Awesome and absorbing dance-works make for an evening to remember

 

Dance may be the most transient of mediums but English National Ballet’s emotive Lest We Forget will forever remain with audience members privileged to see the award-winning triple bill at Milton Keynes Theatre last night (Tuesday 20th October).

Commissioned to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, this mixed programme of profoundly powerful pieces of contemporary choreography astounded fans and critics alike when it premièred in London at the Barbican in 2014 and during its recent revival at Sadler’s Wells. A huge departure from the traditional classics that theatregoers associate with English National Ballet, ‘Lest We Forget’ marks artistic director Tamara Rojo‘s boldest move so far.

Inspired by the loss, longing, pain, sacrifice, strength and sadness evoked by war, the production reflects upon the experiences of both the men who went off to fight and the women who were left to keep the home fires burning. Liberated from the conventionalism of classical ballet technique, English National Ballet’s dancers effortlessly embody the approach to movement taken by each of three of today’s most celebrated British choreographers: Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant and Liam Scarlett.

 

ENB's 'Lest We Forget' - Tamara Rojo and Esteban Berlanga in Liam Scarlett's 'No Man's Land' (photography by ASH) View Post

 

Theatregoers in Milton Keynes are in for such a treat this October as English National Ballet is bringing not one but two award-winning productions to the new city. Whether you are a dedicated dance fan or simply interested in enjoying a beautifully performed work of art, you will not want to miss out on seeing the Company during its autumn visit to Milton Keynes Theatre.

Artistic director Tamara Rojo is committed to showing that there is more to ballet than the tutu-clad ballerinas featured in the classics. As the driving force behind the Company and a prima ballerina herself, Tamara is intent on advancing the art form in order to keep it relevant, interesting and – most importantly – alive for future generations to enjoy. The reflective triple bill Lest We Forget is her first new commission for English National Ballet. Created to commemorate last year’s centenary of the First World War, this contemporary programme features the choreography of three of the most in-demand British dance-makers of today.

Romeo & Juliet is undeniably the world’s greatest love story. Rudolf Nureyev’s landmark production for English National Ballet was devised in 1977 to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. It premièred at London Coliseum on 2nd June 1977 and won the prestigious Olivier Award for Best Ballet Creation that year. The Company has since performed Nureyev’s production around the world (373 times!) to critical acclaim. Demonstrating the expressive artistry and explosive virtuosity of the Company’s dancers, Romeo & Juliet is a beloved masterpiece from English National Ballet’s repertoire which promises to prove popular with balletomanes and newcomers alike.

 

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English National Ballet returns to Milton Keynes Theatre from Tuesday with Swan Lake.

Moonlit lakeside scenes of romance and despair; the splendour of a royal palace and the spectacle of a corps de ballet of synchronised swans gliding poetically across the stage make Swan Lake a favourite among dance fans and the perfect introduction for first time ballet-goers.

Swan Lake was Tchaikovsky’s first score for ballet and the haunting music is some of the illustrious composer’s best-known work.  The ballet’s 1877 premiere was poorly received but it has since become one of the absolute classics, with demanding technical content and a mesmerising story.

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ENB Swan Lake corps

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Mischief and mistaken identities make for much merriment in English National Ballet’s effervescent Coppélia.

There is plenty of fun to be had with this light-hearted ballet and Company dancers were in high spirits for the opening performance at the London Coliseum last night (23rd July 2014).

Yonah Acosta and Shiori Kase made their debuts in the lead roles as the tale’s bickering – though still smitten – lovers. Both newly promoted, with Yonah soaring from the rank of Junior Soloist to Principal and Shiori more modestly upgraded from Soloist to First Soloist, their infectious enthusiasm and pleasing partnership set the tone for an enchanting evening.

 

English National Ballet's 'Coppélia' (photo by David Jensen)

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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 English National Ballet’s website as a post on their blog.

 

pointe shoes dancing writing dancing notepad

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