Author: Jane Simpson

Jane Simpson has written for DanceTabs/ Balletco since its very early days in 1997. She contributed regularly to Dance Now for its last 10 years and wrote for the Yearbook of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (2000 - 2009); she writes a 'London Letter' for the Washington-based quarterly, Dance View. She is based in London and also makes several trips to Copenhagen each season.

Update: In June 2014 Jane decided to retire from writing - see more on this page.

Under are the articles written for DanceTabs. Reviews on Balletco
Steven McRae (with Marcelino Sambe, Matthew Ball, Luca Acri and Tomas Mock) in Alastair Marriott's Connectome.© Dave Morgan, courtesy the Royal Opera House. (Click image for larger version)

Royal Ballet – Dream, Connectome, Concert – London

In the Royal Ballet’s last programme for this season two old favourites frame the first performances of Alastair Marriott’s latest work, Connectome. It’s a well-balanced evening and gives the new piece every chance to shine.

Jacqueline Clark, Yuhui Choe, Leticia Stock and Francesca Hayward in Liam Scarlett's Sweet Violets.© Dave Morgan, courtesy the Royal Opera House. (Click image for larger version)

Royal Ballet – Serenade, Sweet Violets, DGV: Danse à grande vitesse – London

It’s always good to get back to mixed programmes after one of the Royal Ballet’s long runs of blockbusters, and better still when the first item on the bill is Balanchine’s timeless Serenade.

Cedric Lambrette, Benjamin Buza, Alexandra Lo Sardo and Alban Lendorf in Manon.© Costin Radu. (Click image for larger version)

Royal Danish Ballet – Manon – Copenhagen

The Royal Danish Ballet’s production of Manon is a rather different affair from the Covent Garden original which I fled from sometime in the 1990s and have never revisited….

Ida Praetorius, Christina Michanek and Amalie Adrian in Act 3 of Napoli.© Costin Radu. (Click image for larger version)

Royal Danish Ballet – Napoli – Copenhagen

Most of this run of performances was sold out, or very nearly so, so the Copenhagen audience evidently appreciates what Hubbe is doing. To me, though, this latest revision of Napoli felt like a step too far…

Lauren Cuthbertson in The Sleeping Beauty.© ROH / Johan Persson. (Click image for larger version)

Royal Ballet – The Sleeping Beauty – London

….thanks and admiration to Francesca Hayward for a blithe, swift Songbird Fairy, probably the most pleasing I’ve ever seen…

Eric Underwood, Marianela Nunez and Thiago Soares in Tetractys - The Art of Fugue.© Dave Morgan, courtesy the Royal Opera House. (Click image for larger version)

Royal Ballet – Tetractys -The Art of Fugue, Rhapsody, Gloria – London

The Royal Ballet’s latest triple bill has a happy beginning and a sad ending and in the middle there’s Wayne McGregor’s new piece, Tetractys, an emotionally-neutral blank sheet on which you can write your own feelings – or more likely, your own thoughts.

Leanne Cope and James Hay in Liam Scarlett's Hansel and Gretel.© Dave Morgan, courtesy the Royal Opera House. (Click image for larger version)

Royal Ballet – Hansel and Gretel – London

…we get a cleverly staged and very well danced psychodrama, scary both in what we see and what we further imagine. There are, though, two fundamental problems which hold the piece back from complete success.

The Snowflakes in Peter Wright's The Nutcracker.© Dave Morgan, by kind permission of the Royal Opera House. (Click image for larger version)

The Royal Ballet – The Nutcracker – London

Another December, another Royal Ballet Nutcracker: anything new to report? Not much, no. And for once that’s probably the answer most people are hoping to hear…

Alicia Amatriain and Alexander Jones in The Taming of the Shrew.© Stuttgart Ballet. (Click image for larger version)

Stuttgart Ballet – The Taming of the Shrew – London

So the company showed well enough to save the afternoon – but how much better they would look in a stronger piece.

Nancy Nerantzi (Oeone) in Phaedra.© Foteini Christofilopoulou. (Click image for larger version)

Richard Alston Dance Company – Lachrymae, Hölderlin Fragments, Phaedra, Illuminations – London

Richard Alston’s devotion to Britten’s music goes back 50 years, and for his programme at the Barbican Theatre he’s made two new works to be shown alongside two from an earlier stage in his career.

Femke Mølbach Slot as Kate and Gregory Dean as Hank in Come Fly Away.© Costin Radu. (Click image for larger version)

Royal Danish Ballet & School – Come Fly Away, The Fable Maker – Copenhagen

…assuming that the company acquired Come Fly Away in the hopes of selling a lot of tickets and bringing in new audiences, it’s been a terrific success: the whole run is sold out …and I imagine that the standing ovation the night I was there is repeated every time.

Lauren Cuthbertson and Federico Bonelli in Romeo and Juliet.© ROH/Bill Cooper. (Click image for larger version)

Royal Ballet – Romeo and Juliet (Cuthbertson and Bonelli) – London

Cuthbertson isn’t one of those tiny doll-like Juliets who can get through the first scene on sweetness alone. Instead she gives hints of gaucheness …you’’d bet heavily against her wardrobe being mainly pink.

Marion Tait as Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty.© Roy Smiljanic. (Click image for larger version)

Birmingham Royal Ballet – The Sleeping Beauty – London

…it’s actually a real pleasure to watch a company just working together for the good of the ballet.

Marianela Nunez and Carlos Acosta in Don Quixote.© Dave Morgan, by kind permission of the Royal Opera House. (Click image for larger version)

Royal Ballet – Don Quixote (Acosta production) – London

It’s especially challenging for the Royal Ballet, whose repertoire and style are built on the subtle understatement of Frederick Ashton and the deep psychological explorations of Kenneth MacMillan: hot-blooded Latin exuberance is not really their thing…

All American Alston DVD cover.© The Place. (Click image for larger version)

DVD – Richard Alston Dance Company – All American Alston

The music for all three of the pieces on Richard Alston’s latest DVD may be ‘all American’ but the choreography isn’t: there’s nothing here to dilute Alston’s reputation as the most ‘all English’ of today’s major dancemakers…

Kathleen Breen Combes and Paulo Arrais in Symphony in Three Movements.© Dave Morgan. (Click image for larger version)

Boston Ballet – Serenade, Afternoon of a Faun, Plan to B, Symphony in Three Movements – London

The first bravo for the Boston Ballet’s return to London must go to artistic director Mikko Nissinen, for his clever and highly successful programming for opening night.

Royal Ballet: Alexander Campbell, Itziar Mendizabal and Deidre Chapman in Kim Brandstrup's Ceremony of Innocence.© Rob Marrison. (Click image for larger version)

Aldeburgh Festival – Britten Dances bill by Royal Ballet & RB Flanders

The performance was sold out and very warmly applauded and I hope the Festival authorities will take notice, and schedule a similar programme in future years.

Kim Brandstrup.© Henrik Bjerregrav. (Click image for larger version)

Kim Brandstrup – Choreographer

2013 is the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth and Kim Brandstrup is part of the celebrations with important works at the Aldeburgh Festival (with the Royal Ballet) and in London (for ENO). Jane Simpson catches up with him…

Paula Alonso and Clemmie Sveaas in Witch-hunt.© Dave Morgan. (Click image for larger version)

Bern Ballett / Cathy Marston – Witch-hunt – London

…intelligent, well-structured and emotionally engaging… The more I think about Cathy Marston’s Witch-Hunt, the more I admire it.

Ida Praetorius as Eleonore in Kermessen in Bruges, with Louise Ostergaard, Josee Bowman and Fernando Mora.© Costin Radu. (Click image for larger version) cr Kermessen

Royal Danish Ballet – La Ventana, Kermesse in Bruges – Copenhagen

In fact delight was the keynote of the whole evening …I was very happy to see the whole company reclaiming their ‘joy in dancing’, the Bournonville essence which is fundamentally what keeps these old ballets alive.

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