Archive for the ‘Features’ Category
Invited to watch rehearsals, chat to members of the production team and learn some of the dancers’ latest choreography, Georgina Butler discovers the collaborative spirit behind New English Ballet Theatre…
I love ballet. Absolutely adore it. Given any choice – throwing a few drinks back at some trendy new bar or throwing a leg (front, side and back) at the ballet barre; “finding” myself at a festival or losing myself in a classical masterpiece – I go for the ballet option every time.
My devotion aside, I do sometimes fear for ballet’s future. There is always the very real possibility that classical ballet could become a museum art form. No balletomane wants to see the object of their affections stagnate (with little to offer beyond revivals of existing work) or, if we imagine the worst-case-scenario, become extinct. Although the world’s well-established leading companies have a starring role to play in shaping ballet’s future on the global stage, it is up to the emerging troupes of today to ensure it remains relevant to our lives. Ballet needs to keep evolving; inspire new ideas; attract new audiences.
New English Ballet Theatre is a vibrant modern ballet company determined to drive the art form forward in exactly this way! Founded in 2010 by Artistic Director Karen Pilkington-Miksa, the company is committed to the continual reinvention of classical ballet and aims to present exciting new works to the widest possible audience. The ambition does not stop there though. At the heart of New English Ballet Theatre’s mission is the desire to nurture the next generation of dancers, choreographers, musicians and designers. The company seeks out and hires talented graduates from a variety of disciplines on a seasonal basis, affording emerging artists the creative space and support to explore their full potential.
Discovering dance ought to be an enlightening experience for people of all ages as the learning process never really ends. There are always new ways to think about the basics of movement, more advanced skills and qualities to develop and emerging choreographic approaches to appreciate.
A comprehensive dance education therefore requires more than a narrow focus on perfecting technique. After all, as Martha Graham declared, “great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion”. Indeed, the belief that being curious about, and devoted to, all things dance will improve our understanding, interpretation and reification of the art form really resonates with me.
Dancers spend countless hours practising in the studio but it is important to remember that dance as an art form does not exist in a vacuum. Everyone in the dance community – including dance students, dance teachers and dance admirers – ought to challenge themselves to really experience the multifaceted nature of dance in all its glory. Doing so might involve delving into terpsichorean* history; examining terminology; getting acquainted with anatomy; investigating professional dancers, choreographers, musicians and works of note; or pursuing personal research interests.
Quite simply, using your time outside of the studio to further your subject knowledge in an alternative manner may be the best thing you can do to nurture your love of dancing…
Dancing comes naturally to Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace. The pair’s passionate professional partnership on Strictly Come Dancing endeared them to the nation and, since leaving the ballroom behind, a foray into musical theatre has seen their fancy footwork thrill audiences in venues nationwide. Now, hot on the heels of the success of Midnight Tango and Dance ‘Til Dawn, comes the dynamic duo’s third production: The Last Tango.
As the name suggests, The Last Tango is Vincent and Flavia’s grand finale. The show opens this month ahead of a 32 week farewell tour to give fans all over the country one last chance to see them perform live on-stage in a full-length piece. The World Argentine Tango Champions have been dancing together for twenty years and now it is time for them to pause, reflect upon their successes and consider new projects – but not before saying goodbye to theatre in style!
Described as their “best show yet” by the smooth-talking Simone, The Last Tango has been devised as a celebration of Vincent and Flavia’s most intimate, emotive and beautiful dance moves. Anticipation is high and expectations are even higher so I was chuffed to be invited to watch the cast in rehearsal…
FEATURE: Rare ballet shoes are a “pointe” of interest as auction house prepares for bids – June 2015
Forget the glass slippers, ballet princesses wear pointe shoes…
Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world. This is a particularly appropriate statement to attribute to the footwear of ballerinas. These dancers know that finding their perfect pair of pointe shoes is so much more important than shopping for killer heels!
Ballet technique is all about creating an impression of weightlessness and ease so, although the seemingly effortless grace audiences witness really does glide on blistered feet, a well-fitting pair of pointe shoes can make all the difference to a dancer’s performance. They are also a source of endless fascination for both dance devotees and the general public.
The battered pointe shoes of three of Britain’s most famous ballerinas are to be auctioned off this month. Moira Shearer, Dame Margot Fonteyn and Mary Honer were idols who inspired generations of dancers to train and perform. Their legacy is still alive among ballet students today, which makes the discovery of this collection all the more exciting.
A musical adaptation of Germaine Shames’ beautiful book is set to bring a forgotten ballerina’s life to the stage…
American author Germaine Shames began researching the narrative of her biographical novel You, Fascinating You nearly a decade ago. This powerful tale reveals the hidden epic behind a timeless love song and provides an insight into the life of headstrong Jewish ballerina Margit Wolf.
First published in 2012, the book won an Editor’s Choice award from the Historical Novel Society.
Now, a future on Broadway beckons. The true story of this unforgettable Hungarian woman and her romance with an up-and-coming Italian composer has been adapted as a musical that is currently being prepared for its stage debut.
FEATURE: ‘Dance is the Word, An Inside Perspective’ – English National Ballet Assigned Blog Post, June 2014
As an English National Ballet Dance is the Word writer, I was asked to write an article describing my experience of meeting other journalists, bloggers and writers and watching this year’s nominated Emerging Dancer competitors in rehearsal and performance.
My piece, Dance is the Word: An Inside Perspective, features on English National Ballet’s website as a post on their blog.
FEATURE: The ones to watch: Discover more about the rising stars featured in English National Ballet’s ‘Emerging Dancer’ – May 2014
YOUNG, TALENTED AND EMERGING
It can be hard for junior members of a ballet company to leave a lasting impression. Most of the dancers who reach the top companies will spend their career in the corps de ballet. This term (which literally means ‘body of the ballet’) refers to the dancers who generally work in a disciplined group, undifferentiated from each other. The objective is to blend in – not stand out.
Companies tend to grade their dancers (artist, first artist, soloist and first soloist, principal, lead principal) and nineteenth century ballets (which are still the foundation for most companies’ repertoire) were created to showcase those at the top of the hierarchy. Of course, talent does pay off and the most talented dancers will eventually receive promotion. However, for the public, opportunities to really see what junior artists are capable of are limited.
This is why English National Ballet’s Emerging Dancer competition is so warmly received by balletomanes. The competition is an annual opportunity for English National Ballet to nurture and showcase the talent of its up-and-coming dancers.