Georgina Butler discovers the collaborative spirit of New English Ballet Theatre
When New English Ballet Theatre invited me to watch rehearsals, chat to members of the production team and learn some of the dancers’ latest choreography I seized the chance to learn more about the young company.
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.
I have created a range of dance resources which I hope will prove to be useful for learning and teaching purposes.
Discovering dance ought to be an enlightening experience for people of all ages because 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 undoubtedly requires more than a narrow focus on perfecting technique. Indeed, Martha Graham declared that “great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion”. To have passion suggests possessing a depth of understanding, interpretation and reification that can only be realised by being curious, asking questions and reflecting on what we learn.
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 — students, teachers and audiences — ought to challenge themselves to really experience the multifaceted nature of dance and keep learning. Doing so might involve delving into terpsichorean* history; examining terminology; getting acquainted with anatomy; investigating 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.
Today ought to be spent mostly dancing because it is International Dance Day 2016!
Every year on the 29th April, dance lovers urge everyone across the globe to celebrate the universality of the art form. We unite in our efforts to surpass all political, cultural and ethnic barriers and bring people together with a common language: dance.
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.
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 ballerinas and their ballet shoes. After all, 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.