The latest issue of Dancing Times is now on sale. The December 2020 issue ends the year when the magazine celebrated its 110th anniversary, and even with the cancellation of so many shows the world over, it continued its proud tradition of never having skipped an issue, even during the war years.
In the UK recently there were performances to review in Birmingham, Leeds and London before the second lockdown due to COVID-19. In my Danza in Italia column, I talk about the newly created socially distanced Quattro stagioni piece in Bologna and chat with its protagonist, the Paris Opéra Ballet étoile and director of Rome Opera Ballet, Eleonora Abbagnato.
La Scala saw its planned revival of Giselle postponed, as well at the opening of the ballet season in December. Instead, there will be a three-hour opera and ballet gala on 7 December marking the opening of the season and transmitted live on Italian television (also on Arte and other channels) but without an audience present in the theatre.
On 1 December, former Paris Opéra Ballet étoile and director of the Vienna State Ballet, Manuel Legris, takes over as director of the La Scala Ballet. There is a two-page spread in Dancing Times of my interview with him, where he talks about taking on the company at such a particular time and his plans for its future. Legris is choreographing a new piece called Verdi Suite for the gala with La Scala dancers Martina Arduino, Virna Toppi, Claudio Coviello, Nicola Del Freo and Marco Agostino. Roberto Bolle will perform a piece to a rock score with choreography by Massimiliano Volpini, and other pieces from the classical repertoire will feature Nicoletta Manni and Timofej Andrijashenko.
The magazine also examines– in the first half of a two-part article – how Mathilde Kschessinska may have been the hidden hand behind the dismissal of Vaslav Nijinsky from the Imperial Russian Ballet in 1911. There are interviews with dancers and choreographers who were able to perform and create works in the theatre before a live audience for the first time since March; a look at how Boston Ballet has coped with lockdown; and coverage of TV’s Strictly Come Dancing.
Jonathan Gray asks dancers and a choreographer from Northern Ballet and The Royal Ballet what it feels like to be back at work
Andrew Foster asks if Mathilde Kschessinska was the hidden hand in Vaslav Nijinsky’s dismissal from the Imperial Russian Ballet
Nicola Rayner talks to Strictly Come Dancing’s Shirley Ballas
Graham Spicer talks to Manuel Legris, the new director of the Ballet of La Scala, Milan
Barbara Newman visits the Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery
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.