Four new principals at the Royal Ballet – and two of them are Japanese!

Alexander Campbell, Francesca Hayward, Akane Takada, Ryoichi Hirano photo © ROH

photo © ROH

Way back in 2013 I wrote a post asking when we would next see a Japanese principal (the highest rank) at the Royal Ballet. Well, the 2016/17 season is the answer. And it’s not just one either – a bit like buses, it seems, you wait ages and then two come along at once. But the dancer I picked in my 2013 analysis of runners and riders isn‘t one of them. Want to find out who is? Then read on. Continue reading

The Festive Season starts with The Nutcracker

© Dave Morgan

© Dave Morgan

As far as I’m concerned, it wouldn’t be Christmas without The Nutcracker. You know how the story goes – a little girl, Clara, is given a nutcracker for Christmas by a magician and when midnight strikes finds herself embroiled in a fight to the death with giant mice and then transported to the kingdom of sweets. All this, plus Tchaikovsky’s fabulous music and a Christmas tree that grows to giant proportions. It’s the essence of Christmas. Continue reading

Miyako Yoshida: Japanese dancer, English style

Miyako Yoshida © Dave Morgan

Miyako Yoshida © Dave Morgan

Coming up in April at the Royal Ballet is that most English of all ballets, Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée, with bucolic set designs by Osbert Lancaster and a real shetland pony. The lead roles of Lise and Colas will be danced by a variety of RB principles, none of them actually English, but all able to dance with the lyricism, musicality and unflashy technique that Ashton’s choreography and the English tradition demands. It’s made me think back to a famous Japanese exponent of the English style, Miyako Yoshida. Continue reading

Another Christmas Nutcracker

I didn’t book for The Nutcracker this year. Actually, I never book for The Nutcracker. It’s such a Christmas ballet, you’ve got to have the smell of Christmas in your nostrils before you buy your ticket, otherwise it’s no fun. And there’s no Royal Ballet Nutcracker this year either – they’re doing Alice in Wonderland instead. So I went to see the English National Ballet version, and jolly good it was too. Continue reading

Autumn Season: Japanese dancers at the Royal Ballet

Artists of The Royal Ballet in Swan Lake, Act II © Bill Cooper/ROH 2011

Artists of The Royal Ballet in Swan Lake, Act II © Bill Cooper/ROH 2011

With the 2014/15 season opening at the Royal Opera House (yes, they’ll be doing Swan Lake), it’s a good time to take another look at the Japanese dancers and see what changes the last year has brought. Some ups and downs and a few leavers is the answer, but so far no dramatic announcements about new principals. Will we see a Japanese dancer reach principal this year? Who knows. But this is how the runners and riders look at the moment. Continue reading

The Prince of the Pagodas

the_prince_of_the_pagodas_momoko_hirata_as_princess_belle_sakura_and_joseph_caley_as_the_salamander_prince_photo_richard_battye

Momoko Hirata as Princess Sakura and Joseph Caley as the Salamander: Photo Richard Battye

A dying emperor, a wicked sister, a strange journey under the sea led by a Prince who has been turned into a salamander. Sounds like your kind of thing? Then you might be up for The Prince of the Pagodas, a ballet with a fantastical plot and lots of gorgeous and imaginative costumes. Throw in a new production with a strong Japanese influence and you won’t be able to resist. Continue reading

Japanese Dancers at the English National Ballet

ENB Le Corsaire

Things have got a lot more exciting in the London ballet world since Tamara Rojo took over as Artistic Director of the English National Ballet. Suddenly there’s a buzz around London’s second ballet company. We expected her to do amazing things and she has – including poaching one of the Royal Ballet’s top dancers, Alina Cojocaru, to star in ENB’s new production of Le Corsaire. It’s a show that features many of the company’s Japanese dancers so it’s a good chance to take a look at some of them. Continue reading

If it’s Christmas it must be the Nutcracker… again

ENB Nutcracker

Yes, it’s back – the dancing snowflakes, the giant Christmas tree, the sugarplum fairy and the nutcracker that turns into a handsome prince. One of the great ballet favourites is making its regular Christmas appearance and this year Londoners have a choice of two brilliant productions. Here’s my introduction to them both, including details of the Japanese dancers in each one. Continue reading

When will we next see a Japanese Principal at the Royal Ballet ?

The Flamingoes in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: Jacqueline Clark, Anna-Rose O’Sullivan, Fumi Kaneko, Romany Pajdak and Gemma Pitchley-Gale. © Dave Morgan/ROH

The Flamingoes in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: Jacqueline Clark, Anna-Rose O’Sullivan, Fumi Kaneko, Romany Pajdak and Gemma Pitchley-Gale.
© Dave Morgan/ROH

The normally peaceful world of British ballet has been hitting the headlines recently, what with Sergei Polunin doing another no-show, Tamara Rojo, the new English National Ballet Director, likening male-dominated ballet to porn, Russian superstar Natalia Osipova joining the Royal and Alina Cojocaru jumping ship from the Royal to the ENB. But inside the hothouse world of the ballet fan other controversies rage, not least of which is, when are they going to promote Yuhui Choe? Continue reading

If it’s Christmas, it must be the Nutcracker

Nutcracker - Sugar Plum FairyFor ballet fans Christmas isn’t Christmas without the ultimate Christmas ballet – the one where a magical toy nutcracker turns into a handsome young man, toy soldiers fight with giant mice, a Christmas tree grows to impossible heights, the heroine journeys through a land of snowflakes to the kingdom of sweets and most important of all, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her prince dance. What is it that makes Nutcracker such a Christmas must-see?

Continue reading