Swan Lake

Swan Lake - Royal Swedish Opera

Swan Lake as an iconic and perhaps one of the most ‘stereotypical’ traditional ballets of the arts world is showcased by many prestigious ballet companies each year. Complete with white pointe shoes and feathered head pieces, the twirling tutus of the numerous swans which grace stages all over the world are breathtaking.

A company which engages with the staging of their version of Swan Lake each year is English National Ballet, renowned for its glamour and success, and notable for placing 60 swans on the stage of the Royal Albert Hall in June 2010. This was in addition to featuring the production in an episode of their notorious BBC documentary, Agony & Ecstasy: A Year at English National Ballet.

From 3 – 11 August 2012 at the London Coliseum, ENB will perform its enchanting production during the London 2012 Olympic Games, choreographed by Derek Deane. The opening night will see Daria Klimentová present her experience and beauty, don her tights, and dance the lead role of Odette/Odile alongside Russian star Vadim Muntagirov as Siegfried in their internationally recognised star partnership. Arguably the most powerful ballet ever created, Swan Lake is set to Tchaikovsky’s unmistakable score, featuring some of the most beautiful music in classical ballet repertoire.

Additional events from ENB highlight the extent of Swan Lake’s popularity and ultimate success amongst ballet lovers across the globe, regardless of whether they regularly wear leotards and ballet shoes. A masterclass with esteemed guest repetiteur and artistic advisor Maina Gielgud is included in the available itinerary, in which she will work with two dancers on a challenging pas de deux from Swan Lake.  The ‘Swan Lake Aspire Day’ is also available, in which a fun and informal workshop focusing on Swan Lake will be held at the ENB studios. In addition, an on-stage creative workshop will include the opportunity to watch ENB’s dancers in their practice dancewear, taking part in morning class, as well as the unique chance to watch Company Class.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The 21st Century Contemporary Dance Scene

Camden Roundhouse

Following the Accidental Festival on June 1st at the Camden Roundhouse, it is clear from this one event in the dance events of 2012 that the future of the sector looks extremely bright, from leotards to pointe shoes, from leg warmers to jazz sneakers. The evening was named Dance 1:1 (dance 1st on the 1st), and marked a significant event for the Accidental Festival, produced by students from the Central School of Speech and Drama. Dance had never been included in the festival’s programme before 2012, and the night was a resounding success. Dance 1:1 presented works by 5 emerging and upcoming London-based choreographers of yet unknown dance companies, providing a solid platform for these aspiring artists to launch their exciting careers.

Particularly standing out were the companies Charlie Dixon Dance Company and Emco Dance. CDDC presented animalistic view of the power and skill of dancers, and those particularly cast by Dixon. The intensity of the company was constantly present in their performance and interactions with each other, embodying an extremely energetic and intricate style of strength and endurance. Formed in 2011, CDDC are a company constantly reaching for new audiences to share their creative insights, performing at many platforms in England and Wales. Dixon’s artistic direction places emphasis on highly technical and explosive bodily movement, set to carry the company on a long and successful journey on from the Accidental Festival. Whilst the movement was aesthetically pleasing, it remained innovative and varying, rather than resorting to familiar movement phrases or even current trends of contemporary dance today which are seen so regularly.

Emco Dance was a company constructed of second year Trinity Laban students, particularly embodying the ethos of the “dance festival”, in the twenty-first century more than ever. The focus and dedication of the dancers was remarkable, questioning the physical deconstruction of the human body and our emotional, physical and mental elements that we consist of. Formed in 2012, the new company featured dancers halfway through their training and it was inspiring to view Emco as a semi-professional company alongside other more established companies as equals, each bringing an important dance message to the surface of their performances. The dancers were united in their display of the passion which drives the young performer and the unique skills they must have to fulfil this, reassuring the audience that the future of dance today is not so bleak.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

English National Ballet’s Summer Party

Kensington Palace

On 27 June 2012, English National Ballet together with Swarovski presented its Summer Party at The Orangery, Kensington Palace. With the Company’s prestigious tutus taking over one of London’s most beautiful outdoor settings, the evening held enchanted images of art, ballet and live performance inspired by the iconic production Swan Lake, ahead of English National Ballet’s season of the work at the London Coliseum from the 3-11 August 2012.

English National Ballet has a glamorous reputation for hosting sparkling events attended by numerous elite London partygoers as part of the Company’s fundraising initiative. For 2012, celebrated individuals were invited to create fantastic works of art inspired by the regal nature of swans. Previous guests have included Kate Moss, Richard E. Grant and Jerry Hall, swapping the usual pointe shoes of English National Ballet for party shoes and Pimms.

The artwork produced is available to view online, and includes pieces by Kimberley Walsh, Beatrix Ong, Pixie Lott and Immodesty Blaize (you can see the full gallery here: ENB Summer Party Art Gallery) . Selected works were auctioned on the evening of The Summer Party by Lauren Laverne, with canvases still to be created to buy by Ronnie Wood, new Artistic Director of English National Ballet Tamara Rojo, Sam Taylor-Wood, Moschino and Swarovski.

Some of the dancers of the Company donned their tights and feathered tutus to grace the exquisite party, with the whole Company proceeding to perform excerpts of Swan Lake in the gardens of the Palace. With the traditional yet both influential and elite production displayed for the guests’ entertainment, they also received goody bags containing luxury spa and hair care products, jewellery and handmade chocolates, contributing much to a greatly anticipated evening in the world of ballet and the tiaras within it.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Sadler’s Wells Summer University

Sadler's Wells Summer University

From the 9 to the 21 of July 2012, Sadler’s Wells will be hosting its Summer University, with fifteen young choreographers returning for the first programme of its kind in the UK, with the second year of the free course running throughout July.

Directed by one of the most respected choreographers in Europe today, award-winning Jonathan Burrows, previously a dancer of Rambert Dance Company, Sadler’s Wells Summer University has given places to students from a vast range of dance styles, from pretty pointe shoes to New Yorkers, ranging in age from 25 to 37. With the programme aimed specifically at choreographers with up to five years professional experience, the four-year programme features a two-week intensive period every summer.

This fantastic opportunity is a fortnight of intensive talks, lectures, discussions and workshops, with additional input from guest artists and speakers. The course focuses on compositional and choreographic processes, performance and philosophies, encouraging participants to question how dance can be made and what it might communicate to audiences. The programme is a long-term approach to choreographic study, designed for artists after their initial training, be it in a tutu or tap shoes, in the early stages of their careers.

It is ambitious in its range of initiative as part of all that Sadler’s Wells offers to support and develop choreographers, with the Jerwood Charitable Foundation supporting the programme as part of the ongoing Jerwood Studio at Sadler’s Wells which began in 2006, to develop creative opportunities for dancers and choreographers to experiment at the start of a project, before being committed to a production. Over the years approximately 75% of these projects have gone on to be commissioned, produced or programmed by Sadler’s Wells, including Matthew Bourne, Clod Ensemble, Jasmin Vardimon, Pet Shop Boys and Javier de Frutos, puppeteer Sue Buckmaster and Arthur Pita, and Hofesh Shechter emphasising the prestigious nature of the programme.

Image courtesy of David Hawgood at Geograph®.

Something Happening For Kids

Something Happening For Kids

The Place is set to present Something Happening For Kids, a full day of dance performances and activities specially curated for children aged 11 and under. Taking place on 21 July 2012 at The Place in the Robin Howard Dance Theatre, children will be encouraged to pull on their leotards and leggings and engage with both movement and play.

Choreographer Darren Ellis is restaging extracts of his latest work Long Walk Home, which portrays a series of four women, each at a different stage of their lives, as they analyse their hopes and their dreams, accompanied by atmospheric live music by the folk band Askew Sisters.

Alongside them, The Place’s First Moves, with the youngest dancers aged 5-8, will show two new pieces in the round and up-close from the Children and Youth Dance programme. Something Happening For Kids, especially through First Moves, demonstrates that the art of performance is hidden with everyone of all ages, ready to burst free and present itself centre stage, be it wearing ballet shoes, tap shoes or jazz flares and sweat bands.

Circus dance artist Ilona Jantti will premier the fantastically imaginative HUHU, commissioned by The Place, in which a web of ropes and architectural devices will create the backdrop for an urban chase, combining circus, contemporary dance, animation and the idea of the city’s space, inspiring and interactive.

Author Michael Rosen will recite his much-loved We’re Going on a Bear Hunt in a series of participatory readings, in which the magical story will be brought to life by dance artist Joanne Moven, combining art forms and connecting directing with children.

Shuffle, The Place’s new junior dance company, will complete the programme with Lookout, a dreamy and suggestive site-specific piece, originally created for a window overlooking the river Thames.

In addition, a series of workshops, ranging from percussion and dance will also be available, allowing the young participants to explore rhythms and create movement to live musical accompaniment.

Image courtesy of The Place.

The London 2012 Festival

London 2012 Festival

Over 12,000 performances and events across the UK celebrating the Olympic Games are marked by the London 2012 Festival, which bursts into life on 21 June 2012. The London 2012 Festival will be the most exciting festival the UK has ever experienced, bringing more than 10 million opportunities to observe some completely unique dance, music, theatre, fashion, food, art and film events. The Festival is the finale of the Cultural Olympiad, which has been inspiring creativity through art and culture in young people since 2008. It encompasses a wide range of events, from local projects to large-scale performances, in which 18 million people have taken part in so far… with or without their legwarmers!

Many events that are included can be taken part in by audience members completely free of charge, be it the free outdoor pyrotechnic and percussion extravaganza or the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra premiering of a new work , followed by the arrival of a gigantic ship sailing into the town centre accompanied by leotard-clad dancers and aerialists. With incredible cultural events and top artists from across the world, Londoners and many others from across the country enjoyed four spectacular launch events across the UK on 21 June, and the following events which continue until 9 September 2012, the last day of the Paralympic Games.

The festival includes dance performances such as Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Candoco Dance Company and Big Dance 2012. Big Dance is one of the UK’s biggest dance celebrations, featuring thousands of events inspired by numerous different dance styles taking place across the UK. The events include classes, workshops, courses, performances, flashmobs, film screenings, competitions and world record breaking attempts, open to both dancers and non-dancing fans alike, encouraging them to pull on their dancing shoes and get involved. The Big Dance 2012 national programme is being delivered by the Foundation for Community Dance in partnership with a network of regional dance organisations known as Big Dance Hubs.

Image courtesy of Geograph® Britain and Ireland.

Big Youth Dance Weekend

Big Dance Youth Weekend

As part of Big Dance 2012, Sadler’s Wells is due to present the Big Youth Dance Weekend at the Scoop, More London, on the 7 and 8 of July. Marking the start of Big Dance week, the Big Youth Dance Weekend will celebrate youth dance across the capital, and will also welcome dance groups from further afield, encouraging even more young people to engage with dance, especially during such an iconic dance event for the UK.

The Scoop is an open air “scooped out” ampitheatre next to The Greater London Authority’s City Hall. In collaboration with the Big Youth Dance Weekend, the performance opportunity which arises is a relaxed, informal event, with groups performing one after the other. Hosted by Hakeem Onibudo for Big Dance, his expertise in hip hop and street dance emphasises the sheer variety of dance styles available in the twenty-first century, with each one becoming popular in its own right. Both the spectacular rhythms of Latin and ballroom shoes and the speedy footwork of jazz shoes and leotards, alongside the urban dance moves of street crews make for a fantastic weekend.

Now in its 7th year, the Big Youth Dance Weekend has transformed itself into an outdoor performance event not to be missed. The performance blocks which form the Big Youth Dance Weekend reflect the Big Dance Hubs which aim to welcome dance groups from every London borough to the unique event in order to celebrate Big Dance thoroughly. Both youth and school dance companies are eligible to apply to take part in the event of both primary and secondary school aged young people, with all dance styles welcome, be it the twirling tutus of ballet or the resounding taps of jazzy tap dance shoes. Each dance company will be allocated to a performance block which matches the group’s borough location, split into North, East, South East, South, West and Outside London.

To apply, download the application information and form from the website and get your dancing shoes on!

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Dance GB

Dance GB 2012

Dance GB, between the 4th and 8th July, has been branded as a ground-breaking national celebration of dance inspired by the London 2012 Games, showcasing the collaboration between Scottish Ballet, English National Ballet and National Dance Company Wales. As the UK’s three national dance companies, leotards and pointe shoes will be fused with dynamic dance quality for the first time in a thrilling programme featuring three specially commissioned works from leading contemporary choreographers: Christopher Bruce, Martin Lawrance and Itzik Galili.

Performed in the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, there will not be a tutu in sight, despite the piece being filled with technical brilliance, proving pink performance tights are not needed to create a show-stopping dance event. Dance GB will première in Glasgow before touring to Cardiff and London, including a live webcast from a special Company class featuring all three companies online at www.scottishballet.co.uk from 1.30pm on Friday 22 June. The class will be followed by a Q&A session with dancers from each company, offering dance and non-dance fans alike the chance to ask questions about the dancers’ training, being on tour, and life as a dancer.

Scottish Ballet will dance Martin Lawrance’s Run For It, a high energy work which is said to be inspired by the power of Olympic athletes, tying in directly to the London Olympic Games. Extremely dynamic, the piece is set to the rhythms of John Adams’ Son of Chamber Symphony and features a sculptural installation created by Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Boyce. Christopher Bruce’s Dream features sly musical references to Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean’s sensational 1984 Sarajevo Olympic win, a tribute to sporting bravado and a “tongue-in-cheek” celebration of the iconic event.  This witty piece will be danced by National Dance Company Wales, linking the 2012 Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in a unique piece. The finale is provided by Itzik Galili’s And the Earth Shall Bear Again, danced by English National Ballet. Inspired by John Cage’s prepared music for piano, Galili’s piece turns Cage’s rich and versatile music into an accessible piece of extraordinary dance, inspired by the many “beginnings” of 2012.

Screened with the performances is Dancing Parallel, an awe-inspiring film by Nic Sandiland featuring 60 dancers from London, Cardiff and Aberdeen on a journey through classical ballet, contemporary dance and parkour.

London Contemporary Dance School’s End of Year Season

Each year, the UK’s contemporary dance house The Place announces its annual End of Year Season, in which graduating students from London Contemporary Dance School perform both a varied and excellent programme. This marks the completion of their training at one of the world’s leading conservatoires and inspires the next generation of dancers to harness their dance talents and hone their training.

London Contemporary Dance School Graduation 2012Image courtesy of Benedict Johnson Photography.

Rather than a focus on pretty pink pointe shoes or the West End tap tones, the Robin Howard Dance Theatre is overrun each year with bare footed talent, sporting a range or dance clothing, which is generally thought to set the standard of contemporary dance throughout the rest of the country. The season includes In Performance: Postgraduate Alumni, which will feature the work created by MA Choreography Alumni, celebrating the work produced by the course over a period of 11 years, performed by London Contemporary Dance School’s alumni.

Additionally, EDge, the postgraduate performance company of LCDS, will be presenting a repertoire that has been toured around Europe by the company’s 12 dancers since March 2012, including upcoming choreographer James Wilton’s Through Shards, and Avant Garde Dance’s Founder and Artistic Director Tony Adigun’s Unleashed, inspired by Richard Alston’s iconic Wildlife.

The Graduation Performances will feature over 40 graduating students performing specially commissioned works by professional choreographers, including The Place’s Artistic Director Richard Alston. Alston has restaged his latest piece A Ceremony Of Carols, originally commissioned by The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury and Sadler’s Wells. A selection of the students’ own choreography, chosen from the body of work created over the last year will also be featured to complete the programme. This represents the culmination of the graduates’ experiences at LCDS, completing their BA in Contemporary Dance and Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Dance Studies. The diverse range of works demonstrates the breadth of their studies and the excellence of the performance demonstrates the sheer quality of their training.

Big Dance and Sadler’s Wells’ Sampled

Sampled - Presented by Sadler's Wells and Big DanceThis year’s Sampled is due to run at Sadler’s Wells’ West End venue, the Peacock Theatre on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 June 2012, in order to give audiences a taste of what the UK’s leading dance house has to offer to both leotard-clad and non-dancing fans. Presented by Sadler’s Wells and Big Dance 2012, Sampled is now well established as a highlight of London’s vibrant dance calendar. It is filled with delights such as jazz dance sneakers to the more eclectic fusions of ballet skirts and urban dancewear, as anticipated in 2012.

Despite being in its sixth year, 2012 marks Sampled’s first appearance at the Peacock, containing two incredible and inspiring days of dance, music and workshops. Audiences are privy to a wealth of dance spectacle, displaying world-class hip hop and the pink pointe shoes of ballet, to bare-footed contemporary dance and flamenco in one sitting. This unique mix of Sampled demonstrates the complete diversity of the UK dance scene in the twenty-first century, and the increasing number of collaborations which are taking place throughout the industry in order to create new works of art, and even masterpieces.

The 2012 line up includes Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company, English National Ballet, Jonzi D, Da Bratz (the youth group of Olivier Award-winning hip hop dance company Boy Blue Entertainment), Cathy Waller – who won the Blueprint Bursary Award earlier this year for her fusion of contemporary and hip hop dance theatre – and the winner of the New Adventures Choreographer Award,  James Cousins. Trussed up in their tutus, English National Ballet will perform a pas de deux from their magnificent production Swan Lake, which was choreographed by Derek Deane. In addition, Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist and hip hop legend Jonzi D will perform Aeroplane Man, his witty solo and a true story, and Da Bratz will perform Generation: Next 2012, which was well received at its premiere at Breakin’ Convention earlier this year.

Find out more and purchase tickets online at the Sadler’s Wells website.