georginabutler

My work as a writer and dance/theatre reviewer

REVIEW: English National Ballet’s ‘Emerging Dancer’ – Lyceum Theatre, London, May 2014

leave a comment »

Time to shine as English National Ballet celebrates its Emerging Dancers…

Timing is everything – in life and in dance. This proved true for English National Ballet’s Emerging Dancer 2014 as two past competitors were declared joint winners.

Judges Deborah Bull CBE, Clement Crisp OBE, Dame Gillian Lynne DBE, Arlene Phillips CBE, Tamara Rojo and Wayne Sleep OBE deemed it time for Alison McWhinney (previously 2013 participant) and Junor Souza (2012) to ‘emerge’.

Performing Perrot’s Esmeralda pas de deux, at London’s packed Lyceum Theatre, both dancers sparkled – and not just because their forest-green costumes were adorned with gold.

 

English National Ballet's 'Emerging Dancer' 2014 joint winners Junor Souza and Alison McWhinney (Photography by ASH)

English National Ballet’s Emerging Dancer 2014 joint winners Junor Souza and Alison McWhinney (Photography by ASH)

 

‘Esmeralda’ showcased Alison’s pure lines, control and extension. The female variation requires the ballerina to capture the innocence of first love while retaining gypsy flair. With a flirtatious incline of her head and slightly angled shoulders, Alison evoked the right level of seduction. Coquettishly kicking the tambourine during the final sequence, she had style, poise and confidence.

Alison had a considerate partner in Junor. Their impressive lifts and tricks appeared effortless and supported balances were well-timed to counteract slight quivers.

Junor is an outstanding technician and thrilling performer. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he also won the People’s Choice Award. His explosive leaps had such vigour he almost disappeared into the wings, yet he curbed his enthusiasm to follow the fireworks with multiple, faultless, turns.

Pleasingly, both dancers’ solos contrasted with classical Esmeralda. Junor’s self-choreographed Last Minute featured skilfully executed inverted round kicks and ripples. Similarly, Alison dazzled in Dawson’s A Million Kisses to my Skin, her blissful freedom and serene asymmetry a joy to behold.

 

 

Having observed the technique and artistry of the six finalists, I echo Artistic Director Tamara Rojo’s assertion that they are all winners.

Senri Kou and Vitor Menezes had a charming connection in Bournonville’s Romantic-era La Sylphide pas de deux. The playful duet between farmer and elusive winged spirit suited Senri’s delicacy. She weightlessly flitted around Vitor’s robust Scotsman. Vitor juxtaposed this gallant partnering against cheeky, hip-swivelling (and crowd-pleasing) solo ‘Mambo Suite’ (choreographed by Ana Maria Stekelman).

Joan Sebastian Zamora and Madison Keesler were delightful in Bournonville’s Flower Festival pas de deux. This frothiness was countered with later intensity as a bare-chested Joan boldly portrayed Petit’s bridegroom’s descent into madness in his L’Arlésienne solo. Opting for a similar contrast, Madison (recruited to the Company just last year) was stunning in Liam Scarlett’s Variations on a Theme. Sweeping movements incorporating her upper body and the skirt of her red dress delivered drama – matched by spine-tingling stage presence.

As Emerging Dancer is a competition, someone had to triumph and I agree with the esteemed judges’ decision to have an unprecedented joint win. Still, all the finalists’ time will come and English National Ballet’s future looks bright with these rising stars.

 

(L-R) Clement Crisp OBE, Dame Gillian Lynne DBE, Madison Keesler, Senri Kou, Wayne Sleep OBE, Arlene Phillips CBE, Alison McWhinney, Junor Souza, Tamara Rojo, Deborah Bull CBE, Vitor Menezes & Joan Sebastian Zamora at English National Ballet's Emerging Dancer 2014, at The Lyceum Theatre, London on May 19, 2014. (Photo by Arnaud Stephenson)

(L-R) Clement Crisp OBE, Dame Gillian Lynne DBE, Madison Keesler, Senri Kou, Wayne Sleep OBE, Arlene Phillips CBE, Alison McWhinney, Junor Souza, Tamara Rojo, Deborah Bull CBE, Vitor Menezes & Joan Sebastian Zamora at English National Ballet’s Emerging Dancer 2014, at The Lyceum Theatre, London on May 19, 2014. (Photo by Arnaud Stephenson)

 

 

*

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: