Dutch National Ballet - Igone de Jongh and Daniel Camargo in Ernst Meisner’s In Transit. Photo: Hans Gerritsen

Made in Amsterdam

SUSAN POND enjoys two bills of new and revised pieces created by choreographers with an Amsterdam connection

Over a hundred ballet programmers, company directors, choreographers and journalists from all over the world met up in Amsterdam for a conference weekend entitled Positioning Ballet, to discuss the state of the art form and possible future paths. Ambitiously, the weekend aimed to tackle three hugely complex themes: heritage, diversity and identity. The latter theme linked up well with the performances attended by the participants – a double programme totalling eight ballets: Made in Amsterdam 1 & 2. As the title suggests, all eight works were created especially for Dutch National Ballet, by choreographers who either have their roots in the company or have very strong ties with it. What better way to showcase the company’s identity?  Read Susan Pond's review in  the March issue.

Dutch National Ballet - McGregor’s Tree of Codes. Photo: Emma Kauldhar


Tree of Codes

FRANÇOIS FARGUE unravels Wayne McGregor’s collaboration with dancers from the Paris Opera and his own company

A quick perusal, pre-show, of the programme gives a hint of what kind of stuff Wayne McGregor’s Tree of Codes might be made of. “The idea of a technological body is something that has always fascinated me. The human body is the most extraordinary of technological machines; it is far more complex than any computer. But the combination of the two represents a genuine field of exploration,” quotes the acclaimed wizard of British dance. Such a combination is implemented right off in the first tableau, where invisible bodies with small blue lights attached to them roll around in the dark like so many Christmas trees gone bonkers.  Read François Fargue's review in  the March issue.

Isabelle Brouwers sharing a centrefold in The Guardian newspaper with a student at Spurgeon’s Academy. 


Isabelle Brouwers

AMANDA JENNINGS interviews the English National Ballet dancers about teaching at Spurgeon's Academy in Kenya

What was the initial driving force behind your visit to the Academy?
It was literally like some kind of sign from above! This video came up in my Facebook newsfeed of this school in Kenya giving ballet lessons: ”slum ballet”. I thought, “Oh, that’s so beautiful,” and literally the next day my Dad gives me a call and says, “Exciting news, we’re moving to Kenya!” And I thought, “Oh, that video!” So I looked at the fine print and saw that it was in Kibera, Nairobi, which is where my parents would be based. In the two-weeks break we get after Nutcracker I always go visit my parents, wherever they are, so it was like some kind of miracle, some kind of sign, that I had to go see the school.  Read Amanda Jennings interview with Isabelle Brouwers in the March issue.

Vaganova Academy students perforimg in the Sleeping Beauty with the Mariinsky Ballet © Emma Kauldhar

Fear of the Fouetté...

MAINA GIELGUD presents sound rationale for encouraging young students to ‘go for it’ at an early age 

From my experience, as a coach and teacher working regularly in a number of different countries’ ballet companies and schools, I have come to the conclusion that despite great advances in pedagogy, in some countries one aspect is often overlooked through an overcautiousness of approach. Talented children who have the drive to become classical ballet dancers should, I am sure all directors and teachers agree, be provided with training which gives them the tools enabling them to acquire the artistic and technical skills necessary to become the best dancers they can possibly be. Yet, so often when coaching students or professional dancers, even principal dancers, I come across what I call the ‘fear of the fouetté’! - of being in pointe shoes, of manèges and many of the virtuosic jumps and pirouettes in the classical vocabulary.  Read Maina Gielgud’s article in the March issue.