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

LADP_MurderBallades_2_Rose Eichenbaum
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

Mourad-Merzouki-1-BD©Michel-Cavalca
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