Washington Ballet’s Swan Lake debut

The Washington BalletWashington Ballet is set to make a historic debut when it presents iconic ballerina Misty Copeland at the helm of its production. In April 2015, many firsts will be seen for the 70 year old company, none more prominent than the premiere of star ballerina Misty Copeland in the leading roles of Odette/Odile. The production will also launch performances by musical artists of S&R Foundation’s Evermay Chamber Orchestra in Washington Ballet’s first-ever full length production of this quintessential ballet.

Recently Copeland has been on the rise to stardom as one of the US’s most celebrated ballerinas, only the second African-American ballerina to be promoted to soloist at American Ballet Theatre. Recently she was a guest judge on the television show So You Think You Can Dance, and was appointed by President Obama to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.

As an artist, Copeland is changing the paradigm as to what a ballerina should look like, with delicate physicality, fantastic technique and a natural stage presence to make her one of the most important female dancers in the US today. As a classical dancer she is now redefining the typical notions of what a ballet dancer should look like, and is a model for where classical ballet is going, ultimately artistic and physically powerful.

Washington Ballet will be dancing Kirk Peterson’s adaptation of Swan Lake, which draws heavily on the 1934 adaptation of the 1895 original Petipa/Ivanov Swan Lake. Peterson is widely regarded as a specialist in re-staging full-length classical repertoire such as The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Giselle and Coppélia through years of research and dedication to ballet. For Swan Lake, Peterson aims to revive the original intent of Swan Lake and breathe new life into what he calls “a damaged icon.”

National Dance Awards Nominations

National Dance Awards Critics' CircleThe nominations for the 15th National Dance awards promise a ‘vintage list’ of eventual winners as traditional dance boundaries are broken down and the spotlight falls on the younger, rising stars. The nominations have been whittled down from a long list of nearly 400 names, and from a year’s worth of performances that took place between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2014. A new category, the emerging artist award, was added this year to ensure younger and less established dancers and choreographers were acknowledged, keeping the spectrum of talent as broad as possible.

It is clear that the category boundaries are not clear-cut: for example, Akram Khan’s two nominations as dancer and choreographer of Dust both appear in the contemporary categories, even though the work itself was commissioned and performed by English National Ballet.

The winners of each category will be announced on 26 January 2015.

Best Male Dancer

  • Jonathan Goddard (Mark Bruce Company, New Movement Collective, HeadSpaceDance)
  • Vadim Muntagirov (ENB, Royal Ballet)
  • Steven McRae (Royal Ballet)
  • Edward Watson (Royal Ballet)

Best Female Dancer

  • Alina Cojocaru (ENB)
  • Marianela Nuñez (Royal Ballet)
  • Natalia Osipova (Royal Ballet)
  • Diana Vishneva (Mariinsky Ballet)

Outstanding Company

  • English National Ballet
  • Mark Morris Dance Group
  • Northern Ballet
  • Stuttgart Ballet
  • Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch
  • Ballet Black
  • HeadSpaceDance
  • Mark Bruce Company
  • New Movement Collective

Best Classical Choreography

  • David Dawson (The Human Seasons for the Royal Ballet)
  • Arthur Pita (A Dream Within a Midsummer Night’s Dream for Ballet Black)
  • Liam Scarlett (No Man’s Land for ENB)
  • Christopher Wheeldon (The Winter’s Tale for the Royal Ballet)

Best Modern Choreography

  • Richard Alston (The Britten Bill for Richard Alston Dance Company)
  • Mark Bruce (Dracula for Mark Bruce Company)
  • Akram Khan (Dust for ENB)
  • Arthur Pita (Facada in Osipova and Vasiliev’s Solo for Two)
  • Crystal Pite (The Tempest Replica for Kidd Pivot)

Emerging Artist Award

  • Francesca Hayward (dancer, Royal Ballet)
  • Drew McOnie (choreographer, the McOnie Company)
  • Kevin Poeung (dancer, Northern Ballet)
  • Marcelino Sambé (dancer, Royal Ballet)
  • Alexander Whitley (choreographer, Alexander Whitley Dance Company)

Outstanding Female Performance (Classical)

  • Alina Cojocaru (Medora in Le Corsaire for ENB)
  • Francesca Hayward (in Rhapsody for the Royal Ballet)
  • Natalia Osipova (as Giselle for the Royal Ballet)
  • Kristina Shapran (Terpsichore in Apollo for the Mariinsky)

Outstanding Male Performance (Classical)

  • Yonah Acosta (Conrad in Le Corsaire for ENB)
  • Alexander Jones (Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew for Stuttgart Ballet)
  • Vadim Muntagirov (Conrad in Le Corsaire for ENB)
  • Xander Parish (as Apollo for the Mariinsky)

Outstanding Female Performance (Modern)

  • Fang-Yi Sheu (in PastPresent and Two x Two at Sadler’s Wells)
  • Wendy Houstoun (in Pact With Pointlessness)
  • Carys Staton (in Still Current for Russell Maliphant Company)
  • Clemmie Sveaas (in If Play Is Play for HeadSpaceDance)

Outstanding Male Performance (Modern)

  • Miguel Altunaga (in Rooster for Rambert)
  • Jonathan Goddard (as Dracula for Mark Bruce Company)
  • Akram Khan (in Dust for ENB)
  • Liam Riddick (in Illuminations for Richard Alston Dance Company)

Equity Opposes Child Performer Plans

EquityEquity has responded to plans to allow child performers to start work at 7am – an hour earlier than adults – and has called for more clarification on streamlining child performance regulations. The government has just completed consultation over bringing the regulations for children working on screen or stage in line with each other: when children can take part in performances and the breaks they must have.

The government states that the earliest time young performers can currently start work is between 7am and 10am, depending on age, but that it is proposing to make it 7am for all children. However, Equity has responded by claiming that the proposed time is too early, especially when taking into account the time required for performers to travel to a place of work and the fact adults start later. The upper limit for broadcast work is 7pm for children nine and over, and 4.30pm for those under nine. The government has unjustly suggested children over five work no later than 11pm, children aged between two and four no later than 10pm and not beyond 4pm for those under two.

Equity is additionally concerned that there is a proposal that children aged over five have just three breaks in eight hours and has rejected a proposal to reduce the minimum duration of lunch breaks from an hour to 45 minutes. It is clear that a break of anything less than one hour is simply not enough, for the child performers to come out of costume, take comfort breaks, eat and drink, have enough time to digest their food and keep hydrated and also have time to relax and play. Following this, the government is currently assessing the responses it has received.

English National Ballet – Sadler’s Wells’ First Associate Ballet Company

ENB LogoIt has been announced that English National Ballet will become Sadler’s Wells’ first associate ballet company. This exciting relationship will see ENB present two annual seasons at Sadler’s in the spring and autumn of each year from March 2015 onwards.

Future plans include a new triple bill with choreography by William Forsythe, John Neumeier and Jiří Kylián, the return of the acclaimed Lest We Forget programme, and a new production of Giselle choreographed by Akram Khan in autumn 2016.

The company is renowned for its commitment to bringing ballet and contemporary choreography to the widest possible audiences, making it the perfect match for Sadler’s. The new contemporary work commissioned by Artistic Director Tamara Rojo has added an exciting dimension to ENB’s reputation and repertoire, the result of a clear vision for ballet in the 21st century. Rojo will continue to honour great classical works, keeping them relevant to today’s audience, while introducing new works into the company’s repertoire; the classics of the future with Sadler’s as a platform to present them.

ENB’s new triple bill Modern Masters: Icons of 20th Century Choreography programme includes the UK premiere of Neumeier’s Spring and Fall, Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, which is new to the company’s repertoire, with Kylián’s Petite Mort completing the programme.

Lest We Forget, inspired by the centenary of the First World War, includes work by three British choreographers; Dust, by Khan, looking at the empowerment of women in war as the main workforce in the country; Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Russell Maliphant’s Second Breath about the sacrifice of men; and No Man’s Land by Liam Scarlett, exploring relationships and the loss and longing felt by women left behind by their partners.

Meanwhile, Khan’s new version of Giselle aims to give this iconic ballet his own unique interpretation that fulfils an important part of the company’s vision; to commission and present innovative collaborations that honour and enhance both traditional and contemporary ballet.

Northern Ballet’s Plans For 2015

Northern BalletLeeds-based company Northern Ballet has recently announced its plans for 2015, following a very successful year on the stage and in the studio in 2014. Having staged a number of successful productions with the dust slowly settling, 2015 looks set to be another exciting year for the company.

The company’s plans will include a new adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 by Jonathan Watkins, a season of love stories, a new mixed bill and much-loved tale, the children’s ballet The Elves and the Shoemaker. Recently the company has also staged fairytales such as The Ugly Duckling to critical acclaim, so audiences look set for a real treat with The Elves and the Shoemaker.

In February 2015, the company will dance the UK premiere of Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Romeo and Juliet in Edinburgh, and will go on to tour David Nixon’s ballets Wuthering Heights and The Great Gatsby. Following an increase in funding from Arts Council England from 2015 to 2018, the company has introduced a new strand of touring: Madame Butterfly and Christopher Hampson’s Perpetuum Mobile will be taken to nine new venues, giving Northern Ballet the potential to reach an additional 18,000 people.

Northern Ballet will mark its 45th anniversary with a Sapphire Gala at Leeds Grand Theatre in March 2015, and in May it will dance a mixed programme in Leeds and at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio theatre. This programme will include the London premiere of Kenneth Tindall’s work The Architect, his most recent work.

In addition, a choreographic ‘laboratory’ workshop will be held in Leeds in May and June; it will work to invite emerging dance makers to work with the company dancers on new narrative material. Not only will this uncover new work for the ascending company, but will also provide unique opportunities for aspiring dance makers.

Resolution! Review: Opportunity for Dance Writers

The PlaceResolution! Review is a scheme headed by The Place as an opportunity for writers interested in covering dance and performance. It offers emerging writers, interested in honing their live performance review skills, the chance to see three different performances per night from up-and-coming choreographers, and review these new dance companies. Successful candidates will also be mentored by a professional dance critic, and have their work published and promoted by The Place.

Resolution! is now the biggest annual showcase for contemporary dance in the UK and it returns to The Place in the New Year from Thursday 8 January to Saturday 21 February 2015. Celebrating 26 years of bringing fresh new dance to the stage, the festival will be presenting an exciting, unpredictable programme once again. As the online platform covering the entire festival, Resolution! Review is written by a team of national dance critics paired with the young emerging writers. Each show is reviewed by both a professional and one aspiring writer.

The Place is now looking to recruit its reviewers for Resolution! 2015. You don’t need to be a technical dance expert, the team is simply looking for excellent writers who can communicate their responses honestly and in an engaging way. The successful applicants will also have access to seminars providing opportunities to ask questions around current working practices.

As a national centre for contemporary dance development, The Place has been leading the way in dance training, creation and performance for over forty five years. It is one of Europe’s most exciting, innovative dance spaces, where artists from all over the world come to push creative boundaries, to experiment and to perform outstanding new work for audiences who expect to be surprised, inspired and delighted.

To be one of this year’s Resolution! Reviewers send sample dance review (maximum 300 words) by Wednesday 3 December with “Resolution review” in the subject line to: communications@theplace.org.uk

American Ballet Theatre’s 75th anniversary

ABT LogoAmerican Ballet Theatre is set to mark is 75th anniversary with a celebration which will last 15 months. It will include historic revivals, new works, a new documentary film, a touring exhibition by the Library of Congress and an anniversary gala. With such a huge milestone to celebrate it seems the company is rather justified in its plans. If this news was not exciting enough, guest artists for the season will include Evgenia Obraztsova, Natalia Osipova and Marianela Nuñez, who will be making her American Ballet Theatre debut in a revival of Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella.

The spring season will feature works performed during the company’s first decade of work, such as George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations, which was created for the company in 1947. The works will also include Agnes de Mille’s 1942 Rodeo, bringing out the company heirlooms from the archive. The most anticipated part of the celebratory year of the anniversary is Alexei Ratmansky’s new production of The Sleeping Beauty, which has its world premiere at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in California on 3 March 2015.

The company will hold its anniversary gala at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York on 18 May 2015, featuring special guest appearances, film excerpts of historic performances and interviews with major figures in the dance world. Esteemed choreographer Mark Morris will then create a new work for American Ballet Theatre’s autumn season for 2015.

The anniversary will also be marked by a new documentary by film maker Ric Burns, detailing the company’s intricate background. The Library of Congress exhibition – American Ballet Theatre: touring the globe for 75 years – will be on view until January 2015, and will then travel to Los Angeles where it will be available to view for six months.

Mark Morris Dance Group Split For Global Tour

Mark Morris Dance Group LogoThe Mark Morris Dance Group, in order to fulfil their global tour in October and November 2014, will be going both east and west: for the first time in the company’s 34 year history, it will split into two groups. Half the troupe’s dancers will tour the United States, Scotland, Italy and Switzerland, while the remainder will head for Cambodia, East Timor and Taiwan. The company will then reunite in Shenzhen, China on 11 November. The company spends around half of each year touring.

The Asian part of the tour is part of of the United States State Department’s DanceMotion USA, a cultural diplomacy programme in partnership with the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Numerous activities are planned in addition to the performances, including choreography workshops, the chance to work with a number of professional dance companies, and also with female victims of domestic violence and female factory workers in Taiwan.

Within both sections of the tour, the company members will begin ‘the Polka Project’, taking the last section of Morris’s 1993 “Grand Duo”, and teaching it to the professional, amateur and student groups they encounter in an educational and developmental strand.

On each tour, the company will perform Morris’s newest work, “Words” which premiered at Fall for Dance on 8 October. “Words” will be performed by eight dancers from each group while they are on the separate tours, and in China it will be performed by the full 16 member cast.

“Words” was created in order to be flexible, in terms if the number of pieces of music, the number of dancers in a particular section, even the sequence of dances, much like Cunningham’s work. The company often encounters spaces that are too small, with a floor that’s too hard, but Morris has built those factors in so the piece can be presented anywhere.

News For English National Ballet’s Swan Lake

ENB LogoFrom 7-18 January, English National Ballet will return to the London Coliseum with Derek Deane’s critically acclaimed production of Swan Lake, following a UK tour.

Arguably one of the most popular ballets created, Swan Lake tells the story of Prince Siegfried’s love for the Swan Queen, Odette, their battle against the evil magician, Rothbart, and an encounter with the manipulative Odile. This popular production brings the romance and high drama of the Russian ballet tradition alive: this version premiered at the London Coliseum in 2000 and has since been seen by over 550,000 people around the UK.

Continuing to work with the very best talent from around the world, Swan Lake will see Guest Artists Ivan Vasiliev, Alban Lendorf and Vitor Luiz perform alongside Alina Cojocaru, Tamara Rojo and Fernanda Oliveira respectively.

Swan Lake also sees Lead Principal Elena Glurdjidze’s farewell performance with the Company on 18 January. Glurdjidze has been with the English National Ballet company for 12 years of her professional career; in her time she has performed lead roles in Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Giselle and Manon to name a few. She was nominated for Best Female Dancer in the Critics’ Circle Awards in 2009 and won the Ballet.co.uk Audience Poll for Best Female Dancer in 2007 and 2008.

The company has been at the heart of the UK for decades, and it is clear that the dancers have earned such places too. Under the leadership of Tamara Rojo, it is clear the dancers are flourishing and the company is going from strength to strength. As Artistic Director she is providing increasingly significant opportunities for the dancers, including those with numerous guest artists who are internationally renowned. Bringing their talent and expertise to the company means it can continue to thrive.

BBC Young Dancer 2015

BBC Young Dancer 2015BBC Young Dancer 2015 is a new award for young people that showcases the very best of young British dance talent. Young dancers will enter in one of four categories: ballet, contemporary, hip hop and South Asian dance. The competition will culminate in a grand finale at Sadler’s Wells, London, when the best dancers in each category will compete for the competition title.

It is a brand new project for young ballet, contemporary, hip hop and South Asian dancers, as part of the BBC’s continuing commitment to the arts and the support of new artists. The new award joins BBC Young Musician as a showcase for talented and dedicated young performers. Since it was first held in 1978, BBC Young Musician has helped to launch the careers of many of the UK’s most successful classical music stars.

BBC Young Dancer 2015 is placing dance centre stage by looking for dancers aged 16-20 across the four categories. To reach the final dancers must make it through three competitive rounds, where they will be judged on criteria designed to reward technical command, creative and expressive ability, as well as hard work and dedication. Each round is a performance opportunity, and after each one they will receive honest and supportive feedback from leading professionals on the judging panel.

As dancers progress through the rounds, they will get opportunities to dance for leading professionals in their chosen dance style. There will be new choreography created for the finalists, and workshops along the way where they will have the chance to work on their performances with choreographers and leading dance practitioners.

The finalists will dance on the main stage at Sadler’s Wells on 9 May 2015, in front of the house and a UK-wide television audience. The winner will receive £3,000 to help support and further their dance studies.