From the best of European ballet to Benjamin Millepied’s L.A. Dance Project – an interview with Axel Ibot and Patricia Zhou

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L.A. Dance Project in Justin Peck’s ‘Murder Ballads’. Photograph: Rose Eichenbaum

American Patricia Zhou and Axel Ibot, who is French, both have very classical backgrounds. The former has danced with the Royal Ballet and the Staatsballett-Berlin, and the latter was “Sujet” in the Paris Opera Ballet before he left to join Benjamin Millepied – French choreographer, ex-director of the Paris Opera Ballet, and founder of the L.A. Dance Project – in Los Angeles.

I wondered what edged them both towards this new beginning in a smaller-sized contemporary company. Continue reading

The pioneers of contemporary ice skating – an interview with Le Patin Libre’s Alexandre Hamel

Le Patin Libre at Alexandra Palace, part of Dance Umbrella 2014.
Pictured front left: Alexandre Hamel in ‘Vertical Influences’, photograph by Alicia Clarke for Dance Umbrella – taken at the London world premiere in October 2014

After contemporary ice skating company Le Patin Libre’s incredible performance of ‘Vertical Influences’, founder Alexandre Hamel kindly talked to me about the group’s story, their work and ambitions, and the challenges they face…

Like most people in Canada, Alexandre began ice-skating at a very young age – unusually for a boy, it was figure skating, not ice hockey, he got into. After 17 years of competitions and rigorous training, Alexandre decided to rebel… Continue reading

Le Patin Libre’s ‘Vertical Influences’ ~ review

Le Patin Libre at Alexandra Palace, part of Dance Umbrella 2014.
Photograph: Alicia Clarke for Dance Umbrella – taken at the London world premiere in October 2014

Forget the glitzy clichés – Le Patin Libre has shattered traditional figure skating’s boundaries, and founded a new genre: welcome to the world of contemporary ice skating.

The Montreal-based company is made up of five ex-figure skaters who have rebelled against the rigid rules of their former discipline and its rampant commercialism (as Alexandre Hamel, founder of Le Patin Libre, explains in my interview with him). This group of mavericks have created their own innovative, liberated skating style that is now delighting audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Continue reading

‘Solstice’ by Blanca Li ~ review

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‘Solstice’ – copyright Nico Bustos

After successfully portraying the world of artificial intelligence in her 2013 creation ‘Robot’, Blanca Li continues logically on to exploring nature, and its relation with humans, in her new and exciting piece ‘Solstice’.

The curtain opens, and it’s back to the very beginnings of humanity – the rhythm and the movement is primitive, tribal, the basic, nude costumes (designed by Laurent Mercier) accentuate the rawness. Continue reading

Interview with Mourad Merzouki ~ English version

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Mourad Merzouki – copyright Michel Cavalca

Mourad Merzouki is a French hip-hop dancer and choreographer. He is the founder of the Käfig dance company, and the current director of the Centre Chorégraphique National de Créteil et du Val-de-Marne, near Paris. During this phone interview I learned about Mourad’s roots, what inspires him, the way he works… But above all, I learned about the beautiful message he strives to convey through his choreography. Continue reading

‘Rock the Ballet’ by Adrienne Canterna starring Bad Boys of Dance ~ review

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‘Rock the Ballet’

Last week, I went to see ‘Rock the Ballet’, choreographed by Adrienne Canterna and featuring the Bad Boys of Dance.

As soon as ‘Rock the Ballet’ starts, the theatre is filled with contagious fun and energy. The first scene showcases the six Bad Boys of Dance, before dancing beauty Adrienne comes onto the stage, seducing them all. Continue reading

‘Correria Agwa’ by Mourad Merzouki with CCN’s Käfig ~ review

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‘Correria Agwa’ by Mourad Merzouki (in close collaboration with the dancers) is composed of two pieces: ‘Agwa’, the company’s first creation, and ‘Correria’.

The show opened with ‘Correria’, a frenetic, almost breathless performance, based on the theme of running (correria translates as ‘the race’). This theme was made completely obvious by the dancers either actually running on the stage, or miming a running movement which was incorporated throughout the choreography. The dancers would do this in all kinds of different positions (in lifts, on the floor…). Continue reading

Interview with Käfig dancers ~ English version

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‘Agwa’ – copyright Michel Cavalca

Last week, I was lucky enough to meet four Brazilian dancers from Mourad Merzouki’s Käfig dance company, part of the CCN. After watching their rehearsal of ‘Correria Agwa’, a performance I got to see later in the week, I talked to Aguinaldo ‘Anjo’ De Oliveira Lopes, Alexsandro ‘Pitt’ Soares Campanha Da Silva, Hélio Robson Dos Anjos Cavalcanti and Geovane Fidelis Da Conceição.

Almost all the dancers from the current Käfig company previously worked with a Brazilian hip-hop company which came to France in 2006 for the Biennale de la Danse in Lyon. Continue reading

Paradise found

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Paradis perdus – copyright David Herrero

Last week, I was lucky enough to spend four days doing work experience at the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse, one of France’s major theatres, with its own in-house opera and ballet companies.

The ballet company is made up of 35 dancers of 12 different nationalities, and performs at least 4 ballets a year of which 2 are new creations.

I learned a lot about all the aspects of the theatre, from the administrative work to opera rehearsals, wig making, and much more… It was really interesting and amazing, and I am now completely certain that it is in the arts that I want to work. I felt very at home.
But my favourite part of course was attending the class and rehearsal of the Ballet du Capitole. Continue reading

Interviews with LINES dancers

Some members of the LINES company very kindly agreed to chat with me after the perfomance, for which I’m very grateful; they were all so lovely!

Michael Montgomery

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Michael Montgomery – RJ Muna

What’s it like working for LINES ballet?

LINES was actually my dream company, and I got asked to join them in my junior year in college. I really think that Alonzo [King]’s philosophies on dance, movement and arts intertwine perfectly with nature and humanity. He has a way of stripping away all that materialistic crap that dance can get self-absorbed in. It’s a lot of hard work physically and spiritually, but it’s really rewarding. It’s a moment where I’m really grateful to be alive and be dancing. Continue reading