Strictly 2016

Strictly Come Dancing is always a highly anticipated event in both the dance and the popular culture calendar. With celebrities vying to win the contest ahead of their star-studded peers – and impress the panel of judges too – it makes for entertaining viewing full of wonderful costumes and eye-catching routines. The professional dancers taking part in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing have already been announced, with three brand new dancers joining the returning favourites. New to the line up are World Champion Katya Jones, Ukrainian Champion Oksana Platero and Spanish dance professional Gorka Marquez.

Returning to Strictly are Anton du Beke, Brendan Cole, Kevin Clifton, Pasha Kovalev, Aljaž Škorjanec, Giovanni Pernice, Karen Clifton, Natalie Lowe, Joanne Clifton, Janette Manrara and Oti Mabuse. Tristan MacManus, Ola Jordan, Kristina Rihanoff and Aliona Vilani announced at the end of last series that they would not be returning to the show, as well as Gleb Savchenko, who has other commitments. Head judge Len Goodman also announced recently that 2016 will be his last Strictly series, disappointing news for many, and now much speculation as to who will fill his shoes in this position.

There has been much speculation also as to who the celebrity dancers will be for this series of Strictly, pairing up with the professional dancers in the Autumn. Names that have so far emerged from the rumour mill include barrister and daytime TV phenomenon Judge Rinder, and TV presenter Angelica Bell, who has now been confirmed as signed up for this year’s contest. Other names include Downton Abbey actress Michelle Dockery and American pop singer Anastasia, adding to the clan of performing arts professionals who will no doubt shine in the spotlight!

Misty Copeland – Disney Star

American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland is set to star as the lead ballerina in the live-action version of The Nutcracker created by Disney. She is well on her way to becoming a household name with what might be her biggest job yet. Having already identified herself as accomplished in a number of balletic roles, this Nutcracker gig is not the first time Copeland has been on screen but is one of a kind for the ballerina.

The film is entitled The Nutcracker and The Four Realms, directed by Lasse Hallström. Hallström’s filmography also includes titles such as The Cider House Rules, Chocolat, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Copeland is familiar with the role of Clara, dancing the part in Alexei Ratmansky’s production of The Nutcracker. She will be appearing in the film’s dance sequence however there is no word on who the choreographer may be just yet. Also unconfirmed is the release date for the film.

The Nutcracker and The Four Realms will be based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” in which a young girl named Marie watches her toy nutcracker comes to life, fights the evil Mouse King, and is whisked off to a magical land filled with living dolls. The classic ballet, with its iconic score from Tchaikovsky, is based on that tale. It has been adapted for the big screen many times over the past few decades, most recently in 2009, with The Nutcracker in 3D.

Ahead of any filming or choreography schedules, Copeland is keeping herself very busy. Alongside dancing as a principal with American Ballet Theatre, this summer alone she is launching her own dancewear line, named Egal. She is also appearing in a Cosmopolitan magazine feature and even getting married.

Professional Dancer Line Up for Strictly 2016

The BBC recently announced its professional dancer line up for the hit television show series Strictly Come Dancing 2016. A highlight of the dancing year for many, the series is always highly anticipated and has gone from strength to strength year on year. With other celebrity talent competition, such as Dancing on Ice, falling by the wayside, Strictly has continued to be popular.

With some departures from the Strictly Come Dancing professionals there are also some new faces. There will be three brand new dancers perform alongside the return of viewers’ favourites. New to the line up are world-class Latin and Ballroom dance experts including World Champion Katya Jones, Ukrainian Champion Oksana Platero and Spanish dance professional Gorka Marquez. The most recent series of Strictly saw the team win both an NTA and BAFTA Television Award, so the stakes are high to continue this winning streak.

Returning to the Strictly dance floor are the male dancers, Anton du Beke, Brendan Cole, Kevin Clifton, Pasha Kovalev, Aljaž Škorjanec, Giovanni Pernice; and the female dancers returning are Karen Clifton, Natalie Lowe, Joanne Clifton, Janette Manrara and Oti Mabuse. Professional dancers Tristan MacManus, Ola Jordan, Kristina Rihanoff and Aliona Vilani announced at the end of last series that they would not be returning to the show, as well as Gleb Savchenko who has decided that due to family commitments he will not be appearing in the next series. Additional professional dancers to join the Strictly team will be announced in due course.

The hugely popular Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC One in the Autumn when the celebrity line-up will also be revealed. Some existing rumours have been circulating as to the celebrities who may take part; it is clear that the 2016 Strictly will be just as fabulous.

NBC’s Annual Live Musical

The WizTelevision channel NBC recently announced that the next live musical to be broadcast on its popular and wide-reaching channel would be The Wiz, an iconic version of the legendary Wizard of Oz. Following an annual live musical series on the channel, The Wiz will be broadcast and will then return to Broadway, New York City, for the 2016-17 season.

Earlier in 2015, Robert Greenblatt, the chairman of NBC’s entertainment division, announced that after “The Sound of Music Live” in 2013 and “Peter Pan Live” in 2014, the network would next see The Wiz as the next live musical production. “The Music Man” was a close contender in the running, however this may be seen in 2016 instead. The Wiz will be broadcast live on 3 December, making its debut on the network, produced in partnership with Cirque du Soleil’s theatrical division.

The yearly tradition is enjoyed by a large number of American audiences; for 2015, the channel will see yet another Broadway musical brought to America’s living rooms, with the added bonus that it will then be performing on Broadway for an even larger audience pool. Broadcasting the musical live adds an extra theatrical element to the production, enabling even wider audiences to see musical theatre productions, and from the comfort of their homes.

The Wiz, as a welcome version of the “Wizard of Oz” story featuring an African-American cast, first appeared on Broadway in 1975. The 1978 movie version, co-produced by the movie strand of Motown Records, was directed by Sidney Lumet and starred Diana Ross as Dorothy, Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow and Nipsey Russell as the Tin Man.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire Available On-Demand

Digital TheatreEnglish National Ballet’s Le Corsaire is now available on-demand in HD for the first time, courtesy of DigitalTheatre.com Collections. To rent, the cost is £3.99, and to buy, it is £10.99, expanding the ballet content of DigitalTheatre.com. Le Corsaire is the first production to be captured live for English National Ballet.

Le Corsaire (The Pirate) is a thrilling ballet about Conrad, a dashing pirate, and his love for Medora, a beautiful harem girl. It is a swashbuckling drama of captive maidens, rich sultans, kidnap and rescue, disguise and conspiracy, love and betrayal, culminating in a shipwreck which is one of the most breathtaking spectacles in ballet. English National Ballet is the first UK company to perform the complete work, which showcases some of the most bravura male dancing in the ballet repertoire.

Hollywood film designer Bob Ringwood has created new sets and costumes for the lavish piece, an adventure story which promises unmissable entertainment. DigitalTheatre.com will mean English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire can be shared on screen with a global audience. DigitalTheatre.com Collections is a unique cultural service that provides a platform for producers of quality content that has previously been recorded, forming a catalogue of recent and contemporary theatre, concerts, opera, ballet and dance. It is the world’s best on-demand global arts entertainment platform.

DigitalTheatre.com has over 40 West End and Broadway shows available to rent or buy in HD, with a global reach in over 220 countries. Working in partnership with leading theatre companies it captures stunning live performances authentically created for a fully immersive on-screen experience. The spectacle and choreographic brilliance of Le Corsaire is perfectly matched with the platform, and is a thrilling addition.

Dancing Cheek To Cheek: An Intimate History Of Dance

A new series of ‘discovering dance’ programmes will hit our television screens ahead of Christmas, courtesy of BBC 4, dancing dandy of Strictly Come Dancing fame Len Goodman and historian Lucy Worsley. Throughout three episodes they will take to the floor to reveal the untold story of British dance, and show how Britain’s historical dances offer a fascinating window into society and relationships with one another. Worsley is adamant that dance ultimately is a metaphor for relationships, and in two hundred years time, the historical dances – which would encompass those today – would still be viewed in that way.

Each week, the pair will research and investigate a number of historical dances as well as train alongside a group of amateur dancers to recreate an iconic dance finale – the Charleston – in full costume at a historic location, the famous Café de Paris in London. Goodman and Worsley will track the story of popular dance from the 17th century to just before WWII, demonstrating how dance has always been about far more than learning the moves and feeling the rhythm. It is also about seduction, power, etiquette, economics, social change and romance.

Under the tutelage of many historical dance experts the three episodes contain a wealth of knowledge and history. In learning about the dances and how to do them, Goodman and Worsley have been able to appreciate the stories behind dance and uncover its secrets, be it etiquette or necessity. Dancing has gone from being frowned upon as dangerous and debauched to being an essential social skill, to being opened up to more people than ever before having lost its dubious reputation. The first few decades of the 20th century witnessed the most rapid and revolutionary change for British dance, and the rest – as they say – is history!

Billy Elliot’s Live Screening

Billy ElliotThe recent live screening of the much-loved Billy Elliot the Musical has topped the UK and Ireland cinema box offices, with takings of £1.9 million. The screening, which was broadcast live from London’s Victoria Palace Theatre to more than 500 cinemas on 28 September, beat new releases such as The Equalizer and The Boxtrolls to the top spot, and was the widest ever cinema release of a live event. This is fantastic news for musical theatre fans – and the industry – in expanding the reach of the musical for new and perhaps unanticipated audiences.

The musical, written by Lee Hall with music by Elton John, is an adaptation of Hall’s 2000 film. It is directed by Stephen Daldry with choreography by Peter Darling. The story, set in the mining town of Newcastle during the Margaret Thatcher era tells the story of a young boy’s quest to train at the Royal Ballet School against the odds of social, economic and personal difficulties.

25 former and current Billy Elliots, including the three original performers – James Lomas, George Maguire and Liam Mower – took part in a special finale of the show, which was broadcast to eight countries. Encore screenings of the performance went on to take place at more than 350 cinemas on 2, 3, 4 and 5 October and a DVD of the special event will be released on 24 November.

Billy Elliot the Musical is produced in the West End by Universal Stage Productions, Working Title Films and Old Vic Productions in association with Tiger Aspect, and is based on the Universal Pictures/Studio Canal film. The popular musical is currently booking until 19 December 2015, but by expanding its reach through cinema, who knows how long it could run for!

Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly Come DancingStrictly Come Dancing is back for 2014! Judges Len Goodman, Darcey Bussell, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli will all be returning to the popular BBC1 show, ready to judge 15 celebrities on their ability to jump, jive and boogie.

The final line-up of celebrities for 2014 has recently been finalised and announced, and they are Frankie Bridge (of S Club Juniors and The Saturdays fame), Judy Murray (tennis coach), Alison Hammond, Thom Evans, Simon Webbe (of the boy band Blue), Mark Wright (former The Only Way is Essex star), Sunetra Sarker, Jake Wood (of Eastenders fame), Steve Backshall, Scott Mills (from BBC Radio 1), Pixie Lott (solo pop star), Caroline Flack (TV presenter), Jennifer Gibney, Gregg Wallace and Tim Wonnacott.

There have been many Strictly news stories ahead of the live shows this year, mostly because of the BBC’s decision to release the names of the celebrities one by one (with the exception of the last three names) in the run-up to the 2014 contest. There has also been some controversial discussion about how well-known the celebrities are compared with previous years when contestants included those such as newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky, model Kelly Brook and household names Russell Grant, Susanna Reid and Vanessa Feltz.

In presenting the show, long-time host and veteran Bruce Forsythe has handed the Strictly baton to Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, who will welcome this year’s 15 celebrities to the Strictly studio for the very first time on Sunday 7 September. New for this year, there will also be a Strictly Come Dancing Red Carpet special, featuring the first interviews with the entire Strictly line-up debuting on the Red Button and BBC iPlayer at 7pm on Wednesday 3 September in order to give viewers at home a little more insight into the Strictly world.

Busby Berkeley: More Hollywood Treatment

Busby BerkeleyThe son of an actor and actress, Busby Berkeley became a Broadway dance director in the 1920s after serving in the army during World War I. He came to Hollywood to work on films like Eddie Cantor’s Whoopee! in 1930 and turned to directing with the 1933 She Had to Say Yes and then Gold Diggers. He continued to work throughout the 1940s and early 50s, aiming to help people escape the misery of those eras, full of breadlines, depression and wars.

Now Warner Bros. Pictures is giving iconic choreographer Busby Berkeley the chance to be reborn, with actor Ryan Gosling rumoured to play the famous director and choreographer of musicals from Hollywood’s golden age. Named “Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley” by Jeffrey Spivak, the adaptation is set to be produced by Marc Platt and Gosling.

Platt has musical experience in that he produced Broadway’s box-office hit Wicked, and is currently working on Disney’s adaptation of the Broadway musical Into the Woods, for release in December. He also produced the popular film Legally Blonde, which was turned into a Broadway and then West End musical.

Berkeley became famous for his elaborate dance routines in Hollywood musicals, such as the 1933 42nd Street and the 1935 Gold Diggers, two of the many movies he choreographed for Warners. He was especially famous for his overhead shots in which chorus girls performed shifting kaleidoscopic patterns, and he earned three Oscar nominations for best dance direction, a category that no longer exists. These overhead spectacles are awe-inspiring, the choreographic movement impeccable.

BBC’s ballet season

BBC2 LogoAs part of a major season of programmes on the BBC, which will also include rare footage of Margot Fonteyn in Sleeping Beauty from the 1950s, ex-Prima ballerina Darcey Bussell will reveal the ballerinas who have inspired her throughout her career and out the other side. BBC2 will present Darcey’s Ballerina Heroines, on 1 March in which she will discuss the dancers who were pivotal in her training and career. The programme will also explore the “history of the ballerina through the female ballet stars who came before her”.

The ballet season will be shown across BBC2 and BBC4 and will feature Fonteyn ’59 – Sleeping Beauty, an edited hour of highlights from Fonteyn’s appearance in Sleeping Beauty in 1959 which has rarely been seen since being filmed. It will be the first time viewers have seen extracts of the version of the ballet since its original screening, and will be broadcast on BBC4 on 7 March.

Meanwhile, Dancing in the Blitz – How WW2 Made British Ballet will be shown on BBC4 on 5 March and will see Birmingham Royal Ballet director David Bintley explore how the Second World War “was the making of British ballet”. It shows how the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, later the Royal Ballet, was formed during the war.

The season will conclude on 9 March with BBC4’s Good Swan, Bad Swan – Dancing Swan Lake, in which English National Ballet artistic director Tamara Rojo will take viewers behind the scenes as she prepares to perform one of the most challenging roles in classical ballet within Swan Lake. Rojo will reveal her insights on the role’s physical and psychological challenges while the season as a whole will give viewers a real glimpse behind the scenes of the ballet world.