English National Ballet School Celebrates 25 Years

English National Ballet School2013 marks the 25th anniversary of English National Ballet School, to be celebrated by a series of events which showcase the skills and talents of the students. The events will kick off with a 90 minute live broadcast from the School on 28 November, during which audiences will have a unique insight into a day in the life of the students. Also included in the broadcast will be an interview with Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of English National Ballet, with the School being a common feeder for the main company.

As the official School of English National Ballet, the School and the Company continue to work together. The 2012 launch of the ‘My First…’ series of ballets created for children has seen the students appear in principal roles, a great taster of what is required and what may be to come. By inspiring a new generation of young dancers, My First is making ballet accessible for very young children: over 100,000 children and their families nationwide have watched the first two productions.

The School was founded in 1988 by Peter Schaufuss, Artistic Director of London Festival Ballet (renamed English National Ballet in 1989), with just twelve students. His ambition was to produce dancers trained in the Company’s unique style: the School proved successful. Today, the School operates in the same way, with a student body of just 35 young dancers. Currently a third of the English National Ballet dancers are graduates of the School ranking from Corps de Ballet up to Principal dancers, having graduated from the 3 year diploma in Professional dance accredited by Trinity College, London. 55% of the current first year students are home grown British talent and a strong employment record is maintained, with many graduated students now working in major ballet companies worldwide.

The Royal Opera House Ballet Series

The Royal BalletThe Royal Ballet has recently hit cinemas all over America and is continuing to do! Select cinemas throughout the United States will present the 2013 ‘Royal Opera House Ballet Series,’ featuring 3, one-night-only screenings of the new Don Quixote staged by and starring Carlos Acosta, Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Peter Wright’s classic production of The Nutcracker. High definition cameras are used to film the performances, which provide multiple points of view including close-ups and wide shots with a Royal Opera House production truck transmitting the live feed via satellite to the US.

Don Quixote

Inspired by the adventures of Cervantes’ bumbling knight, Don Quixote tells the tale of Kitri (danced by Marianela Nuñez), her sweetheart the barber Basilio (danced by Carlos Acosta), and their adventures as they attempt to avoid Kitty’s father Lorenzo’s attempts to marry her off to the rich Gamache.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Pre-recorded in April 2013 and starring Sarah Lamb, Alice encounters out of the ordinary characters down the rabbit hole, including the Queen of Hearts, who performs her own version of the Rose Adagio from The Sleeping Beauty, to dancing playing cards and a tap-dancing Mad Hatter.

The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker is an essential part of Christmas for audiences everywhere, despite the many versions available. The classic tale is suitable for all ages and loved by many. Originally seen at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in 1984, this production by Peter Wright is grand with elaborate costumes, a large cast, and one awe-inspiring Christmas tree.

NYCD To Work With Akram Khan

National Youth Dance CompanyThe National Youth Dance Company is an exciting new company, as part of Sadler’s Wells, that aims to create and perform innovative and influential youth dance. It has announced that it will be working with Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist and acclaimed choreographer Akram Khan as next guest Artistic Director. Following the company’s work with similarly celebrated choreographer Jasmin Vardimon, 30 new members will joining the current company to present a new work specifically created for NYDC; the piece will receive its world premiere on 16 April 2014 at Sadler’s Wells. The new work will be performed as part of a double bill that will feature a reworked excerpt of Khan’s Vertical Road.

The newly recruited members were selected from sixteen workshops held in 9 different regions across the country, resulting in 20 male and 10 female dancers aged 15 – 19 gaining the privilege to work with award-winning dancer and choreographer Khan. Khan thoroughly enjoys working with young people with passion and ambition. He believes, and rightly so, that the positive role of the arts in our society is fundamental in providing young people with the skills they need to succeed in any walk of life. NYDC is a fantastic opportunity to nurture the next generation of artists and inspire a host of young people to get involved with dance.

Since its inception in 2012 NYDC has seen over 500 young dancers attend 27 workshops across England. Over June and July 2013 NYDC took part in nine performances seen by over 5,000 people in a range of venues, from large scale theatres to site specific outdoor stages, in locations stretching from London to Leeds, Bristol to Kent. Having set a very high standard with their sold out debut performance of Jasmin Vardimon’s (in between), the young dancers of NYDC have shown that they can hold their own alongside established companies on the main stage at Sadler’s Wells.

Khan is one of the most celebrated and respected dance artists today. In just over a decade he has created a body of work that has contributed significantly to the cultural arts in the UK and abroad and his reputation has gained from his imaginative, highly accessible and relevant productions such as DESH, Vertical Road, Gnosis and zero degrees.

Free Events From Rambert On The South Bank

Rambert Dance Company LogoRambert is set to move to its new purpose-built home on the South Bank later this year and joining with music, film, theatre and the visual arts at what will be London’s cultural hub.

To celebrate this the Company will be hosting a series of events showcasing all that Rambert does, connecting people with leading industry professionals from Monday 2 – Saturday 14 December, when Rambert will be inviting the public to explore the state-of-the-art facilities. Visitors will be able to tour the building, watch rehearsals for upcoming performances, observe Rambert’s world class dancers at work in their daily technique class and take part in classes. Workshops will be on offer for people of all ages, experienced dancers and those who are completely new to dance.

The two week programme also includes performances of Artistic Director Mark Baldwin’s The Rite of Spring by the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, concerts by the Rambert Orchestra, and Vintage Rambert, a cross-arts performance piece created in response to Rambert’s Archive by young people aged 16-25. The choreographic process of Baldwin will also be demonstrated as he creates new work in the studio.

The new building project has been over twelve years in development, with construction beginning in November 2011. The site was made available to Rambert by Coin Street Community Builders, one of the UK’s leading social enterprises, in return for a commitment to lead a significant community dance programme in the local area and for the rent of one pair of ballet shoes per year.

All programme events are free, but booking is essential as capacity is limited. They can be viewed online at www.rambert.org.uk/rambert_moves. To book a place on any Rambert Moves event please email moves@rambert.org.uk.

Next Steps For Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures

Matthew Bourne's New AdventuresOne of the most defining choreographers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Matthew Bourne, has revealed his plans to revive his classic productions of The Car Man and Edward Scissorhands. This is addition to opening a new, dedicated rehearsal and studio space for his company New Adventures which currently resides at Sadler’s Wells. This would give the company the opportunity to do much more with their resources, a plan which is hoped to be in place within two years.

As a choreographer who is renowned for his ability to reinvent well-known classics such as his Tchaikovsky trilogy – Nutcracker!, The Sleeping Beauty and the all-male Swan Lake – Bourne is famous for his story-telling. In reviving two more of his older pieces, following his 25th celebrations and the revivals of his very first pieces, Bourne will be able to appeal strongly to young audiences and perhaps even those new to dance in search of alternative productions.

Bourne has been noted to have said that his New Adventures company is also about to enter a period of development and growth over the next two years, which will include the revivals of crowd-pleasing hit shows alongside new large and medium-scale projects. With both The Car Man and Edward Scissorhands, Bourne hopes to excite young people about dance, supporting the fact a recent article online recently claimed that young boys would rather become dancers than take on a role such as a fireman.

Another exciting venture to look forward to for Bourne and New Adventures is as well as rehearsing and workshopping their own shows, Bourne has said a new, potential premises would allow New Adventures to work with emerging choreographers and expand its dance influence considerably. If 2013 wasn’t busy enough for the company, New Adventures is also preparing to launch tours of three shows – Swan Lake, Lord of the Flies and Sleeping Beauty, featuring more than 70 dancers.

Mark Bruce’s Dracula At Wilton’s Music Hall

Mark Bruce Company - DraculaWilton’s Music Hall is the oldest surviving Victorian music hall in London. Set down a little alley in east London, Wilton’s is just a little door in the wall, but step inside and you are greeted with a step back into the capital’s history. Wilton’s Music Hall is a grade II listed building, now a more general-purpose performance space for original theatre.

Wilton’s was the choice venue for the Mark Bruce Company’s production of Dracula, touring the UK throughout October. First published in 1897, Dracula is a gothic Victorian tale of unsettling happenings surrounding the existence of Count Dracula, fitting for the music hall. For the Mark Bruce Company,Dracula was superbly danced by ex-Rambert dancer Jonathan Goddard, now part of the Goddard-Nixon pairing and the New Movement Collective.

Goddard ripped his way through the role, portraying the Count as a desperate and lonely sufferer, smothered constantly by three vampire brides. For Bruce his stories are usually ones of psychological intrigue, managing to get under the skin of his audiences and disturb their preconceptions. For his tour of Dracula, Bruce succeeded again through various uses of stereotypical vampire imagery, made literal by employing garlic, crosses and stakes through the heart to extinguish one, yet all led the audience to the bigger picture of both Victorian society and and the preconceptions of such gothic goings-on.

The company of dancers were a credit to Bruce, thoroughly convincing in emotional, and at times psychotic, performances, as humans, animals and vampires. As a dance production, Dracula was a success, with a group of scores that merged perfectly with Bruce’s apt movement vocabulary. Goddard was transformed into a mostly human Dracula, and back again to his immortal form, constantly running, and running on emptiness.

Spotlight On Peggy Lyman Hayes

Peggy Lyman HayesPeggy Lyman Hayes danced with the Martha Graham Dance Company from 1973 to 1988, featuring in works including Lamentation, Frontier and Acts of Light. She is one of the master instructors at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York and is currently responsible for restaging Graham’s works for the Martha Graham Trust.

Lyman Hayes is now considered somewhat of an authority on Graham having been a former principal with the Graham company, an instructor and repetiteur for the Trust epitomising a lifelong commitment to dance, and the Graham company in particular. 2013 marks Lyman Hayes’ 40th anniversary with Martha Graham and she has been honoured by the Martha Graham School Scholarship Luncheon in New York City, an important annual benefit event for the School, with proceeds supporting the School’s Scholarship Fund.

The teaching career of Lyman Hayes began when she was aged 14, valuing the students’ experience through clear observation, allowing the dancers to explore and develop their technique: Graham has a strong value throughout Lyman Hayes’ teaching. Lyman Hayes has spent much for her adult life sharing this with others, forty years into her association with the company.

Lyman Hayes’ career began performing with ballet companies on Broadway and at Radio City, for example, yet it was when she began training in the Graham technique that she knew it was the technique for her. She discovered that dancing was more than simply moving the appendages, learning the craft of movements such as contraction and release, and learning about the use of the core. It is this physical charisma which Lyman Hayes strives to teach her pupils.

Lyman Hayes celebrates the freedom of the Graham technique, creating a ‘magnetism in the air’ which cannot be taught without emphasising the physicality of the movement, both dramatically and emotionally.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Hofesh Shechter, the next Brighton Festival Director

Hofesh ShechterIconic choreographer Hofesh Shechter has been named as the individual to guest direct Brighton Festival 2014. Running from 3 May to 25 May, the Brighton Festival is an annual mixed arts event that takes place across the city. Whilst full programme details will be announced on 25 February 2014, it is already knowledge that the festival will open with Shechter’s contemporary dance company’s new production, Sun.

Sun has been co-commissioned by Brighton Festival and runs from May 3 at the festival, marking the end of the production’s world tour. Shechter, who is also a composer and musician, is one of the most important choreographers of the twenty-first century, creating many innovative works for his dance company. This is in addition to that for the U.Dance youth company as part of Youth Dance England’s U.Dance 2012 festival at the Southbank Centre last year. Meanwhile, Sun features 14 dancers and a soundtrack composed by Shechter himself, embodying the piece entirely.

The Hofesh Shechter Company was named the first resident company of Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival in 2008, so it is now fitting that 2014 will see Shechter direct the festival. Since 2008 his dance company has been commissioned by Brighton Festival to create works including Shechter’s cornerstone piece Political Mother. Shechter has expressed his fondness of the seaside town as a place where one can develop and grow artistically as an important thing.

The Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival is renowned for having an inspiring, energising and encouraging arts quality, something with Shechter has valued over the last five years. After such a successful time as part of the festival in the past, it seems a natural progression for Shechter to work closer with the festival as a director.

American Ballet Theatre’s Project Plié

ABT LogoAmerican Ballet Theater has announced a diversity programme in beginning a partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and regional ballet companies across the country in order to increase the number of minority dancers. Project Plié will offer scholarships to talented young dancers and train dance teachers who work in underrepresented groups and communities, boosting diversity within ballet to reflect the US population.

ABT Soloist Misty Copeland has become the face of the new national initiative following appearances in a Diet Dr. Pepper advert – her stretches and pirouettes viewed almost half a million times on YouTube – and in magazines such as New York, Forbes, and Essence. These have hooked fans from outside the ballet world: ultimately, the company hopes to attract not only more dancers, but also more audience members from minority groups. Copeland values her commercial opportunities which enable her to present ballet as a mainstream not just in a grand theatre where young aspiring children may not have the chance to gain inspiration from ballet dancers’ work.

Project Plié will not just be taking steps to encourage broader participation in classical ballet but also addressing the issue of training access, which can be limited for children by cultural, economic and geographic factors. Project Plié aims to find the next Misty Copeland how she was discovered: by participating in Boys and Girls Club activities when a local dance teacher came to offer free classes, Copeland’s physique was noted and encouraged to begin studying ballet, aged 13. This is considered late by balletic standards yet Copeland had entered American Ballet Theatre’s corps de ballet by 19.

One-hour presentations will be launched at select Boys and Girls Clubs around the country with an introduction to ballet and hands-on play with pointe shoes and tutus, followed by a movement class. Children of high potential will be identified and eligible for one of 10 scholarships that could cover costs such as classes, shoes and transportation, for a year of study with an ABT-certified teacher in their area. Upon completion, those students will be eligible for scholarships to ABT’s Young Dancer Summer Workshop.

Matthew Golding – New For The Royal Ballet

The Royal BalletMatthew Golding, Principal dancer with Dutch National Ballet, is set to join The Royal Ballet as a Principal in February 2014. The Canadian dancer has recently appeared on London soil during English National Ballet’s run of Swan Lake earlier this year in which Golding’s ‘dance’ acting, or lack of, was scrutinised by critics. An expansive dancer with exceedingly long legs, Golding is seemingly the mute prince, unable to express himself through the choreography.

Despite this, Golding’s first performance with The Royal Ballet will be in The Sleeping Beauty later this season, partnering new addition Natalia Osipova on 27 March. Osipova is arguably the coup of the pair of dancers for The Royal Ballet, with her fiery passion and outstanding technical ability. Not to say Golding is without these traits, simply the ability to narrate through his facial expressions.

Golding trained at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Universal Ballet Academy in Washington D.C. In 2002, he was awarded the Grand Prix from the Youth American Ballet Competition and received a prize scholarship at The Prix de Lausanne to attend The Royal Ballet School. Following his studies there he graduated in 2003 and went on to join American Ballet Theatre. He then made the move to Dutch National Ballet in 2009.

Golding made his UK debut with The Royal Ballet last Season in which he danced as a Guest Artist, partnering Zenaida Yanowsky in La Bayadére. The roster of Principal dancers at The Royal Ballet is without a doubt impressive, yet is rivalled considerably by that of English National Ballet. Artistic Director Tamara Rojo – taking on the role following her Principal contract with The Royal Ballet – has done much to build the company up to an even higher status than it held under previous director Wayne Eagling, and looks set to achieve even more before the year is out.