Dancing on the whole without ballet shoes, or diamond encrusted tutus, male ballet dancers are mostly utilised on stage to display the female ballerina in the best possible light to the audience and critics alike. While this has been a tradition of classical ballet for many centuries, the twenty-first century has marked a series of changes in the male-female relationship on stage, with increasing numbers of female dancers required to lift and support their male partners in dance genres.
Balletboyz, an all-male company has also turned the male classical ballet dancer tradition on its head, and sometimes quite literally. Made up of 8 young men, the Boyz are more likely to sport jazz shoes than the white tights and unitards of their male dancer predecessors. Whilst this history is an integral part of dance today, it seems important that the dance sector should not become stagnant – it should continue to evolve and adjust to the shifts in the industry, and the social and cultural contexts of everyday life.
As the creation of Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, Balletboyz was founded in 2001 as contemporary and classically driven company. Both founders were members of The Royal Ballet, both dancing principal roles including Romeo, Prince Siegfried and King of the Sweets. They have additionally created roles for choreographers such as Kenneth MacMillan, Twyla Tharp, William Forsythe and Christopher Wheeldon. Through the formation of Balletboyz, Nunn and Trevitt have fused the classical and contemporary, moving away from the soft shoes they were once used to, and creating a passion-fuelled company full of inspiring young men.
In 2005 Balletboyz became Associate Artists at Sadler’s Wells, London’s leading dance house, and 2010 saw the first edition of Balletboyz’ groundbreaking project, the TALENT. Nunn and Trevitt selected nine male dancers from a variety of backgrounds, working with them closely to create a company of performers. The show toured nationally and internationally receiving fantastic reviews, confirming that Balletboyz do indeed wear the dance crown, and will continue to push themselves physically and creatively.
The London initiative of annual “how to” sessions for 16-25 year olds, Masterclass, is 10 years old in 2012, and is celebrating by providing attendees with fantastic ticket offers. Within the arts sector, as with life itself, the reason for its continuance and success is the result of human beings and their individual wants and needs. Many young people who have trained in the stereotypical ballet, tap and modern, donning pretty pink ballet shoes, huge varieties of jazz shoes and every child’s dream of noisy tap shoes. However, not every young thespian or ballerina grows up chasing the dream of performing on stage for most nights of their lives.
Masterclass is a fantastic project which can be an aid to these individuals, providing worthwhile and alternative advice for those who love theatre, but with aspirations sometimes straying from the stage. For example, Masterclass 2012 in London will see a Theatre Careers Advice Panel, a Getting into Drama School, and Musical Theatre talks, catering for numerous involved with the arts, whatever their tastes. A Masterclass event to be held in Sheffield, additionally, will include a Maureen Lipman Masterclass, a Masterclass Patron, at the International Student Drama Festival as one of Britain’s best loved actresses and comedians. As part of the Masterclass vein, Lipman, CBE, will share her invaluable knowledge of working on the British stage with the next generation of emerging theatre artists.
Many are inclined to forget those who are responsible for theatre and the arts sector who are not in the spotlight on-stage in the high-heeled New Yorker shoes and shining show tights. However, in order to make the show in hand possible, numerous backstage and administration staff are required, all of whom in the making are catered for at Masterclass.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Image courtesy of Laurent Liotardo Photography.
The Prima ballerina of English National Ballet, Daria Klimentova, is performing alongside her pas de deux partner, Vadim Muntagirov and the rest of the Company in Sydney until June 17, epitomising the worldwide success of English National Ballet, and the international recognition they will continue to receive in the arrival of new Artistic Director Tamara Rojo in August. Sydney will see Klimentova and Muntagirov perform a fantastic display including the Black Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake.
As one of the pointe shoe primas in the twenty-first century, Klimentova is a beacon for English National Ballet, hired by then Artistic Director Derek Deane and partnering Muntagirov for recent years. The now stars of the company were thrown together by current Artistic Director Wayne Eagling, and are now being marketed as today’s Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev, the most famous ballet duet in dance history. Fonteyn and Nureyev also had an age gap of 19 years, yet against the odds, both couples have internationally wowed critics and shone to perfection in their respective tutu and dance tights grandeur.
Kilimentova’s life, however, does not stop at performing. Each summer she runs a season of international ballet classes in Prague, her hometown. She is in high demand by the Czech National Ballet, which requested her as its own Director three times, turned down each time by Klimentova due to her continuing desire to dance. With English National Ballet Klimentova and Muntagirov are also in high demand as a duo: after their stint in Sydney they will also be visiting Denmark, performing Swan Lake in London, a gala in Mexico, Swan Lake again in Moscow, culminating with a week in Singapore.
2012 alone demonstrates the sheer power of the grace, unity and strength of the Klimentova-Muntagirov partnership, the tiara on the head twenty-first century ballet and the yardstick from which aspiring ballet dancers must extend their technique and performance.
A new dance collaboration has been launched by Mass Movement, a London based dance talent agency sourcing and representing some of the best choreographers and dancers in the world, ranging across the board with a number of different specialities and abilities. Their new project group, “The Movement”, encompasses a tight-knit and powerful collaboration of respected industry chorographers and dancers. Each Mass Movement choreographer offers different styles and skills across Modern Commercial, Contemporary, Jazz, Street Dance and Hip Hop, with extensive experience in Artist Creative Direction and New Artist Development contributing also. The works of the choreographers of Mass Movement have been featured in a variety of media, such as music tours and videos, TV specials and commercials, and live corporate events.
Self-titled as the UK’s latest dance phenomenon, The Movement hosts 16 remarkable dancers fusing dance disciplines. Aiming to take the dance sector to an entirely new level that has never been seen before, The Movement is operating under the direction of Creative Director Christian Storm and some of the most highly acclaimed choreographers of the industry. Fusing a multitude of dance genres with fantastic skill ranges and talents, The Movement looks set to become a “super group”, creating a remarkable new concept for dance. Whether your interest is “pretty in pink” pointe shoes, the dapper tap shoe or the urban skills of those in dance trainers, Mass Movement is sure to hit the spot.
Storm’s enthusiasm for the dance and leotard clan of Laine Theatre Arts where he trained, lead him to open his own talent agency and live event production company, having worked in this capacity for so many of his own performing and choreographic years. Mass Movement ensures that the very best talents and the most elite professional dancers in varying genres are within easy reach of clients. Storm’s choreographic and directive success relies on his unique combination of incredible talent and innovative, creative ideas which are delivered by his personable yet professional nature. Storm is renowned also for instinctively knowing how to achieve the best from the performers and clients he works with, instilling confidence that Mass Movement is able to deliver with style.
The Dance WE Made, presented by Big Dance 2012 and Sadler’s Wells, is a unique interactive pop-up dance project taking place at locations across London throughout June and July 2012, as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad’s Big Dance programme. The project will be staged at 20 iconic London landmarks over a 20 day period, in which members of the public will be invited to devise some of their own original choreography – leotards, sweat bands and leg warmers optional!
The Dance WE Made is being produced in collaboration with professional dancer and choreographer Tim Casson who studied at the BRIT school and Bird College, before joining the Jasmin Vardimon Company as an apprentice through London Contemporary Dance School. Casson became a full member of the company after a year of work, going on to complete his MA in Contemporary Dance and adding a wealth of commercial and contemporary experience to his already over-flowing CV.
For The Dance WE Made, each London location will see four to eight people have the chance to work with Casson resulting in the creation of a unique two minute dance piece, requiring no previous dance or choreographic experience from participants. Whether you tend to sport dancewear, jazz sneakers, or just everyday clothes, The Dance WE Made is the opportunity to discuss creative ideas, creating movement from boundless inspiration and see your piece performed and showcased by Casson in each location, which will be filmed and posted online on www.thedancewemade.co.uk and other social networking and video sharing websites.
Each of the two minute segments will be combined to create a single dance solo for Casson, which will set a new world record for the largest number of choreographers contributing to a single dance work. Being part of the creative process looks set to be challenging but completely rewarding, creating the extraordinary from the ordinary.
The Dance WE Made London Tour dates – full tour schedule to be announced:
- 3 Jun 2012 New River Festival – Enfield
- 11 Jun 2012 Spitalfields Market
- 13 Jun 2012 Exmouth Market
- 14 Jun 2012 Brixton Village
- 20 Jun 2012 Peter’s Hill for The Millennium Bridge
- 21 Jun 2012 Barbican Lakeside Terrace
- 27 Jun 2012 Camden Market
- 8 Jul 2012 The Scoop
- 10 Jul 2012 Covent Garden Piazza
A month-long season of 10 works by the late German choreographer Pina Bausch is being presented by the Barbican and Sadler’s Wells until July 9 2012, each work aiming to explore a different world city.
Tanztheater Wuppertal began with controversy, with Bausch appointed as director of dance for the Wuppertal theatres in 1973. She developed a specific dance form as part of her role as a mixture of dance and theatre, which was at first, wholly unfamiliar. With her dancers speaking and singing, in addition to performing dance, Bausch’s work succeeded in establishing itself as a unique venture.
Unlike the many twirling tutus and pristine pointe shoes seen on stages today, Bausch’s work in the early years sowed the seeds for a dance revolution which eventually redefined modern dance throughout the world. This certain strand of dance theatre became its own genre, separating itself from the stomping tap shoes and jazz shoes of chorus lines dominating many Western stages. Choreographers of both theatrical and classical backgrounds were inspired to create, which spelled global success for Bausch’s work, always surrounding a “universal need”: love, intimacy and emotional security.
Accordingly, Bausch developed an artistic form which was able to incorporate highly diverse cultural influences, investigating what brings humans closer to fulfilling these universal needs, and the factors which distance them. Her research continues to generate experiences and memories in her audiences, with “moving images of inner landscapes, exploring the precise state of human feelings while never giving up hope that the longing for love can one day be met”. A close engagement with reality is an additional key aspect of Bausch’s work, having resided within each creation over the 36 years of her career until her death in 2009, shaping the work of the Tanztheater Wuppertal considerably.
Image courtesy of Duisburger Philharmoniker at Flickr.
Dance In The Making is the name of a two-day seminar programme in the 14th and 15th of July, focused around the theme of choreography by and with young people, open to tutu twirling aspiring ballerinas, bare-footed contemporaries, and every young dancer experiencing the dance sector today. Combining industry professionals and young people from the UK and overseas in discussion, Dance In The Making is to be hosted by Chris Thomson, Director of Creative Teaching and Learning at The Place, and Linda Jasper, Director of Youth Dance England.
The talks will delve into questions on the “best” choreographic practice, be it for waerers of pointe shoes, tap shoes or any other dance shoes. The programme will also focus on the importance of young people understanding choreographic process, industry professionals’ experiences of working with young people and the greatest methods of how to support and ensure the stable futures of young people and their choreographies. So many dance courses in the twenty-first century now offer a choreography-heavy strand within their modules, with many choreographic platforms and graduate companies or apprenticeships also emerging.
Speakers at Dance In The Making, in partnership with The Place, will include young professional choreographers such as James Cousins, who has launched a successful choreographic career through graduate transition companies, professional companies such as Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, and is now creating his own company. Other guest speakers include professional choreographers who work with young people, such as Kerry Nicholls and Katie Green, and an international perspective is added through their French colleagues Brigitte Hyon and Agnes Bretel from the Centre National de la Danse.
The £35 day ticket includes a ticket to one of U.Dance 2012’s high-profile evening performances in Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall.
In 1972 choreographer Bonnie Bird created the first generation of the Transitions Dance Company, the first course of its type in the UK to bridge the gap between studying dance and the professional world. With many dance schools and conservatoires surfacing throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, observations are often made about the number of graduate dance students attempting to find work in the professional sector of the arts as a whole. However, Transitions – amongst other “bridging” companies such as the London Contemporary Dance School’s EDge – provides aspiring young performers with the opportunity to break into the work-success cycle of the dance world.
40 years, 250 students, and 100s of guest choreographers later, the latest incarnation of Transitions will return to the Laban Theatre on 7th-9th June 2012 with a special anniversary performance which is set to celebrate the inspiring work of the company for individuals embarking on the first stages of their careers. A far cry from the newly worked pointe shoes of ballet academies or New Yorkers of musical theatre conservatoires, Transitions is renowned for the bare footed, leotard-clad approach, showcasing the future stars of contemporary dance.
Eleven of the best young dancers from across the world will perform a mixed bill of choreography as part of the anniversary performance by three international artists. One, Hubert Essakow, has worked in German Tanztheater, another, Martin Nachbar, who is an ex-soloist from The Royal Ballet and the last, Shang Chi Sun, is a choreographer whose work The Others had a successful debut with last year’s company. The dancers of the company have a solid reputation of individuality and passionate enthusiasm, transforming the Transitions tour into an unmissable event.
With dance in the twenty-first century collaborating left,right and centre with artists, musicians and film-makers, the most recent partnering seen in the dance sector is that of The Royal Ballet and a new brand of cosmetics, developed with the Company and consequently used by them. Gone, it seems, are the days when blisters and sore toes were danced on repeatedly, as today the dance industry is developing increasingly unique ranges of care products for sore feet… from pointe shoes, to muscle balm for tap shoe enthusiasts.
The new Royal Ballet body care range, sold by Dance Direct, has been developed as a high performance collection in order to meet the needs of hard working bodies. Alongside leotards and microfiber dance tights, the new specifically designed body care range includes body conditioner moisturiser which works to improve the fitness, tone and elasticity of the skin, also helping to combat cellulite. Additional products in the range are a cooling muscle gel which is said to have excellent moisturising and anti-microbial properties, and an intensive hand and foot cream, which has a high concentration of moisturiser to help strengthen cuticles and nails,which can often take a bruising from excessive work in pointe shoes. With so much else to worry about as a dancer, this new body care range seems set to cover all your skin and ffoott concerns for the rest of your dancing career!
The latest advancement in “dancewear” has now hit the market, and looks set to take the dance world by storm, following in the footsteps of the leotard ranges and cover-ups verging on the fashion runways of mainstream retail, and vice versa.
To mark the momentous occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, The Royal Ballet School’s White Lodge Museum is presenting a programme of public events to celebrate the rich heritage of the tutus and tiaras of the prestigious White Lodge alumni, which has been the home of the Royal Ballet School since 1995.
The events will include Let Everyone Sing and Dance, a concert of 18th century ballet music by composers such as Bach and Handel, due to be held in the Salon at White Lodge on 3rd May. A far cry from the practice tights and regulation leotards that usually populate White Lodge, this very special celebration is to marry the arts in a unique and utterly memorable event in extra-special surroundings. An evening of illustrated talks entitled Adorning nature: beauty and utility in Humphry Repton’s garden for White Lodge is also to be included on 7th June, adding to the variety of interests celebrated over the period. With so many varied yet thematically simultaneous events, the Diamond Jubilee celebrations at White Lodge appear to be the epitome of the English population, and indeed Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
9th June will see in a Diamond Jubilee Open Day where members of the public are invited to visit White Lodge to enjoy a mixture of royal-theme activities, whilst residing in such an artistic and equally aesthetic environment. The day includes a guided tour of the premises and the chance to take part in historical dance workshops in the garden. Whilst visitors may not be the next Darcey Bussell wielding their pointe shoes and new toe pads, the event is set to be fun-filled and glorious.
Image courtesy of sela-v at Flickr.