Beauties, beasts and a midlife crisis for Romeo and Juliet: 2018's top dance

Northern Ballet’s Jane Eyre will make your heart leap, Pina Bausch’s Roman dream returns to London and the Royal Ballet salute Macmillan and Bernstein


Peter Wright’s staging of the Romantic classic is rightfully established as one of the mainstays of the Royal Ballet’s repertory. Its revival gives opportunities to a clutch of impressive dancers, among them American Ballet Theatre guest David Hallberg, who dances Albrecht to Natalia Osipova’s Giselle, and the youthfully popular home pair, Francesca Hayward and Alexander Campbell, making their debuts in the ballet.
• 19 January-9 March at Royal Opera House, London. Box office: 020-7304 4000.

Natalia Osipova in Giselle, the heartbreak ballet


This 1986 work was the first of Pina Bausch’s “travelogue” dances and, in many ways, it’s the harshest to watch – a portrait of Rome steeped in violence, venality and death. Performed on a set flanked by 20-foot walls, the Tanztheater Wuppertal dancers look like figures trapped in a giant grave. As they go about their business, playing ritual games of power and desire, there is – as always with Bausch – a dreamlike quality of beauty and comedy on stage.
• 8-11 February, Sadler’s Wells, London. Box office: 020-7863 8000.

A preview of Viktor at Sadler’s Wells

Juliet and Romeo

Following his epically wacky adaptation of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Ben Duke stamps his singular wit and imagination on to another literary classic. In a duet with dancer Solène Weinachter he creates a scenario in which Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers have survived to become a middle-aged married couple and, facing up to the habits and compromises that have chipped away at their teenage ardour, meditate on love, illusion and romance.
• 14-24 February, Battersea Arts Centre, London. Box office: 020-7223 2223. 27 February– 3 March, the Place, London. Box office: 020-7121 1100.

Ballet BC

Female choreographers dominate this triple bill from the excellently contemporary Canadian company. Artistic director Emily Molnar presents 16 + a room, a spare, beautiful piece inspired by the writings of Jeanette Winterson and Emily Dickinson, which explores transitional states between movement and stillness. Sharing the programme is Crystal Pite’s Solo Echo, a setting of two Brahms sonatas that looks at themes of acceptance and loss. The third piece is Bill, a work of sharp, thrusting physicality by Tel Aviv choreographers Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar.
• 6-7 March, Sadler’s Wells, London. Box office: 020-7863 8000. Then touring the UK until March.

Jane Eyre

This is a fully deserved UK tour for Cathy Marston’s 2016 adaptation of the Brontë classic, danced by Northern Ballet. Marston reveals a novelist’s eye for detail in the layering of her heroine’s ironic, intractable, angry, clever and passionate character. With a vocabulary that feels freshly minted, she advances the narrative through Jane’s trials and tribulations to the spirited independence with which she becomes Mrs Rochester.
• 7-14 March, Grand Theatre, Leeds. Box office: 0844-848 2700. 4-7 April, Grand Opera House, Belfast. Box office: 028-9024 1919.

Ballet Black

Cathy Marston’s new work for Ballet Black promises to be a serious addition to the company’s richly varied stock of contemporary story ballets. It’s based on Can Themba’s short story The Suit, a fable about desire and possession set in 1950s South Africa, and it comes paired with a revival of Arthur Pita’s A Dream Within a Midsummer Night’s Dream, a deliciously maverick interpretation of the Shakespeare comedy, set to a soundtrack that includes Barbara Streisand and Eartha Kitt.
• 15-17 March, Barbican, London. Box office: 020-7638 8891. 25 April, Corn Exchange, Newbury. Box office: 0845-521 8218.

Ballet Black.
Ballet Black. Photograph: Photography by ASH

Bernstein triple bill

Leonard Bernstein was America’s most popular classical composer, with close links to dance, and the Royal Ballet contribute to his 100th anniversary celebrations with this all-Bernstein triple bill. Christopher Wheeldon and Wayne McGregor are creating new works: the former collaborating with designers Jean-Marc Puissant and Erdem Moralioglu; the latter with Edmund de Waal. The evening is completed with a revival of Liam Scarlett’s Age of Anxiety, inspired by the postwar angst of Auden’s titular poem.
• 15 March-9 April, Royal Opera House, London. Box office: 020-7304 4000.

Toro – Beauty and the Bull

Carlos Pons Guerra made a flamboyant entrance on the British dance scene with his rude, sensual and pungent 2015 trilogy Ham and Passion. In his latest work, with DeNada Dance Theatre, he relocates the classic story of beauty and the beast to a South American circus, dealing head on with the eroticism and terrors of the original tale, and exploring the role of the monster in our collective psyche.
• 1 April, Lowry, Salford. Box office: 0843-208 6000. 25-26 April, Lilian Baylis Studio, London. Box office: 020-7863 8000.

Aszure Barton’s Fantastic Beings, in ENB’s Voices of America.
Aszure Barton’s Fantastic Beings, in ENB’s Voices of America. Photograph: Laurent Liotardo

English National Ballet – Voices of America

Kudos to English National Ballet’s Tamara Rojo for getting William Forsythe to choreograph his first new ballet for a British company in 20 years. Rojo has also acquired a new version of Approximate Sonata, Forsythe’s elegant deconstruction of the classical pas de deux. The two works are part of an all-American programme, a revival of Aszure Barton’s Fantastic Beings (premiered by ENB in 2016) and Cage, the sinister mating dance of a ballet that Jerome Robbins set to Stravinsky’s Concerto in D.
• 12-21 April, Sadler’s Wells, London. Box office: 020-7863 8000.

Kenneth MacMillan – Steps Back in Time

Viviana Durante, former principal ballerina at the Royal and the final muse of Kenneth MacMillan’s career, has orchestrated an evening in which three of the choreographer’s earliest ballets are restored to the stage. With a cast drawn from several companies, including Ballet Black and the Royal (Edward Watson, Lauren Cuthbertson and Francesca Hayward), the programme includes House of Birds, Danses Concertantes and Laiderette.
• 18-21 April , the Pit, London. Box office: 020-7638 8891.


Judith Mackrell

The GuardianTramp

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