It’s safe to say that 2016 wasn’t kind to the world of culture. In a year of blow after blow to the pantheon of iconic cultural stars, the passing of two more bright lights – Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds – left the arts world reeling once more. 2017 brings with it a new hope that we’ve left the curse of the past year behind us – at least in the world of art, dance, and theatre (the political climate of course is quite another matter). A brand new year means brand new shows and exhibitions to look forward to; in less than a week the first tickets for Hamilton will be put on sale, just as the cast of Lin Manuel Miranda’s other great musical In the Heights take their final bows in the West End. Hamilton will land in London in October, but before that there’s lots, lots more to get excited about, here are our 3 top picks for this term…

Terrains of the Body | Terrains of the Body | Photography from the National Museum of Women in the Arts

There’s no shortage of the female form in art, from medieval Maddonas to Renaissance goddesses, to Anish Kapoor’s Queen’s vagina on the ground of the Versailles, but in these works womanhood is filtered through the lens of the male gaze. In the art world, women are often portrayed as no more than male fantasies, as Margaret Atwood writes in The Robber Bride, the experience of navigating this world can be a discombobulating experience: “you are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur.” In their haunting collage piece Do Women Have to Be Naked to Get into the Met. Museum the Guerrilla Girls state that whilst 85% of the nudes in the modern art section in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York are female, only 5% are by female artists. This new exhibition staged by the Whitechapel Gallery and The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington is an all-female show exploring womanhood through the mediums of video and photography. The 17 contemporary artists featured include Marina Abhramovic, Anna Gaskell, and Rineke Dijkstra. Their work will present the ‘female body as a vital medium for storytelling, expressing identity and reflecting individual and collective experience’. Where? Whitechapel Gallery When? 18th Jan-16th April 2017 How Much? Free





London is rarely without a performance of Hamlet on one its stages. Almeida’s staging features Andrew Scott (of Moriarty fame) in his first performance in the role. Director Robert Icke is known for his startling updates on classic works. His last work at the Almeida was Chekov’s Uncle Vanya whose star, Jessica Findlay Brown, returns in his Hamlet as Ophelia. Icke’s plays skewer audience perceptions and expectations and challenge them to consider seminal works of literature as starkly modern and relevant commentaries. When he staged 1984 at the Almeida in 2014 in our modern world of constant surveillance a few years ago, a couple of audience members fainted during the torture scenes, though the stage was dark and nothing was shown. In an interview with The Financial Times earlier last year, he spoke of what compels him to reinvent classics to inject them with such vital and present energy, in Hamlet Icke wants to ask “to sit there in 1599 and watch this play that speaks directly to your anxiety: what does that feel like?” Where? Almeida Theatre When? 17th February-8th April 2017 How Much? from £10

Ballet Black

A single trip to any of the ballet productions being staged in London every day can make it abundantly clear how great the lack of diversity is in the ballet world. Why this should be so has its roots in economic inequality, lack of representation and the ever-present spectre of entrenched racism. In March, the Barbican will be hosting Ballet Black, a small company for international dancers of black and Asian descent for the second time. Since its founding in 2001, the troupe has been critically acclaimed, winning the 2012 Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Best Independent Company. Led by artistic director Cassa Pancho, the classically trained troupe have been roundly lauded for their virtuoso performances of original choreography. Their second Barbican show will once again be a triple bill of original performances each with a different choreographer. Martin Lawrance and Michael Corder will create edgy, abstract performances to sumptuous orchestral music, while in the third, South Bank Sky Arts Award-winner Annabelle Lopez Ochoa adapts Little Red Riding Hood as a surprising, chilling, feminist ballet. Where? Barbican When? 2nd-3rd March 2-17 How Much? from £16