One of the greatest challenges—and for me, joys—of being a dance critic is navigating the not infrequent clash between contemporary values and those embraced in classical ballet, a centuries-old institution that venerates ‘tradition’ in all its old-world, patriarchal glory. How should a world increasingly concerned with racial diversity respond to an establishment that in 2015 remains overwhelmingly white? How can an art form that worships prescriptive gender roles address the growing call for LGBT inclusivity? What messages of value can women divine from stories that glorify female fragility and are primarily written and directed by men?
Natalie Osipova and Matthew Golding in the Royal Ballet's “Onegin.” Photograph by Alice Pennefather