Monday, 20 March 2017
The Importance of Performance
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I spent last weekend driving to Truro and back to see Duchy Ballet (see Cornwall's Coup: Duchy Ballet's Sleeping Beauty 19 March 2017). I shall spend this weekend driving to Chelmsford to see my company dance Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I have emphasised the possessive adjective because I am proud to be a non-dancing associate member of the company and the only reason why I have never auditioned for dancing membership is that Chelmsford is just a tad too far for rehearsals.
It would have been cheaper and easier to have whizzed down to London and back by Hull Trains, Virgin or Grand Central to see Project Polunin at the Wells or even the Pite, Wheeldon and Dawson triple bill at the Royal Opera House and cheaper and easier still to have stayed in Leeds to see another performance of Northern Ballet's Casanova (which I strongly recommend, by the way - see Casanova - "it has been a long time since I enjoyed a show by Northern Ballet as much as I enjoyed Casanova last night" 12 March 2017) but I would have missed something important.
Performances like the one I saw in Truro on Saturday and the one I expect to see in Chelmsford are important because they give a purpose to all those years of exercises at the barre and in the centre. Ballet, like Shakespeare, is intended for the stage. Without performance, class is just a workout - about as arid as cramming Romeo and Juliet for an exam. Performances are important not just for children and young adults but for students of any age. I shall never forget the thrill of my first performance at Northern Ballet Academy's end of term show in 2014 (see The Time of my Life 28 June 2014).
However, students will take performances seriously only if audiences take them seriously. Such audiences should include not just mums, dads and siblings but also regular ballet goers and even the occasional ballet blogger. The attendance of a critical audience is particularly important when principals of leading companies perform in a student show as Elena Glurdjidze and Arionel Vargas of English National Ballet did in the Bristol Russian Ballet School's Romeo and Juliet (see Good Show - Bristol Russians' Cinderella in Stockport 19 Feb 2014) and Tom Thorne and Laura Bösenberg of the Cape Town City Ballet did on Saturday.
There is sometimes a reward for audiences who make it to civic theatres in remote parts of the country. Sometimes you see stars of the future as I did when I saw Xander Parish for the first time in York in 2007. Even as a student it was clear that he was going places. I think I saw a spark of excellence in the lilac fairy on Saturday and also in Odette-Odile in Greenock last month (see Ballet West at the Beacon 13 Feb 2017). I don't want to embarrass or tempt fate for either of those two promising young women but I don't think I have seen the last of either of them.