You expect to see The Nutcracker staged at Christmas – but this year's snowstorm of productions is overwhelming. The trouble is there's not much else to take its place, says Jessica Duchen
Jonathan Miller’s triumphant staging of Donizetti’s comic masterpiece 'The Elixir of Love' returns to the London Coliseum this September for a limited run of only nine performances, while Fiona Shaw brings her unique creative flair to a major new production of Mozart’s immensely popular classic 'The Marriage of Figaro' in October.
They need to spread their wings
A fitting farewell to a giant of dance
Ballet is in crisis, with fresh talent and ideas struggling to break through and the major companies obsessed with 200-year-old productions at the expense of new work, according to the head of Sadler's Wells, in remarks sure to cause a sharp intake of breath backstage at his more traditional rivals.
There is no disputing that dance is having a moment in the sun. And that's as true for watching it as for doing it. But this isn't just about couch potatoes slumping in front of spangly TV talent shows. Notwithstanding the recent cuts passed on by Arts Council England to many of its clients, a review of ACE-funded organisations has revealed dance as the fastest growing of all the arts, with attendances up by 103 per cent over 12 months. Another survey, of theatre audiences in the West End of London, found that 71 per cent of people attending dance shows rated their experience as "very good", compared with an average of 63 per cent across all the theatre arts. Whatever form it takes, dance is clearly perceived as providing a memorable night out.
Les Saisons Russes du XXIe Siecle
Serge Lifar's Suite en Blanc opens with an image of a ballet company. The dancers are posed in serried ranks, in plain tights and white tutus. It's a large-scale showcase – but it needs more clarity and confidence than English National Ballet show us.
Top marks to English National Ballet for cashing in on the Black Swan buzz with a rushed-out addition to their Black & White show at the London Coliseum next month. Alongside works by Wayne Eagling and Suite en Blanc, the programme will now feature the dazzling black swan pas de deux from Swan Lake which gave Natalie Portman's ballerina so much trouble in the film (and not just because of its 32 fouettés). Forget the battle between black and white swan, though, there's a far fiercer contest hatching – between the kings of the catwalk. For one special performance Elena Glurdjidze will dance the black swan in a gothic ebony tutu designed by the British fashion favourite Giles. In 2009, the same prima ballerina performed the Dying Swan in a feather-light white Chanel confection by Karl Lagerfeld. That design drew unflattering comparisons with Big Bird – will Giles Deacon fare any better and win over the tutu traditionalists?
Though English National Ballet's new Nutcracker is a long-awaited production, it seems to have been rushed on to the stage. It has handsome designs, Tchaikovsky's score and some strong dancing, but suffered a case of first-night nerves. Some dances were under-rehearsed; at least one special effect went awry. The production and company need to take a deep breath and calm down.
On Friday night the English National Ballet unveils a new Nutcracker, its 10th production of the seasonal classic in 60 years. Alice Jones drops in on rehearsals to discover the secret of its enduring appeal
The Week in Arts
Royal Ballet showcases the work of a 23-year-old choreographer
A gala should not be an endurance test. Ensemble Productions' Homage to Nureyev has a starry international cast, and some fine performances, but heavens, it's long. Close to four hours of short numbers, this tribute to the great 20th-century ballet star was epically episodic.
English National Opera’s new staging of Janacek’s heartbreaking Katya Kabanova is cast big: big voices, big performers casting big shadows.
'In Sofia, they had to hose ice off the plane'