A flurry of sparkling snowflakes, a cascade of blossoming flowers and a colourful hot air balloon drifting skywards… English National Ballet’s Nutcracker proved the perfect antidote to a woefully wet and windy Saturday!
Christmas seems merely a dim and distant memory now that the sparkly decorations have come down and January has well and truly arrived. However, inside the London Coliseum theatre the magic of the Yuletide season lingers this weekend as the venue hosts the final performances in this run of the festive — and fantastical — ballet.
Wayne Eagling’s exuberant Nutcracker premièred in 2010 and is the tenth version to have been incorporated into English National Ballet’s repertoire since the Company was established in 1950. Of all the 19th Century ballets, Nutcracker is the one which is most often staged and interpreted in strikingly different ways. English National Ballet’s current production includes some wonderful moments which are full of timeless Christmas cheer and plenty of divine dancing.
Australia’s Queensland Ballet made its London début with a spirited performance of La Sylphide last night.
Dancers from Down Under captivated crowds of theatregoers at the London Coliseum with Peter Schaufuss’s Olivier and Evening Standard Award winning 1979 retelling of August Bournonville’s enduring masterpiece.
Fleet feet, buoyant jumps and charming characterisation kept balletomanes rapt all evening. Fresh from a sell-out season in Oz, Queensland Ballet’s interpretation of La Sylphide undoubtedly demonstrates why the troupe enjoys international acclaim and holds a permanent place as one of Australia’s premier dance companies.
Team Ballet Papier in London
We dancers know that timing is everything. Fittingly, this month’s most exciting news is that, after over a year of communicating via email and on social media, talented Ballet Papier artist Berenice (María La Placa), her sparkling co-star daughter Ambar Gavilano and I managed to be in the same place at the same time for a gossipy get-together!
Our well-choreographed rendezvous came about as Ballet Papier moves forward in its quest to reach dancers on the world stage. Keen to connect with UK retailers and distributors — in addition to tapping into what is à la mode with balletomanes here in Britain — Berenice and Ambar made visiting London a priority for early 2015. Of course, they let me know of their plans to swap sunny Barcelona for a week in London to ensure that we would be able to make exploring the city an enjoyable pas de trois.
Eagerly anticipating our long-awaited meeting, I pirouetted into the capital for a Saturday packed full of dance discussions, inspiration and enthusiasm.
Ballet Papier Meeting: Georgina Butler, Ambar Gavilano and Berenice (María La Placa).
One of the world’s greatest love stories comes alive in spectacular style with English National Ballet’s in-the-round production of Romeo and Juliet.
This glorious interpretation of Shakespeare’s tale of warring families and thwarted young lovers is currently captivating crowds of spectators at the Royal Albert Hall. Created by choreographer Derek Deane, the production was first performed sixteen years ago when English National Ballet’s current artistic director, Tamara Rojo, was a young dancer in the Company. As Deane’s original Juliet back in 1998, Tamara is revisiting the role for some performances alongside her former dance partner Carlos Acosta, who joins the cast as a guest artist.
I was fortunate enough to see the young Russian principal dancer Vadim Muntagirov (who left English National Ballet to join The Royal Ballet in February 2014) return as a guest artist to partner the dazzling Daria Klimentová. Reunited as Romeo and Juliet for selected performances of this powerful ballet, Vadim and Daria are giving audiences the final chance to witness their perfect partnership before Daria also bids farewell to the Company. She will retire at the end of the run after 25 years as a professional dancer – 18 of which she has spent with English National Ballet – performing for the last time on Sunday (22nd June).
Time to shine as English National Ballet celebrates talent with its Emerging Dancer competition
Timing is everything — in life and in dance. This proved true for English National Ballet’s Emerging Dancer 2014 as two past competitors were declared joint winners.
Judges Deborah Bull CBE, Clement Crisp OBE, Dame Gillian Lynne DBE, Arlene Phillips CBE, Tamara Rojo and Wayne Sleep OBE deemed it time for Alison McWhinney (previously 2013 participant) and Junor Souza (2012) to ‘emerge’.
Performing Perrot’s Esmeralda Pas de Deux, at London’s packed Lyceum Theatre, both dancers sparkled — and not just because their forest-green costumes were adorned with gold.
English National Ballet’s Emerging Dancer 2014 joint winners Junor Souza and Alison McWhinney