Sadler's Wells

Ballet is dying, warns Sadler's Wells chief

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.

I Don't Believe in Outer Space, Sadler's Wells, London

The tone for William Forsythe's I Don't Believe in Outer Space is set by dancer Dana Caspersen, who acts out both sides of a conversation with such exaggerated physical and vocal mannerisms that she becomes a postmodernist Gollum act.

Wayne McGregor/Random Dance, Sadler's Wells, London

Wayne McGregor's dancers move as if they have a few more vertebrae than the rest of us. They are rarely relaxed or neutral. Backs arch, buttocks jut, shoulders hunch and wrists twist. For all the curlicues, they dance with attack and clarity, both mannered and highly articulate.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Sadler's Wells, London

How do dance companies survive their founder choreographers? Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, at Sadler's Wells before a UK tour, was created by Ailey, who died in 1989. Directed by Judith Jamison, it's remained one of the world's most successful contemporary companies. Yet it can look bogged down by its need to honour Ailey. This second programme had a cheerful world premiere, but first we had to get through a work of hagiography.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Sadler's Wells, London

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which kicks off a UK tour at Sadler's Wells, is best known for Revelations. Created by Alvin Ailey in 1960, it showcases the strength of the dancers, and the company's roots in modern dance and African-American culture.

Political Mother, Sadler's Wells, London

This first full-length work by Hofesh Shechter is driven by the beat. Dancers lope and stamp through folk-inflected steps, picked out by spotlights or vanishing into blackness. Shechter adds winding Eastern lines, thunderous drums and electric guitar, but it's the drumbeat that powers this dance.

Akram Khan, Sadler's Wells, London

Akram Khan's Gnosis is built around images of blindness. And what images! It's a work that goes from the grand strength of co-star Yoshie Sunahata, swinging her arms as if beating a great drum, to Khan's astonishing evocation of death by fire, trembling and shaking like flames in the wind.

Rufus Wainwright, Sadler's Wells, London

At the start of the second half of this extraordinary concert, Rufus Wainwright laughingly confessed that he had been "shitting bricks" over his performance in the first half. No wonder. Before the interval he had treated us to a stunning rendition of his new album, All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu, presented as a kind of Beckettian monodrama. An official had requested that we did not applaud the separate numbers, that we should hold back until the very end "as the exit is part of the performance". So was the entrance, and then some.

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