On my radar: Arlene Phillips

The choreographer and former Strictly Come Dancing judge selects her cultural highlights, from ancient art to the latest circus tricks
Arlene Phillips, choreographer
Arlene Phillips, choreographer. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the
Arlene Phillips, choreographer. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the
Sat 2 Feb 2013 05.00 EST

Choreographer Arlene Phillips is best known for judging BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing, but found fame with 1970s dance troupe Hot Gossip and has worked on numerous films and stage shows, including recent productions of Saturday Night Fever and The Wizard of Oz. While growing up in Manchester she studied ballet, but when she moved to London she fell in love with modern American jazz dance and began teaching at Pineapple Dance Studios. After departing Strictly in 2008 Phillips judged So You Think You Can Dance? and created a series of children's books. She has also produced Midnight Tango, a dance show starring Strictly Come Dancing professional dancers, which is at the Phoenix theatre, London.


Ice Age Art, British Museum until 26 May

radar ice age
Female figure sculpted from steatite. Photograph: RMN/Jean-Gilles Berizzi

When people realise how old the pieces on display are, their minds will be blown. It looks like it will be the most extraordinary exhibition. Among the artworks there is a figure carved from soapstone that is 20,000 years old and yet is obviously a model for the large, incumbent, shapely women created by Rubens and Henry Moore.


Hyde Park on Hudson

radar Hyde Park On Hudson - 2012
Bill Murray in Hyde Park on Hudson. Photograph: Snap Stills/Rex Features

I saw this beautiful film in a very small private cinema in Toronto. Set in 1939 when King George VI visited the US for the first time and was invited to Franklin D Roosevelt's house in upstate New York, it shows the remarkable way in which these two men became close friends. There is a touching moment when King George is made to eat a hotdog and he is told in no uncertain terms that it would be beneath him, but he does, and from that moment he is welcomed into American society.


Your Song by Elton John

radar elton john
Elton John performs live in 1973. Photograph: ITV/Rex Features

I am about to go into a workshop for a possible musical about the disco era, so at the moment I am listening to and reading the lyrics from masses of 1970s pop music. Bizarrely, Elton John is what sticks in my mind most. I've realised how theatrical his music is, but also how intriguing the lyrics are. Your Song is a great example: "If I were a sculptor, but then again no… " The song invites you to imagine, to feel something.


Kooza, Cirque du Soleil, Royal Albert Hall, London until 14 February

radar Kooza
Kooza, performed by Cirque du Soileil. Photograph: Alastair Muir/Rex Features

Supposedly they've gone back to the origins of clowning, but for me it was far too lengthy. However, there was a circus act that I have never ever seen anything like before. It was pure art. Called the wheel of death, it involved two boys skipping on top of a pair of wheels as they rotated, somersaulting and jumping with no harnesses or safety nets. The speed that the wheels turned at was incredible – the boys looked like little hamsters going round and round. I was hoarse from screaming with delight. It was worth sitting through all the clowning for that moment.


An English Affair by Richard Davenport-Hines

radar Christine Keeler
Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davies. Photograph: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORB

In the 1960s everybody knew about Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies. No matter what class people belonged to, they were talking about these two young girls who had become mixed up in the Profumo affair. Extraordinary times. Davenport-Hines's book makes a fascinating read because it explores who did what to whom, describing the roles played by characters from all sections of society, including the physiotherapist Stephen Ward, who introduced the home affairs minister John Profumo to Keeler, and Peter Rachman, a notorious landlord, in these scandalous events .


A Clockwork Orange, Soho Theatre

radar clockwork
A Clockwork Orange. Photograph: Tristram Kenton

Directed by Alexandra Spencer-Jones, this was an all-male production with a mix of actors and dancers – many of whom doubled up roles – staged in a black box with few props and simple costumes. It told Anthony Burgess's violent story using movement, drama and a combination of classical and contemporary music (the Beethoven was there of course) to make the brutality appear beautiful. The fights were done through dance and therefore the horror was transformed into something you could watch without being disgusted. It felt like a nightmare passing through your mind.

comments (0)

Sign in or create your account to join the discussion.

comments (0)

Sign in or create your account to join the discussion.