Saturday, 18 June 2016

Ballet West in Malaysia

Performance at the Penang Performing Arts Centre
(c) Ballet West, 2016, all rights reserved
Licensed by kind permission of the company

While Ballet West's alumni Natasha Watson and Andrew McFarlane have been dancing with the English National Ballet in Swan Lake in the Round at the Royal Albert Hall, teachers and students of Ballet West have been holding three days of intensive workshops at Direct Academia International in Penang in North West Malaysia. The party was led by Gillian Barton, Ballet West's Principal, and Jonathan Barton who is Vice-Principal of the School and the principal male dancer of its performing company. Also in the party were Martin Fenton who teaches contemporary, jazz and hip-hop (see the staff page of the Ballet West website) and their students Uyo Hiromoto and Oscar Ward.

Some 150 young dancers from all parts of Malaysia and the Republic of Singapore took part in the workshops. The workshops finished with a performance at the Penang Performing Arts Centre on 12 June 2016. Gillian Barton, who saw the show, remarked:
"The performance was spectacular. Oscar and Uyu ..... performed superbly. I could hardly believe that Jonathan and Martin had only worked with the students for one day plus a few rehearsals. It was such a polished performance. No other teachers could have done better.”
The workshops provided an opportunity to audition prospective students for Ballet West. Two students from Singapore are already there and five others from Malaysia have attended short courses.

Any students from Malaysia or Singapore who find their way to Taynuilt will get an opportunity to obtain performance experience by dancing in one of the full length classical ballets which the performance company stages at various auditoriums around Scotland each year. In 2017 the company will dance Swan Lake at the following venues on the following dates:
  • Stirling, Macrobert 20 and 21 January
  • Helensburgh, Tower Digital Arts Centre 27 January 
  • Paisley, Paisley Town Hall 28 January 
  • Oban, Corran Halls 9 February 
  • Glasgow, SECC 11 February 
  • Greenock, Beacon Arts Centre 12 February 
  • Livingston, Howden Park Centre 16 February 
  • Edinburgh, EICC, 18 February.
Ballet West last performed that ballet in 2014 and I saw it in Pitlochry on 1 March 2013 (see Swan Loch - Ballet West's Swan Lake, Pitlochry 1 March 2014 3 March 2014). It was a beautiful production with an Odette and an Odile danced by the same person, a Siegfried, cygnets, Legnani's  32 fouettés, all the usual divertissements and not a single bike to be seen. 

It is probably too late for Ballet West to do anything about it for the coming tour but maybe they could consider adding The Dancehouse in Manchester or the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre in Leeds to their touring schedule in future years. After all, Isaac Bowry who came from Manchester and Andrew Cook who came from Leeds contributed considerably to their 2014 production. If they can make it to Penang they can surely find their way to the North of England.

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