Tuesday, 20 December 2016


There are still another 11 days to run before the end of the month but December has already turned out to be our best month ever with 13,438 page hits. We have received 216,581 since we started this publication with our review of Ballet West's performance of The Nutcracker at Pitlochry on 25 Feb 2013.  The choice of subject matter proved to be prescient because each and every one of our top 5 articles has had a Welsh or Scottish connection.

Our most popular article of all time measured by the number of page hits has been David Murley's review of Ballet Cymru's performance of Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs at Sadler's Wells on 29 Nov 2016 (see David Murley Little Red Riding Hood comes to London 2 Dec 2016).  It is followed very closely by my review of the same company's Romeo a Juliet in Newport on 5 Nov 2016 (see A Romeo and Juliet for our Times 7 Nov 2016). I am delighted by the interest that my readers have shown in Ballet Cymru.  On 4 Dec 2016, Ballet Cymru appeared on the stage of the Donald Gordon Theatre with the entire BBC National Orchestra of Wales in the Wales Millennium Centre before a packed house in a performance that may turn out to be as significant for the development of ballet in Wales as Sader's Wells Ballet's performance of The Sleeping Beauty proved to be for the development of ballet in the United Kingdom (see Ballet Cymru's "Sleeping Beauty Moment" 5 Dec 2016).  I am proud to say that I am a Friend of Ballet Cymru and that I am very fond of that company.

Another company that has a special place in my affection is Scottish Ballet because it was the first company that I got to know and love.  I was at St Andrews when the Western Theatre Ballet moved from Bristol to Glasgow and our Professor of Fine Arts, John Steer, who had known the company when it was in the West Country introduced me to its great choreographer, Peter Darrell, and its talented dancers.  I am therefore particularly satisfied that our third most popular article is my preview of David Dawson's Swan Lake in Liverpool (see Dawson's Swan Lake comes to Liverpool 29 May 2016). The article was prompted by Christopher Hampson's on-stage elevation of two of my favourite ballerinas, Bethany Kingsley-Garner and Constance Devernay, to principals of the company after their performances in Swan Lake. I reviewed Dawson's ballet in which Kingsley-Garner danced Odette in Empire Blanche - Dawson's Swan Lake 4 June 2016. The company has re-staged Hampson's Hansel and Gretel which I reviewed when it first appeared (see Scottish Ballet's Hansel and Gretel 23 Dec 2013).

My fourth most popular article is my interview with Gavin McCaig (see Meet Gavin McCaig of Northern Ballet 3 Sept 2014). Gavin is, of course, a Scotsman.  I interviewed him shortly after he had joined the company as an apprentice and before he had started to tour.  He seems to be doing very well in the company and has toured the length and breadth of the United Kingdom as well as venues in China. I last saw him in Beauty and the Beast on Saturday where he was a friend of Isabelle and Chantelle and a guest at Beauty and Orian's wedding. In the latter role he and the other guests had to do some thrilling jumps and turns. Like everybody in the cast, he did very well and they earned a special "bravi" from me at the curtain call. Northern Ballet is a company that I have followed ever since its formation and supported ever since I moved back to Manchester in 1985. I am a Friend of both the company and the Academy and for the last 3 years I have been attending at least one and often two ballet classes there a week,

Appropriately, my fifth most popular article of all time is about Ballet West (see Congratulations to Ballet West - here's to the next 25 Years 25 Nov 2016). I am looking forward to seeing Ballet West in Swan Lake early in the New Year. They were very impressive when I last saw them in 2014 (see Swan Loch - Ballet West's Swan Lake, Pitlochry 1 March 2014 3 March 2914). This time I hope to catch them at the Armadillo where they will show what they can do on a big stage. Next year their artistic director, Gillian Barton, has promised that they will dance La Sylphide - just for me.  I do hope that is still possible because it is a lovely ballet rarely performed in the UK which is surprising as it is set in Scotland.

I wish all the folks in Ballet Cymru Nadolig llawen a blwyddyn newydd dda and all the Scots a Merry Christmas and a Good New Year.

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