Thursday, 30 July 2015

Igone on Pointe




"Igone" is of course Igone de Jongh, one of three female principals with the Dutch National Ballet. I have only seen her on film up to now coaching Martin ten Kortenaar and YuanYuan Zhang in the pas de deux from the white act in Swan Lake but maybe I shall be lucky enough to see her in the flesh at the Gala on the 8 Sept.

The film is in Dutch but there are English subtitles. De Jongh talks about her first time on pointe as a little girl. She also tells us how she feels wearing pointe now. Apparently they give her a sense of freedom. They are an extension of her limbs,

The film also introduces the company's shoe manager who describes his job and its many responsibilities. Each female dancer has her own shoes and often her own shoemaker and these have to be registered and tracked by computer,

Finally, the film shows folk who are prepared to pay good money for used pointe shoes. I'm a great fan of Sarah Kundi of English National, Ruth Brill of Birmingham Royal Ballet, Rachael Gillespie of Northern Ballet and indeed Michaela DePrince of the Dutch National Ballet but I'd draw the line there.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Memory of what could have been





















On 20 June 2015 the Birmingham Royal Ballet celebrated the 25th anniversary of its move to Birmingham and the 20th anniversary of the appointment of its artistic director in Birmingham (see In Praise of Bintley 21 June 2015), Northern Ballet hosted a programme of events called Tell Tale Steps which included a company class, a panel discussion on narrative dance in ballet (see My Thoughts on Saturday Afternoon's Panel Discussion at Northern Ballet 21 June 2015) and English National Ballet presented Choreogaphics Live in London, I lamented at the time at being forced to choose between those three and I did manage to get to the company class and panel discussion in Leeds and the Bintley triple bill in Birmingham (see Three into Two won't go 20 June 2015). The reason I was able to see part of Northern Baller's offering and all of Birmingham Royal Ballet's was that English National Ballet recorded its performance on video which can still be seen on ArtStreamingTV's website and YouTube.

It will come as no surprise to my readers that my favourite work was Memory of what could have been by Renato Paroni de Castro which was danced by Guilherme and Vitor Menezes and Sarah Kundi. I have been following Kundi for a long time and she moves me in a way that no other dancer can. I should explain that I can say the same of other dancers but they move me in a different way. Last year I feared that we would lose her to Spain but thankfully she is now with English National Ballet.

Memory is a very good example of a plotless narrative ballet which was being discussed in Leeds at the very moment that it was being performed in London. This is an interaction between  three dancers - the Menezeses dressed as sailors in summer whites and Kundi in a flowing orange dress. For the first part of the ballet Kundi is detached as the boys complete but this ballet is much more like Christopher Marney's War Letters (in which Kundi has also dancedthan Gene Kelly's On the Town. One of the sailors disappears while the other changes into winter or navy blue uniform. What happened to him? Did the girl in orange simply make a choice or was he lost in action.

This is a haunting work sensitively danced by all three. It is very tense and very taught. Such relief as exists is at the beginning of the work. Though I admired the work I am very conscious that I am missing a lot by viewing it on a lap top rather than in the Lilian Baylis Studio where it was performed.  The video goes on for one and three quarter hours including an interview with Tamara Rojo at the start. I hope to review the other ballet's presently.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

A Different Kind of Ballet Class - Emily Talks at Hype

Sheffield
Author Tpxpress
Source Wikipedia





















Every ballet class that I have ever done, whether in Huddersfield, Leeds, London. Manchester, Sheffield or (half a century ago) St. Andrews, has followed a pattern. Usually there is a warm followed by 20 to 30 minutes barre consisting of pliés, tendus, glissés, ronds de jambe, fondus, cloches and either grands battements or développés, then a port de bras which is my favourite part of the class, followed sometimes by pirouettes (which still defeat me), sautés, grands jetés  or temps levés and cool down. We did most of that yesterday as well as several steps that were quite new to me - but in a different way - and it was a lot of fun.

The class took place at Hype in Sheffield which I mentioned in More than just Hype - Beginners and Improvers Classes in Sheffield 14 May 2014. Our teacher was Emily Talks who has been on maternity leave over the last year. Mel had spoken very highly of Emily and I can quite see why. Emily and I had met briefly in August when Mel did her grands battements and we have been friends on Facebook for a while but this was the first time I had taken one of Emily's classes.

It was not a big class. Less than 10 of us. All women except for Ian (the gent I introduced in my review of Hype's Frightnight contribution (seewas Out of this World 3 Nov 2014)). Emily's warm up consisted of getting us to walk in random directions, then backwards trying not to turn round which resulted in my barging into Mel with great velocity, then walking forwards curtseying or bowing to each other as we passed.

Instead of pliés and tendus at the barre Emily called us into the centre and taught us a delightful enchainement consisting of pliés. rises, arms in open 5th, glissé, piqué, point, several steps forward and finally a port de bras all carried off with a smile. She drilled us several times at this exercise until we got it more or less right.

She sent us back to the barre briefly to practise glissés (3 in front followed by a plié, 3 to the side followed by another plié, 3 to the back followed by yet another plié, 3 more to the side followed by a snappy relevé). We did that in both directions a couple of times.

Next we tried fondus in the centre bending our left leg and raising our tight, then our tight raising our left, bending our left and stretching our right, bending once more and balancing on left in relevé running a few steps and balancing on our right legs in third arabesque. We marked it once without music and then with music. We divided into groups and had a go at the exercise several times. We then tried the exercise on the opposite feet. I have had trouble with my right foot for over a year and just can't hold demi-pointe for more than a millisecond which can't have impressed Emily. On the other hand I could make a much better stab at third arabesque balancing on my left leg. Emily drilled us in that exercise several times and I do think I improved slightly. Seeing my struggles Mel slapped me on my back by way of encouragement.

Our last enchainement was a weight shifting exercise for which we were given props. There was a big bag of toys and other goodies on one of the racks from which Emily selected some coloured wands with streamers for each of the women and a Union flag for Ian. My wand had green and white stripes with a green ribbon. The exercise consisted of waving our wands (or flag) in the air from left to right and back again as we shifted our weight from one side to the other pointing our unengaged toe a couple of rapid soutenus waving our wands (or flag) below our tummies, pliés, rising in the air, running (and then for me the new bit) jumping a  rassemblé changing step and direction and ending with our rights arms and wands in the air and our left arms forming a continuous line. Or at least that was the idea. I don't think I ever got there but I did my best. Again, we tried that exercise in groups several times.

Finally. we did some conventional jumping - sautés and changements ending with some temps levés. Again we tried each of those exercises several times.

Then it was all over.

Emily's cool down consisted of some stretches on the floor followed by some stretches on out feet.  We curtseyed to Emily, then to each other and we were on our way.

I don't think a class has ever gone so quickly. I have to think back to my first class with Annemarie to recall one that has been as much fun. The hour was more like a rehearsal than a class. By combining the exercises into enchainements we were able to understand the exercises in the context of a performance. By repeating them more than once each of us we improved a little - or at least (in my case) I thought I did. We were all bouncing and chatting as we exited the studio.

I shall certainly try to return to Sheffield for another of Emily's classes. Unfortunately, I don't know when. Emily's class clashes with meetings of the London Ballet CircleErnst Meisner was the guest last week, Marcelo Gomes the week before that and Li Cunxin is coming next week. There is no way I would miss the opportunity to listen to and afterwards shake hands with them.  Moreover Sheffield is not a city I visit often. Traffic is terrible. Public transport is no better.  Trains from  Brockholes take forever and the tram does not go anywhere near Hype's studio. Off-street parking is outrageous and the council has the cheek to charge £1 for parking outside the Lord Nelson after 18:30. The only reason I was able to take yesterday's class was that I had a business meeting in the city followed by an invitation to the Wong Ting. Nevertheless, I have an incentive to return and return I will just as soon as I can.

Monday, 27 July 2015

If only I were young again - Chantry School of Contemporary and Balletic Arts

























A few days ago I wrote about Serendipity. Chantry Dance Company about which I have written a lot in the past is another example of serendipity. Formed in reaction to a Chinese bureaucrat's unfamiliarity with the concept of freelancing it has become a significant touring company attracting such guest artists as Dominic North whom I last saw in Matthew Bourne's The Car Man (see my review of Chantry Dance's Chasing the Eclipse 26 Sept 2014). The Company has always been engaged in education and indeed it was at one of their workshops that I made their acquaintance in the first place (see Chantry Dance Company's Sandman and Dream Dance 16 May 2015). Now it has put its educational activities on a formal basis by launching the Chantry School of Contemporary and Balletic Arts.

If I were young again with some ability and a vocation for dance (and could not be deterred by Matthew Henley's report that "Most professional dancers ‘earn less than £5k a year’" 24 July 2015 The Stage) this is one school that I would consider very seriously. The reason I would consider it seriously it is that it is run by Rae Piper and Paul Chantry who are young and still on an upward trajectory in their dancing careers. Paul Chantry is also a talented choreographer. The quality of their work has been recognized and rewarded with commissions in Rome, Japan and Covent Garden in the last 9 months alone. The best chance for a young dancer to make a reasonable living out of his or her career would be by taking some tips from Piper and Chantry.

What would give me some hope that I might find work at the end of my course is the curriculum which includes classes in nutrition for the dancer, audition technique and marketing as well as classical and contemporary ballet. modern and contemporary dance and acrobatics. How many other dance schools offer classes in the last skill? The fees at £4,500 a year are not beyond the range of most families and in the few cases where such fees just cannot be raised scholarships and bursaries are available.

If I were the parent of such a young dancer I would encourage him or her to consider the Chantry school because Chantry and Piper are persons of principle. I am not going to embarrass them by repeating their tweets and posts to Facebook but I have noted their posts about such things as literacy and other matters outside dance and strongly approve of them. I love reading about their little dog, about their wonder at their discoveries in Japan and Italy. In Chasing the Eclipse Piper expressed her wonder at the universe with an enormous smile. It is upon her more than any other dancer that I have tried to model myself on the two occasions that I have been inflicted on the paying public. I can imagine her viewing the lakes, mountains and temples and castles of Japan and the ruins and archaeology of ancient Rome with that  same expression of wonder.

The vocational course is just one of the School's activities. There is also an associate programme whose show at Sadler's Wells I reviewed last year (Chantry Dance Associates: Lots of Promise 28 July 2014 ) and a summer school whose award ceremony last year I also attended (see Chantry Dance Summer School 2 Aug 2014). I have already mentioned the workshops in which I have participated and I woukd add that Gita and I are making enquiries with a view to facilitating one in Manchester on a convenient occasion.

This school fills a very obvious need and it deserves to do well. Its programmes have already been successful. I look forward to even more from them as Piper and Chantry develop this activity.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Für Andrea - more Information on 1984




I mentioned my Swiss friend Andrea who is into just about everything except ballet in 1984 on 28 Feb 2015. Last September she emailed me this link with the words: "This is one ballet I might actually want to see." I promised to look out for it and give her the dates as soon as they were announced which is what I din in February.

Now I can give her so much more information because Northern Ballet have recently posted the trailer to YouTube that you see above. They have also posted the story, photos, touring schedule and lots of other information about the ballet to their website. We now know that Tobias Batley and Martha Leebolt will dance Winston Smith and Julia and there will probably be at least one other cast. Also, meine liebe Andrea, Sie haben die Informationen. Wollen Sie diese Ballett sehen? Oder nicht?

I had some misgivings about whether Orwell would translate into dance but it is the same choreographer who made us laugh at Albert and the Lion in Sapphire. If anyone can pull this off it is Jonathan Watkins. So we await the first performance with bated breath. Where next for Watkins and Northern Ballet? Wigan Pier perhaps.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Revisiting Kenya with Obama




President Obama's visit to Kenya has reminded me of Mike Wamaya's ballet classes in one of the toughest districts of Nairobi. I wrote about them in What can be achieved by a good teacher 3 March 2013 and Back to Africa 7 Jan 2015. I have found an interview with this remarkable teacher with this video of some of his students on the International Performers Aid trust website.

In his interview Wamaya says:
"Since the set up of Anno’s Africa in Kenya seven years ago, we have experienced significant results. The children now find school fun and by this their levels of concentration while studying have gone up. The program explores their individual human potential and creativity in a much broader sense; who they are, what they think and believe, what they want for their futures. This has brought a lot of confidence and self-esteem in them."
It is clear from the interview that Wamaya's students have learned some valuable lessons from his classes quite apart from pliés and tendus. 

According to the About IPAT page of its website "the International Performers’ Aid Trust is a charity created for the relief of poverty amongst people involved in the performing arts in distress in all parts of the world."  It supports projects in Africa, Asia, South America, Europe and the Middle East, Mike Wamaya's classes seem to be its only dance project.

Unless a student from Sub-Saharan Africa leaves for an advanced country at a very young age it is hard to see how he or she could make a career in ballet. There are very few schools and even fewer companies between the Mediterranean and the Cape and the few that do exist are concentrated in South Africa. But Africa is changing. It is becoming more prosperous and greater prosperity will provide a market for the performing arts. Even if few of Wamaya's students make it on stage a fair proportion of them should be able to afford the best seats in the auditorium and thereby provide a market for the next generation.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Triple Celebration




Ballet Cymru is not one of the biggest national ballet companies in the world but it is certainly one of the most appealing. Today it welcomes Marc Brew as its associate artistic director. I featured him in my article Special Brew after I had seen his Exalt for Scottish Ballet and Indepen-dance 4 (see No Mean City - Accessible Dance and Ballet 26 April 2015.

Brew's first work for Ballet Cymru as assistant artistic director will be Traces Imprinted which will be premièred at Newport on 6 Nov 2015. This work will be performed with TIR to the beautiful singing of Cerys Matthews and Catrin Finch's Celtic Concerto.

If you want to see the première in Newport here is the link to the Riverside Theatre. The company will perform the same programme in Llandudno and Sadler's Wells which s where I shall try to catch them.

Matter on DePrince

Michaela DePrince at Danceworks ib 7 July 2015
Photographer Jordan Matter
Copyright 2015 Jordan Matter
All rights reserved









































On 7 July 2015, Michaela DePrince, now a coryphée with the Dutch National Ballet, gave a master class at Danceworks. Ciara Sturrock attended the class and wrote a note of her experience which I incorporated into my article Michaela's Masterclass 8 July 2015.

The well known American photographer Jordan Matter was in the studio and he photographed Michaela as she taught. Yesterday Danceworks sent me one of his photos and gave me permission to reproduce it in this post. I must stress that copyright subsists in the photo and no other person may reproduce it without Jordan Matter or Danceworks's consent. I am very grateful to Lesley Osman, general manager of Danceworks, and Jordan Matter for allowing me to publish this work.

If you visit his website you will see that Jordan Matter specializes in photographing dancers. Much of his work is published in book form. Dancers among Us was published by The New York Times last year. It includes my very favourite picture of DePrince. Matter has photographed her in the air wearing cut off jeans and yellow chequered top with her dog in a woodland clearing. Dancers After Dark will be on sale next year. Tiny Dancers Among Us, a portfolio of photographs of younger dancers, will be published in 2017.

Since the master class Michaela DePrince has danced in Cinderella at the Coliseum (see my review Wheeldon's Cinderella 13 July 2015 and Gita's Bend it Like Cinders 18 July 2015). DePrince has also been elevated to coryphée. This is a meteoric rise in that she joined the Junior Company only two years ago. I congratulate her on her promotion and wish her well for the future. 

Many of DePrince's contemporaries in the Junior Company have also done well and I mentioned their successes in The Junior Company One Year On 18 July 2015. Ernst Meisner, the artistic co-ordinator of the Junior Company spoke to the London Ballet Circle on 20 July 2015. As a consequence of Ernst Meisner's visit plans are being drawn up to set up a British Friends of the Dutch National Ballet . I hope it will lead to even more opportunities to bring DePrince and the Company's other beautiful dancers to this country. 

My next opportunity to see DePrince and those other dancers on stage will come with the opening gala on 8 Sept. 

I have written a lot of articles on DePrince over the last two years and you will find links to most of them at Michaela DePrince at TEDx Amsterdam 28 Nov 2014.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Queensland Ballet's La Sylphide - Why it is so special





In Looking Forward to 2015 - My Choices 29 Dec 2014 I singled out the Queensland Ballet's La Sylphide as one of the likely highlights for 2015. I bought my ticket for the show nearly a year ago.

I did so for three reasons.  The first and most important is that La Sylphide is one of the oldest and most beautiful ballets in the modern repertoire but it is one that is performed relatively rarely in this country and much less frequently than Giselle. As I wrote in December:
"La Sylphide is not a ballet that we see very often in this country which is strange because it is set in Scotland. It is much less creepy that Giselle though it does have a witch and sylphs. The costumes are gorgeous: colourful tartan for the men and flowing white romantic tutus for the women. Løvenskjold's score is not quite as well known as Adam's but it is not bad. This year we shall have a taster when principals and soloists of the Royal Danish Ballet visit the Peacock on the 9 and 10 Jan 2015 and then the real McCoy in August when the Queensland Ballet come to the Coliseum."
I saw the Danes when they were in London and my appetite for this show was well and truly whetted by them (see Royal Danish Ballet Soloists and Principals in celebration of Bournonville 11 Jan 2015). For those who don't know the story or history of the ballet there is a useful synopsis  and history on the Queensland Ballet's website. It is worth mentioning that this is the first ballet in which dancing on pointe was incorporated into the choreography (see Wikipedia).

The second reason why I look forward to this show is that the Artistic Director of the Queensland Ballet is Li Cunxin. This remarkable man has excelled n two careers: first as a dancer and artistic director and, secondly, as a stockbroker. A story of his life has been made into the film Mao's Last Dancer  which I saw earlier this year. Li Cunxin will be the guest of the London Ballet Circle on the 3 Aug 2915.

My third reason is a personal one and that this is the company of the teacher who coaxed me back to ballet many years after my last ballet lesson.  As I wrote in Looking Forward to 2015 - My Choices:
"The visit of the Queensland Ballet excites me for another reason. My dear ballet teacher Fiona Noonan, who put me on my feet with ballercise and then coaxed me into ballet just over 2 years ago, trained in Brisbane. She demands the best from her students and we strive to give it to her though I fear I do not always succeed. The name of the company's ballet school - the Queensland Dance School of Excellence - typifies its aspiration."
I am very grateful to Fiona Noonan for raising my confidence and technique to the level that I could contemplate taking classes with Annemarie Donoghue at Northern Ballet two years ago.  I still take Fiona's classes at Huddersfield University most Wednesday evenings.  Taking up ballet again very late in life has been an enormous comfort to me over the last few years.

I hope that the Queensland Ballet enjoys its season at the Coliseum and that they will return regularly and frequently. I also hope that Li Cunxin gets a good audience for his talk on 3 Aug.  It will take place at the Civil Service Club in Great Scotland Yard at 19:30 on 3 Aug 2015. The Club is close to Embankment and Charing Cross underground stations. It is next door to the Nigerian embassy which is a good landmark if you come from Northumberland Avenue.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

British Friends of the Dutch National Ballet

Yesterday Ernst Meisner was the guest of the London Ballet Circle. Meetings of the Circle are conducted under something like the Chatham House Rule so I can't tell you who was present or what was said at the meeting but I don't think I would breach the Rule by discussing what happened immediately before and immediately after the meeting.

Before the meeting members of the audience were asked how many had attended the Junior Company's season at the Linbury in June and the Dutch National Ballet's Cinderella earlier this month. In each case a forest of hands arose indicating the enormous affection that British ballet goers have for the Company and indeed for Ernst personally.

As I was about to leave the venue a gentleman introduced himself to me as a friend of Ernst. He told me that Ernst had told him about this blog and my support for the company and that he would like to set up a British chapter of the Friends of the Dutch National Ballet on the lines of the American Friends of Covent Garden.  Of course, everyone on Team Terpsichore thought that this was a great idea and I volunteered to write about it.

The first thing to note is that there is already an organization called the Friends of the Dutch National Ballet (Vrienden van Het Nationale Ballet) and I have been a member of it for just over a year. Subs are 50 euros a year and members get a magazine in Dutch several times a year as well as opportunities to attend overseas tours and special events. Dutch is not a language that is taught in British schools but it is so closely related to English and German that an educated and intelligent English speaker can easily get the gist of most of the articles. I think anyone on the UK who wishes to support the Dutch National Ballet should be encouraged to join the Friends as a first step.

But there is no reason why British Friends should not form a sub-group within the organization. We could, for example, arrange group tours to the Stopera, hold meetings when one of the principals or choreographers visits the UK, translate particularly interesting articles from the magazine into English and perhaps provide some additional practical and financial support of our own. The London Ballet Circle has recently raised funds to send a student from the English National Ballet School to the Amsterdam summer school. We could do the same for another student or possible provide a scholarship for a student at the National Ballet Academy in Amsterdam to come here.

I hope that any British support group would link the National Ballet to the whole UK and not just London. Just before Sapphire I met Kenneth Tindall who told me that he admired the Dutch National Ballet and particularly the Junior Company and that he looked forward to working with some of its dancers one day. That is exactly the sort of collaboration that a British supporters group could facilitate. It would be great if we could bring some talented young dancers from the Netherlands to Leeds, Birmingham, Glasgow and Newport as well as London and vice versa.

If anyone wants to run with this idea please contact me through this blog, Facebook or twitter and let's see what we can do.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

The Junior Company One Year On

Michaela DePrince  "A Million Kisses to my Skin"
Photographer  Angela Sterling
Copyright 2015 Dutch National Ballet
All rights resered
Reproduced with kind permission of
Richard Heiderman, press manager of the company












































The idea of recruiting 12 of the world's best young dancers, training them for stardom in a special Junior Company within the Dutch National Ballet and giving them stage experience in venues throughout the Netherlands is an exciting one. It has already injected exceptional talent into the Dutch National Ballet such as Michaela DePrince, who entered the Junior Company 2 years ago and leapt from élève (equivalent to apprentice in a British company) to coryphée in a single year. 

The Artistic Coordinator of the Junior Company is Ernst Meisner and I featured him and the Company in Meet Ernst Meisner and his talented young dancers 6 Dec 2014. In Ernst Meisner’s Work with the Dutch National Ballet 2 Dec 2014 Ernst explained how the Junior Company came to be formed. In The Junior Company 3 Dec 2014 he said a little bit more about the Company and his work with the dancers.

Tomorrow, Monday the 20 July 2015, Ernst will be the guest of the London Ballet Circle. He will speak to the Circle at the Civil Service Club, 13-15 Great Scotland Yard, London SW1A 2HJ at 19:30. The meeting is open to the public. Members of the Circle are admitted for £5. Everybody else will pay £8. The Club is located almost next door to the Nigerian high commission which is at the corner of Great Scotland Yard and Northumberland Avenue. The nearest underground stations are Charing Cross (Bakerloo and Northern lines) and Embankment (District and Circle).

Martin ten Kortenaar who joined the Junior Company only last year has entered the corps de ballet. So, too, has Nancy Burer who danced the Balinese role so beautifully in Cinderella last week (see Wheeldon's Cinderella 13 July 2015. Nathan Brhane,  Wentao Li, Daniel Montero and Sho Yamada, who joined the Junior company in 2013 are now élèves. So, too, are Riho Sakamoto and
Yuanyuan Zhang who entered the company last year. Thomas van DammeLisanne Kottenhagen, Antonio Martinez, Cristiano Principato and Emiie Tassinari remain with the Junior Company.

According to their Facebook pages, Bart Engelen whose struggle with the pillow to the tune of the Dance of the Knights from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet in Siderova's Full Moon was unforgettable (see The Dutch National Ballet Junior Company's best Performance yet 8 Feb 2015) has joined the Norwegian National Ballet and Veronika Verterich the mighty Stuttgart Ballet. A mention on Ernst's Faceook page suggests that Ryosuke Morimoto has gone to Hungary, presumably the Hungarian National Ballet.

I should like to congratulate all those dancers on their promotions, appointments and contract renewals and wish them all the best for the future,

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Bend it like Cinders - My Take on Cinderella





















I saw the evening performance of Cinderella by the Dutch National Ballet's at the Coliseum on 11 July 2015 and loved it. I am aware that not everyone did but I can't see why because for me it was magical.  The dancers were as light as chiffon ribbons. The sets and lighting were ingenious. The costumes were gorgeous. Anna Tsygankova was my idea of Cinderella and Matthew Golding was the perfect prince.

I have been shown some of the criticism of the Dutch production on BalletcoForum and I actually overheard a conversation in which someone boasted of having walked out of the theatre at the first interval because she had better things to do like watch television. What a waste if true! And what nonsense! As for the milder criticism on BalletcoForum I do not see how anyone could have been bored by stars like Golding or Tsygankova and I cannot understand comments that the performance was vulgar or that it was not like Ashton's.

I have not seen quite so many versions of Cinderella as Jane (see the first paragraph of her review of Wheeldon's Cinderella 13 July 2015) and in particular I have not seen Ashton's but I do not believe that all new versions of Cinderella have to be like Ashton's to be great.  If all new work in ballet were compared to the those in the past, where would innovation and creativity lie?  Where would be the opportunities for choreographers to explore classic themes with their dancers and add value to them?  I have seen Nixon's for Northern Ballet and Matthew Bourne's as well as Wheeldon's and I enjoyed all three.   All were different but all were good in their own way.  I have yet to see Ballet Cymru's version and I learned that Christopher Hampson is working one for Scottish Ballet at the panel discussion on 20 June 2015. I hope to see that too.

Perhaps the reason for my heresy is that I do not consider myself to be a "balletomane" though I do love ballet as I love all the performing arts. I think the word balletomane must have been coined by Arnold Haskell in his book Balletomania : the story of an obsession which was published in 1934. Now how can anyone take pride in an obsession? I would be worried if I believed that I was succumbing to any sort of mania,

The story of Cinderella has a special resonance for me as it does for many British Asians. We are, of course, brought up on the Western version of the story at primary school and on television like everybody else but we also have our own ancient equivalent of the story which is derived from Sanskrit verse. In our version Cinderella is called Shakuntala. Here is a summary that I found in Indian Cinderella - History for Kids. There are also too many Indian women and indeed women in this country of Indian and Pakistani heritage who are real Cinderellas in that they are brought up in the shadow of their brothers and after marriage their husbands and are thereby denied the opportunity in their own right. That is not to say that all arranged marriages are like that. Most develop into very beautiful relationships but I would hate to be married off in my early teens or told that that I could not have a say in choosing my marriage partner as was of the old tradition years ago. 

I digress into Indian culture because earlier in the day I attended the matinee of Bend It Like Beckham at the Phoenix Theatre. Now that is another type of Cinderella story if you care to think of it.



Friday, 17 July 2015

Expressions - some Pictures

Having helped to facilitate the delivery of training services to staff who provide services to disabled persons on behalf of a local authority in a previous career I am very sensitive to such persons rights, dignity and needs. It is for that reason that I wanted to support Expressions. This was an evening of performances by dance groups consisting of or including adults, children and young persons with learning difficulties and other disabilities which was hosted by Northern Ballet. The event was free but I think there should have been an entrance fee as each and every one of the long performances was entertaining, enjoyable and well choreographed. .

Jane my business partner has already described the event and the individual performances which we shared in Expressions 26 July 2015.

After the show I received the following photographs of A Moving Stillness by Northern Ballet's Ability group. The dancers in that performance were Damien Dixon. Leanne Hazelgrove, Emily Kent, Paul Lidgard, Tessa Lightower and Louise Palin.
Pictures taken by Lauren Godfrey





My thanks to Northern Ballet for the pictures and my congratulations to everyone who took part in the show. I hope to see them all again soon.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Expressions

Roundhay Park
Author Chemical Engineer
Source Wikipedia





















Expressions, Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre, 15 July 2015

Expressions is described as "a sharing which brings together inclusive dance groups from the North of England, giving talented dancers with disabilities the chance to showcase their skills to an audience on a professional stage." I have seen inclusive dance before in Llandudno (see An Explosion of Joy 23 Sept 2014) and Glasgow (see No Mean City - Accessible Dance and Ballet 26 April 2015) and had enjoyed the performances very much.  Yesterday's show by 7 dance groups was free but I would gladly have paid to watch it.

The first pieces was by Me2, a dance group for individuals both with and without disabilities between the ages of 11 and 25. It is based in Leeds and meets every Friday during term time between 18:30 and 20:00. Me2 danced Respond which was described as "a new contemporary dance work that highlights [the dancers'] strong sense of group and their ability to be aware and to respond to each other creatively." The group entered pushing one of their number in a chair. Though they stayed together each danced to the music in his or her own way. One young person caught my eye. Just as the group entered the stage a friend from another group wished her luck. She appealed to the crowd to clap her and we all did. She had an infectious smile and she danced exuberantly. At the end of the show she bowed (as did the others) energetically. They all know that they had been a hit but she did particularly.

Mind the Step are a group of  adult dance artists with a range of learning and physical disabilities. They meet every week for an hour long weekly class at Yorkshire Dance. Last year they made a film of their activities called Mind the Step at Yorkshire Dance which has been uploaded to YouTube. I recognized several of the dancers from last night in the film. Last night they danced "Warmth and Togetherness" for us, a work that had been choreographed by Zoe Parker, Louise MacDowell and the dancers themselves. There seemed to be a fair degree of improvisation in this work which gave it some freshness. The dancers performed solos, duets and group works some of which required strength and skill.

Phoenix Dance Theatre has always impressed me for its performances. Yesterday it impressed me even more for its work with its Illuminate Dance group. These are young people aged between 6 and 18 with additional needs. Phoenix offers classes for those kids in three 10 week terms. Last night the group performed Expand which explored the concepts of expansion and contraction. The performers, all of whom danced in Phoenix t-shirts, did their teachers proud. The crowd loved them as did I.

I learned at Llandudno that a wheelchair can be used very effectively in dance. Although I have yet to see him perform on stage I have seen films such as Remember When in which the well known dancer and choreographer Marc Brew shows what can be done with the conveyance. In Motion is Northern Ballet's programme for wheelchair users aged 8 to 19. RAISED is a company of adult dancers with and without disabilities that includes wheelchair users. The Northern Ballet group performed Freedom which had been choreographed by Leanne Kirkham and Sam Carruthers. Both Leanne and Sam keep blogs on their work. The young dancers showed skill in manipulating their vehicles and artistry in their interpretation of the music. RAISED danced Assieme in which the dancers (some with wheelchairs and others without) interacted and collaborated with each other. Zoe Parker who had choreographed Warmth and Togetherness for Mind the Step was one of the choreographers of Assieme. Rachel Fullegar who danced in the piece was the other named choreographer.

The second act consisted of two fairly long pieces. The first was A Moving Stillness by Ability which I mentioned in Northern Ballet's Ability Programme on 15 June 2015. The second was Parked which was danced by Flex Dance which describes itself "as an emerging professional dance company of artists with a learning disability". Both pieces were impressive in that they required considerable skill, stamina, technique and artistry.

A Moving Stillness was inspired by a visit to Leeds Art Gallery. Each dancer developed a phrase in response to a work in the collection. I have recently performed in a work that lasted just over 3 and a half minutes for which the Improvers class of Northern Ballet's Over 55 class (all of whom are able bodied) required nearly 2 months of rehearsals of 30 minutes each. This was a much longer work that required at least as much skill. It was slick and polished and deserved the loud applause that it received.

The last work was centred on a park bench and revolved around the lives and stories of the 3 men and 1 woman on stage. It began with the shout "Story Time" and the dancers bounced on stage with a placard welcoming us to a story. Each story needed a hero but which of them was it to be? There was a romance between the woman and one of the men and there followed a Giselle like plucking of the petals of a flower with the other dancers brandishing heart signs with the words "She loves him" on one side and "She loves him not" on the other. Each of those placards, sign and other props was kept in boxes on the stage and that prompted another theme: "A place for everything and everything in its place". Yet another theme was the changing seasons to which one of the dancers cried plaintively that he didn't like change.  And in winter everything had gone. But not quite everything for he received a letter which seemed to bring good news for away he went.  This last work was a lovely piece but also a difficult one which would have been a challenge for any dancer. Flex Dance were more than equal to that challenge.

Yesterday was as enjoyable an evening as many that I have spent in theatres watching performances by leading dance companies. It is a reminder that dance is for everyone and not just the few who make it through White Lodge, the Upper School and the major ballet companies. It made me very proud to be a Friend of Northern Ballet and the Northern Ballet Academy.

Post Script
Northern Ballet has provided some lovely pictures of Ability's contribution to the evening which Gita has uploaded to Expressions - Some Pictures,

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Inala at the Wells

Sadler's Wells, London
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Inala, Sadler's Wells, 10 July 2015

Isn't it strange that you can see exactly the same show with exactly the same casts in performances just days apart and yet have two completely different experiences.  I saw Inala in Bradford on 25 June 2015 (see Inala at the Alhambra 26 June 2015). I reported that the show was met with "a standing ovation and a lot of whooping and cheering." There was nothing like that when I saw the show again in London on 10 July 2915. A lot of polite, even enthusiastic clapping but a much more restrained reception.

That does not mean that the London audience was any less appreciative. The differences in audience reactions were discussed by Marcelo Gomes in a recent question and answer session. He explained that a quiet audience in Japan is a good sign because everybody is concentrating. In Brazil it is the reverse because a contented audience would be buzzing. London audiences are very undemonstrative compared to those in the North because they think they have seen everything. .

Although I liked Inala when I saw it in Bradford I enjoyed it rather more second time round. There are a number of reasons for that. Having seen the show before I knew what to look out for. Another reason why I liked it better is that I was able to buy a programme in London and could therefore follow the show. A third reason is that I sat in the second circle in Sadler's Wells and could see the the lighting displays and the patterns of the dancing on the stage which I had missed in Bradford because they were not visible from the stalls.

As in Bradford the best part of the show was Ladysmith Black Mambazo's singing. Except for the last one where the singers waved goodbye it was quite impossible to guess the meaning of the songs because they were sung in Zulu. The advantage of the programme is that the "Score" page summarized the songs . Some of those summaries seem very strange to a modern British audience:
All those cattle I used to pay the dowry should be paid back, When will the cows come back again?
That song was answered by
"The cows will be returned. The bridge has failed. They will  be returned. All of them." 
The dancing expressed the music of each song but did not relate directly to their subject matter  and perhaps that was a missed opportunity. A ballet could have been created for each of those songs and individual dancers could have represented a character in the song.  For instance, the theme of Warmuhle Intombi is
"You are so beautiful young lady! It's time to choose the way you go and the one to be with!"
That suggests a pas de deux or perhaps a pas de trois and that may even have been what we got but my recollection of the dancing is that it was all abstract and that all the dances formed one single choreographic piece.

Although the show is marketed as a Zulu ballet it is more musical theatre than ballet. It is an opportunity to hear a beautiful style of singing which is not often heard in this country and to see some exuberant dancing. If you like that sort of thing then this show is for you. But don't go to the show expecting ballet for that is not what you will get.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Wheeldon's Cinderella




Dutch National Ballet, Cinderella, The Coliseum 12 July 2015

When I reviewed Darius James's Cinderella for Ballet Cymru on 15 June 2015 I wrote:
"I have seen a lot of versions of Cinderella over the years: Ashton's of course for the Royal Ballet but also Matthew Bourne's set in wartime London, Nixon's for Northern Ballet and a version danced by the Bristol Russian Youth Ballet Company which starred Elena Glurdjidze (see Good Show - Bristol Russians' Cinderella in Stockport 19 Feb 2014), Until yesterday evening I liked Ashton's version best but now I think I prefer Darius James and Amy Doughty's for Ballet Cymru. Perhaps I will change my mind again when I see Christopher Wheeldon's for the Dutch National Ballet at the Coliseum on 11 July 2015 as it looks lovely in the YouTube trailer, but for now this Welsh Cinderella is my favourite."
Well, guess what. I did fall for Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella on Saturday night. Not that it has surpassed the Welsh version in my affection (for that remains a little gem) but I like it at least as well.

It would be unfair to compare Wheeldon's Cinderella with Darius James's. Wheeldon created his Cinderella for a big national company with a massive cast and the Stopera's cavernous stage. James created his for touring small local theatres by a a limited number of dancers on a fixed budget, It would be like comparing a Mogul miniature with The Night Watch. Both succeed on their own terms. Having said that, I did find more than a few similarities between the two works. Wheeldon, like James, seems to have consulted the Brothers Grimm in creating his ballet for he has also eschewed fairy godmothers and centred his ballet around a tree. Trees together with prologues seem to be something of a Wheeldon trade mark for he did the same in The Winter's Tale (see Royal Ballet "The Winter's Tale" 14 April 2014).  James, however, used birds to rescue Cinderella whereas Wheeldon used spirits, namely those of Lightness, Generosity, Mystery and Fluidity. In fact there were also spirits of another kind for one of the most hilarious scenes of the second act is where Cinderella's stepmother has one glass too many.

The performance that I saw on Saturday had Anna Tsygankova as Cinderella and Matthew Golding as the prince. As for the other major roles, Alexander Zhembrovskyy danced Cinderella's father, Larissa Lezhnina as her stepmother, Wen Ting Guan and Nadia Yanowski as her stepsisters and Remi Wörtmeyer as the prince's friend. I was pleased to see that several members of the Junior Company had been given  significant roles. Emilie Tassinari, for instance, was one of the spirits of lightness, Riho Sakamoto, was one of the bird ladies and Bart Engelen and Veronika Verterich were tree gnomes and Nancy Burer was a Balinese. As it was Michaela DePrince who had originally attracted me to the company I was delighted to see her dance again as one of the ladies of the royal court. It was also good to see James Stout again. He had impressed me in Cool Britannia. He danced one of the four fates.

To my surprise and disappointment this productions had received very mixed reviews on BalletcoForum. One of the subscribers complained of "a really boring evening" and described the "so-called comedy" as vulgar. Linda Morris, who like me has seen a lot of ballet over the years including Ashton's Cinderella, was much more generous. She saw the show on Wednesday evening and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have to admit to a certain bias as a Friend of the Dutch National Ballet but I was pleased to read her concluding sentence:
"And the Dutch National Company is in very fine form if I were a young dancer about to join this Company I'd feel very excited indeed."
That is my view too.

There have to be a number of comic scenes in anybody's version of Cinderella if it is to bear any relationship to the Grimm brothers' tale such as the ludicrous attempts by the stepsisters to force their feet into Cinderella's shoe. I have already mentioned the stepmother's tipsiness at the ball. I thought those scenes were very witty and provided relief from the very sad theme of coping with grief which is, after all, the underlying theme of the story.

I enjoyed the show. I liked Wheeldon's treatment of the story, the dancing, Julian Crouch's designs and Natasha Katz's lighting. I prefer it to The Winter's Tale to which I was indifferent when I first saw it on stage but armed to when I saw it in the cinema and on television. It may be that Wheeldon is an acquired taste and that his critics will come round. I look forward to seeing the show again and I think it will look even better on the stage of the Stopera.

Other Reviews

The Ballet Bag   Six Reasons to love Wheeldon's Cinders  

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Another Slice of Pineapple














In November 2013 I attended Adam Pudney's Elementary Ballet class at Pineapple. I wrote in Pineapple 20 Nov 2013:
"This was the most exhilarating class I have ever taken. It was hard work. When I finally struggled down to the changing room my T-shirt and leggings were as wet as they are when they come out of the wash. It was also demanding. Even the barre work was difficult. The floor work was largely beyond me. But Adam is a wonderful teacher with lots of patience and we all learned something. Even I found myself making turns and jumps that I had never managed in Yorkshire.
 When I took that class in 2013 i had only just started my classes at Northern Ballet. Since then I have had two years with Annemarie Donoghue as well as regular classes with Fiona Nooonan at Huddersfield University and occasional classes with KNT and Chris Hinton-Lewis  and other teachers in Leeds. I am therefore a little more confident but probably not much more competent.

Yesterday I returned to Pineapple for a second class with Adam. I enjoyed it even more than the first one. It began with the basics which is never a bad thing. It then proceeded at a rapid pace through plies, tendus, glisses, ronds de jambe and grands battements followed by quite a challenging port de bras, pas de bourres and jumps.

The great thing about Adam is that he has time for everyone. His classes are not small but he has a word for everyone, a correction here, a compliment there and encouragement for everyone. Embarrassingly he caught me while I was attempting to do a releve on my right foot with my left foot in retire. That foot has been giving me trouble for about a year and I can only rise by pressing on the barre. My left foot is much stronger and I can balance on demi on that foot. However, he was kind but he shared my disappointment.

I had come to London to see the Mark Baldwin's Inala at Sadler's Wells on Friday and the Dutch National Ballet's Cinderella yesterday. I am rarely in London at weekends. I am usually up to my ears in work when I go there on weekdays so it is not easy for me to get to class. Yesterday class with Adam was a real treat.  As big a treat in its own way as Cinderella and Inala.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Jump




Jump is described as "the fan club of Dutch National Ballet" for children. It brings young fans into close contact with their favourite dancers.  Members receive invitations to workshops, guided tours, and other events.  

The website contains information on choreography, music and other matters. There are interviews with the company's dancers photos, and videos.  I have already mentioned Edo Wijnen's video on pirouettes in A Really Useful Video on Pirouettes 22 Nov 2014.

Every year there is a special Dance Day. This year it took place on 27 June 2015 at the Stopera or Music Theatre in Amsterdam which happened to be the day in which I was in town for Cool Britannia (see Going Dutch 29 June 2015. Had I known about it in time I might have taken a luck. That probably explains why they had no Michaela DePrince t-shirts in kids' sizes at the merchandising booth in the evening. I had hoped to get some for Vlad the Lad and my teacher's daughters.

There are some lovely shots of the Stopera in the above video. The Junior Company seems to have given a show. There are shots of Bart Engelen struggling with his pillow to the music of the Dance of the Knights from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet which I am sure the young audiences would have loved (see The Dutch National Ballet Junior Company's best Performance yet 8 Feb 2015).

Although the website is in Dutch there seems to be no reason why kids from other countries should not join it. Membership costs less than a tenner (€12.50  or £8.97) a year, 

Friday, 10 July 2015

Serendipity

Horace Walpole
Artist Rosalba Carriere 
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Northern Ballet School, A Showcase of Dance, The Dancehouse, Manchester 14 July 2015, 19:30

The set text of the English language "O" level paper for the Oxford and Cambridge Board in July 1965 was on the origin of the noun serendipity. It was coined by Horace Walpole to describe the fortune of three princes of Serendip who "were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of”. The word now means "fortunate happenstance" or "pleasant surprise".

A good example of serendipity occurred yesterday evening when I attended KNT Danceworks. I noticed that The Dancehouse  was busy. I asked what was going on and leaned that Northern Ballet School was presenting A Showcase of Dance in the theatre. My class ended at 19:39 so I scurried down to the box office for a ticket.  Save for the pas de trois of Le Cotsaire I think I caught the whole show.

As the programme states, Northern Ballet School in Manchester (not to be confused with Northern Ballet which started life and was based for many years in Manchester very close to where the School is now located) is "an internationally recognized centre of excellence in the training of dancers for classical and musical theatre careers". The School has a company called Manchester City Ballet in which students gain stage experience. Every year, the company stages a full length ballet.  Last year it was The Nutcracker which I reviewed in Alchemy 13 Dec 2014 and its next production will be Giselle between the 10 and 13 Dec 2015.  A Showcase of Dance displays the whole range of the School's activities starting with tutus and pointe shoes in one of Petipa's most popular ballets and ending with the razzmatazz of a West End musical.

The progranme started with Le Corsaire and I caught the pas de deux by Luca di Martino and Sayaka Sagimoto and the pas de six. These are difficult pieces and they were both executed well, This was followed by Earth Song, a contemporary piece on environmental damage and some distressing projections of deforestation and environmental destruction on stage. There was ballet again with Last Promenade to some great cello music which I could not recognize. Everybody recognized the music to Pandora's Box which was the Dance of the Knights from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet. I was reminded of Milena Siderova's Full Moon for Bart Engelen of the Dutch National Ballet (see The Dutch National Ballet Junior Company's best Performance yet 8 March 2015) except this was a fight between Alexander Smith and some shadowy caped and hooded figures over a sinister looking box, It was impressively staged and very dramatic. Eye of Horus was also mysterious but much softer with haunting Middle Eastern music. A pretty duet by Carlos Oliviera and Peri La Riche to The Sound of Music followed. Then there was Bolero which was my favourite with the girls in gorgeous long dresses engaging almost flirtatiously with the audience. Finally there was The Night Shift featuring Carlotta Tocci and Daniela Pinto,

The second act began with cats - or rather dancers dressed as cats - scurrying from the top of the auditorium hissing and spitting at the audience on the way to the stage. I hissed back at two of them. That was The Jellicle Ball from Cats which was a fun piece. It was followed by more dancing from the shows - Too Darn Hot and Sweet Charity - and contemporary pieces like Sanctuary and Slum.  I was particularly impressed by the all male cast of Slum for their energy, It had more roars and grunts than the centre court of Wimbledon, Although this was A Showcase of Dance we had a song from Charlotte Russell who has a lovely voice though one which could have benefited from more projection to where I was sitting which was the top of the gods. She gave way to Come on Everybody which was 1959s rock n' roll with the boys in tight jeans and the girls in long flowing skirts. Finally there was Something Better Than This by Gabriela Brough, Alarna Morgan and Daniela Pinto and finally the whole company in Brass Band and a glorious finale.

There is an abundance of talent in this School and as a Mancunienne I was very proud of the young artists I saw yesterday. Until the second largest conurbation of the UK gets a resident world class ballet company back again this School carries the torch for dance in Manchester and it deserves to be supported. The show continues at The Dancehouse tonight and tomorrow and I strongly recommend it,

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Northern Ballet Academy's End of Year Show

The Academy of Northern Ballet in Leeds says that it "provides world-class, non-residential dance training to all ages and abilities." I have attended some of those classes including several that have been given by Annemarie Donoghue and one by Chris Hinton-Lewis,  On Saturday 4 July 2015 some of the students who had attended those classes showed off their skills in Northern Ballet Academy's end of year show  in the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre in Leeds.

So many students attend Northern Ballet's classes that their show has to be divided into several separate performances each with a different cast.  The performance that I attended was the last of the day which started at 16:30. It consisted of the Academy of Northern Ballet, Saturday Ballet Classes 1 and 2, Jazz 1-2 and the Over 55 Class. As their name suggests the Over 55 Class consists of individuals (mainly but not exclusively women) who are aged 55 or above.  Although I would never have guessed it from their appearance or performance, I happen to know that several of those members are well over that age. The Academy dancers are those who have already studied dance to a high level and plan to continue their training at such establishments as Elmhurst and Central. The students in the Saturday Ballet and Jazz classes are much younger. I am aware that at least one of them is aged 9.

I was impressed by all the students but the ones that I had come to see were the Over 55 class as I had attended some of their classes and had made the acquaintance of several of them. They danced Lullaby by Lulaby, a composer I had never heard of but whose music I like very much. Jane Lambert, who took part in the performance, has described the choreography in My Second Ballet 5 July 2015. Earlier in the week I had attended the technical rehearsal where I took video  and the still pictures which I reproduce here with the kind permission of Annemarie and each of her dancers.

Each of the performers danced well and it would be unfair for me to single any out for special praise. The complicated sequences at the start and end of the piece where each dancer raises her hand in turn went off without a hitch. The dancers synchronised their arm movements in the courou and I was impressed by the jumping group and the temps leves of the balance group. Some of the dancers managed quite an elevation which is all the more remarkable given their age. Having seen the rehearsal I know the amount of work that the dancers had put into this show through their classes and rehearsals. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves. The one thing that they could have done better would have been to dance off stage. They seemed to walk off into the wings after they had performed their dance which detracted a little from the overall slickness of the performance. Having said that it may be that I am a little sensitive to that issue as the choreographer of a show in which I had appeared had been very hot on that point.

The crowd seemed to like the piece for they clapped enthusiastically.and I think I heard at least one whoop. The show finished with a curtain call by the whole company which was nice. The compeer thanked the choreographers who had made the show possible. Annemarie and Cara O'Shea (who had worked with David Nixon and Yoko Ichinoa on the Academy's opening and closing pieces and the children's dances) acknowledged the well deserved applause. There was a short speech from the compeer, the drawing of a raffle and the presentation of prizes before the curtain fell for the last time.

I see from the programme that many of the graduating students are going to first rate schools for their professional training and I join with the company in wishing them well in their further training and subsequent careers. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Michaela's Masterclass

Michaela DePrince and her students, Danceworks, 7 July 2015
(c) 2015 Danceworks Ltd

















Here is a photograph of some of the luckiest, happiest and most excited young dancers in the kingdom. The reason for their happiness and excitement is that they were lucky enough to attend a master class with the outstanding young dancer Michaela DePrince. DePrince is an eleve with the Dutch National Ballet (although she is soon to be elevated to coryphée according to the company's press officer) and her company is in London to dance Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella at the Coliseum. Yesterday DePrince found time to give a master class at Danceworks' studios in Balderton Street.

Lesley Osman, Danceworks's General Manager, described the class as "wonderful". She added that the rehearsal studio in which the class was given was full of young dancers who are inspired by DePrince. Lesley sent me these photos of the event and kindly gave me permission to reproduce them here.

One of the young dancers in DePrince's class was Ciara Sturrock. As you can see, Ciara shows promise as a journalist as well as a dancer. I am sure that everyone who reads this post will wish her well in her studies and career whether it on the stage, in print or somewhere altogether different  She wrote about her experience yesterday as follows:
"To say I wasn't the best dancer in Michaela's Masterclass today is not an exaggeration. I'm 15 years old, not a 'ballet build', and, although have been taking ballet and various other dance classes since the age of 2, I found a lot of the exercises quite difficult. However, Michaela couldn't have been more helpful and was totally inspiring.

She obviously spotted I wasn't technically as good as everyone else and helped me with my body positioning without making me feel awkward. In fact, Michaela helped everyone. Sometimes she just was like a little girl, flapping about when she didn't do something herself quite the way she wanted it to be - just like most of us girls do!
Michaela taught us both technique and how to make more of our presentation. She told us to keep our heads up, open up our chests and, because you don't speak in a ballet performance, to tell the story through our hearts. This really struck a chord with me and I will always remember this when I perform in the future.
Knowing the story of Michaela's early difficult and dangerous childhood, and how successful she has become, I find it amazing that she is so approachable, humble and funny. I may not be a ballet dancer but I really enjoyed the class today, and learnt a lot in
a short space of time, with this fantastic and beautiful role model."
I was lucky enough to see DePrince dance in Cool Britannia in Amsterdam on the 27 June and I witnessed the enormous and enthusiastic following that she enjoys in the Netherlands (see Going Dutch. 29 July 2015).  I am looking forward to seeing her dance again on Saturday in Cinderella and at the gala for the opening of the ballet season in Amsterdam on the 8 Sept 2015 (see Triple Dutch 4 July 2015).

I took an interest in DePrince even before she joined the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company because I have connections with her country of origin, When I saw her dance for the first time I wrote:
"she is even more impressive in real life. She is quite simply the most exciting dancer I have seen for quite a while" (see The Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet - Stadsshouwburg Amsterdam 24 Nov 2013 26 Nov 2015).
If you want to find out more about this remarkable young  woman I have collated links to most of my articles in Michaela DePrince at TEDx Amsterdam 26 Nov 2015.  My thanks to Lesley and Danceworks for the photos and to Ciara for the copy.