Arts and Entertainment

Paul McCartney's first work for dance may be the most satisfying of his classical pieces – but then, he's been composing for the dance all his life, in a way.

Culture Club: Glee, E4

Readers review this week's big TV series

Alice in Wonderland: the ballet

The Royal Ballet is taking a trip to Wonderland for its first brand new full-length work in 20 years. Jessica Duchen looks forward to a curious evening

Sarah Sands: Do we really want friends and family to be our ballet critics?

It was not chivalrous of Alastair Macaulay, the British dance critic of The New York Times, to write that Jenifer Ringer, principal dancer of the New York City Ballet, looked overweight in The Nutcracker. To say that a woman with a history of bulimia and anorexia looked as if she had had "one plum too many" as the Sugar Plum Fairy showed an undeniable emotional insensitivity. The incident coincides with the imminent release of Black Swan, a film about the grotesque physical demands made on dancers, and with a wave of ballet mania. So Macaulay's remark has hit black ice in front of a mass audience. As Natalie Portman, star of Black Swan, asked rhetorically: "In whatever other fields is it acceptable to judge artists by how big they are?"

How We Met: William Trevitt & Christopher Wheeldon

'I'd like to think of us as the Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney of the ballet world'

Ondine, Royal Opera House, London

Frederick Ashton's 1958 ballet, Ondine, the tale of a water sprite's love for an unfaithful prince, was old-fashioned even when it was new. It has an enchanting ballerina role, created for Margot Fonteyn, but surrounds it with an awful lot of padding. Ashton's watery imagery goes from poetic to kitsch and back again. Lila de Nobili's designs include mistily evocative landscapes, but unflattering wigs and boots.

Wuthering Heights, Linbury Studio, London<br/>Ondine, Royal Opera House, London

A classic novel is reduced to meteorology and put to music while a classic ballet loses a rising star

Nora Kovach: Prodigious Hungarian ballerina who defected to the West in 1953

The sensational defection of the Hungarian ballerina Nora Kovach in 1953 caught the imagination of both sides in the Cold War. She was an outstanding talent, decorated and feted by the communist state in Hungary, yet she decided with her then husband and partner, Istvan Rabovsky, to defect to the West. They were the first ballet dancers to escape from the Soviet bloc, and their defection caused enormous ripples that went far beyond ballet circles.

Candace Bushnell: Sex, success, the city and the zeitgeist

Candace Bushnell, once called 'Jane Austen with a martini', turns a sharp, forensic gaze on New York's super-rich in her new novel

Observations: Peculiar dance moves

Two surprise moves in the dance world this week. The Bolshoi Ballet's Alexei Ratmansky becomes artist in residence at American Ballet Theatre – which snatched him from under the nose of its rivals, New York City Ballet. Back in Britain, Javier De Frutos has made a speedy exit from Phoenix Dance Theatre.

Edinburgh elite: Who's going to be the talk of the biggest arts festival in the world next month?

We take a peek in the little black books of The Independent on Sunday critics

Sallie Wilson: Keeper of Antony Tudor's flame

The dramatic ballerina Sallie Wilson was renowned as an interpreter of the British choreographer Antony Tudor's work after he went to the United States in 1940. After retirement she continued faithfully to keep his delicately calibrated psychological ballets alive in the face of later generations of dancers' cooler personalities and emphasis on technique.

Jewels, The Lowry, Salford

During a brief UK visit, the Kirov dazzles with Balanchine's three ballets in one

Royal Ballet triple bill, Royal Opera Houselondon

Lights, action ... cue the music silenced by Stalin: Film noir meets Dostoevsky in a low-key, yet powerfully insinuating new ballet that mimics features of early cinema

New York City Ballet, Coliseum, London

Personality is the answer to American wobbles

New York City Ballet: Programmes 3 & 4, Coliseum, London

New York City Ballet's spring season has been a serious disappointment. This is one of the world's major companies, visiting London for the first time since 1983. It should have been a big deal. The four programmes have been awkwardly chosen and often inadequately performed. These last two bills moved from NYCB's core choreographers, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, to more recent work. Quality plummeted.

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