The end of an era
The current edition of Dancing Times magazine features the last “Notes from New York” column from Jack Anderson, who has been contributing to the magazine for 50 years. He's decided to retire from writing about dance and Leigh Witchel, who has written for the magazine for several years, will take over.
Danza in Italia
My “Danza in Italia” column looks at three open-air events organised for the Nervi Festival by Genova's opera house, Teatro Carlo Felice, in the charming Nervi coastal park, where the sea becomes the backdrop for the performances.
Stravinsky's Love was produced by Teatro Carlo Felice and Daniele Cipriani to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the composer's death, and featured the mesmerising Beatrice Rana on the piano with Vladimir Derevianko (in his first outing as an actor) playing Stravinsky. An intelligent programme saw Vienna State Ballet's Davide Dato give a powerhouse performance in Uwe Scholz's The Rite of Spring; Hamburg Ballet dancers Jacopo Bellussi and Alessandro Frola perform Jon Neumeier's new work Peter and Igor; Sasha Riva and Simone Repele in Marco Goecke's Firebird; as well as repertoire works including George Balanchine's Apollo with Sergio Bernal and Ashley Bouder performing the Apollo and Terpsichore pas de deux.
Svetlana Zakharova was in sparkling form in her husband and wife show Pas de deux for Toes and Fingers, which had an unplanned appearance by a coastal guard helicopter during a performance that also featured her Bolshoi colleagues Mikhail Lobukhin, Denis Savin, Vyacheslav Lopatin, and Jacopo Tissi.
A gala by the Youth America Gran Prix to showcase some of its recent talent had 18-year-old António Casalinho – on the cover of Dancing Times in April 2021 – who demonstrated why he has been snapped up by Igor Zelensky at the Bavarian State Ballet.
Elsewhere in Dancing Times is an extract from Leanne Benjamin's forthcoming autobiography Built for Ballet where she describes how the world of dance is changing for the better:
It's easier to be yourself these days. The companies I have recently been around have become better at accommodating different types of dancers and giving them space to blossom. As society has changed, ballet has responded. It was a great surprise and pleasure to me when my friend from Sadler's Wells [Royal Ballet] days, Kevin O'Hare, was appointed to run The Royal Ballet. Quietly but firmly, he is making the company in a new image. It is a much more open place than it used to be, and dancers are happier as a result. I see the changes in a lot of ways. Dancers are allowed to make a much more rapid ascension through the ranks; there isn't the old sense of serving your time in the corps de ballet. You're promoted when you're ready, not according to some preordained idea.
At one time, The Royal Ballet was structured around long runs of the classics and if you didn't fit the image of Aurora [in The Sleeping Beauty] or Odette [in Swan Lake], then you were unlikely to be made a principal. That repertory is still there but there are more performances and much more new work, so you can fulfil your potential much more quickly and you may become a principal even if you don't fit the traditional mould. I've always hoped that talent will rise, like cream, yet it hasn't always been true. This wide repertory gives dancers more of an opportunity to show the director what they are capable of, and the result has been the promotion of an extraordinary array of young talent, dancers who will blaze across the stage for the next generation. This is true in the companies I see and work with; the mood is shifting in many places.
On the October cover is Alice McArthur, gold medal winner of the Royal Academy of Dance's inaugural “Fonteyn” competition. Other articles include Jann Parry on the creativity and ingenuity of digital dance creators during lockdown, Gerald Dowler talking to artist Tacita Dean about The Dante Project, editor Jonathan Gray talking to Birmingham Royal Ballet's Dominic Antonucci, and the regular columns from Igor Stupnikov and Laura Cappelle.
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.