I dance. Therefore, I am.
Dancers all over the world are celebrating International Dance Day 2015 today.
Dance has always been an essential part of my life and I am a dedicated advocate. Dancing offers so many physical, psychological, emotional and social benefits — everyone should seize the chance to dance!
Dancing promotes a healthy and active lifestyle, helps to build confidence, teaches the value of hard work and perseverance, encourages creativity and expression, relieves stress, brings people together and fosters artistic appreciation. And, above all else, dancing is really good fun!
A musical adaptation of Germaine Shames’ beautiful book will 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. Ten years on, she is looking forward to You, Fascinating You: The Musical.
The powerful tale of You, Fascinating You 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.
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, was featured on the English National Ballet website as a post on their blog.
YOUNG, TALENTED AND EMERGING
Emerging as an artist is tough. 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 19th 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.
The Emerging Dancer competition acknowledges the fact that all of English National Ballet’s dancers leave audiences awestruck night after night.
As mere mortals, we cannot fully appreciate the constant scrutiny these exceptionally talented performers put themselves under. Once the applause subsides (and they have had a night’s sleep to recover) Company dancers return to the studio the morning after a performance. Here they will challenge themselves to jump higher, turn faster and balance better.
I was given the chance to gain further insight into this quest for perfection on Saturday, during a visit to English National Ballet, ahead of Emerging Dancer 2014.
English National Ballet, Markova House, 17th May 2014
Emerging Dancer, now in its fifth year, is an annual competition to recognise and nurture talent within the Company. It began in-house (with just English National Ballet funders invited) but tickets were sold to the general public for the second year and Emerging Dancer is now an exciting evening that should be marked on every balletomane’s calendar.
Tucked away behind the Royal Albert Hall is Markova House, the home of English National Ballet. It is here that the six Emerging Dancer finalists — chosen by the Company’s artistic, music and administrative staff, and the principal dancers — take daily class and squeeze rehearsals for the competition into their packed schedules. (As well as Emerging Dancer to prepare for, rehearsals for Romeo and Juliet in-the-round at the Royal Albert Hall, Choreographics at The Place and performances of Lest We Forget at the Barbican Theatre have been keeping English National Ballet’s dancers busy.)
Madison Keesler, Senri Kou, Alison McWhinney, Vitor Menezes, Junor Souza and Joan Sebastian Zamora will each perform a solo and a pas de deux in front of a judging panel of industry experts at London’s Lyceum Theatre this evening (Monday 19th May).