Incredible dancing. Intense storytelling. Totally immersive. English National Ballet’s new Giselle by Akram Khan is an epic dance experience. Everything about the production is so inspired that, after joining an elated audience in a lengthy standing ovation, I left Sadler’s Wells utterly convinced that no words will ever do this masterpiece justice.
The company, under the direction of Tamara Rojo, is intent on evolving the art of ballet. While still honouring the classical tradition (the dancers begin their Nutcracker season at Milton Keynes Theatre next week), English National Ballet is adding amazing diversity to its repertoire with fresh new works. Following the resounding success of Khan’s Dust for the Lest We Forget programme, anticipation has been sky-high for his Giselle.
In short, it is a triumphant re-imagining of the 1841 Romantic Era ballet. All the essential themes – love, betrayal, revenge, the opposing realms of life and death – remain but Khan’s vision teases out the dark undertones that have always been there. Dragged to the surface, these elements are expressed with visceral urgency, arresting intent and harrowing sensibility.
Ballet teacher and former professional ballet dancer Lorna Scott is an in-demand dance teacher, a mentor to fellow educators, a higher education student and a busy mum of two. Amazingly, she found time to discuss performing, teaching, the benefits of dancing and her thoughts on dance education with Georgina Butler…
Lorna Scott is a former soloist with Scottish Ballet. She joined the Company on an apprentice contract after training at The Dance School of Scotland and graduating from The Royal Ballet Upper School. A year later, she was awarded a full-time contract and began working her way up through the ranks. During the 13 years Lorna spent at Scottish Ballet, she was privileged to work with countless brilliant choreographers including Hans van Manen, Ashley Page, Mark Baldwin, Robert North, Richard Alston, Tim Rushton and Stephen Petronio.
After retiring from her career as a professional ballet dancer, Lorna retrained with the Royal Academy of Dance, achieving the Professional Dancer’s Teaching Diploma (PDTD) with Distinction. Lorna’s first position after gaining the PDTD was working as ballet teacher and junior conservatoire coordinator at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts. This role combined coaching senior vocational students (aged 16 – 18) on the Dance Course throughout the day and teaching junior associates (aged 5 – 16) in the evenings.
Now a self-employed ballet teacher working in Aberdeen, Lorna is relishing being able to inspire young dancers through her teaching. Moreover, having trained as a Royal Academy of Dance Continuing Professional Development tutor in 2015, she is looking forward to having many opportunities to support fellow dance teachers in their efforts to spread the joys of dancing far and wide. Still keen to further her own expertise, Lorna is also currently studying for a degree in Dance Education with the Royal Academy of Dance.
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.
Let your dreams be bigger than your fears
As darkness falls this evening, it is time to celebrate all things supernatural. While I am not an advocate of too much hocus-pocus and dislike anything very terrifying, the fun costumes and imaginative make-believe indulged in at Halloween appeal to me as a dancer and a writer.
Ballet Papier artist Berenice always has some magical treats in store for a special occasion and, this year, she has surprised fans with a spellbinding Halloween video. Featuring ballerinas dressed as black cats and a coven of good witches on broomsticks, the mini movie is a sweet spook-tacular.
You’ll be frightfully disappointed if you miss out on viewing her wonderful wizardry – particularly as the film features yours truly, Georgina Butler, as the leading black cat!
Captivating choreography and charming characterisation ensures memories of the fabulous felines in Cats stay with audiences long after the applause subsides.
Prowling through the auditorium at Milton Keynes Theatre all this week, the moggies in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking musical offer us an intriguing insight into the inner world of cats. Known as the Jellicle Cats, the members of this kitty clan cavort around a junkyard playground under the moonlight. They stealthily slink past their human visitors before darting over the darkened landscape of rubbish. Wary and suspicious – but clearly curious too – the Jellicles proudly gather together to open our eyes to their customs.
The cats reveal that tonight is the night of the Jellicle Ball. This one special night of the year is when the tribe reunites to celebrate who they are. Mischievous or mysterious. Domesticated or defiant. Sensual or magical. Cheeky cat burglars; fat cats; ginger cats; tabby cats; tom cats; coquettish kittens – every cat counts. Granted a front row seat at the Jellicle Ball, we are introduced to each of the pussycats in turn.
NEWS: Musical moggies on the prowl as beloved show ‘Cats’ arrives to charm audiences – Milton Keynes Theatre, October 2016
Feline focused smash hit musical Cats returns to Milton Keynes Theatre from Monday.
Back on tour after sell-out success at the London Palladium, the record-breaking show is the outstanding work of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, director Trevor Nunn, designer John Napier and director-choreographer Gillian Lynne.
These talented creatives blew theatregoers away with their purr-fect combination of innovative dance, beautiful music and charming verse when the production made its West End debut in 1981.
Explosive rock and roll musical Footloose raises the roof with its infectious blend of iconic eighties hits and youthful teenage rebellion.
The lyrics of the show’s signature song urge audiences to kick off their Sunday shoes and cut loose so what better way to start the week than by spending Monday evening at Milton Keynes Theatre, dancing in my seat?
Based on the classic 1984 film, the narrative stars Chicago native Ren McCormack who is forced to move to the sleepy Southern town of Bomont with his mother, Ethel, after his father abandons them. Unfortunately, Bomont does not have much to offer in the way of fun since a bylaw banning dancing and rock music was pushed through by the town’s grieving Reverend five years ago.