The year-long celebration of song and dance will begin with BalletBoyz: The Talent, documenting the work of dance company BalletBoyz, followed by the BBC Young Dancer 2015 in April with the final in May. In July, David Bintley, Artistic Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, will investigate how the foundations of ballet were laid during the reign of King Louis XIV of France, in The King Who Invented Ballet. The autumn will focus on the story of contemporary dance told through a group of young dancers in new documentary, Strictly Modern Dance.
In terms of dance highlights, BalletBoyz: The Talent will focus on the company using footage from its 2014 Roundhouse performances – the culmination of a two-year tour during which it was awarded ‘Best Independent Company’ at the National Dance Awards. The film will also include interviews with the dancers and choreographers along with insights into their creative processes and behind-the-scenes.
BBC Young Dancer follows, showcasing the UK’s best young dancers. The award has invited dancers to compete for six places in a televised Grand Final to be shown live in May. Four programmes featuring highlights from each of the Category Finals with introductions to the respective dance styles and behind-the-scenes content will also be shown, demonstrating the demands and dedication needed for dance. The Grand Final will be judged by a leading panel of dance experts; Matthew Bourne; Akram Khan; Wayne McGregor; Tamara Rojo; Kenrick Sandy; and Alistair Spalding.
David Bintley, Artistic Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, will investigate the foundations of dance during King Louis XIV’s reign. Bintley uncovers the critical social and cultural role ballet had in Louis XI’s French court, and across 17th-century Europe. Featuring specially shot dance sequences with insightful historical documentary, The King Who Invented Ballet brings to light the 300 year old history.
Strictly Modern Dance is the story of contemporary dance, told in a completely new way: through talented young dancers, aiming to bring an understanding of what contemporary dance is to a wider audience. Strictly Modern Dance will go on a journey with the students of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, one of Europe’s leading training centres, and will feature famous alumni. Talented young dancers will learn some of the most iconic modern dances from the last 100 years and experience the shifts in the history of contemporary dance as it challenged audiences, made history and revolutionised dance.
It has been the subject of much speculation over many years, however with the turn of the twenty-first century it seems that dancers will stop at nothing to achieve. Behind these dancers are their parents and dance teachers, encouraging and even directing these young students into a dance world they may not wish to be a part of. In addition to this, they not by physically ready for this kind of work either.
The work of subject is high pressure and high performance dance contests in which applying the same amount of make up and fake tan to a small child as a dancer on Strictly Come Dancing has been rather controversial. Whilst the child may enjoy the dancing, the music, and the social life that comes with dance classes and competitions, it must be noted that they do not have the knowledge of any alternative, and therefore the motivation to pursue another activity.
Whilst younger children are more flexible then their older counterparts, it is apparent that many dance teachers and parents abuse this, pushing the dancers to force their bodies to contort and lengthen before they are perhaps quite ready, substituting health and wellbeing for a leg up by the side of the head and a box jump greater than that in the hit movie Fame. Starting this work (too) early may be detrimental to the dancer’s future and is not a pre-requisite for a successful dancing life.
It is an assumption to label these parents and teachers as “pushy”, as seen on television programmes featuring dance phenomenons such as Baby Ballroom and Baby Disco: it is clear that overall each parent has the child’s interests at heart, however sometimes this gets lost on the way to our television and computer screens.
Another televised dance-esque competition show is over for the year: Dancing on Ice saw Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle crowned the winner with partner Dan Whiston. Whilst many may argue that neither gymnastics nor ice skating have much to do with dance, it is clear that the skills of dance lend themselves to other disciplines which also contain elements of art and performance.
Being able to sustain a performance and carry your audience through a routine, piece or instalment is one of the key ingredients for success. With your audience hanging on every artistic word of your performance, it is no longer split into technique, performance skills, personality, and costume, and so on. You are able to create an illusion in the performance space, and go on to win Dancing on Ice!
The public vote meant that Beth – who won Olympic Bronze in the Uneven Bars last summer – and her partner Dan beat actor Matt Lapinskas’ two perfect ’10’ routines, complete with show tights and lots of sequins! The pair also impressed the judges with their version of the Bolero, made famous at the 1984 Winter Olympics by Olympians Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean, who also feature on the show. Late 2012 also saw a 2012 Olympian win on television: gymnast Louis Smith beat his competitors on Strictly Come Dancing, mirroring Beth’s win in 2013. It has been revealed that there will be a ninth series of Dancing on Ice in 2014.
Prior to her Dancing on Ice win, Beth has had much success in the world of sparkly leotards and chalk: gymnastics. In addition to being an Olympic Bronze medallist, Beth is a triple World Champion, a six-time European Champion, a Commonwealth Champion and a seven-time consecutive National Champion. Beth has competed at three Olympic Games: Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
As the cold weather is starting to hit dancers all over the country, twelve dancers have already been braving the ice as they began their performance journeys on Dancing on Ice, refilling our dancing lives with sequins, skates, gorgeous costumes and a generous helping of Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean.
Donning their show tights for the 2013 series will be Joe Pasquale – comedian, Lauren Goodger – reality TV star, Anthea Turner – TV presenter, Keith Chegwin – presenter, Samia Ghadie – actress, Oona King – Baroness King of Bow, Luke Campbell – Olympic boxer, Beth Tweddle – Olympic gymnast, Shayne Ward – singer, Gareth Thomas – professional rugby player, Matt Lapinskas – actor, and Pamela Anderson – actress, with Pamela being the first to leave the show.
The two Olympic medallists, gymnast Beth and boxer Luke, have already had much experience in such tough training. Many may argue that these incredible athletes have an added advantage, being used to the rigours of training their bodies and pushing themselves to perform in a similar type of arena. However, it seems the cast is full of variety and there are sure to be many surprises along the way. Rugby player Gareth has already take to the ballet barre in order to add grace and control to his ice skating. Much of the technique of ballet taught can be applied to ice skating, let alone the rest of the dance sector. In this sense, Gareth will be able to add to his performance through the practice of technical pliés and arabesques, even donning his ballet tights in order to marry his technique with his performance skills away from the rugby pitch.
Judging the contestants for 2013 will be head judge Robin Cousins, Olympic ice dancer Karen Barber, the notorious Jason Gardiner and former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts.