Rachel Elderkin

Form & Content

A book, physically cut from the pages of another, is the inspiration behind Wayne McGregor’s “Tree of Codes.” Much like the Jonathan Safran Foer book with which it shares its title, McGregor’s work is an experiment in the arrangement of form and content.

Sensing Loss

A room, its furniture haphazardly stacked. The armchair lies toppled, the door, placed flat like a table-top, is reimagined as a bed; the cupboards become miniature doorways or upstairs windows through which the company climb.

Golden Moments

In dance, at least, 2016 had plenty to offer. From the reviews of others, it seems that I missed some of those shows considered the best of the year (poor holiday timing on my part) but I’m hoping that I’ll get another chance to see Michael Keegan-Dolan’s “Swan Lake/Loch na hEala” (a re-working of “Swan Lake”), Akram Khan’s “Giselle” and Matthew Bourne’s latest ballet, “The Red Shoes.” In the end, my favourite shows come down to personal choice so, when looking back through all the performances I have been fortunate to see, these are the ones that jumped out of the list and left, in some form or other, a lasting memory.


“The Peony Pavilion,” a 16th-century play written by Tang Xianzu during the Ming Dynasty, is one of the most famous love stories of Chinese literature. Originally performed as a 20 hour-long Kunqu opera, the National Ballet of China have created a considerably condensed version that has become one of the key works in their repertoire.

Visions of the Past

“Anastasia” may be one of the few full length ballets Kenneth MacMillan created but it is rarely performed. Yet this carefully constructed work feels deserving of a place in company repertoire. If you accept the slow pace, it is an enjoyable, strikingly modern ballet and, in the hands of the Royal Ballet, it is danced with an easy elegance.

Breaking Point

The dancers and musicians gather on the stage, the chorus of their voices rising through the auditorium. There’s a Middle Eastern influence to their music, a complex layering of sound that comes from the diversity of styles choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui has brought together. Each of his dancers and musicians are experienced in different disciplines and this crossing of skills provides a rich palette for Cherkaoui to draw from. The result is a carefully crafted work that emerges from a maelstrom of music, movement, voice and image.

Liar, Liar

From the opening moments, Jasmin Vardimon's “Pinocchio” resonates with the kind of magic you only encounter in theatre. One after the other the performers rise from the floor, hand in hand, their bodies straight and stiff, mechanically tipping in turn like the wooden figurines of an old town square clock. It’s an enduring image of this show—and it is one of many.

Carlos Acosta: The Classical Farewell

It feels as if Carlos Acosta has been saying a rather long farewell to classical ballet—his 2015 farewell performance “A Classical Selection,” marked his departure from the Royal Ballet, along with his own production of “Carmen”—but this, it seems, is Acosta’s true farewell to classical dance.

Ritual & Rhythm

A fast ticking rhythm counteracts the slow, hyperextended movements of a solo dancer. Her back to the audience she moves with creeping extensions, her articulate body creating enticing distortions. Eventually a man enters and parades in circles around her, the statuesque stillness of his slow walks the antidote to her rippling, insect-like contortions.
Rachel Elderkin

Rachel Elderkin

Rachel is a freelance dancer and dance writer based in London. Alongside Fjord Review she currently contributes to the Stage, londondance.com, Exeunt and British Theatre Guide. She was a regional finalist in the Stage critic search 2015. She has previously written for a number of publications including the Skinny (Scotland) and LeftLion (Nottingham) where she was Art Editor.