FEATURE: ‘On Point: Royal Academy of Dance at 100’ – London, Summer 2022

 

On Point: Royal Academy of Dance at 100 is a celebratory exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum that explores the history of the academy, which is synonymous with that of British ballet. With syllabus resources, pointe shoes, costumes, choreography and more on display, there is something for everyone to connect with and be inspired by.

The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) is a world leader in dance education and training. Established in 1920 to raise the standard of dance teaching in the UK and reinvigorate ballet training, it has now been teaching the world to dance for more than 100 years. The organisation supports and unites a global community of around 400,000 dancers of all ages and abilities, in more than 80 countries, through an international network of dance teachers.

The RAD has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.

My childhood ballet teacher, Kathleen Woollard (1929–2020), was an esteemed RAD registered teacher who was awarded life membership. She was a recipient of the prestigious President’s Award, which recognises an individual who has, over many years, dedicated themselves above and beyond the call of duty to the RAD in particular and to the art of dance in general. She gave me the name ‘Georgie’ (‘Miss Georgie’ to junior dance students). She taught me the essentials of technique, tenacity and virtuosity. And she earnestly supported my endeavours – in the studio, on the stage and beyond.

As a young dancer, I excelled in RAD ballet examinations and was selected to assist trainee teachers and demonstrate for prospective examiners. Now, as a qualified ballet teacher myself, I am proud to be a first class honours graduate and registered teacher of the RAD.

 

“This display is a celebration of everybody involved in 100 years of the Royal Academy of Dance.”

Dame Darcey Bussell DBE,
President of the Royal Academy of Dance

 

On Point: Royal Academy of Dance at 100, Victoria and Albert Museum. Display entrance with a video welcome.

 

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FEATURE: London Children’s Ballet, June 2022

 

London Children’s Ballet is on a mission to inspire the pursuit of excellence and change lives through dance. As both a performance company and a registered charity, it produces and stages a new ballet in London’s West End each year and runs outreach work in primary schools and the wider community. Essentially, London Children’s Ballet (LCB) encourages everyone – participants, creatives and audience members – to be their best selves by enabling them to experience the life-enhancing benefits of dance.

When I was invited to watch LCB’s 2022 ballet, Anne of Green Gables, I was keen not only because it was a wonderful opportunity to support gifted children who love to dance, but also because it was a new reason to visit the Peacock Theatre. Sadler’s Wells’ West End home is a 1,000-seat theatre that is part of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) campus. So, as well as presenting must-see shows and dance performances, it hosts lectures, conferences and ceremonies for the university.

Gliding across that stage during my graduation from LSE was about celebrating what had been achieved and what was still to come. As a child, I was happiest reading, writing and dancing. As an adult, I am fortunate to spend my professional life reading, writing and dancing. Having graduated from LSE and the Royal Academy of Dance, and qualified as a journalist, editor and ballet teacher, I know a thing or two about striving to fulfil your potential and follow your passions! How uplifting to return to this venue to be entertained by the LCB company – motivated children who are exploring their talent, dancing around their school commitments and learning the reward of persistence and hard work.

 

“Oh it’s delightful to have ambitions. I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be an end to them – that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.”

Anne Shirley, from Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

 

London Children's Ballet dancers on stage in Anne of Green Gables. A girl, aged about eleven, is standing centre stage, in front of a school chalkboard, on a stool, holding a rolled up piece of paper above her head in triumph. She has red hair in braids and is wearing a full gingham dress and white apron. She is surrounded by girls, who are also wearing dresses, and boys, who are wearing breeches and braces. These children are all cheering and clapping for her.

 

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REVIEW: English National Ballet’s ‘Cinderella’ in-the-round – Royal Albert Hall, June 2019

 

English National Ballet’s Cinderella in-the-round reimagines the rags-to-riches story as a stunning fairy tale for our times.

Inspired by the Brothers Grimm version of Cinderella, choreographer Christopher Wheeldon develops a quirky narrative centred around humanity and nature. In short, Cinderella’s compassion, creativity and courage – combined with a little mystical assistance from her dearly departed mother – help her make her own magic.

Wheeldon devised his imaginative interpretation in 2012, as a co-production between Dutch National Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. He has revisited it for English National Ballet, restaging it as Cinderella in-the-round at the Royal Albert Hall.

 

Cinderella in-the-round campaign photography of English National Ballet dancers Emma Hawes and Francesco Gabriele Frola by Jason Bell.

 

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REVIEW: English National Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’ – London Coliseum, Christmas 2018

 

Christmas at the London Coliseum means the return of English National Ballet’s Nutcracker, a festive favourite that is guaranteed to lift your spirits.

Nutcracker has been at the heart of English National Ballet’s repertoire since the company was established in 1950. The current production, the company’s tenth, dates from 2010. Devised by the artistic director at the time, Wayne Eagling, with designs by Peter Farmer, this interpretation largely follows the traditional scenario but has a few unique flights of fancy mixed in too.

On Christmas Eve, young Clara and her brother Freddie enjoy a party with family and friends. Clara receives a Nutcracker doll as a present but, after a skirmish with jealous Freddie, the doll gets broken and has to be repaired by the mysterious Drosselmeyer. The party ends, the children are sent to bed and Clara has an action-packed dream in which her Nutcracker is attacked by an evil Mouse King. Departures from the traditional narrative in Eagling’s offering include the enchanting addition of a hot air balloon to whisk Clara and her Nutcracker away; horrifying giant mice invading scenes that are conventionally rodent-free; and a Puppet Theatre replacing the customary Kingdom of Sweets in Act Two.

English National Ballet’s talented dancers capture all the requisite wonder and magic of the Christmas staple. Having demonstrated in recent years that they are as adept in contemporary choreography from the likes of Akram Khan as they are in the classics, they assuredly keep this familiar ballet feeling fresh.

 

English National Ballet's Nutcracker hot air balloon

 

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REVIEW: New English Ballet Theatre’s ‘The Four Seasons’ / ‘Remembrance’ – Peacock Theatre, London, September 2018

 

The latest neoclassical programme from New English Ballet Theatre is The Four Seasons / Remembrance, a stylish double bill that combines the abstract and the historical.

The vibrant young modern ballet company prides itself on creating refreshing new works for developing dancers, thereby furthering the art form and nurturing promising artists. Indeed, artistic director Karen Pilkington-Miksa has been recruiting a fresh batch of dancers each year since founding New English Ballet Theatre in 2011. These dancers receive a twelve-month contract that affords them training and development opportunities with exciting creatives, as well as coveted time spent dancing on tour and in the West End.

While past offerings have thrown a spotlight on emerging choreographers, The Four Seasons / Remembrance features works from established dancemakers Jenna Lee and Wayne Eagling.

 

The latest neoclassical programme from New English Ballet Theatre. The Four Seasons / Remembrance.

 

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