Russ, Mike & Bill

Russell Maliphant [born November 18, 1961 in Ottawa, Canada] is a British choreographer who trained at the Royal Ballet School and graduated into Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet before leaving to pursue a career in independent dance. [...]

Russell continues to work with his own company, the Russell Maliphant Company, which acts as his creative lab for the development and presentation of new work. [...]

Russell Maliphant Company
TEN years or so ago, perhaps less, Russell Maliphant was little known outside a small circle of choosy contemporary dance fans, myself among them. But over the last few years thanks partly to well-publicised collaborations with the Ballet Boyz and - more significantly - with Sylvie Guillem, things have changed; his reputation has spread and he is now, rightly, regarded as one of the most outstanding contemporary choreographers in the UK and probably in Europe. This belated recognition brings its own regrets, however - his new fans will never have had the privilege of seeing Maliphant in his prime as a dancer. I did, and I find it difficult to convey the unique qualities of strength, control, elegance and tranquility that characterised his dancing . Thankfully, these qualities have been preserved in every piece he choreographs - has ever choreographed - for other dancers. [...]

Critical Mass (vid)

Step-by-Step Guide to Dance: Russell Maliphant
Known for his high-profile collaborations with Sylvie Guillem and Robert Lepage, this modern master has a seamless style that never feels forced, writes Sanjoy Roy
Maliphant's physical style is quite an amalgam, mixing the unpredictability of contact improvisation with the purposefulness of martial arts, the momentum of contemporary dance with the precision and extensions of ballet. Yet it never feels forced; you can't see the seams.

Choreographically, Maliphant is an abstractionist. He works with the physics of action and interaction – tugs and leans, falls and arcs – and you can often sense the chemistry of character and feeling just beneath the carefully crafted surface. Compositionally, he'll often use buildups or accumulations: small, simple motifs that are repeated and developed into larger, more complex patterns.

Duets are Maliphant's forte – even his solos often feel like duets, in which one of the partners is light, space or sound. As an artist, Maliphant's closest and most longstanding creative partner is lighting designer Michael Hulls, who has worked with Maliphant since 1994, and whose lighting is as integral as the choreography to both the creation and the performance of Maliphant's work. [...]

I'll use any vocabulary that's appropriate at the time...I'm as interested in the uplift of ballet as I am in the gravity of modern dance.

I'd hope there is something about the relationship between the people in my pieces that's more important than technique. There is a trust between them – there has to be, given what they're asked to do.

Portrait of the Artist: Russell Maliphant, Choreographer
What got you started?
Going along to ballet class with my sister when I was nine. I'd seen Rudolf Nureyev dance Le Corsaire on TV. He was so athletic, animalistic and sensual: I thought, that's for me.

Who or what have you sacrificed for your art?
Many friendships. I've been touring since 1982, so my social life has naturally fractured.

Ballet or contemporary?
I try to avoid being one or the other - I belong on the side of movement.

Is your work political?
No, it's philosophical. It addresses questions of form and aesthetics.

What's the biggest myth about male dancers?
That we're all sissies. Most of us are actually very powerful

What's the greatest threat to dance today?
Funding cuts. If dancers and choreographers can't afford to sustain their lifestyles, then they can't practise their craft, and the standard of work degenerates.

What advice would you give a young choreographer?
The writer Joseph Campbell once said: "Follow your bliss." If you do that, you can't go wrong.

What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
When I was 28, the director of a workshop said to me: "Just do it." I wasn't really enjoying dancing at the time, and he reminded me that you have a choice - you either enjoy it, or you don't. [...]


Russell Maliphant's Still Top of His Class
[By Sarah Frater, Evening Standard - 08.04.09]
OF ALL the good things to say about Russell Maliphant, perhaps the least expected is what a classy dancer he still is. No one doubts his talent as a choreographer but he’s of an age when most dancers have retired and yet at the Coliseum last night he outshone almost everyone.

Maliphant has a hush-lush allure that conjures caryatids and comrades and combatants from thin air. His deceptively simple duets use modern dance and capoeira to play on pace and shift around flow. The dancers echo and challenge and spoof each other, which can be very funny, such as when a dancer gives the impression of doing one thing, only to do something else or nothing at all. You see it in Critical Mass, Maliphant’s duet with Adam Cooper that mixes tango momentum with ritual sparring.

It can also be exhilarating, such as in Two x Two, a duet for Dana Fouras and Daniel Proietto who could be swimmers or gods, or, with Michael Hull’s genius lighting, elemental flashes of sweeping fire.

For this 10-year retrospective, Maliphant has assembled his most ingenious duets. He’s also included Sheer, a pas de deux of unspoken closeness that reminds you how you feel when you’ve loved someone a long time. It’s danced by ballet couple Thomas Edur and Agnes Oaks, who are soon to retire. Seeing them together for what must be one of the last times concentrates the effect. END

Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, previously lead dancers with The Royal Ballet, became better known for their Ballet Boyz programmes on Channel 4 which followed their every move during The Royal Ballet’s nomadic years whilst the Royal Opera House was under renovation. Having developed a taste for film and sharing the highs and lows of creating a show, the film work has become intrinsic to Balletboyz performances and is a popular way of demystifying the art of dance and the choreographic process. [...]

Ballet Boyz - official site
Torsion (vid)

Strictly Bolshoi (clip 1)
This International Emmy Award-winning film follows the world's most sought-after ballet choreographer, Christopher Wheeldon, as he becomes the first Englishman invited to create a new work for Moscow's prestigious Bolshoi Ballet. Michael Nunn and William Trevitt were given unprecedented behind the scenes access to give a fascinating insight into the workings of one of the greatest ballet companies in the world. The documentary takes an unexpected turn for viewers and participants alike when they put down the camera to help Wheeldon interpret his ideas for the Russian dancers.


Sadler's Wells Theatre is the name of six theatres that have been built since 1683 at a site on Rosebery Avenue, Clerkenwell in the London Borough of Islington. The present day theatre seats 1,500 and specialises in dance, ranging from ballet to hip hop, contemporary dance to flamenco. Opera, theatre, visual arts and dance on screen also feature in the mix. [...]