1 Requiem by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 

Powerful, profound and deeply moving. I was introduced to this work by an important mentor of mine and later created a ballet to this music for BalletX in Philadelphia.

2 A Case of You by Joni Mitchell

I adore Joni Mitchell: the simplicity, poetry and honesty. Her body of work seems to be filled with a nuance and wisdom from a life fully lived.

3 My Way by Frank Sinatra

This is a piece of music that I have listened to throughout all the seasons of my life. The lyrics and the delivery say it all.

4 Sea Interludes by Benjamin Britten

Peter Grimes was one of the first operas I ever saw and I remember the first time I heard the Four Sea Interludes, I felt it would be perfect for a new ballet. Years later a close friend reminded me about them and I subsequently created a new piece for the Royal Ballet School that became my first work performed on the ROH main stage.

5 Songbird by Eva Cassidy

An artist gone far too soon. The unaffected purity, beauty of her voice and rare capacity to interpret a range of work, as if it was always written just for her. Timeless.


Why Dance Matters

Misty Copeland

Dance Gazette

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1 Allegro con Brio from Beethoven’s Symphony No 7

Conducting always demands for you to give yourself entirely, but whenever I conduct – or even just listen to – Beethoven 7 I am always overcome by the inexorable energy and incredible vibrant freshness in this music. It makes every fibre in my body want to dance, and I challenge anyone not to feel the same way when they hear it! No wonder Wagner called this symphony ‘the apotheosis of dance.’

2 The ending of Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet

2022 was my year of Romeo: MacMillan’s at the Royal Ballet, Cranko’s in Australia, and a stunning production by Veronica Paeper in South Africa. I managed to persuade Laura to marry me in Cape Town, and the Australian Ballet to employ me during the Cranko, so Romeo will always have a special place in my heart. I must have done the piece nearly 40 times in that year, and every time we got to the ending it would turn me into an emotional wreck. Isn’t it just the saddest C major in the history of music? Listen in particular to the last few bars, and to how the harmony resolves. Now listen to Bernstein’s West Side Story: there wouldn’t be one without the other!

3 Erbarme dich from JS Bach’s Matthäus-Passion

It seems a cliché to say that music and dance have always gone together, but for Bach I think music is always danced, often to surprisingly emotive effect. This is why his music, together with so many of the Baroque masters, holds such appeal for choreographers. The St Matthew Passion is one of my desert island pieces. It is a masterpiece of drama and I wish somebody would make a full length ballet of it. I love how melody and the harmony of this aria grabs at your heart, but the dance within it means that there is something visceral about one’s response.

4 The Ice Hotel by Stacey Kent

As a conductor, an amateur pilot, and also growing up with families scattered all around the world, I have been very fortunate to have travelled a lot. Honestly, it never gets any less exciting. I love all of Stacey Kent’s songs, and especially her collaboration with Kazuo Ishiguro. Ice Hotel is one of the songs they penned together, and it will always ignite my wanderlust, taking me at the drop of the first piano notes to far-flung places around the globe.

5 A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, arr Callum Au and sung by Michael Bublé

I love jazz standards, and I love Bublé (though I think he should be banned at Christmas). Growing up in the UK as an immigrant from Hong Kong, London has always held this sense of romance for me and this song preserves and enhances it for my hopelessly romantic self. This particular version was arranged and orchestrated by my dear friend Callum Au, who is one of the most talented people I know. As a composer and arranger he works with some of the best in the world, but I keep thinking how he would write a really fine ballet one day…


Jonathan Lo discusses the music of Swan Lake with Australian Ballet artistic director David Hallberg

Why Dance Matters

Jakob Wheway Hughes

Dance Gazette

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1 Cameroon by Miriam Makeba

Makeba was an African superstar, an activist and revolutionary who relentlessly advocated for change throughout her life. My parents used to play her records when I was a kid. In this song she is singing about my other home country.

2 Got ’til It’s Gone by Janet Jackson

This track is an absolute gem. Janet was one of the first records I bought as a kid with my own money. And of all Jackson’s albums, The Velvet Rope is the best. I am a hiphop head through and through, Got ’til It’s Gone is the perfect RnB track with an old skool beat featured by Q-Tip.

When the music video for this song came out in 1997 it really blew my mind. During the sleek and shiny MTV era it showcased Blackness and Black people in a way that I had never seen before. Different skin tones, natural hair, the colour palette of the video… ah, it’s just raw, powerful and beautiful.

3 Kuusi, Op 75 No 5 by Jean Sibelius

Sibelius is probably Finland’s most famous composer. His body of work is vast ranging from symphonies and concertos to choral music. This short composition for a piano with the title Kuusi (meaning Spruce) somehow sounds like Finland. Melancholic yet beautiful, a lone spruce standing on the shore of a lake. I used this song in the only solo work I have done.

4 Traveling by Quentin Harris, Cordell

I had just turned 21 and was spending my first summer in New York when house music and dancing hit me hard. Going into clubs, seeing people on the dance floor expressing themselves in a way I had never seen before, I was blown away. It changed me and my relationship with dance. One night at an iconic club called Shelter, the DJ played this track by Quentin Harris and now whenever I hear it, I am transported back to that moment.

5 The Blacker The Berry by Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar is one of the most important rappers of our times, a lyricist and a genius wordsmith who has managed to unite the true soul of hiphop with new sounds and influences. Political, raw and the track is still a banger. This whole album that came out in 2015 is pure genius. Hiphop turned 50 years this year so with this song also shoutouts to the culture I love and that has changed the world.


A teaser for One Drop

One Drop is in Dance Umbrella at Battersea Arts Centre, London on 19-20 October and in
the Take Me Somewhere Festival, Glasgow on 28 October. https://www.sonyalindfors.com

Why Dance Matters

Alice Oseman

Dance Gazette

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1 Our Lord Debussy by A Winged Victory for the Sullen

Every time I hear this music I have a need to create. There is a celebration of space in this work that makes it feel like a meditation, an offering to openness. In a world full of busyness and noise, one needs to find a moment to be quiet and still.

2 Red Room: Hiatus Kaiyote

Have you ever loved something or someone so much it hurts? Well, this is what this song is for me. It’s like crying at a sunrise because it’s so beautiful.

3 Masters of war by Odetta

Perfect protest song writing by Bob Dylan.

Come you masters of war
You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks.

Odetta brings a beautiful sensibility to this song. I feel her pain and her disgust. Will we ever know peace?

4 One More Smile (Live at Electric Lady) by Yebba

I love to hear performers who become one with music. There is something deeply spiritual about this song. I get carried away by its simplicity and beauty. Some works just invite you to surrender and the song does exactly that.

5 Mother I Sober by Kendrick Lamar

This song is so layered. We have the painful truth of unresolved trauma, his raw and unflinching delivery and the song’s composition – they all work perfectly together. It is Kendrick’s honesty and vulnerability that gives this song its strength. Kendrick reaches into your soul and asks you to come on this journey with him. Mother I Sober is the complex struggles of black masculinity laid bare.

Photo: Benji Reid


Benji Reid on being a ‘choreo-photolist’.

Find Your Eyes is in the Manchester International Festival from 12–16 July.

Inside RAD

New RAD Chair

Dance Gazette

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1 Pietermaritzburg by Felix Laband

This reminds me of Pietermaritzburg, one of those amazing places in South Africa. It is the capital and second-largest city in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

2 Neli Walking by Paul Hanmer

Paul Hanmer is a South African composer that I’ve been listening to since I was quite young and Neli Walking is from his album Trains To Taung.

3 Looking Back by Bob Holroyd

Looking Back is something we use to beef up our Tswana dance moves.

4 Loch Raven by Animal Collective

I really love Animal Collective, they’re an American experimental pop band.

5 Drumming by Steve Reich

This is number one at the moment. Epic singer and epic song.

Dada Masilo leads the cast in The Sacrifice at Dance Factory Johannesburg. Photo: John Hogg
‘I wanted to explore ritual,’ says Masilo about The Sacrifice. Photo: John Hogg
The Sacrifice. Photo: John Hogg


A trailer for Dada Masilo’s The Sacrifice.

The Sacrifice tours the UK from 21 February–12 April. danceconsortium.com

Advice Bureau

Marie-Astrid Mence

Dance Gazette

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1 Set and Reset by Laurie Anderson

Candoco’s reimagining of Trisha Brown’s seminal work Set and Reset/Reset has become something of a signature work for Candoco with new iterations being created and performed by the company in 2011, 2016, 2021 and again this year when we performed the work at Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York for the first time, and at Tate Modern in London.

Hearing Laurie Anderson’s playful looped score and seeing the dancers perform this seminal work, always gives me a thrill and reminds me of the contribution Candoco has made to dance history.

Long Time No See (Set and Reset score) by Laurie Anderson

2 Life on Mars by David Bowie

A classic from the genius mind of David Bowie and a track that Arlene Phillips used when she choreographed Candoco’s performance on Strictly Come Dancing in 2018. This was a real moment for Candoco – almost as epic as Bowie’s sound track!?

Over 10 million viewers saw us performing with the Strictly professionals that night, making us the first contemporary dance company ever to perform on the show and the first time that same-sex couples were visible in the choreography. Arlene has always been a great fan and advocate for our work and it felt right that she would support our incredible dancers to be seen and valued on TV and beyond the contemporary dance world. 

3 Strangers in the Night by Frank Sinatra

This familiar and well-loved song was the closing track for Back to Front with Sideshows, choreographed by Emilyn Claid in the first few years of Candoco’s existence. Every time I hear it, I takes me back to those raucous and radical early years when we toured this work to audiences all over the world. This work captured the bold, sexy and mischievous spirit of the founding members, and particularly the deep and playful friendship between David Toole and Kuldip Singh-Barmi. David sadly passed away in 2020 and I cannot hear this song without picturing the closing image of Kuldip and Dave wheeling off together side by side into the distance with ridiculous hats on. It always makes me smile.

Candoco rehearsing a new work by Seke Chimutengwende. Photo: Camilla Greenwell 

4 Noyalain (Burn) by Lisa Gerrard and Jules Maxwell

I have loved the work of Dead Can Dance since I was a student at Northern School of Contemporary Dance in the early 1990s. The first time I came across this evocative and expansive world music was in the opening scene of Strange Fish by Lloyd Newson. Since then their music has provided many a rich sound score for contemporary dance performance and I have now had the good fortune to get to know the lead singer, Lisa Gerrard. This song is from the recent album Burn, Gerrard’s 2021 collaboration with Jules Maxwell. It is a piece which seems to soar high whilst diving deep at the same time. An amazing cinematic experience.

5 Hurricane by Grace Jones

I’ve had the deep pleasure of seeing Grace Jones in concert numerous times over the years and her music and live performance is still such an inspiration to me. This song is one of my favourites; a wonderful evocation of life, womanhood and the dramatic power of music.

Candoco Dance Company is celebrating its 30th anniversary season. It will perform at Sadler’s Wells, London, from 16–18 November. candoco.co.uk

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Open city

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1 Dance Me to The End of Love by Leonard Cohen

A beautiful blend of folk music and poetry. Cohen sings about the kind of relentless love we all dream about.

2 Mein Hertz Brenz by Rammstein

The piano instrumental version is my go-to music during an improvisation process. It changes the atmosphere in the studio and provokes invested and emotion-driven dancing.

3 Stabat Matar by Pergolesi

This was the score to the first short choreographic work I made. I remember listening to this on headphones, my first time travelling alone on an overnight ferry from Athens, and looking up at the stars.

4 Creep by Radiohead

My friend and composer Rachael Dease recorded a beautiful cover version of this for our recent creation Here Not Here for Gothenburg Dance Company. This song breaks my heart.

5 Electric counterpoint by Steve Reich

I love the minimalist music movement, and Steve Reich is one of my heroes. My teenage daughter can play this on the saxophone – which makes me very happy.

Maxine Doyle is co-director and choreographer of Punchdrunk’s The Burnt City at One Cartridge Place, London SE18, until 4 December. theburntcity.com

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Life in colour

Dance Gazette

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1 Von deiner Güt from The Creation by Franz Joseph Haydn

I have been rehearsing a very beautiful pas de deux by Uwe Scholz to this music so I have been listening to it over and over. It is emotional and uplifting, and takes you to another place. The choreography and the music work together so well: the choreography enhances the music and the music enhances the beautiful choreography.

2 Prelude from Cello Suite No 1 in G Major by Johann Sebastian Bach

I chose this piece for a contemporary choreography which I was lucky to perform recently at Die Staatstheater Stuttgart. I love Bach and I love the cello. It is so atmospheric, and it makes me want to dance. This prelude has a great beginning and end and lots of light and shade in between. It is a good length for a solo which made it great to choreograph to, but I really like the whole suite.

3 Rain, In Your Black Eyes by Ezio Bosso

I like the rhythm and builds in Ezio Bosso’s music and I used this for my Dancer’s Own solo in The Fonteyn.

4 All She Wrote by Six60

Baz Luhrmann’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. I like listening to New Zealand music when relaxing as it reminds me of home and it is really good. Six60 is great (I’m also a big fan of Lorde).

5 Easy On Me by Adele

This is number one at the moment. Epic singer and epic song.

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Play it cool

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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

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Feel it

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1 Beep Me 911
by Missy Elliott ft. 702 & Magoo

Anything by Missy and Timbaland is a definite for me. I think it’s the high-hat rhythm, but it’s infectious and makes me feel so good! I start moving in mysterious ways and instantly imagine myself being this badass street/hip-hop dancer. Living my dreams with this one.

2 Jamming
by Bob Marley

A completely different groove, but this song makes me feel so rooted and spacious in my body and soul. I love love love letting go and vibing to this one.

3 Rise Up Riddim 
by Ayanna Witter-Johnson

This tune was born out of a song of mine called Rise Up. It’s an instrumental vibe that takes the heart of Rise Up, a dancehall rhythm and just focus in on the groove. It really lights me up and totally connects me to my body.

4 Tous les mêmes
by Stromae

I absolutely adore the French language and I love Stromae. This song is my favourite of his and totally makes me dance like no-one is watching. There are so many genres all rolled into one. I hear the Caribbean, pop, dance and French chanson all at once – glorious! 

5 U Don’t Know Me
(Like U Used To)
by Brandy

Brandy was one of my RnB sheroes growing up and she’s still a queen! I used to love dancing to this song, and still do today when I want to move and feel good in myself. The beat and syncopation are so strong, it’s hard not to move to it. I would love to hear this performed live with a drum ensemble – incredible! 

Ayanna Witter-Johnson composed the score for
The Global Playground, a production for children and families
by Theatre-Rites at MIF21 from 2–18 July. mif.co.uk

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Tamara Karsavina

Dance Gazette

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