ISMENE BROWN          

dance and arts journalism

An archive of 25 years of British dance

"What to some is splendid entertainment, to others is merely tedium and fidgets"



World ballet stars Nina Ananiashvili, Adam Cooper, Sarah Wildor, Matz Skoog and Tory Dobrin talk with me about their lives and careers in hour-long filmed conversations with video clips and images – on Youtube channel 'Interviews with Ballet Legends'. @balletlegendsinterviewed


    Articles A – B

    Articles C – F

    Articles G – L

    Articles M – P

    Articles Q – Z

I've interviewed

Carlos Acosta   Alicia Alonso   Richard Alston   Nina Ananiashvili   Altynai Asylmuratova   The Ballet Boyz   Mikhail Baryshnikov   Yuri Bashmet   Pina Bausch   Maurice Béjart   Leanne Benjamin   David Bintley   Matthew Bourne   Kim Brandstrup   Buster Brown   Trisha Brown   Christopher Bruce   Jonathan Burrows   Darcey Bussell   Lucinda Childs   Michael Clark   Alina Cojocaru   Lesley Collier   Adam Cooper   Keith Cooper   Joaquin Cortes   Clement Crisp   Merce Cunningham   Siobhan Davies   Derek Deane   Lucas Debargue   Tory Dobrin   Anthony Dowell   John Drummond   Viviana Durante   Boris Eifman   Mats Ek   Suzanne Farrell   Michael Flatley   William Forsythe   Javier de Frutos   Antonio Gades   Nicholas Georgiadis   Valery Gergiev   Angela Gheorghiu   Yuri Grigorovich   Sylvie Guillem   Evelyn Hart   Mona Inglesby   Zizi Jeanmaire   Akram Khan   Johan Kobborg   Alfredo Kraus   Pierre Lacotte   Brigitte Lefèvre   Ulyana Lopatkina   Wayne McGregor   Deborah MacMillan   Natalia Makarova   Russell Maliphant   Alicia Markova   Peter Martins   Ekaterina Maximova   Misha Messerer   Mark Morris   Irek Mukhamedov   Lloyd Newson   Rudolf Nureyev   Henri Oguike   Natalia Osipova   Murray Perahia   Maya Plisetskaya   Sergei Polunin   Angelin Preljocaj   Ron Protas   Yvonne Rainer   Alexei Ratmansky   Tamara Rojo   Mstislav Rostropovich   Gerald Scarfe   Peter Schaufuss   Lynn Seymour   Rodion Shchedrin   Wayne Sleep   Alina Somova   Yolande Sonnabend   Glen Tetley   Twyla Tharp   Ninette de Valois   Ivan Vasiliev   Vladimir Vasiliev   Oleg Vinogradov   Edward Watson   Christopher Wheeldon   Sarah Wildor   Peter Wright   Eva Yerbabuena   Igor Zelensky

Recent obituaries

Nicholas Dromgoole Pierre Lacotte ★  Lynn Seymour ★  Patricia Ruanne ★  Bob Lockyer ★  Ann Hutchinson Guest Clement Crisp Henry Danton


holds a selection of my published observations of the British and visiting international dance and ballet scene during my 30+ years as the dance critic of the Daily & Sunday Telegraph, The Arts Desk and The Spectator, and as the Telegraph's dance obituarist.

     You can find interviews with major performers and creators, features and commentaries on arts issues, reviews and previews of shows that seemed significant above the usual run (including premieres of some now-famous events), and a continuing tide of obituaries. Some reviews vanished in the shift to digital sites, and I have occasionally made up gaps with plain files.

     My reportage of the dance waterfront became loosely defined around the careers of the ballet dancers Sylvie Guillem, Uliana Lopatkina, Irek Mukhamedov, Tamara Rojo, Johan Kobborg, Carlos Acosta and the young Alina Cojocaru, and the contemporary choreographers Akram Khan, Wayne McGregor, Russell Maliphant and Matthew Bourne, who added new distinctive presences to a landscape already richly characterised by the Ashton-MacMillan and London Contemporary Dance Theatre eras.

     In art-historical context, this was an increasingly conservative era, signposted by deaths of giants – Fonteyn, MacMillan, Nureyev, de Valois, Cunningham, Bausch – and by the march of commercial globalism and co-production. Creative content was affected by an insistence on box office performance, by socio-cultural and institutional politics, and by debates about dance heritage and the rationale of dance curation. Innovators who had diversified the landscape in the previous quarter-century were finding the path harder, and Britain's standing as a primary host for major foreign modernists was being shaken by economic winds.

     Still, even if many threads of performing history were stretching thin or snapping, the sheer volume and geographical spread of my coverage (of which only about a quarter is linked here) reflects the Telegraph's interest in including nationwide performing arts as part of its reader offering in that period. My cuttings indicate the blizzard of variety in dance-going up and down Britain – classical, neo-classical and contemporary ballet, modern dance, physical theatre, dance theatre, flamenco, hip hop, mime, folk dance, circus, jazz, cabaret, installation dance, video and digital work – with all their merging and mixing reflecting/prodding increasingly eclectic training systems, artistic experiments, cultural tastes and employment realities, all injecting fresh fire into the traditional rows about standards.

     Other opinions and eyeviews of different points in time have always been important in my own pleasure in dance, and it's in that spirit that I have assembled this archive. All views were mine at the time – I wonder what I would think now.

     I hope you find something to enjoy. If you want to republish or extract anything or you find a missing link, do email me.

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  ABOUT ME      

I am a historian and arts journalist of musical background. I was the Daily Telegraph's dance critic for 15 years (1993-2008) and their dance obituarist to date, and later The Spectator’s dance critic for two years (2014-16).     

     In 2009 I designed, launched and site-managed the award-winning critics’ site The Arts Desk (named Best Specialist Journalism Site in the 2012 Online Media Awards), spending three years as a founding director and its dance editor, and I write occasionally still for it.

     My broadcasting includes many years covering dance for BBC Radio 2's longrunning Friday night arts show and LBC's Big City, a Radio 4 documentary on Mona Inglesby's International Ballet, and interview films and presentations for English National Ballet, Sadler's Wells, the London Symphony Orchestra, The Place, and other arts companies.

     I trained as a pianist, singer and violist at the Royal College of Music, London, where I was inspired by visiting Russian musicians. Much later, after developing a wider interest in Soviet culture as a result of my ballet journalism, I taught myself Russian, and in 2014 I gained an MA in Russian Studies at University College, London.

     In 2021 I was awarded a doctorate (DPhil) at Oxford for my thesis on the Soviet politician and USSR Culture Minister Ekaterina Furtseva, on whom I continue to work.

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