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.

New English Ballet Theatre

Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/

New English Ballet Theatre is a new company formed by director, choreographer and dancer Karen Pilkington-Miksa for recent graduates of dance training programmes in 2010, hiring dancers for a period of 3 months and commissioning new works for an annual programme. The company offers 20 young dancers an opportunity to tour their ballet shoes professionally and to work with established choreographers including English National Ballet’s former Artistic Director Wayne Eagling, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Michael Corder and English National Ballet’s emerging choreographer Jenna Lee.

Of the 200 young dancers graduating from ballet schools every year, only four are selected by main companies; New English Ballet Theatre provides dancers at the start of their career the chance to dance principal roles, be they tutu-clad or tunic-and-tights. In their recent programme Synergies at the Peacock Theatre, 4 of the 9 contributing choreographers to the repertoire were female, which is a rare occurrence. Having the opportunity to choreograph, for both males and females, is a promising signal that the arts are continuing to flourish and succeed, especially considering the loss of Arts Council funding by so many dance organisations.

New English Ballet Theatre itself has no funding, but boasts a patron list that includes Carlos Acosta, Marianela Nuñez, Mara Galeazzi, Darcey Bussell and Wayne Eagling, in addition to support from Sadler’s Wells as a platform which is celebrated internationally. The company champions young dancers, choreographers and designers in a huge showcasing of talent and innovative work in its first year of project-based work. With dancers who have trained at esteemed dance training schools and conservatoires such as the Rambert School, London Studio Centre, English National Ballet School and the Conservatorio Professional de Danzxa in Seville, New English Ballet Theatre aims to give emerging young artists a full professional experience rather than touring within a school environment, such as Ballet Central or Ballet West. Through the company’s environment, the dancers are keen to bring classical styles to a much wider and less conservative audience as those involved try new things and experiment for the dance world.