December 2019
San Francisco Ballet in London: Jennifer Stahl in Snowblind by Cathy Marston. © Foteini Christofilopoulou. (Click image for larger version)

Some Memorable Performances of 2019 – London

Lynette Halewood with some reflections on London dance performances over the last year – the good and the less good…

Faith Prendergast in The Little Prince.© Jane Hobson. (Click image for larger version)

Luca Silvestrini’s Protein – The Little Prince – London

★★★★✰   Silvestrini has fashioned a striking theatrical experience in perfect harmony with this timeless story, capped by a triumphal performance in the title role.

Bijayini Satpathy in the Kalpana bill.© Anubhava. (Click image for larger version)

Some Memorable Performances of 2019 – New York

I don’t really believe in lists, but it’s admittedly fun to look back over the year and reflect on moments that have stayed with me. So here they are, in no particular order…

Jeffery Taylor.© 2011 Mark Kehoe, courtesy Sunday Express. (Click image for larger version)

Obituary: Jeffery Taylor, 1938 – 2019, Dancer and Critic

Jeffery Taylor, who died in the autumn, aged 81, was a professional dancer for sixteen years before going on to become a dance critic. Graham Watts on the real Billy Elliot…

Arthur Pita's The Little Match Girl.© 2016 Cesare De Giglio. (Click image for larger version)

Arthur Pita – The Little Match Girl – London

★★★★★   Think comic opera meets dance theatre, with choreography so animated there’s no translation needed.

Royal Academy of Dance: Celebrating 100 Years book cover.© Scala Arts/RAD. (Click image for larger version)

Book – Royal Academy of Dance: Celebrating 100 Years

The achievements of RAD over the past hundred years are brought together in an impressive new book, published this month…

Ashley Shaw and Adam Cooper in The Red Shoes.© Johan Persson. (Click image for larger version)

New Adventures – Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes – London

★★★★★   …this revival of The Red Shoes, coming with a number of tweaks, appears even tighter and slicker than the original.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Jamar Roberts' Ode.© Paul Kolnik. (Click image for larger version)

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – Busk, Ode, Ounce of Faith – New York

★★★★✰   Jamar Roberts’ Ode was the centerpiece and the highlight of the company’s performance, which also included Aszure Barton’s Busk (a company premiere) and Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Ounce of Faith (a premiere).

English National Ballet in The Nutcracker.© Laurent Liotardo. (Click image for larger version)

English National Ballet – The Nutcracker – London

★★★✰✰   Having premiered in 2010, it is now two years’ past the median lifespan of an ENB Nutcracker and – despite many attributes – the show has reached its sell-by date.

Bethany Kingsley-Garner in The Snow Queen.© Andy Ross. (Click image for larger version)

Scottish Ballet – The Snow Queen – Edinburgh

★★★★✰   Hampson has created a naturalistic and, above all, a graceful and harmonious set of steps. It’s all so unforced, but it feels right and creates a beautifully rounded and satisfying production.

Last Yearz Interesting Negro/Jamila Johnson-Small and Fernanda Muñoz-Newsome in Heavy handed, we crush the moment.© Maurizio Martorana, Jamila Johnson-Small. (Click image for larger version)

Jamila Johnson-Small and guests – Heavy Handed We Crush the Moment – London

Heavy Handed We Crush the Moment, an immersive performance is fittingly programmed late at the Barbican Pit. It’s a relaxed and fluid set-up with dim lighting, a DJ’s deck and sculpted podiums on which the audience can sit.

Edward Watson and Olga Smirnova in McGregor + Mugler.© Sasha Gusov. (Click image for larger version)

MuzArts – Radio & Juliet, Faun, McGregor + Mugler – London

★★✰✰✰   There was certainly some spectacle and some good dancing, and not just from the big stars. However, the most heavily promoted piece and world premiere was an excruciating fifteen minutes of disappointment…

Chester Hayes as Billy in Kes Reimagined.© Marv Martin. (Click image for larger version)

Film: Kes Reimagined, by Jonathan Watkins

★★★★✰   In Watkins’ choreography and MacGibbon’s mastery of camera angles and close-ups the narrative is crystal clear.

Svetlana Zakharova in Gabrielle Chanel.© Jack Devant. (Click image for larger version)

Svetlana Zakharova – Modanse: Gabrielle Chanel, Come un Respiro – London

★★★✰✰   Stunning images of Bolshoi ballerina Svetlana Zakahrova dressed as Coco Chanel whetted the appetite for the London Premiere of her latest how, Modanse.

Dormeshia.© Eduardo Patino. (Click image for larger version)

Dormeshia – And Still You Must Swing – New York

★★★★✰   Some have called Dormeshia the greatest tapper of her generation. I’m wary of such titles, but what I can say is that she is a dancer of enormous sophistication, finesse, variety, and subtlety.

Pierre Tappon, Nancy Nerantzi, Liam Riddick and Nathan Goodman in Isthmus.© Tony Nandi. (Click image for larger version)

Richard Alston Dance Company – Alston at Home – London

★★★★✰   Richard Alston’s title for his company’s last tour before it closes in 2020 is Final Edition. The autumn run ended with four performances at The Place, in a programme aptly called Alston At Home.

Madhavi Mudgal's Vistar.© Rehmat Rayatt. (Click image for larger version)

Madhavi Mudgal – Vistar – London

★★★✰✰   There is a mannered and refined gentility in the movement style; bodies and arms beautifully shaped with the eloquent symmetry of body bends…

Francesca Hayward and Gary Avis in Coppélia.© Foteini Christofilopoulou, courtesy the Royal Opera House. (Click image for larger version)

Royal Ballet – Coppélia – London

★★★★✰   The dancing is so enjoyable, the comedy so appealing, that any flaws in the story telling are easily overlooked.

Mavin Khoo & Temple of Fine Arts publicity image.© and courtesy Sadler’s Wells. (Click image for larger version)

Mavin Khoo & Temple of Fine Arts – unnamed dance inspired by the Ramayana – London

★★★✰✰   Mavin Khoo doesn’t appear on stage here: the work has been made on dancers from the Temple of Fine Arts Inner Space Dance, based in Malaysia.

Francesca Hayward in Coppélia.© Foteini Christofilopoulou, courtesy the Royal Opera House. (Click image for larger version)

Gallery – Francesca Hayward and Gary Avis in a scene from the Royal Ballet’s Coppélia

Gallery by Foteini Christofilopoulou…

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