The best dance of 2022

10. Johannes Radebe: Freedom

When Strictly’s Johannes Radebe walked across the stage in a costume made up of flags from all countries where homosexuality is illegal, it was clear there was more to this touring show than glamor and pleasant conversation. Executed with the megawatt warmth and charm of the Latin champion, even the most hardened critics were on their feet. Read the full review L.W.

9. Kyle Abraham: Untitled Love

At the Edinburgh International Festival, American choreographer Kyle Abraham staged a house party, punctuated by the music of R&B star D’Angelo. It is rare to find a more human, more natural dance, the dancers of Abraham seeming to move by instinct. It was not a piece built on big statements but on small moments, connections and a lot of groove. Read the full review L.W.

8. Rambert: Peaky Blinders and triple poster

Rambert came out of the pandemic looking very strong. Their dance tour version of Peaky Blinders was a surprising and unapologetic commercial move, but they pulled it off with a ton of energy. Their triple bill was even better, extremely versatile dancers moving from glitchy robots to lyrical flow to comedic theater with aplomb. L.W.

7. Matsena Productions: Shades of Blue

Brothers Anthony and Kel Matsena’s play about power structures, police violence, stops and searches and being black in the UK was a powerful piece of dance theater at Sadler’s Wells. The message was direct, but there were layers to be found in the tormented anxiety of movement and the way they played with theater conventions. Read the full review L.W.

6. The rest of our lives

A low-key but utterly lively show that was full of silliness, a great soundtrack, and both poignant and humorous on the subject of aging. Jo Fong and George Orange were brilliant company, connecting everyone in the venue, and in an early morning slot at the Edinburgh Festival, getting us all on the dance floor before lunchtime. Read the full review L.W.

5. English National Ballet: The Forsythe Evening

A night of pure kinetic pleasure at Sadler’s Wells, London, by American choreographer William Forsythe, who seems to specialize in joy at the end of his career. The soundtrack was James Blake, Barry White, Natalie Cole, Khalid; the ENB dancers – especially the men – delighted in flying over Forsythe’s quick steps and delightfully crisp lines. Read the full review L.W.

4. Gandini Juggling: life

Sean Gandini and his troupe bring a choreographic sensibility to the art of throwing and catching, and in this gem of a show at London’s International Mime Festival, they paid tribute to the godfather of modern dance Merce Cunningham. Jugglers made rhythm visible, just as Cunningham did, in abstract puzzles with lots of human heart. Read the full review L.W.

Dazzling… Scottish Ballet’s Coppélia at the Edinburgh Festival theatre. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

3. Scottish Ballet: Coppélia

A remake of a 150-year-old ballet that managed to feel current and relevant, turning toymaker Dr Coppélius and his clockwork doll into an Elon Musk-style ego-driven entrepreneur dabbling in artificial intelligence . A smart, funny and tech-savvy ballet at the Edinburgh International Festival by choreographic duo Morgann Runacre-Temple and Jessica Wright. Read the full review L.W.

2. Lost Dog: Ruin

Director Ben Duke continues his run of great form in this dance-theater meta-commentary on the Greek myth of Medea. The reinvestigation of its story set in an underworld court had compelling performers, plenty of LOLs, a few tears, a fabulous soundtrack, clever construction, and a dance crackling with emotional static. Read the full review L.W.

Joining forces… Israel Galván in La Consagración de la Primavera.

Joining forces… Israel Galván in La Consagración de la Primavera. Photography: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

1. Israel Galván: The Consecration of the Primavera

Many choreographers struggle with Stravinsky’s powerful Rite of Spring. Most are overpowered by its sheer strength and weight of history. In his daring staging at Sadler’s Wells, London, flamenco iconoclast Israel Galván proved a worthy match – encouraged by musicians Daria van den Bercken and Gerard Bouwhuis playing the score in his elementary two-piano transcription. The soundboards intensified Galván’s arrhythmic footwork, the music surged over the strings and hammers of the pianos. Everything – costume, choreography, iconography, scenography, sound – seemed to be able to disintegrate under its own tension. Nothing did. Galván did not beat Stravinsky’s score (who could?), he joined it. RS

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