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The best dance shows this month

Take your pick from the highlights of the London dance scene this month

London's dance scene is hot with high pirouettes, lithe bodies and beautiful choreography. Time Out picks the best dance pieces to catch in the capital this December.

9
The Red Shoes
1/9

The Red Shoes

The Academy Award-winning movie 'The Red Shoes' is a dark story of obsession and ambition, pirouetting around one girl's increasingly desperate dream to be the world's greatest dancer.  Matthew Bourne and his company New Adventures are bringing this Hollywood golden age story to the stage, using music by the film's original composer, Bernard Herrmann. It's a risky proposition: although the film's a mega-hit, the Broadway version was one of the biggest flops in NYC theatre history. But it's refreshing to see Bourne break with his run of fairytales to delve into the real world of backstage romance. Mixing surreal, cinematic style with the everyday life of a touring dance company, this should be a ravishing visual treat. New Adventures principal Ashley Shaw will create the central role of Victoria Page, after leading the company as Aurora in their hit 'Sleeping Beauty'.  

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Sadler's Wells , Finsbury Until Saturday December 31 2016
8
Royal Ballet: The Nutcracker
© Johan Persson
2/9

Royal Ballet: The Nutcracker

Christmas means 'The Nutcracker'. It's predictable, but it keeps box offices happy because the show's popularity shows no sign of waning. In terms of structure and story, it's not a particularly brilliant ballet, but the Royal's production is suitably lavish and their dancers top notch. If it's festive ritual you're after, this one's for you.

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Royal Opera House , Covent Garden Until Thursday January 12 2017
7
Eifman Ballet Saint Petersburg: Up & Down
Souheil Michael Khoury
3/9

Eifman Ballet Saint Petersburg: Up & Down

'Tender is the Night', the classic novel by F Scott Fitzgerald, is the inspiration behind this darkly atmospheric ballet by director Boris Eifman. The story satirises the wild excesses of Jazz Age New York, against a noirish backdrop of stylish neon. And it's set to a soundtrack that's full of swoony strings and jazz standards by composers including George Gershwin, Franz Schubert and Alban Berg.

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London Coliseum , Covent Garden Until Saturday December 10 2016
6
The Snowman
4/9

The Snowman

It may seem perverse to put the words 'snowman' and 'genius' into the same sentence, but the inspired range of delights in this dance adaptation of Raymond Briggs's book deserves no less an accolade. For a two year old the pleasure lies in everything from seeing a coconut, banana and a pineapple perform a limbo dance to the playful flicking on and off a light switch; for a five year old the fascination lurks in the conflict between Jack Frost and the irrepressibly jolly Father Christmas; while for the adults the enjoyment of the show will come from the beautifully performed dance routines and the orchestra's alternately lively and moving evocation of the iconic score. True, there are aspects of this traditional-as-mince-pies show that are starting to look a little dated: the mother and father scenes seem increasingly 1950s, and some of the attempts at humour creak as much as an obese Santa Claus climbing some wooden stairs. Yet the love and precision with which the Birmingham Repertory Theatre's production is put together reinforces its deserved status as a classic, and at the point when the boy and the snowman take off to fly above the stage everyone (with, it must be confessed, the exception of my two-year-old son, who was busy pretending to receive an executive call on his fibre-optic torch) is enchanted.

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Peacock Theatre , Holborn Until Sunday January 1 2017
5
The Little Match Girl
5/9

The Little Match Girl

Recommended

Hip choreographer Arthur Pita’s latest dance piece, ‘The Little Match Girl’, is based on the Hans Christian Andersen story and involves a poor little match girl who is cast aside by her cruel neighbours on Christmas Eve. It is performed in Italian, incorporates ballet and opera and even a ghostly journey to the moon. It could have been obscure but instead is funny, emotive and effortlessly moving.

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Lilian Baylis Studio , Canonbury Saturday December 10 2016 - Friday December 30 2016
4
Christmas Cabaret
© Holly Revell
6/9

Christmas Cabaret

Greenwich Dance's 1930s hall will host a surreal Christmas Cabaret extravaganza, hosted by monobrowed live art dance gang Figs in Wigs. The audience will be treated to table service, and invited to join the party after the show. Line-up tbc. The 3.30pm performance is suitable for all ages, while evening shows are 16-plus.    

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The Borough Hall , Greenwich Saturday December 10 2016
3
Hong Kong Dance Company
7/9

Hong Kong Dance Company

See the best of Hong Kong ballet for free at this performance at Southbank Centre. Dancers from the company will perform Father and Daughter Duet from 'The Legend of Mulan' and Lovers' Duet from 'L'Amour Immortel'.

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Southbank Centre , South Bank Friday December 16 2016
2
The Mad Hatter's Tea Party
8/9

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party

The Mad Hatter is a dude with a tall hat and rasta dreads, the Queen of Hearts is a dominatrix with a twitch and red glitter eye make-up, and the Dormouse is a rodent chillin’ on something that’s definitely not tea. Welcome to ZooNation’s hip hop dance reincarnation of ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

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Roundhouse , Chalk Farm Friday December 30 2016 - Sunday January 22 2017
1
Pena Flamenca De Londres
9/9

Pena Flamenca De Londres

Celebrate Christmas in flamboyant style with this flamenco show. Special guest Victor Fernandez of the Ballet Flamenco de Madrid will lead proceedings, alongside singer Antonio Pola. 

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Church of the Holy Apostles , Pimlico Sunday December 11 2016

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