News: Dance programmes from the BBC to watch out for...

Friday 4 December 2015 by Carmel Smith

Rudolf Nureyev (played by Artem Ovcharenko) in 'Rudolf Nureyev – Dance to Freedom'. BBC/IWC Media/Alexey Kostromin

There are a lot of good dance related reasons for staying in and watching TV in December – or going out and catching up on the iplayer! BBC Four’s Year of Song and Dance culminates this month with a raft of programming across BBC One, Two and Four celebrating contemporary dance, exploring its origin, and looking at some of dance’s most iconic figures past and present.

Highlights include
Dance Rebels: A Story of Modern Dance traces the development of modern dance. Exploring it through the eyes of current students at South East London’s Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and including contributions from leading figures in contemporary dance like Michael Clark, William Forsythe, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Wayne Mc Gregor, Akram Khan, Boris Charmatz and Lea Anderson – Bernadette O’Brien’s hour long programme is on BBC Four, Sunday 13 December, 9pm.

Earlier the same evening (8pm, BBC Four) Ballrooms and Ballerinas explore the BBC’s relationship with dance, examining its enduring appeal to audiences throughout the last 80 years, from classical ballet to ballroom to the twist – via Strictly Come Dancing.

On Saturday 19 December at 8.50pm, BBC Two shows a new film – Rudolf Nureyev – Dance to Freedom. The film explores new angles to Soviet ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev’s infamous defection to the West, including never before heard first-hand accounts of his early career, and a closer look at the events leading up to his actions which resonated both politically and culturally across dance in the sixties and beyond.

This Sunday, (6 December, 8pm, BBC Four) there’s another chance to see Pina; film director Wim Wenders tribute to the great Pina Bausch. Featuring some of her most innovative choreography, including Café Müller, Le Sacre du Printemps, Vollmond and Kontakthof, the film interweaves archive footage of Pina herself at work, and follows the dancers on to the streets of Wuppertal, the spiritual home of her creativity. Wenders and Bausch were due to start working on a film together when she died suddenly in 2009.

In the same week as he’s performing on stage at the London Coliseum, on Tuesday (8 December, BBC 1, 10.35pm) Carlos Acosta is the subject of an Imagine… documentary which goes behind the scenes to explore his creation of Carmen for The Royal Ballet as he retires from classical roles, and follows him to his homeland for as he tries to establish a dance school and company in Havana to establish the next generation of Cuban stars.

Also look out for Darcey’s Ballet Heroes on BBC Two, Christmas Day at 8:50 pm. In this 60 minute film ballerina and Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell meets some of the heroes and dancers who transformed male ballet Arthur Mitchell, Anthony Dowell, Peter Schauffus, Irek Mukhamedov and Carlos Acosta, amongst others.

Although the BBC’s year of Song and Dance is ending, in the New Year there will be a number of dance projects as part of the BBC’s ongoing commitment to the arts and, once again, BBC Two and BBC Four will start the search for entrants for BBC Young Dancer 2017.

FULL PROGRAMME DETAILS – check timings, subject to change
BBC Four, 6 December, 7.25pm
In early 2009, director Wim Wenders began filming the work of renowned German choreographer Pina Bausch, and her dance company, Tanztheater Wuppertal. Unexpectedly, two days prior to rehearsals, Pina died. As the dance world mourned the loss of one of its great pioneers, Wenders cancelled the film, convinced it should not be pursued without her. However, following a period of reflection and with the support of her family and colleagues, Wenders decided to revive the film; Pina is his dedication to her.
Produced by Neue Road Films

Imagine…Carlos Acosta: Cuba Calls
BBC ONE, 8 December, 10:35pm
Imagine follows Cuban ballet superstar Carlos Acosta in London and Havana as he masterminds a new production of Carmen for The Royal Ballet before stepping back from the classical repertoire and looking to the future as he embarks on a series of ambitious new projects in Cuba.

Alan Yentob explores Acosta’s plans to create his own unique dance company and foundation in his homeland and his dream of transforming a spectacular yet derelict architectural treasure in the outskirts of Havana into a world-renowned beacon for dance, finishing a project first begun by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara over fifty years ago. A fascinating insight into a remarkable artist at a critical time for both Acosta and Cuba.
Producer/ Director Luke McMahon, Oxford Film and Television for BBC Arts

Ballrooms and Ballerinas – Dance at the BBC
BBC Four, 13 December, 8pm
Strictly Come Dancing – today one of the most popular shows on television – is one of the many ways that the BBC has presented dance to millions of people in an 80-year-long enduring love affair with this art form. Whether it was profiling stars such as Margot Fonteyn, reluctantly teaching us how to do The Twist, encouraging us to dance like John Travolta, or following in the footsteps of Darcey Bussell, the BBC’s cameras were there to capture every move and every step. From ballet, to ballroom and beyond, this is Dance at the BBC.
Producer: Andy Hall

Dance Rebels: A Story of Modern Dance
BBC Four, 13 December, 9pm
An exploration of this dynamic art form through the thoughts of leading practitioners, important historical archive and the first hand experiences of student dancers as they encounter key works for the first time.

A Story of Modern Dance tells the compelling stories of the people, places and world events that changed the course of dance history forever and in so doing helped to create a new art form. The film will bring to a wider audience an understanding of what Modern Dance is: When did it start? Who were the leading figures? What were some of the moments that defined it?

To help address the questions, the film goes on a journey with the students of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, one of Europe’s leading centres for the training of professional contemporary dance artists. We will watch, step by step, as they encounter the ground-breaking techniques that have shaped Modern Dance, and follow the process as they come to perform and understand the ideas of the choreographers whose work challenged audiences, made history and revolutionised dance.

With contributions from some of the biggest names in modern dance including: Michael Clark, William Forsythe, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Wayne Mc Gregor, Akram Khan, Boris Charmatz and Lea Anderson, the leading stars in contemporary dance tell us about the iconic works from the history of modern dance that inspired them. They also explore how the works and ideas of these choreographers came to inform their own groundbreaking dance works.

Producer / Director Bernadette O’Brien
Executive Producers Paul Bullock and Kate Townsend for BBC

Rudolf Nureyev – Dance to Freedom
BBC Two, 19 December, 8.50pm
Rudolf Nureyev – Dance to Freedom tells the extraordinary story of how Soviet ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev defected during the first ever major tour of a Russian ballet company to the West at the height of the Cold War and became a living legend. A dramatised documentary, it is a tale of love and betrayal, ballet and espionage; political intrigue and the triumph of artistic expression.

The film immerses viewers in a thrilling recreation of the events in the four months that led to Nureyev’s defection at Paris’s Le Bourget airport on June 16th 1961, helping to change the course of the Cold War. It shows how those events transformed not only Nureyev’s personal fame and fortune, but those of everyone else around him and offers a chance to hear this story from those who participated in it.

Contributors include Nureyev’s dancing partner on the Kirov tour, Alla Osipenko, and rival male soloist Sergei Vikulov. It also features the two principal figures instrumental in Nureyev’s defection; his intimate friend Clara Saint; and the dancer and choreographer Pierre Lacotte, whose life was also changed by these extraordinary events. The film also features contributions from KGB officers with direct experience of Soviet musical tours to the West and defections.

Rudolf is performed by Bolshoi Ballet Principal Artem Ovcharenko, a dancer who shares an uncanny likeness and extraordinary identification with Nureyev, and the dramatisation features leading Russian actors and ballet dancers.

Dance to Freedom is a close-focus, multi-layered account of one of the most thrilling intrigues of the Twentieth century; uniquely told in a mix of revelatory testimony, tense dramatization, and spectacular dance performance of Nureyev’s roles, offering an original interpretation of why the defection took place and is a timely reminder of what happens when art and politics collide

Producer/Director is Richard Curson Smith; Executive Producer for IWC Franny Moyle
Executive Producers for BBC Greg Sanderson and Jan Younghusband

Darcey’s Ballet Heroes
BBC Two, transmission date to be confirmed
In this 60 minute film for BBC2 ballet star and Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell undertakes a very personal journey to meet the heroes and dancers who transformed male ballet; Arthur Mitchell, Anthony Dowell, Peter Schauffus, Irek Mukhamedov, Carlos Acosta, and others.

Athletic. Seductive. Complicated. Misunderstood. Male ballet dancers don’t conform. After almost disappearing from ballet’s centre stage in the 19th century, over the last 100 years the spotlight has dramatically shifted back to men. From dressing rooms and rehearsal studios in London, Copenhagen, New York and beyond, Darcey takes us behind the scenes and reveals the secrets and the choreography that bring the subject matter vividly to life. The film is rich in archive, insightful commentary, personal anecdotes, and uniquely intimate access that few – other than former Royal Ballet Prima Ballerina Darcey Bussell – would be able to secure. This is the story of men in ballet from the best male dancers in the world.

Leave a comment

You must be signed in to post comments.

Sign in now

What’s On