by John Percival
copyright © 2007 by John Percival

How much more dance, I wonder, can London take? Since Sadler's Wells Theatre reopened after being rebuilt, it has devoted most of its performing time to dance, and in addition has another more centrally placed theatre, the Peacock, again mostly for dance shows but aimed at a less specialised audience. At Covent Garden, the Royal Opera is allowed more performances than the Royal Ballet but the theatre compensates by letting itself out to impresarios who bring ballet companies from abroad — the Moscow Bolshoi last summer, La Scala Milan this summer. The South Bank Centre shows quite a bit of dance, so does the Barbican Centre, and The Place continues its customary seasons of small-scale dance.

Now the Coliseum, one of our largest theatres, which already accommodates ballet each Christmas/New Year and in summer too, has announced an extra five weeks of dance every spring. This is possible because English National Opera, which owns the building, desperately needs to reduce costs and increase income. So ENO will take itself off temporarily to the Young Vic for a season of new or experimental opera, letting its own premises to a consortium consisting of Askonas Holt (an international arts management agency with the Australian Ballet and Ebizo Ichikawa's Kabuki troupe among its recent London presentations), the impresario Raymond Gubbay, and Sadler's Wells. They promise a five-week spring dance season for each of the next five years, to include companies and repertoire that cannot be accommodated at Sadler's Wells. So this first season, running from mid-March to mid-April 2008, will start with a fortnight of New York City Ballet giving four programmes, followed by the Stuttgart Ballet in Cranko's “Romeo and Juliet” (with Marcia Haydee, their original Juliet, returning to the stage to play Lady Capulet). It is well over twenty years since either of those companies came to London. Then follow two shows that have already packed Sadler's Wells, now available for a larger West End audience: Carlos Acosta's divertissement programme with other stars from the Royal Ballet, and “Push” performed by Sylvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant. For subsequent years, it's said negotiations are already in hand with American Ballet Theatre and the Paris Opera Ballet.

Incidentally, Acosta is also lined up (with a different programme) for another new venture next year, in Manchester, which is to inititiate an annual festival hoping to rival the long-established Edinburgh Festival.

Volume 5, No. 18
May 7, 2007

copyright ©2007 by John Percival

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