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. Much of the large ballet companies’ output lacks variety, according to the Sadler’s Wells chief executive Alistair Spalding, who champions new work.
I’m not saying they don’t get broad audiences, but it is often one dimensional,” said Mr Spalding. “There are exceptions but that is essentially the bulk of it, it is 19th century. If there isn’t some kind of attention paid to that it is going to end up winding down. It does need new impetus. There is the sense that it does need to be reinvigorated again.”
The problem is nothing to do with the recent funding cuts, according to Jennifer Homans, author of Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet, which prompted international debate last year after she argued that ballet was dying – although the emptying coffers will make things much more difficult.
Funding is not the problem, it is an artistic problem and money will not solve that,” said Ms Homans. “Alistair is right. We are at a conservative moment in ballet, and dancers need to feel like they are doing new work. Unfortunately, for the most part, the new work is not living up to the old work. The crisis in ballet is not a British crisis, it is a general crisis.”
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.