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.

The Evolution of Dancewear

Evolution of Dancewear

Whilst there is much negative stigma about the dance experiences in Physical Education, dance within P.E. lessons has proven itself to be successful, not only encouraging students to take part, but also contributing to today’s dancewear scene. Many teenage girls who were perhaps unwilling to participate in sports have been seen to thoroughly engage in dance and consequently excel, in parallel to, for example, disruptive boys who have found their forte in the strength and skill of break dance during P.E. Many lessons also, for example, consist of street dance, appealing to students as they are able to express themselves through the up-to-date movement and their urban dance sneakers, tracksuit bottoms and the occasional sweatband, meaning dancewear has received more attention and popularity. The days of gym knickers are far behind us!

Dancewear has evolved significantly, however early influences can be identified. Early ballet, dating as far back as the 1800s, saw courtly influences of much longer skirts than are seen today and satin ballet slippers for females. Similarities here as well as that of male tights and long-sleeved shirts demonstrate the loyalty dance has to its originators, and how practical the first instances of dance were. The mid-1800s saw choreographer of La Sylphide August Bournonville designing the ballet slippers for males that are still worn today with a V-shaped vamp to give the illusion of a long and pointed foot. The Romantic tutu also made an appearance, but under another name originally. Today, the traditional ballet style has been adopted and also brought into the fashion world, with ballet pumps and tutu style skirts echoing ballet’s origins.

The 1890s saw the emergence of Jazz dance, and it became increasingly popular, taught in numerous dance studios. Costumes were experimented with, open to more adventurous design work and became more practical, highlighting the dancers’ lines in addition to looking effective and eye-catching, also mirrored in practice wear. In addition, Modern dance, now known as contemporary dance, developed as a result of Isadora Duncan’s rejection of the tight bodices of the tutus of classical ballet in favour of Greek-style tunics. She believed tight clothing was a restriction to the body’s natural movement and to this day we see this trend, especially clothes of the hip hop world and on television programmes such as So You Think You Can Dance.

Big Dance 2012 Volunteers Honoured in the Diamond Jubilee Awards

Big Dance 2012

Hundreds of people who volunteered their services for Big Dance earlier in 2012, one of the highlights of the London 2012 Festival, have been honoured through The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award 2012, acknowledging their fantastic efforts throughout the summer. 60 awards selected by Her Majesty The Queen were announced, with a formal event to be held at Buckingham Palace in spring 2013.

Big Dance held over 3,500 events across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, reaching approximately four million people, and encouraging dancers and non-dancers alike up and down Great Britain to don their dancing shoes and get involved with such an enormous event. Big Dance included television programmes, performances and events in the streets and public spaces, in theatres and schools, and in the heart of communities across the UK.

Some of the UK’s leading choreographers and dance artists created work for Big Dance, including Wayne McGregor CBE, who created an Olympic-inspired dance routine aimed at schools and performed by thousands of children and young people around the world. In light of the recent parliamentary discussions surrounding the place of dance in the curriculum, this is clear evidence of the encompassing nature of dance and what it is able to produce.

The Big Dance 2012 volunteers were essential in producing a successful and uplifting experience for all involved, in helping to run events, organising publicity, providing transport, making costumes, and all of the other things needed to complete large-scale community events, especially as part of such a huge scheme. People of all ages and backgrounds volunteered, with organisers receiving overwhelming responses of enthusiasm and positive interest. Many have developed skills as a result of the summer of 2012, such as those in event management, marketing, and administration, having been great ambassadors for dance and community celebrations.

10 Years of Breakin’ Convention

Breakin Convention 2012

It’s time for the next generation of dancers to shine at Breakin’ Convention, with 2013 marking its 10 year anniversary! To celebrate this special occasion, Breakin’ Convention will be offering two different opportunities for youth dancers in the new year, meaning it is time to don those new urban dance trainers and hit the studio! The festival will run from Saturday 4 – Sunday 6 May 2013.

“Breakin’ Convention 10 x 10” signals the start of a fantastic new platform in the creation of a special Breakin’ Convention crew of ten 10 year olds. An exclusive one-off performance will follow, on the main stage of the Breakin’ Convention festival at Sadler’s Wells. Young dancers will have the opportunity to show off their skills and perform at one of the biggest hip hop dance events in the world in front of an audience of nearly 2,000 people. Members of the crew will have the opportunity to learn from some of London’s most talented and successful artists including Boy Blue’s Vicky ‘Skytilz’ Mantey, and Bruno ‘Boom’ Perrier.

In addition, “Future Elements” will be a scheme aiming to showcase some of the UK’s best up-and-coming youth dance companies that have taken the future of funk in their hands and channelled it through their dancing. Saturday 9 March 2013 will see the best youth dance companies from in and around London present their work, with submissions for Breakin’ Convention’s Future Elements Night now open.

Past companies and dancers who have performed at Future Elements have included:

  • Da Bratz – Boy Blue Entertainment’s next generation of dancers
  • Enigma Dance Company – founded by Botis Seva of Far From the Norm
  • ME:I – Myself Dance Company’s up and coming youth group
  • Kieran Lei – member of K-Lic and star of forthcoming street dance film, AllStars

So far 2013 is looking like a wealth of opportunity for dancers everywhere!

The 120th anniversary of The Nutcracker

Nutcracker Google Doodle December 2012

Just before Christmas 2012, the 120th anniversary of one of the epitomes of classical ballet, The Nutcracker, was celebrated by Google, which launched a doodle to commemorate the first performance of the ballet. The doodle worked to depict a few of the scenes of the ballet, particularly apt in the run up to Christmas with dancers everywhere becoming sugarplum fairies in their tights, tutus and tiaras.

The Nutcracker premiered at the Mariinsky theatre in St Petersburg on 18 December 1892 to a score by Pyotr Ilyich-Tchaikovsky, which has become world-famous and is instantly recognisable. Today The Nutcracker is performed all over the world by many different ballet companies, become various versions for film and even screened to cinemas in the UK recently. However, the ballet was poorly received before US-choreographer George Balanchine re-imagined the original choreography by Marius Petipa, transforming it completely.

As a result of this, it is presumed that much of the original choreography of Petipa’s production debut is no longer seen by audiences, flocking to theatres worldwide to experience this festive production full of magic and sparkle. Balanchine’s version of the ballet saw new elements make their way into the choreography and synopsis for the New York City Ballet in the twentieth-century, gradually spreading around the world.

Alternative versions of this ballet favourite include Nutcracker: The Motion Picture (1986), The Nutcracker Prince (1990), Barbie in the Nutcracker (2001), and The Nutcracker in 3D (2010), in addition to Matthew Bourne’s version as Nutcracker! and Mark Morris’ The Hard Nut as additional re-imaginings.

Unfortunately Tchaikovsky died aged 53, less than a year after The Nutcracker’s release, meaning he was unable to enjoy the ballet’s success, yet today there is plenty of opportunity to experience the captivating production.

The Promotion of Vadim Muntagirov

English National Ballet Logo

Following an outstanding performance of The Nutcracker this December, Vadim Muntagirov of English National Ballet was awarded with a new Lead Principal title on stage by Artistic Director Tamara Rojo, in recognition of his exceptional dance ability. This new category for Muntagirov makes way to acknowledge the Company’s new artistic direction under Rojo, who has lots in store for 2013.

Muntagirov comes from a family of ballet dancers – both his mother and father were Principal dancers – and was trained at the Perm Ballet School, of which his father and sister were both graduates. In 2006 Muntagirov joined the Royal Ballet School and in his final year Wayne Ealing (former Artistic Director of ENB) offered him a contract with the Company as a First Artist. Muntagirov progressed through the ranks, promoted to First Soloist in 2010 and Principal in 2011.

Muntagirov’s first performances with the Company were in Barcelona where he partnered Senior Principal Daria Klimentová in the lead role of the Poet in Les Sylphides as part of the Ballets Russes centenary celebration. He has continued this phenomenal partnership with Klimentová across his career with ENB, including roles such as Albrecht in Giselle, and as her Prince in The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty. With ENB, Muntagirov has received the challenging role in Derek Deane’s Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall as Prince Siegfriend, originally intended to partner world renowned Polina Semionova, but later dancing with Klimentová on opening night.

Muntagirov is captivating on stage, having flourished as a technically assured and commanding performer, attacking the most difficult roles in classical ballet repertoire. It seems his work has only just begun, presenting even more challenges by ENB and encouraging him to emerge even further as one of the most prominent male ballet stars of the twenty-first century. Muntagirov was the winner of the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Male Performance (Classical) in 2010.

Rambert Dance Company in 2013

Rambert Dance Company Logo

2013 will mark much shift in the dynamics of Britain’s oldest dance company, Rambert, seeing them move their headquarters to the Southbank, first and foremost. Construction is now well under way and the Company recently celebrated the building’s ‘Topping Out’, when the highest part of the structure was put in place.  The facility will not only enhance the work seen by audiences on stage but will offer unique opportunities for choreographic and music development, and double the reach of the Company’s learning and participation work, good news for both those donning leotards and those who would rather remain in the auditorium.

Before this move, however, 2013 looks extremely busy for the dancers. The Labyrinth of Love tour will continue, spanning the full length of the country from Inverness to Truro, reflecting bitterness, ecstasy, irony, despair, hope, sadness and humour. Having already been welcomed with open arms earlier in 2012 by Sadler’s Wells, Labryinth is set to a commissioned score by one of America’s most performed composers, Grammy Award-winning Michael Daugherty, and accompanied live on stage by a soprano. The programme will also include works by esteemed choreographers Richard Alston, Mark Baldwin, Merce Cunningham, Javier De Frutos, Itzik Galili, Tim Rushton and Paul Taylor.

As ever, Rambert will remain committed to developing new choreographic talent, with the creation of new work the lifeblood of the Company. April will see a 3-day residential masterclass for emerging choreographers and composers, led by renowned American choreographer, Mark Morris and composer/former Musical Director for Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG), Ethan Iverson, in consultation with Rambert’s Artistic Director, Mark Baldwin, and Music Director, Paul Hoskins. Mark Morris is one of the world’s leading choreographers, and the Mark Morris Dance Group shares Rambert’s commitment to commissioning and performing live music, which makes them ideal collaborators for this project. The Season of new choreography will return to the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre in May, drawing from Rambert’s in-house development programme. Designed to nurture new talent from within its ranks, the evening will feature new works from four Rambert dancers; Miguel Altunaga, Kirill Burlov, Dane Hurst and Patricia Okenwa.

Finally, in June, Rambert will host a fundraising gala, celebrating the life of Britain’s most significant and longstanding contemporary dance company as it enters an exciting new phase. Guests will enjoy an evening featuring an exclusive performance by the Company.

Diversity in 2013

Diversity Limitless

Dance troupe Diversity has announced a new touring show for 2013 – Diversity Limitless – which will be a 12 day UK tour taking place across three weeks in December next year. Diversity announced the news just a few days after their Royal Variety performance, with the tour following on from the release of their previous arena tour show on DVD, Diversity Digitized: Trapped In A Game.

There is currently nothing else known about the show Diversity Limitless, created by dance crew leader Ashley Banjo,  with other details about the show’s storyline yet to be revealed. However, dance fans and street dance fans everywhere should be confident that the show will be full of the crew’s charm and cheek, with some up-to-the-minute urban dancewear and tasty trainers thrown in to add to the flavour.

Since winning the popular TV show Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, Diversity went on to star in the film Street Dance 3D as a cameo appearance. Banjo was then recruited as a judge for Got to Dance on Sky1 and the group went on to release Diversity: Dance Fitness Fusion on DVD. Ahead of the crew’s Diversity: Digitized arena tour, Banjo also filmed a spin off Ashley Banjo’s Secret Street Crew. In addition to their hard work to date, a Diversity film has also been announced named Diversity Rise, set to be filmed in April 2013.

The show will be touring to:

  • Dublin O2 Arena (30 November),
  • Newcastle Metro Radio Arena (3 December),
  • Liverpool Echo Arena (4 December),
  • Nottingham capital FM Arena (6 December),
  • Bournemouth BIC (7 December),
  • Birmingham NIA (8 December),
  • Glasgow Hydro Arena (10 December),
  • Manchester Arena (11 December),
  • Sheffield Motorpoint Arena (12 December),
  • Cardiff Motorpoint Arena (14 December),
  • Brighton Centre (15 December),
  • London O2 Arena (16 December).

Choreographer Trisha Brown Sets Final Works

Trisha Brown Dance Company

The Trisha Brown Dance Company of New York have announced that two new dances by choreographer Brown are to be performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in January, and will be the final works of her career. Brown, as a pioneer in developing the modern dance era is aged 76. The last time Brown performed with the company was in 2008 at the Joyce Theatre, NYC, and has remained in her role as the company’s Artistic Director since, despite not taking to the stage in full costume in recent years.

Brown founded the company in SoHo in 1970 and went on to choreograph more than 100 dances and win a number of prestigious awards. These included the National Medal of Arts and 1991 marked Brown as the first female choreographer to win a MacArthur “genius” grant. Brown was active in instating the Judson Dance Theatre era in the 1960s and developing what was known as post-modern dance to the twentieth-century eye, the focus of dance no longer on narrative or emotive works.

The two new dances to be performed, both created in 2011, will have their New York premiere as part of Brown’s coming season at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I’m going to toss my arms — if you catch them they’re yours is to be a collaboration with the composer Alvin Curran (who will perform live) and the artist Burt Barr. Les Yeux et l’ame will be a set of interconnected dances adapted from Brown’s version of the Baroque opera Pygmalion, which was first performed in 2010.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music programme will also include older works from Brown’s repertoire, including a recent reconstruction of Newark (1987) and the statement work Set and Reset, a 1983 collaboration with Laurie Anderson and Robert Rauschenberg that celebrates the 30th anniversary of its own premiere at the academy.

Richard Alston Dance Company Spring Tour

Richard Alston Dance Company

Richard Alston Dance Company has recently announced its spring tour for 2013, providing audiences all over the UK with the chance to see an inspirational company take to the stage and feed the artistic hungers of the audience. The tour will takes the company’s 10 dancers to 17 theatres around the UK for 26 performances featuring 6 repertoire pieces and 1 world premiere.

The tour will open in London at the New Wimbledon Theatre on 9 February 2013 with the world premiere of Richard Alston’s Buzzing Round the Hunnisuccle. This brand new commission from the San Francisco based Columbia Foundation continues Alston’s long-held fascination with the music of Japanese composer Jo Kondo. The evening will also contain the newly revived and revised The Devil in the Detail, a joyous and effervescent dance to Scott Joplin’s rags.

Later in the tour, the programme will include Shimmer, one of Alston’s best loved masterpieces, to the evocative music of Ravel, with delicate crystal-encrusted cobweb costumes by fashion designer Julien Macdonald. Roughcut will also be danced to Steve Reich’s New York and Electric Counterpoints, a euphoric display of pure energy, and Unfinished Business, choreographed to the beautiful, lucid and flowing K533, by Mozart. The spring repertoire will be completed by a revival of Lachrymae, set to the compassionate and tender music of Benjamin Britten, a piece originally commissioned in 1994 by The Aldeburgh Festival. This intense piece spins emotional variations on a gentle song by John Dowland which is quiet but deeply moving.

The spring season will culminate in a special event at the Barbican on 29 May as part of the season Dancing Around Duchamp.  Richard Alston Dance Company will perform a one-off event, with choreography by Merce Cunningham, one of the true visionaries of modern dance, especially meaningful for Alston himself who studied with Cunningham from 1975 to 1977.