• Will Tuckett is an Olivier-winning Royal Ballet choreographer – so why is he 'terrified' at taking on CBeebies hit Bing?
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    The Independent

    Will Tuckett is an Olivier-winning Royal Ballet choreographer – so why is he 'terrified' at taking on CBeebies hit Bing?

    Will Tuckett is a Royal Ballet stalwart, an Olivier award winner, and one of the Royal Opera House’s top choreographers. He’s been treading the boards for decades, while one of his first choreographed works was performed by Darcey Bussell and William Trevitt on the stage of the Royal Opera House, when Tuckett was just 17.

  • Polarity & Proximity, Sadler’s Wells, London, review: Birmingham Royal Ballet dazzle their way through new and recent work
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    Polarity & Proximity, Sadler’s Wells, London, review: Birmingham Royal Ballet dazzle their way through new and recent work

    In Polarity & Proximity, Birmingham Royal Ballet dazzle their way through new and recent work, dancing with boldness and individuality. Embrace is the most interesting work I’ve seen from Williamson, who is associate artist at English National Ballet. In a stylised narrative, the marvellous Brandon Lawrence plays a man coming to terms with himself.

  • Notes from the Field, Royal Court, London, review: Anna Deavere Smith's powerful expose of America's criminal justice system
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    Notes from the Field, Royal Court, London, review: Anna Deavere Smith's powerful expose of America's criminal justice system

    This harrowing and rousing solo show is the result of 250 interviews conducted during the Obama administration by the verbatim theatre pioneer and West Wing actor, Anna Deavere Smith. The Gate Theatre in Notting Hill recently revived her Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, a tapestry of testimonies gathered in the wake of Rodney King's televised beating. Rather, it is a powerful, patiently-assembled expose of the catastrophic inequities and iniquities of America's criminal justice system.

  • From coating council flats in crystals to burying aeroplanes: Meet artist Roger Hiorns
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    From coating council flats in crystals to burying aeroplanes: Meet artist Roger Hiorns

    Last year, the artist Roger Hiorns received an email from a preacher at an evangelical Christian church in Abuja, Nigeria, curious about why Hiorns had buried an aeroplane. Hiorns could not have been more pleased: “It might seem insane but that makes it interesting. “There’s a certain amount of beauty in the ceremony of burying aircraft,” says Hiorns.

  • Why the hair on our head should be more than merely decorative
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    The Independent

    Why the hair on our head should be more than merely decorative

    Why is the trade in cat and dog hair banned in the European Union on the grounds that they are pets, while the trade in human hair remains entirely unregulated? What sort of intimate hairy entanglements occur when we brush human hair with pig bristles, use badger hair shaving brushes, or weave a judge’s wig from horse hair?

  • How English words found their way into the Iraqi dialect of Arabic
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    The Independent

    How English words found their way into the Iraqi dialect of Arabic

    English loan words in the Iraqi dialect are found in almost all the aspects of daily life. Back to 1999, in a poetry lecture at al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, I still remember how thirsty I felt when I heard Professor al-Wasiṭṭi, while reading Eliot’s poem “Journey of the Magi”, pronouncing the word “sherbet”. “It is our sherbet.” The poem was published in 1927 when the British were in Iraq, but the word came to English via the Ottomans in the 17th century.

  • Pressure, Ambassadors Theatre, London, review: A tense, funny and moving play – about weather forecasting
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    Pressure, Ambassadors Theatre, London, review: A tense, funny and moving play – about weather forecasting

    It's not often that you find a weather forecaster taking up the central position in a piece of drama. David Haig has had the inspired idea of focussing on the weather forecast of all time in Pressure, a play that has finally and deservedly reached the West End after runs in Edinburgh, Chichester, and the Park Theatre. Should General Eisenhower give the go-ahead?

  • Love Island's torture of Alex goes on, but the tragic end could be in sight
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    Love Island's torture of Alex goes on, but the tragic end could be in sight

    When, on Wednesday night, Eyal was stretched out under the stars, outlining his “beliefs” to Adam and Charlie, moments after the former had asked whether the north star was the “one that shines over Newcastle” and the latter wanted to know which one was “Ryan’s belt”, precious little of Eyal’s actual worldview made the final cut.

  • Love Island's Megan gets ready for the World Cup by spectacularly letting down the nation
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    Love Island's Megan gets ready for the World Cup by spectacularly letting down the nation

    It is arguably unfortunate that the chief reason to continue watching Love Island is to witness the transformation of an otherwise well-appointed villa in Mallorca into Alex’s own personal version of the prison from which Bane spends a lifetime failing to escape in Batman: The Dark Knight Rises. Can she yet know, in this World Cup week, that she has joined that ignoble canon of Waddle, Pearce, Southgate, Ince, Batty, Beckham, Carragher, Cole, Vassell and, well frankly it’s a big canon but the point is that Megan briefly held the hopes and dreams of a nation in her grasp and ballsed it right up.

  • Grey Area: The secret art collective battling the council to bring colour to the streets of Dublin
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    The Independent

    Grey Area: The secret art collective battling the council to bring colour to the streets of Dublin

    There is no real answer to the greyness. Anyone who has been to Dublin will know this. Dublin looks well in the grey. Dublin suits the grey. If Dublin was going on a night out, it would wear a little grey dress.

  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Donmar Warehouse, London, review: Lia Williams is revelatory in this new Muriel Spark adaptation
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    The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Donmar Warehouse, London, review: Lia Williams is revelatory in this new Muriel Spark adaptation

    Lia Williams is revelatory in the title role in this new David Harrower adaptation of Muriel Spark's brilliant novel. Look at the roll call of great actresses who have incarnated Jean Brodie, the dangerously influential teacher in 1930s Edinburgh who inspires and destroys the young girls in her charge. Vanessa Redgrave starred in the the first London stage version in 1966 and three years later the screen version won Maggie Smith a deserved Oscar.

  • Romeo and Juliet, Sadler’s Wells, London, review: Plenty of gusto
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    Romeo and Juliet, Sadler’s Wells, London, review: Plenty of gusto

    Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet has plenty of gusto in most of the right places. A vigorous company performance brings the feuding Capulets and Montagues to life, while Momoko Hirata’s Juliet goes from giddiness to bleak despair. There could be more spark with César Morales’ Romeo, but this is a warm account of Kenneth MacMillan’s passionate production.

  • TV review, The Dog Rescuers with Alan Davies (Channel 5): Acts of cruelty and compassion make for emotional viewing
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    TV review, The Dog Rescuers with Alan Davies (Channel 5): Acts of cruelty and compassion make for emotional viewing

    Last night I watched pus being flushed out of an infected wound on a dog. Not when you’ve got to get through The Dog Rescuers with Alan Davies. The poor old black labrador, Josie, had been living on the streets with her human keeper, and had been in a bit of a dog fight.

  • Machinal, Almeida Theatre, London, review: Feels like it could have been written last week
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    Machinal, Almeida Theatre, London, review: Feels like it could have been written last week

    Natalie Abrahami directs an impressive, powerfully disconcerting production of Sophie Treadwell's remarkable Expressionist drama, first performed in New York in 1928. Unfolding in nine jagged scenes or “Episodes”, it charts the descent into deepening darkness of a young woman who finds herself stifled and finally destroyed by a male-dominated, mechanistic society. The play was last revived in Britain 25 years ago when Stephen Daldry directed Fiona Shaw in a staging so stupendous that, to my mind, it embroiled the proceedings in an irony: Treadwell's Expressionist indictment of the dehumanising metropolis was conveyed in what looked like an awesome celebration of the vast technological resources of the Lyttelton.

  • Eugénie Brazier: Five things you didn't know about the ground-breaking French Chef
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    Eugénie Brazier: Five things you didn't know about the ground-breaking French Chef

    Eugénie Brazier, the first woman to be awarded three Michelin stars, is widely regarded the "mother of modern French cooking". Born on 12 June 1895, Brazier opened her first restaurant in a former grocery store in Lyon at the age of 26 and soon built a reputation for simple, elegant food. Brazier's most famous dishes include "beautiful dawn lobster", featuring brandy and cream, and "poultry in half mourning', in which truffle slices are inserted between the meat and the skin before the bird is poached.

  • Stoking Frida-mania: A new exhibition reveals how Frida Kahlo crafted her identity
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    Stoking Frida-mania: A new exhibition reveals how Frida Kahlo crafted her identity

    The presentation of the self has been prioritised to the near obliteration of all else. The impact of the idea of Frida Kahlo, the disabled Mexican painter who died in 1954 (her leg was amputated the year before), has been a profound one. Italian Vogue devoted an entire issue to her in December 2014.

  • Kendall departs as Love Island becomes a hyper-extended funeral of everybody's hopes and dreams
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    The Independent

    Kendall departs as Love Island becomes a hyper-extended funeral of everybody's hopes and dreams

    The descent of utopian paradise into dystopian nightmare is a theme that accounts for around a sixth of all mankind’s artistic endeavour and to that bold canon can now be added Love Island Series Four. Adam, Sculptor of Guns, Destroyer of Worlds, and a man who seems to think that Fanny by Gaslight is less a Victorian melodrama and more a life motto, has now arrived at his true vocation - Love Island contestant - and everybody else must bear the cost.

  • Pixar founder John Lasseter to leave Disney after 'missteps' in wake of MeToo
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    The Independent

    Pixar founder John Lasseter to leave Disney after 'missteps' in wake of MeToo

    John Lasseter is to leave Disney after “missteps” in his behaviour with staff members, the studio has confirmed. The co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and Disney’s current animation chief has been demoted to consultant but will step down fully at the end of the year. “The last six months have provided an opportunity to reflect on my life, career and personal priorities,” Mr Lasseter said in a statement.

  • Behind the scenes at Cirque du Soleil's Totem show
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    Behind the scenes at Cirque du Soleil's Totem show

    There are a plethora of shows featuring acrobatics, circus theatrics, comedy and visual effects, but there will only be one Cirque du Soleil. Take for instance one of its highest selling tours TOTEM, which is a show described as “a fascinating journey into the evolution of mankind” and operates like a little town on wheels. Once you enter its site, with 118 employees (46 of which are artists) from 28 different countries, TOTEM is already a world of its own.

  • Portraits in Otherness, Sadler’s Wells, London, review: Four superb dancers prove to have strong choreographic voices
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    Portraits in Otherness, Sadler’s Wells, London, review: Four superb dancers prove to have strong choreographic voices

    Supported by Khan and his producer Farooq Chaudhry, the works by Maya Jilan Dong, Dickson Mbi, Ching-Ying Chien and Joy Alpuerto Ritter are handsomely staged, lit by leading designer Fabiana Piccioli, with new music and often striking designs.

  • Julie, National Theatre, London, review: Vanessa Kirby shines, but the dramatic stakes are lowered in Polly Stenham's update of Strindberg
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    Julie, National Theatre, London, review: Vanessa Kirby shines, but the dramatic stakes are lowered in Polly Stenham's update of Strindberg

    Julie - played by Vanessa Kirby - is a damaged rich kid who's celebrating her 33rd birthday by throwing a thumping rave for a bunch of posing hedonists. Then Julie comes down and hauls John off to the dance (“It's my birthday, it's the solstice.

  • Thomas Cole: Eden to Empire, National Gallery, review: We long to see more of this great American landscape painting in full flight
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    Thomas Cole: Eden to Empire, National Gallery, review: We long to see more of this great American landscape painting in full flight

    This exhibition of work by the landscape painter Thomas Cole, though described as a collaboration between two institutions, feels like a tariff-free American import. Cole (1805-1848) was in fact an Englander, from Bolton in Lancashire, whose family emigrated to the USA. Various trips back to Europe – first to the National Gallery, and then to Italy – saw him sucking up influences like a greedy sponge: Claude, Turner, Constable, for example.

  • The secret lives of Russian goalposts outside of football
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    The secret lives of Russian goalposts outside of football

    Never mind Russia's state of the art World Cup stadiums, Reuters photographers have been capturing the eclectic settings of communities' spartan goalposts and pitches. The sometimes ramshackle goalposts were photographed in Russia and the Crimean peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014, giving a glimpse of life away from the fervour of a tournament that will be watched by fans from around the world.

  • Love Island's Hayley is staring at the exit door with much still to learn about Eyal, including his name
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    The Independent

    Love Island's Hayley is staring at the exit door with much still to learn about Eyal, including his name

    In 1998, Turkmenistan’s dictatorial ruler Saparmurat Niyazov installed a revolving statue of himself outside his own Presidential Palace, which turned on its axis throughout the day so as to always face the sun. Two decades later, it cannot be explicitly ruled out that it has been reinstalled in the Love Island car park and dressed in a salmon pink shirt, to rotate in soft focus directly behind the dinner table where Niall and newbie Georgia were doing their level best to discuss the relative merits of chicken dippers. For some mystifying reason, there had been high hopes for what must surely be Love Island’s first date entirely from the professional classes, particularly after they had moved beyond the early obstacles, where Alex managed to make it to the end of his short monologue on how “our parents must be proud of us” despite Niall and Georgia taking one look at their preprandial glasses of cava and deciding to “just f*cking neck” them.

  • The Sleeping Beauty, London Coliseum, review: Has a gleaming performance from Alina Cojocaru at its heart
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    The Sleeping Beauty, London Coliseum, review: Has a gleaming performance from Alina Cojocaru at its heart

    English National Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty is a grand, spacious fairy tale, now with a gleaming performance from Alina Cojocaru at its heart. Kenneth MacMillan’s production, created in 1987 and first staged by English National Ballet in 2005, has a sure sense of theatre in both, with gorgeous costumes by Nicholas Georgiadis. It’s the best Beauty in Britain, with a warmth and confidence that make the tale’s magic sing out.