danced away from the hit talent show crowned the winner alongside his owner Ashleigh Butler. In December of last year Pudsey, a border collie, bichon frise and Chinese crested cross, brought the house down in a dazzling Bond inspired finale at the Royal Variety Performance, performed before Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Pudsey’s winning routine on the talent show saw Ashleigh train her pet to jump, dance on his hind legs, weave through her legs and Pudsey even ran across the judges’ table! Ahead of his Royal Variety performance however, Pudsey has been a host of American talk shows and his dancing paws have even experienced Simon Cowell’s private jet!

However, it seems the highlight of Pudsey’s year was being the final act as a dazzling duo to perform at the Royal Variety Show, filmed at the Royal Albert Hall. The pair took to the stage, one in his furry uniform and the other in a bright pink unitard, and performed a routine with a 007 theme, devised to mark the film franchise’s 50th anniversary for 2012. The routine was of an acrobatic formation set to a medley of Bond themes, showing off Pudsey’s daredevil tricks and energetic leaps around the stage. Post-performance, it was thought that the double act was a particular favourite of Her Majesty.

The Royal Variety Performance of 2012 was the Queen’s 36th year in attendance, and may even have seen her pick up a few dog-training tips from the pair! Alongside Pudsey and Ashleigh, the Royal Variety Performance also presented some of the other Britain’s Got Talent winners take to the stage.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Dancing for Comic Relief!

Comic Relief

March 2013 has seen £75,107,851 raised through the 25th Red Nose Day to help transform lives in the UK and Africa.

Dancing and fundraising have lent themselves to one another vastly in the past, and 2013 has been no different. Already this year stars have been dusting off their dance shoes in order to raise lots of money for charity, including Ann Widdcombe and Russell Grant in a Strictly Come Dancing special for Children In Need, and Coronation Street actor Anthony Cotton and his performance of Anything Goes for Let’s Dance for Comic Relief. This is without counting the many non-official dance-athons and sponsored swing dances, for example, undertaken by the general public, contributing vastly to this cause.

To help raise money for Comic Relief, slapstick comedy genius Miranda Hart has completed five challenges in five cities in what was aptly named ‘Miranda’s Mad March’. Of particular interest for dance fans everywhere, Miranda completed a Strictly Come Dancing evening in the Manchester Town Hall with Strictly professional Pasha Koyalev, with the daunting task of dancing a Latin American routine to the iconic dance track I’ve Had the Time of My Life. Organising and performing at this special Strictly event from the all-time favourite dance film, Dirty Dancing!

Of course a dance performance without a few worries would be unheard of, so Miranda’s knee injury cropping up before her challenges had even started meant that she worked extra hard to complete the Dirty Dancing challenge and even attempt the iconic lift! With Pasha a worthy contender for the legendary Patrick Swayze, Miranda also created magic with her co-star Sarah on the dance floor, and they could even be contenders for the next series of Strictly Come Dancing!

Matt Mattox: A Dancing Life

Matt Mattox

Matt Mattox, the renowned dancer, choreographer and teacher who helped shape contemporary jazz dance in the United States and Europe, died on February 18, 2013 in France aged 91. Perhaps known under the auspice of ‘Matt Mattox technique’, Mattox’s interpretation and approach to jazz dance has been practiced and delivered by many students and professionals, and will no doubt continue to be. Mattox taught his brand of dance to generations of pupils, first in New York and later in Europe.

Mattox had a prominent career dancing in films and on Broadway in the 1940s, and afterwards, despite being less well known than some of the celebrated Hollywood dancers of his era, such as Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Despite this, he was every inch their competitor in making his mark on the art of dance throughout the twentieth century, even appearing in the 1954 film Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, amongst others, choreographed by Michael Kidd. For his role in Seven Brides, Mattox can be seen performing a dazzling series of leaps and splits above a sawhorse.

Mattox went on to build on jazz dance’s aesthetic traditions and kinetic vocabulary by developing the work of his mentor, prominent choreographer and teacher Jack Cole, envisioning the body as a straight line with curving lines of light energy. As a result, Mattox, as a primary protagonist, built on Cole’s traditions and reshaped them as his own. As a dancer, and later choreographer, Mattox was celebrated for his ease of movement and precision, in addition to his fantastic agility. Mattox helped conceive a dance genre that was subtler, more rhythmically complex and far more eclectic, combining his own extensive training in ballet with tap dance, modern dance and folkloric dance traditions from around the world. What resulted was a new, fluidly integrated art form Mattox called ‘freestyle dance’.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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.