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San Francisco - Bay Area Columns

San Francisco Bay Area
by Heather Desaulniers
June 2012 Reviews
The historic origins of ballet are well-documented in textbooks, museums, literary and performance journals and on film and television. But we hardly ever get a chance to see a live performance of early choreography - there's few companies who seek to interpret and re-stage court dances of the 1600 and 1700s. This made "300 Years On: A Dance Collection from the Reign of Louis XIV" such a rare delight.

San Francisco Bay Area
by Heather Desaulniers
April 2012 Reviews

San Francisco Bay Area
by Heather Desaulniers
Winter 2012 Reviews Part 2

San Francisco Bay Area
by Heather Desaulniers
Winter 2012 Reviews Part 1

San Francisco Bay Area
by Heather Desaulniers
December 2011 Reviews

San Francisco Bay Area
by Heather Desaulniers
November 2011 Reviews

San Francisco Bay Area

by Heather Desaulniers
September - October 2011 Reviews

San Francisco Bay Area

by Heather Desaulniers
May and June 2011 Reviews

San Francisco Bay Area

by Heather Desaulniers
April 2011 Reviews

West Coast Wonders
Reviews from California and Washington

Pacific Northwest Ballet School's Annual Performance
by Dean Speer
June 16, 2012 -- McCaw Hall, Seattle, Washington
Seeing the evolution of students from level to level and over progressive years is its own reward. Enjoying what these youngsters can do and the high level of training, rigor, and self-discipline on display is refreshing and their sincerity and belief in what they are doing, satisfying.

Pacific Northwest Ballet - Next Step Program
by Dean Speer
June 16, 2012 -- McCaw Hall, Seattle, Washington
Pacific Northwest Ballet has long provided a voice for choreographers wishing to try their hand at the craft – first with their Summer Inventions, more recently with Choreographer’s Showcase, and now with Next Step.

Pacific Northwest Ballet - Season Encore Performance
by Dean Speer
June 10, 2012 -- McCaw Hall, Seattle, Washington
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s annual Season Encore Performance reminds us why we are so fortunate to have this major ballet company right here in our own Puget Sound backyard.

Pacific Northwest Ballet - 'Coppelia'
by Dean Speer
June 2, 2012 -- McCaw Hall, Seattle, Washington
An icon among the limited number of existing comedic classical ballets, “Coppélia,” was the concluding presentation of Pacific Northwest Ballet's 2011-12 subscription series at Seattle’s McCaw Hall in early June.

Seattle International Dance Festival Kicks Off
by Dean Speer
June 1, 2012 --Raisbeck Performance Hall, Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, Washington
Seattle International Dance Festival founder and director Cyrus Khambatta has done an impressive number of things right – putting together a two week dance festival featuring both international and local artists, its funding and organization...

Whim W'him - 'Approaching Ecstasy'
by Dean Speer
May 18, 2012 --Intiman Theatre, Seattle, Washington
You can usually tell if something is going to be good or satisfactory pretty much from the get-go, such as with a singer, or, in this case, with an evening of new choreography. When conductor and composer Eric Banks lifted his baton and the first few measures of his commissioned composition for Whim W’him’s “Approaching Ecstasy” were unleashed, I found myself thinking, “This is going to be good,”



Original Thinker: Interview with Stephanie Saland
by Dean Speer and Francis Timlin
I enjoyed the breadth of perspective available in New York in and outside of NYCB, I have always been in love with many different ways of moving. At NYCB, the emphasis was on musicality, the lack of ego as center – it was about the work and the music, with the dancer in service to both (not the dancer as star). Balanchine brought the Imperial Russian training with him and took so much from musical structure.

Movie Review: 'First Position'
by Carmel Morgan
Go see “First Position” if you’re a dance lover. It’s ok to bring friends along who are less enthusiastic about dance than you are because they’ll love the film, too. “First Position” follows six young dancers (with a significant appearance by a seventh) as they prepare for the annual Youth America Grand Prix, a worldwide ballet competition. The film has all of the elements of a good sports movie.

The Dying Swan: How Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo Solve the Problem of the Aging Ballerina
by Selby Schwartz
The Trockadero Dying Swan is a wry, empathetic reminder that mortality is actually painful and awkward, not lightly borne away. It involves a whole process of achingly, creakingly falling out of the disciplines that have kept the body ‘up’: bodies that were supposed to represent lightness and grace have back spasms and need hip replacements. For ballerinas in particular, the injunction to remain desirable, without showing the sweaty efforts required to produce the temporary illusion of gliding effervescently across the stage.


Birmingham Royal Ballet : Summer Celebration
by David Mead
June 27, 2012 -- Hippodrome Theatre,
Birmingham, UK
Broadway choreographer Joe Layton’s 1971 ballet “The Grand Tour” is about the antics of various Hollywood stars, other celebrities and an American spinster and a couple of Italian stowaways aboard a 1920s cruise ship. The costumes and art deco promenade deck set were most lively. The ballet, though, quickly became rather becalmed.

American Ballet Theatre: 'Swan Lake'
by Jerry Hochman
June 27 and 30, 2012 -- Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY

When all is said and done, the success of any performance of “Swan Lake,” or any other ballet for that matter, boils down to the quality of the performances. Certainly the choreography provides the essential framework, and this version, choreographed by American Ballet Theater’s Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie (‘after’ Petipa and Ivanov), is what this viewer considers to be Mr. McKenzie’s best work.

American Ballet Theatre: 'Firebird'
by Jerry Hochman
June 12 and 22, 2012 -- Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY

I expect a lot from Alexei Ratmansky. While I have not always gushed over his ballets, I have found all that I’ve seen to be intelligently crafted works of art that are also interesting to watch unfold, and that frequently tend to warm the heart and tickle the funny bone at the same time.

Matthew Bourne's Early Adventures
by Stuart Sweeney
May 21, 2012 -- Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, UK

This triple bill forms part of the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of Matthew Bourne's company, originally Adventures in Motion Pictures and later New Adventures. 
Formed in 1987 with students fresh out of London's Laban Centre, these AMP works cover a period from 1988 to 1991. It is astonishing that in this early period Bourne's flair for comic dance using distinctive movement was so well developed.

American Ballet Theatre: 'Onegin'
by Jerry Hochman
June 9, 2012 (matinee & evening) -- Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY

When John Cranko died suddenly on June 26, 1973 while on a flight from New York to Stuttgart, at age 45, it was generally accepted at the time that ballet had lost one of its most accomplished contemporary choreographers... In this viewer’s opinion, in no ballet is the loss so clearly demonstrated as in “Onegin,” which returned to the ABT repertoire last week, in a run that ended Saturday night.

Verve 12
by David Mead
June 1, 2012 -- The Place, London, UK

In recent years the programmes presented by Verve, the graduate performance company of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, have tended to outshine those of similar groups. The dancers of Verve 12 are certainly talented and athletic. They not only bring power and energy to their performance but can dance as one when they have to.

Rambert Dance Company: Season of New Choreography
by David Mead
May 31, 2012 -- Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, UK

Rambert Dance Company has always nurtured young choreographers from within its ranks, and this year’s Season of New Choreography featured four pieces created by company dancers Dane Hurst, Mbulelo Ndabeni, Patricia Okenwa, and Jonathan Goddard and Gemma Nixon, all to new music commissions, some played live by members of the Rambert Orchestra.

American Ballet Theatre: 'The Bright Stream'
by Colleen Boresta
June 2, 2012 -- Metropolitan Opera House, New York City, NY

In the early 21st century, Alexei Ratmansky reimagined and rechoreographed ‘The Bright Stream’ for the Bolshoi Ballet. It was a huge success and in 2011 Ratmansky staged the work for American Ballet Theatre. It is a delightfully sparkling piece which can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Bolshoi Ballet: 'Coppelia'
by Carmel Morgan
May 31, 2012 -- JFK Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC

Coppelia is a favorite of young aspiring ballerinas. I remember fondly the childhood book of ballets I had (in coloring book form). I was totally charmed by the magical story of the doll. The Bolshoi Ballet’s production of Coppelia was like a coloring book come to life. The costumes – bright red, yellow, and blue – burst forth like a box of happy crayons, crisp and simple.

Pennsylvania Ballet: Triple Bill
by Lori Ibay
May 31, 2012 -- Philadelphia, PA

Pennsylvania Ballet presented the opening performance of the final program of the 2011- 2012 season on Thursday evening, May 31, 2012. The triple offering included “Barber Violin Concerto” by Peter Martins, the world premiere of “Beside them, they dwell” by Matthew Neenan, and “N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz” by Jerome Robbins – three works that collectively captured the company’s wonderful range of style and versatility.

American Ballet Theatre: 'La Bayadere'
by Colleen Boresta
May 26, 2012 -- Metropolitan Opera House, New York City, NY

American Ballet Theatre has danced the full-length Petipa-Makarova ‘La Bayadere’ since 1980. The sheer spectacle of Makarova’s staging of the ballet is extraordinary. She has streamlined a good deal of the Petipa version, while keeping the Soviet era choreography for the male solos. Best of all, Makarova has choreographed a final act for ‘La Bayadere’. This act was discarded by the Soviets in the early 20th century.

Ballet Preljocaj: 'Snow White'
by David Mead
May 10, 2012 -- Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, UK

To say that Angelin Preljocaj’s “Snow White” starts off darkly would be an understatement. The young queen, dressed in black, and on a cold, black stage, dies alone as she gives birth. It’s incredibly stark and rather melodramatic. While it’s true that he largely lays off the sugar in his ballet, things soon brighten up, as we see glimpses of the child growing up, and then find ourselves observers at a ball in the rather modernist palace.

National Dance Company of Wales: Mixed Bill
by David Mead
May 4, 2012 -- Curve, Leiceseter, UK

The National Dance Company of Wales has an impressive record of acquiring works from noted overseas choreographers. Its latest programme is no exception, bringing together pieces by in demand Israeli dance-makers Ohad Naharin and Itzik Galili, with one by emerging choreographer and company dancer Eleesha Drennan. All round the company looked on great form, with high production values and quality dance throughout.

Rambert Dance Company: Mixed Bill
by Charlotte Kasner
May 15, 2012 -- Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, UK

The quadruple bill opened with the UK premiere of Itzik Galili’s “Sub”, for seven men. Natasja Lansen decked them out in navy blue greatcoats, tied round the waist with wide leather belts, leaving bare torsos to reflect the light. Light levels were generally low, with strips of bright white. There was a heavy emphasis on horizontal movement, the company making a superbly timed ensemble in a fascinating work that seemed shorter than its actual thirty minutes.

American Ballet Theatre: 'Giselle'
by Colleen Boresta
May 19, 2012 (m)-- Metropolitan Opera House, New York City, NY

The audience at American Ballet Theatre’s May 19th matinee at the Metropolitan Opera House saw a jam packed house. It wasn’t just that ABT was performing Giselle, a perennial favorite. More to the point, the title role was danced by the brilliant young Russian ballerina, Natalia Osipova. Her Albrecht was David Hallberg, a principal dancer with both ABT and the Bolshoi Ballet.

Alberta Ballet: 'Love Lies Bleeding'
by Kate Snedeker
May 10, 2012 -- Jubilee Auditorium North, Edmonton, AB

If there’s any ballet that defines Alberta Ballet, it’s Jean Grand Maitre’s Elton John tribute, ‘Love Lies Bleeding’. One part sexy sass, one part rock n’ roll, and one part quintessential Grand Maitre choreography, the ballet is a whole lot of fun. A showpiece for the company’s tiny tour de force, Yukichi Hattori, “Love Lies Bleeding” dances through the life of Elton John, highlighting his lows, his highs and his memorable music.

Ballet San Jose: 'Cinderella'
by Heather Desaulniers
May 5, 2012 -- San Jose
Center for the Performing Arts, San Jose, CA
Change is hard, but the time has come to leave the past behind, move forward and re-focus the attention on the company's future. The goal of this season has been to do just that and the final program of 2012 (the company premiere of Ben Stevenson's "Cinderella") confirmed a brilliant future for this South Bay institution.

ave a good idea of the story, having seen films and remember well Galina Samsova’s production of Andre Prokovsky’s ballet, I’ve never actually read Tolstoy’s novel. When it comes to watching Boris Eifman’s take on the story, perhaps that’s no bad thing. I don’t, for example, get too hung up on the missing characters and counterplots; of which there are quite a few.



New York City Ballet
Spring 2012

New York City Ballet - 'Double Feature'
by Colleen Boresta
May 27, 2012 -- Koch Theatre, New York, NY
Broadway superstar Susan Stroman created ‘Double Feature’ for New York City Ballet in 2004, as part of the celebration for George Balanchine’s 100th birthday. (In the 1930s Balanchine worked on the great white way, most famously as the choreographer of “On Your Toes”.) I loved ‘Double Feature’ when I first saw it performed and I loved it even more on Sunday.

New York City Ballet - Spring Gala
by Jerry Hochman
May 10, 2012 -- Koch Theatre, New York, NY
As has come to be the case recently, New York City Ballet’s ‘Spring Gala’ performance was like any other performance – except this gala featured two world premieres, choreographed by Peter Martins and Benjamin Millepied, and had a ‘theme’: a ‘Salute to France’. The evening’s composers are all French, Mr. Millepied hails from France; and the costume designers for the premieres are French. And the Paris Opera Ballet will be in town in July.

New York City Ballet - Mother's Day Mixed Bill
by Colleen Boresta
May 13, 2012 -- Koch Theatre, New York, NY
New York City Ballet had a special treat for moms on
Sunday afternoon – a whole program of Balanchine ballets. (‘Firebird’, however, was choreographed by both George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.)
The first ballet is ‘Serenade’, set to the music of Tschaikovsky. ‘Serenade’ is the first dance Balanchine created in America (1933). The work is just as glorious as ever, beginning with the opening – those 17 young women in blue raising their right arms to the moonlight. ‘Serenade’ contains no narrative, but Balanchine has found the passion, mystery and drama in Tschaikovsky’s music.


Tanztheater Wuppertaal Pina Bausch in London

by David Mead
June 6, 2012 -- Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, UK

'Nur Du'
by David Mead
June 9, 2012 -- Barbican Theatre, London, UK

'... como el musguito en la piedra, ay si si si...'
by Charlotte Kasner
June 12, 2012 -- Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, UK

'Ten Chi'
by Charlotte Kasner
June 15, 2012 -- Barbican Theatre, London, UK

'Der Fensterputzer'
by Stuart Sweeney
June 19, 2012 -- Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, UK

'Bamboo Blues'
by David Mead
June 21, 2012 -- Barbican Theatre, London, UK

by David Mead
June 24, 2012 -- Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, UK

by David Mead
June 28, 2012 -- Barbican Theatre, London, UK

editors' choice

· American Ballet Theatre- 2012 Met Season
May 14 - July 7, Metropolitan Opera House, New York City
ABT returns to the Met with a season that includes farewell performances by Ethan Stiefel and Angel Corella, and the NY premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's new 'Firebird'. Other ballets to be performed include Giselle, Onegin, Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, La Bayadere, La Bayadere and The Bright Stream.

For ballet-dance magazine

Executive Editor
Kate Snedeker

Executive Editor 2003-2005
Mary Ellen Hunt

Focus and Photo Editors
Elizabeth McPherson, Dean Speer

Associate Editors & Compositors
Francis Timlin, Holly Messitt, Lori Ibay, Azlan Ezaddin, Jerry Hochman, Carmel Morgan, Heather Desaulniers


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