Arts and Entertainment English National Ballet's 'The Nutcracker'

English National Ballet, London Coliseum

Never mind the Boleros

DANCE

Arts: Cold encounters

Not even Christopher Dean's ballet debut scores a six in the latest very mixed bill from the ENB. By Louise Levene

Dance Giselle Royal Ballet, Covent Garden English National Ballet, Coliseum

Imagine an actress who only gets to act Lady Macbeth twice a year. You wouldn't expect much of a performance, would you? Yet crowded company schedules can mean that ballerinas often get only a couple of cracks at some of the most taxing roles in the repertoire. Two versions of Giselle - one new and one traditional - have been showing in London, but both led by ballerinas who manage to craft thoughtful interpretations without the luxury of frequent repetition.

Mum's the word

MAXIMOVA & VASILIEV AT THE BOLSHOI by Roberta Lazzarini, Dancebooks pounds 20

Choice: The critics: DANCE

English National Ballet give the Ben Stevenson production of The Nutcracker its final outing at the Festival Hall this Christmas. Derek Deane looks forward to a spanking new version with designs by Sue Blane in time for next year's panto season. Royal Festival Hall, London SE1

CHOICE THE CRITICS: DANCE

DANCE Louise Levene

Carmen; ENO / London Coliseum

`Here's a show which could run and run. It looks great, kind of Broadway-grubby and just as busy, though not so the detail doesn't tell'

ENTERTAINMENT GUIDE

choice: the critics

Dance / Bird on a wire: Judith Mackrell on English National Ballet's Sleeping Beauty at the Coliseum

There are moments in English National Ballet's new Sleeping Beauty where Disney as much as Petipa seems to be the presiding genius of the production. Carabosse, the wicked fairy, is a cartoon hag - all hunchback, warts and crooked nose - who soars cackling through the air on the end of a flying wire. Her opposite number, the Lilac Fairy, carries a wand from which she sprinkles pixie dust on to Prince Florimund so that he can fly, Peter Pan- style, to the rescue of Aurora. There's also much bustling drama among the minor characters, who gossip and gawp at the sidelines of the action.

DANCE / Sharply drilled: Judith Mackrell on the return of the English National Ballet

Act 3 of Petipa's La Bayadere is the perfect shop window for any ballet company aiming to parade its classical credentials. The famous trance-inducing opening in which waves of dancers fill the stage is one of the repertoire's most exposing tests of the corps de ballet. As 24 dancers step bravely through their collective arabesques, their backs and arms curving in pliant unison, any jelly thighs or faltering balances are brutally apparent. The ballet's solos are also ferociously demanding show-stoppers which have to be danced with a dreamy confidence appropriate to the ballet's visionary world.

On dance

It's all very well for Kiri Te Kanawa. When the temperature in darkest Surrey drops to 50F, she can still regale the Hampton Court Festival with 'My Tiny Hand is Frozen wearing thermal undies and a shawl. Sylvie Guillem's Gianni Versace is unlikely to be shown to advantage under a cosy winter woolly. But ballet dancers like it hot. Very hot. Anything below Equity's specified 65F and they go on strike - witness English National Ballet's infamous decision to pirouette to rule last November when the Palace Theatre, Manchester, had a problem with its thermostat. Dancers' muscles need to be kept warm or they risk injury. Which makes open air ballet a dodgy proposition. And yet both Sylvie Guillem (right) and the Bolshoi ballet are planning to brave the rigours of an English summer evening. Sylvie, at Hampton Court, and the Bolshoi on a heritage tour of British stately homes: Leeds Castle, Highclere Castle and Castle Howard.

Dancing without direction: If it is English ballet, why does it rely on Russian technique, asks Chris de Marigny

'I FEAR for the future of British dance if we can't start producing the quality that classical ballet demands.' Thus spoke the director of the English National Ballet, Derek Deane, after hiring only one of the 100 dancers he had auditioned at the weekend. His remarks, which also included a lament for the dancers' lack of 'physicality', reference to 'things that are fundamentally wrong with the way they use their feet and legs and backs' and an allusion to 'physical damage' caused by training, caused uproar in the ballet world.

Ballet director attacks teaching

THE ARTISTIC director of a leading ballet company condemned standards of dance teaching at the weekend after he was shocked by an audition for recruits, writes Nicholas Schoon.

Ballet standards appal director

DEREK DEANE, English National Ballet's artistic director, bitterly attacked standards of training in British dance yesterday. After auditioning 80 dancers for his company, Mr Deane said: 'I am appalled by what I have seen today. I fear for the future of British dance if we can't start producing the quality that classical ballet demands.'

Male ballet dancers take small steps to shake off uptight prejudices

JAY BEVAN announced that he wanted to be a ballet dancer at the age of four. His mother was horrified. 'She said it was poofy, and sent me to judo instead.' Only when he was 18, after completing his exams early, was he able, finally, to join a Saturday dance class.
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