“It is strange how we all sorta knew what was happening – and knew it was not right – but did not understand how wrong it was.”
Damien Jalet: “There was definitely a question mark when suddenly we were not a couple. Would we continue to perform this? There was a moment of transition – it was tough because, with each performance, you go back to where you were in your life when you were creating it. But for [Sidi] Larbi [Cherkaoui] and I, work had been such an important part in our relationship. We felt it was beautiful to preserve that.”
“I’ll venture to say dance audiences are better behaved than other crowds because they’re more immersed in the show. They’re not as distractible. That feeling you have, when a dancer leaps lightly across the stage and you’re carried along with her — that’s your brain, your whole sensorimotor system, responding sympathetically to another human body in motion.”
Ángel Corella, artistic director of Pennsylvania Ballet and a former star at American Ballet Theater, talks frankly about the bullying and paternal disapproval he suffered while studying ballet as a boy in Spain, the strength and athleticism ballet requires, and the importance of the boys-only classes he has started in Philadelphia.
Okay, they’re describing it as a “London season” rather than a festival, but they’re calling it “Hofest,” and it “will encompass everything from Shechter’s opera debut to bringing his critically-acclaimed piece Political Mother into the rock concert atmosphere of Brixton Academy.” (And, of course, performances at Sadler’s Wells.)
Alastair Macaulay: “How should we react to a waltz in which the man’s opening move is to lift the woman and hold her horizontally along his chest as he turns? Had you thought of ‘Send in the Clowns’ as a Viennese waltz? Me neither. … It’s a tribute to the three-part PBS series America’s Ballroom Challenge … that the show broke down some of my prejudices.”
“‘It is opening night at the Metropolitan Opera – the gala performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Aïda. It is the first time in the history of the venerable opera house that it has a black artist on its roster. Let me tell you, my friend, I am just as surprised as anyone else.’ It was 1951, and Janet Collins, the author of these words, was that black artist.”
Shelley Eva Haden: “When choreographer Rosie Kay cast me as the only woman in a revival of her work 5 Soldiers, I didn’t fully appreciate what it meant until I spent five days with 4th Battalion the Rifles. The infantry were undergoing a full-battle exercise and I was the only female among more than 80 soldiers.”
“Many opera and ballet companies employ stitchers on a freelance basis, making it an unattractive career choice for fashion graduates. And unlike general tailoring, which leading fashion houses now outsource to China, tutu-making is so specialised that it can’t be done on the cheap on the other side of the world.”
“As purely Russian as Diana Vishneva appears, she is one of the most cosmopolitan ballerinas of her generation. For over a decade she’s been a principal with both the Mariinsky Ballet in St Petersburg and American Ballet Theatre in New York, as well as jetting between numerous other companies worldwide.”
“It wasn’t about dropping a bombshell – if I didn’t give a shit about young dancers, then I’d just keep quiet. I don’t need to work with British-trained dancers as we have a bunch of dancers from Asia and get half of those in our company from PARTS [in Brussels]. The only reason why I am saying this is because I care for these young people.”
In response to serious criticism from three major choreographers of the quality of UK-trained contemporary dancers, Judith Mackrell considers the nature and purpose of the dance education on offer – and allows as how British dance is healthy enough that lots of artists from elsewhere want to be part of it.
“A quick glance at Dance UK’s website would suggest an art form that was in very good shape. It reports a dramatic increase in the number of professional dance companies over the past two decades, as well as pointing out that audiences have risen significantly, and students studying the subject at school have grown by more than 200%. But behind the scenes the situation appears less rosy.”
“The pre-2004 company associated with these particular works, which call on a variety of leading, solo and ensemble dance forces, eventually numbered as many as 44 dancers. The one now under Ms. Johnson’s guidance has 18. She has stressed that in the years since it was reformed in 2012, Dance Theater of Harlem has evolved into a touring company.”
His staging (direction as well as dance) of the Gershwin show, just opened on Broadway after knockout success in Paris, “perfectly encapsulates the artistic character of the boyish-looking, 42-year-old Wheeldon: a sophisticated balletmaker who is a hopeless fan of razzle-dazzle.” Sarah Kaufman tells how he came to the project.