Drew McOnie

Choreographer and director Drew McOnie is creating a new ballet about the young magician Merlin. Will his playlist be magical too?

Dance Gazette | Playlist | Issue 2 – Oct 2021

1 Lonely Town pas de deux
by Leonard Bernstein

I don’t know why this piece of music affects me so much. Maybe it’s because it is so purely an expression of wanting to belong. It feels otherworldly yet human in the same moment. Broken yet perfect. One of those pieces of music that makes you believe in something inexplicable that lies beyond simple technique.

2 Heartbeats
by José González

This track plays such a vital part in my journey to becoming a choreographer. I would listen to it endlessly whilst touring the States with Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands when I was around 20. I would escape to the studio to try to work out what I had inside me that was worth showing the world. It made me keep getting back up. I still get very nostalgic whenever I hear it.

3 Fire 
by Beth Ditto

The power of this woman and the way her music taps into a sort of rage and majesty I find incredibly exciting. Her music just has it for me. I’m desperate to create work with her. One day maybe.

4 Time after Time
by Cindy Lauper

Baz Lurhman’s Strictly Ballroom had a big impact on me growing up. I saw myself in it in many ways. I would make up dances to this track over and over and pretend to be Scott from the movie. I went on to direct and choreograph the stage adaptation as my West End debut, which was a very special full-circle moment for me.

5 Grand Waltz from Cinderella
by Sergei Prokofiev

Back at school, we had this amazing pianist called Mark Amos. He would regularly break the strings inside the piano with his extraordinary playing. Every plié exercise was a concert to him, an opportunity to change someone’s mood. The memory of his talent matched with this incredible music will forever get my heart racing. I’ve spent many hours daydreaming about choreographing a full length production of Cinderella because of this man (and probably because of Prokofiev too).

Drew McOnie is the choreographer and director of
Northern Ballet’s Merlin, which tours the UK
until 4 December. northernballet.com/merlin

Big Picture post

Feel it

Read more

REST OF Issue 2 – Oct 2021


Paint job

From chalk and lard to gold leaf and mascara: Vera Rule reveals the hidden history of ballet make-up.

Inside RAD post

Fonteyn 2021

We report from the Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition, held entirely online for the very first time.

Why Dance Matters post

Yami ‘Rowdy’ Lofvenberg

Her school teachers called her stupid, but the hip-hop choreographer and teacher has found a defiant voice through dance. She explains the importance of being rowdy.

RAD Q&A post

Mia Zanardo

A gold medallist at the last in-person Genée competition recalls the evening, and describes staying motivated through the pandemic in Sydney.

Advice Bureau post

Didy Veldman

The Dutch choreographer shares her best advice: chase your dreams!

Big Picture post

Feel it

The international winning entries from this year’s RAD members’ photo competition. The theme? ‘Dance makes me feel…’


Picture this

As the RAD launches a portrait competition for its new London headquarters, Sarah Crompton asks leading portrait artists how they capture a personality in paint.


Living doll

The RAD’s new portrait competition celebrates its first President, Adeline Genée. But who was she – and how did she rise from the music hall to the peak of British ballet? Carol Martin reveals the woman behind the porcelain princess.


Founding father

The French painter Poussin is often called the father of classicism. He was also fascinated by dance – so Rosemary Waugh asks a choreographer and a curator to delve into his paintings.


Shake it up

As calls for racial equity in dance teaching grow, Isaac Ouro-Gnao asks what tangible action looks like and explores how to bring about change.


Walk tall

A migrant child crossed Europe this summer. What makes Amal unusual is that she is an 11-foot puppet who draws crowds wherever she goes. She began her journey in Turkey, where Altuğ Akin sees her welcomed by Izmir’s folk dancers.