Ballet and race: black or white?


Christian Holder takes a jump in Animus (choreographed by Gerald Arpino), with the Joffrey ballet in 1969

The year is 1976 and American choreographer Agnes de Mille is rehearsing her first significant work Rodeo with the Joffrey Ballet in New York. As Miss de Mille calls up each pairing it becomes clear to dancer Christian Holder that his name will not be called. Another day, another Vignette. No Christian.

“Immediately you know”, he imparts 40 years later in his home in west London. “I went to Mr Joffrey and said ‘Miss de Mille has no intention of letting me do the piece. This is a waste of time.’ I put it to him that she obviously doesn’t condone integration on the range.” The next day ballet master Paul Sutherland finally called Christian’s name and politely informed him he needn’t come back: ‘Miss de Mille doesn’t think you’re right for the part.’

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LBB meets…Patrick de Bana

Patrick de Bana

This July, choreographer Patrick de Bana will be coming to London’s Coliseum with two of his latest productions: Cleopatra/Ida Rubinstein performed by Ilze Liepa with dancers from the Maryinsky, Bolshoi, and the Kremlin Ballet, and a new production of Jane Eyre performed by the Shanghai Ballet.  

Ahead of his arrival, LBB was lucky enough to catch up with Patrick and discuss London, Ballet Russes, Lynn Seymour and how Russians still continue to show us how it’s done… Continue reading

Ballet dares to go digital

Image c/o Crystal ballet

Image c/o Crystal ballet

“I hate it” the lady next to me spat, seizing her handbag as the curtain went down on Wayne McGregor’s Raven Girl last month. She hates it.

The lighting, the props, those things (her emphasis) that come up and down…the digitised narration…

“Wow, you hate it?” I replied. She hates it. Continue reading

BalletBoyz, ‘The Talent’, Richmond Theatre

BalletBoyzIt’s a Wednesday night, it’s freezing cold and Richmond Theatre is buzzing. Not buzzing with the fine chink of champagne glasses and cash registers, but with chatter, bustle and genuine excitement.

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Bolshoi & ENB: The acid test

Vivienne Westwood's new look for ENB

Two ballet companies, opposite pins on the globe. Whereas English National Ballet is in the midst of a re-brand, Bolshoi Ballet is on the verge of combustion, grappling under the weight of its own paranoia.

So, where do these two companies find themselves in 2013? And what does it tell us about the future of the art form at a crucial time in both their economic survival?

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It happened one night at the ballet…

Emma Livry in the title role of the Taglioni/Schneitzhoeffer La Sylphide. Paris, 1862

Emma Livry in the title role of the Taglioni/Schneitzhoeffer La Sylphide. Paris, 1862

Some people quaff champagne at Port Hercule when they’re in Monaco. I took a tumble and ended up in A&E. So, firstly, apologies for the break in posts. Blame the principality of Monaco for their uneven road surfaces. I do, daily.
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