Rather weak on the detail of some of these, but here goes anyway!
- Faking It – Motion House Dance Theatre at the Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 10th February 1998
The first show in that year’s Swan Dance festival at the Wycombe Swan, we saw Motion House Dance Theatre’s exciting and punchy piece of contemporary dance, that the programme describes as being “about power games, the struggle for pole position and the many faces we don in order to hide our vulnerabilities.” Sounds great, and I think it was! The all-female company consisted of Caroline Bridges, Penny Collinson, Ruth Jacombs, Isabelle Martinez and Lisi Perry.
- Dance Bites – The Royal Ballet at the Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 7th March 1998
1998’s Dance Bites programme featured five short pieces, immaculately performed as always. First up was Horseplay, choreographed by Tom Sapsford, and danced by Michael Nunn (a Future Balletboyz founder), Jonathan Howells, Justin Meissner and David Pickering. Then we had Highly Strung, a solo danced by Jerry Douglas, choreographed by Matthew Hart to music by Debussy. After the first interval came Dream of Angels, choreographed by William Tuckett (the other Balletboyz founder), and danced by Leire Ortueta, Michael Nunn and Sarah Wildor. Then came Words Apart, choreographed by Cathy Marston, and performed by 12 dancers; then after the second interval, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, choreographed by William Forsythe, and danced by Deborah Bull amongst others. Always a privilege to see.
- Tartuffe – Mobil Touring Theatre at the Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 14th March 1998
Mobil’s show that year was a very lively and enjoyable production of Molière’s Tartuffe, with Stephen Tompkinson perfectly cast in the main role, and also starring Simon Williams as an Orgon full of bluster, plus Isla Blair and Maria Charles giving great support. However, my main recollection of this production was Mr Tompkinson (unforgivably in my mind) completely dissing the audience during curtain call, by chatting ostentatiously to the other cast members and never making eye contact with us or acknowledging our presence. I don’t know what we had done to deserve that, we had been respectful and laughed in all the right places.
- Romeo and Juliet – Northern Ballet Theatre at the Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 17th March 1998
Northern Ballet brought their production of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, choreographed by Massimo Moricone and directed by Christopher Gable, with design by Lez Brotherston, who continues to be the best at the job today. I remember this being a very grand and elaborate affair, with dance and production values of the highest quality. Romeo was danced by Denis Malinkine, and Juliet by Jayne Regan. Very enjoyable.
- Kind Hearts and Coronets – Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 16th April 1998
Giles Croft adapted and directed this touring production of the famous film for Charles Vance productions. Very enjoyable, if I remember rightly, with Robert Powell as Louis Mazzini and Colin Baker as the D’Ascoynes. But it wasn’t the kind of production to stick in the mind!
- Dein Perry’s Tap Dogs – Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 24th April 1998
This lively entertainment was already a huge international success and their visit to the Swan Dance festival was very well received. I remember it as being a blistering attack on the senses – not only from a dance point of view, but also, frankly, the clashing racket they made with their dustbin lids and all sorts of other noisy ephemera! Very enjoyable, but after a while I did start to find it slightly repetitive and just – ever so slightly – boring. But I know I was in the minority!
- And Nothing But the Truth – VTol Dance Company at the Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, April 1998
And Nothing But the Truth was billed as a Murder Mystery set to dance, and it was a highly entertaining piece of contemporary dance – although I can’t remember whodunit. The company was Christine Devaney, James Hewison, Kieron Jecchinis, Marcia Pook and Karl Sullivan, and the show was devised by the company under the auspices of Artistic Director Mark Murphy. Very nicely described in the programme: “Back from the dead, our host Jake takes us into a nightmare landscape blackened by murder. Four characters, Christine – The Wife, Karl – The Husband, Marcia – His Lover and James – The Neighbour; find themselves in a complex maze of lies, infidelity and pillows.”
- Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo – Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 1st May 1998
This was our first ever exposure (and that’s probably the right word) to The Trocks and they have gone on to be amongst our very favourite companies of all time, whom we see whenever we can. This programme was a true classic, starting with Swan Lake, Act II, a Mystery Pas de Deux (as always), Vivaldi Suite, The Dying Swan (executed by Comrade Ida Nevasayneva), and ending with Paquita. It goes without saying that the quality of dance from this company is always of the highest exceptional quality, but it’s mixed with their wonderful feel for the comic potential in classical ballet (and, occasionally, contemporary dance). This wonderful company featured at the time a very young Robert Carter (Olga Supphozova and Yuri Smirnov), Associate Director Tory Dobrin (Margaret Lowin-Octeyn and Adam Baum), the brilliant Paul Ghiselin (Ida Nevasayneva and Velour Pilloux) and Manolo Nolina (Fifi Barkova and Igor Slowpokin). Some of those names just kill you.
- Cruel Garden – Rambert Dance Company at the Apollo Theatre, Oxford, 7th May 1998
I was looking forward to seeing Lindsay Kemp’s iconic production so much, but it was completely ruined by the fact that our view of the stage was obliterated by the very high- positioned conductor standing right in front of our seats. If it had been described as obstructed view or a lower price I would have understood (and indeed, booked different seats) but there was no such warning. The theatre management were unhelpful to my plight and as a result I’ve never been back to this theatre. I genuinely can’t comment on the show as I couldn’t see it.
- Nederlands Dans Theater 2 – Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 2nd June 1998
Having enjoyed NDT2 so much the first time we saw them, it was a no-brainer to book to see them on their return visit. The programme was: Grosse Fuge, choreographed by Hans van Manen, Un Ballo, choreographed by Jiri Kylian, Sans Response by Patrick Delcroix, and finally Paul Lightfoot’s Sad Case. Sheer joy from the NDT youth department.