Sara Veale

Fast and frenzied

Mental illness isn’t a common subject matter for dance, but then again Company Chameleon isn’t your average dance troupe. The Manchester-based company dedicates itself to showing people the possibilities of dance both on stage and off, frequently complementing its performances with public workshops that examine the stories behind its work.

Space to explore

In 2015, choreographers Akram Khan, Hofesh Shechter and Lloyd Newman drew ire from the UK dance community for criticising the quality of British contemporary dance training, claiming in a joint statement that UK-trained students “more often than not lack rigour, technique and performance skills.” The following week saw headlines abound, forums buzz with debate and Dance UK chairman Farooq Chaudhry step down from his post after chiming in to question whether UK dance schools are truly “serving their students.”

A Language for Life

Sambas, waterslides, live chickens on stage—nobody does dance theatre like Pina Bausch. The late choreographer’s Wuppertal-based company has just wrapped up a tour of “Masurca Fogo,” created during a three-week residency in Lisbon in 1998 as part of her World Cities series, a collection inspired by the cultures of various urban locales, from Rome to Budapest to Los Angeles.

Sadler’s Wells Sampled

For the past decade, Sadler’s Wells has kicked off each year with “Sampled,” a two-hour tasting menu of the London dance house’s diverse programming. The show is aimed at new and existing audiences alike, and features snippets from both past commissions and upcoming premieres.

A Hollow Spectacle

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night charts the turbulent romance between a woman beleaguered by psychosis (Nicole) and a man fixated on saving her (Dick)—a relationship modelled on the author’s marriage to Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald. Drama erupts: there’s incest, alcoholism, corruptive wealth and more, much of it arising from Dick’s dual role as Nicole’s husband and her psychoanalyst. Factor in the heady setting—a glam expat resort in 1920s France —and it’s rich material for a stage production.

35 Years in the Making  

Phoenix Dance Theatre is one of the UK’s oldest contemporary dance companies outside of London. The Leeds-based troupe was founded in 1981 by three graduates, and has since evolved into a ten-member professional ensemble with a sizeable repertory—including works from the likes of Richard Alston and Didy Veldman—and bevy of stage credits around the UK and abroad.

Justice for Giselle

Forget the merry folk jigs and wispy waltzes; Akram Khan’s “Giselle” entertains none of the levity associated with its 1841 predecessor, one of the most famous ballets to emerge from the Romantic era. The new production, created for English National Ballet, is an angry rebuke of inequality and social stratification, perceptive in its condemnation and admirable in its intensity.

On the Hour

Sixty minutes is a tricky length for a work of dance. Slot an uninterrupted hour of dance into a mixed bill and you risk an inattentive audience. But present it as a standalone production and you face an extra layer of critical scrutiny—is the piece truly substantial enough to carry an entire evening?

The Food of Love

2016 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, and the year has seen artistic tributes pour in from around the world: film festivals, art exhibitions, publishing initiatives, theatre takeovers. Birmingham Royal Ballet is responsible for one of the most extensive dance offerings: a dedicated Shakespeare Season featuring 80 performances of seven Bard-inspired ballets, including a new evening-length reworking of “The Tempest” from artistic director David Bintley.

It’s the Time of the Season

Frederick Ashton’s sun-soaked “La Fille mal gardée” isn’t the most obvious choice for a fall production, but its cheery pastels and verdant setting are, I can attest, an excellent antidote to the autumnal dusk starting to settle over London.
Sara Veale

Sara Veale

Sara Veale is a London-based writer and editor. After studying dance and literature in her native North Carolina, she swapped the sunlit Land of the Pines for misty England to pursue an MA in English at University College London. Her writing has appeared in DanceTabs, Auditorium, Exeunt, Review 31 and more.