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A year ago I didn’t manage to write a review of 2018; which had ended momentously with the wonderful winter wedding just before Christmas of my daughter Joanna and her man Dan.  A very happy occasion with much laughter and song; and the talents of dear dancer friends from Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet days were visible in the bride’s beautiful dress from Ritva Westenius, now headed by Chenca Williams, and gorgeous floral arrangements by Covent Garden’s go-to florist Bloomsbury Flowers run by Stephen Wicks and Mark Welford.

Building up to this special family event had shaped a year otherwise spent in regular teaching but also academic activity; beginning in January with a lecture for the History of Performance Course devised by the admirable Jane Pritchard, Curator of Dance at the Victoria and Albert Museum which houses the former Theatre Museum collections. ‘Dancers, audiences and spaces: reflections from practice’ had been originally presented at a Dance and Academia event in Oxford programmed by Miranda Laurence.  It drew on my own experience as a dancer in considering different spaces for dance and their effects on the relationship between performer and audience.  In April the more theoretical side of my doctoral research had its first outing in a paper ‘The ballet class: oral tradition and embodied learning’ at the Society for Dance Research’s conference evocatively titled ‘Dance in the Age of Forgetfulness’. Read More

To the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building at St Hilda’s College on Wednesday 20th February for The Rite of Spring: A Centenary Celebration of the Music and the Ballet.  The event was organised by Dr Susan Jones, now Lecturer in English and a Tutorial Fellow of the college, but previously a soloist with Scottish Ballet.  Guest speakers were Jane Pritchard, Curator of Dance at the V&A and co-curator of the museum’s highly successful exhibition Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes 2010-11, and Dame Monica Mason, former Director of the Royal Ballet and the original interpreter of the role of the Chosen Maiden in Kenneth MacMillan’s version of the ballet.

Jane Pritchard set the scene with an expert and informative account of the controversial original production and the riotous reception of its first performance. Read More