The best of 2011: dance shows

Time Out's dance editor Lyndsey Winship selects her favourite moments of 2011

Arena ballet, a moshpit in the stalls, amazing minimalism, some new talent and an old master – 2011 has been a pretty good year for dance.

We could name many more great shows, but if you have to narrow it down...

The best of 2011...

  • 1
    © Sally Cohn

    Lucinda Childs, DANCE

    Divine revival of the 1979 piece by postmodern dance icon Lucinda Childs, with its Philip Glass score and Sol LeWitt projections. It was, put simply, lots of dancers leaping back and forth across the stage in a repetitive manner – but that added up to the kind of wonderful, mesmerising, joyful minimalism that made you (well, me) want to start leaping as well.

  • 2
    Hofesh Shecter Company, Political Mother Hofesh Shecter Company, Political Mother - © GABRIELE ZUCCA

    Hofesh Shechter Company, Political Mother – The Choreographer’s Cut

    Probably the only time I’ve seen boys moshing at a dance performance. Shechter’s ‘Choreographer’s Cut’ was a ramped up version of his show ‘Political Mother’, all full-on screaming guitars, pummelling drumming and movement-based musings on power, oppression, dictatorship and the cult of personality. Not just a blast of energy, but a sustained assailment, at chair-shaking volume. A real buzz.

    Read our Hofesh Shecter interview
  • 3
    © Benedict Johnson

    Eva Recacha - Begin to Begin

    A beautifully understated piece that made it to the finals of this year’s Place Prize for choreography. It didn’t win, and it hardly scored in the audience vote, but it was the most accomplished thing on the bill. A finely structured and funny work that started out with the nonsense rhyme 'Michael Finnegan' (you know, the one with the whiskers on his chinnegan) and ended up being a poignant reflection on the endless circle of life and death.

  • 4

    Royal Ballet @ The O2

    The O2 Arena

    The Royal Ballet’s risky move to the O2 Arena paid off, exceeding expectations and proving that you can do stadium ballet, with ‘Romeo & Juliet’ playing to a total audience of 47,000 people over three days. The key was the big screens, which followed the narrative and honed in on the details. And while some critics took offence at the invasion of beer and hot dogs into ballet’s sacred space, we bought an extra large pizza and a plastic cup of wine, and had a fine old time.

  • 5
    Some Like it Hip Hop Some Like it Hip Hop - © Rob Greig

    ZooNation, ‘Some Like it Hip Hop’

    It was big smiles and dancing in the aisles at this feelgood follow-up to ZooNation’s ‘Into the Hoods’, created by director Kate Prince. Taking in cross-dressing, gender politics, estranged families and young love, the show popped and locked its way into the audience’s hearts with an unstoppable energy. Sure, the plot was a bit convoluted and the music derivative (although the singers were outstanding), but the performers’ commitment was total and there was fantastic dancing to be seen, especially from the supremely talented Tommy Franzen and the powerful Duwane Taylor. Impossible to resist.

... and the worst of 2011

  • Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Tezuka

    A real disappointment considering that Cherkaoui’s last major show, ‘Babel (words)’ was one of 2010’s best. Just goes to show that even the most accomplished artists can trip up sometimes (or perhaps spread themselves too thinly). ‘Tezuka’ was an ode to Japanese manga legend Osamu Tezuka, of whom Cherkaoui is a huge fan, but the result saw so many ideas scrambling for attention that the show was a mess. Not a total dud by any means – there were plenty of promising nuggets and glimpses of meaty movement – but a major disappointment.