Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Editorial - the Future of Terpsichore

Jane Lambert

I started blogging nearly 10 years ago because I had been commissioned by Gower-Ashgate to write a book for entrepreneurs and small business owners on enforcing intellectual property rights. Writing articles for the blog helped me compile the manuscript for Enforcing Intellectual Property Rights A Concise Guide for Businesses, Innovative and Creative Individuals which was published in 2009.

I continued the blog after I had submitted my manuscript and it became very big indeed with thousands of hits. Some of my posts, such as my case note on the Red Bus photograph case, went viral. I found two kinds of readers: patent and trade mark attorneys and specialist intellectual property lawyers who wanted to discuss every last detail of the latest case or enactment and artists, designers, inventors and business owners who wanted to know about changes in the law that might affect them personally. For the latter group I set up regional blogs such as IP Yorkshire and IP North West.

Ballet scores, choreography notations, performances by dancers and musicians and films and broadcasts of ballets are intellectual assets which the law protects with intellectual property rights. In discussing those rights I found myself inadvertently writing reviews of performances by Northern Ballet for IP Yorkshire and IP North West. Similarly, dance studios are small businesses so I found myself writing about the studio where I took my first dance lessons in Interesting Yorkshire Businesses No. 1: The Base Studios Huddersfield.

Now not every lawyer is a dance fan and few dance fans have any interest in the law - particularly not the very esoteric area in which I practise - so I started Terpsichore in February 2013. That, too, has grown very big and I now find myself writing and tweeting almost as much about dance as I do about the law. As my discussions on legal topics can't be much fun for dancers and I have been told many times that my discussions on dance classes are a bit of a turn off for many lawyers I have decided to separate the two. I will still tweet about great performances and great classes as "nipclaw" just as I will throw in my 5p worth about business, economics, politics and religion on that account but I will channel most of my dance talk through my new "Terpsichore" twitter account and Facebook group.

Over the last two years I have noticed a number of unmet needs for dance fans, dancers, dance teachers, dance schools, dance studios and even dance companies which have given me ideas for small spin-off businesses under the Terpsichore brand. If I ever have time to get any of those projects off the ground I will announce them in this blog and through the new social media accounts.

I should like to wish all my readers a very happy New Year.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Looking Forward to 2015 - My Choices

Marie Taglioni in La Sylphide
Photo Wikipedia

Yesterday I listed my 11 favourite ballets of this year but what about next year?  Who knows!  But here are some likely candidates.

La Sylphide is not a ballet that we see very often in this country which is strange because it is set in Scotland. It is much less creepy that Giselle though it does have a witch and sylphs. The costumes are gorgeous: colourful tartan for the men and flowing white romantic tutus for the women. Løvenskjold's score is not quite as well known as Adam's but it is not bad. This year we shall have a taster when principals and soloists of the Royal Danish Ballet visit the Peacock on the 9 and 10 Jan 2015 and then the real McCoy in August when the Queensland Ballet come to the Coliseum.

The visit of the Queensland Ballet excites me for another reason. My dear ballet teacher Fiona Noonan, who put me on my feet with ballercise and then coaxed me into ballet just over 2 years ago, trained in Brisbane. She demands the best from her students and we strive to give it to her though I fear I do not always succeed. The name of the company's ballet school - the Queensland Dance School of Excellence - typifies its aspiration. Judging by this trailer for for the 2015 season we are in for quite a treat.

The company will dance at the Coliseum from 4 to 8 Aug 2015 and I have a ticket for the last night.

Last year the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company danced a short season at The Linbury. I reviewed their performance in And can they fly! The Dutch National Ballet Junior Company at Covent Garden 30 June 2014. They are returning to London with 7 new dancers in the first week of June as part of the Springboard season (see my interview with Ernst Meisner on the Junior Company 3 Dec 2015). I will see the show in Amsterdam on 6 Feb 2015 and will report back to you. A week after the Junior Company visits the Linbury the main company will present Wayne McGregor's Chroma and new works by David Dawson and Christopher Wheeldon as part of its Cool Britannia triple bill. It does seem a bit ironic crossing the North Sea to see some of the best of British choreography but there it is.

The one show of the Royal Ballet that I am not going to miss come hell or high water will be Ashton's La Fille mal gardée.  This is the oldest ballet in the modern repertory though Ashton's version is a complete reworking and very different from  the original work. It is my favourite ballet and I have seen many famous ballerinas dance the leading role. My all time favourite was Merle Park but I think Roberta Marquez, Laura MoreraMarianela NuñezYuhui Choe and Natalia Osipova will all dance Lise well. I also this Carlos Acosta will make a superb Colas.

Another treat at Covent Garden will be Ballet Black's triple bill which will revive Will Tuckett's Depouillement. This was the work that led me to Ballet Black. Here is the pas de deux danced by Jade Hale Christofi and Sarah Kundi.


Christofi and Kundi have both moved on so the pas de deux will be danced by other dancers. When she visited Leeds in November I asked Cassa Pancho who will dance those roles in February. She seemed about to answer my question and then hesitated. "It's a surprise" she smiled. She has lots of good dancers to choose from. My choice would be Damien Johnson and Cira Robinson or Christopher Renfurm and Kanika Carr but any of the dancers of Ballet Black could do it well.  There will also be new works by Kit Holder and Mark Bruce.  I have tickets for the 14 February which happens to be my birthday.  I can't think of a better way of celebrating it than watching this company - can you?

So far I have discussed ballets that will be performed in London but there is some good stuff in Leeds too. Between 4 and 12 March Northern Ballet will dance Jean-Christophe Maillot's Romeo and Juliet at The Grand.  Ballet Black will dance their delightful children's ballet Dogs Don't Do Ballet at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre on the 18 and 19 April (see Woof 12 Oct 2014). Northern Ballet will also dance David Nixon's Wuthering Heights in Sheffield. between 18 and 21 Match 2015.

In Scotland there is Peter Darrell's The Nutcracker for Scottish Ballet which I shall see in Edinburgh on Saturday and Ballet West's Romeo and Juliet which I will catch wherever I can. From Wales Ballet Cymru promise a new Cinderella and two new works called Celtic Concerto and Tir. Finally, in Essex there will be a new Carnival of the Animals by Christopher Marney for the wonderful Chelmsford Ballet Company of which I am proud to be a non-dancing associate member. One of the reasons I admire Marney is that his style reminds me of  John Cranko. It just so happens that the company will also be dancing Cranko's Pineapple Poll with the new Marney. They will perfrom at the Chelmsford Civic Theatre between the 18 and 21 March. Last year every performance of The Nutcracker was sold out so don't leave it too late to buy a ticket. I wouldn't miss that show for the world,

Sunday, 28 December 2014

My Personal Ballet Highlights of 2014

Choosing  highlights from 2014 has not been easy. I have seen a lot of ballet over the last year and have even danced in one (see The Time of my Life 28 June 2014). I've seen several of the world's most famous companies and many of the world's most acclaimed dancers. I've taken class from some wonderful teachers some of whom have danced principal roles. I've seen some of the great names of ballet at events organized by the London Jewish Cultural Centre and the London Ballet Centre. As it is impossible to compare these experiences objectively I have used just one criterion. What experiences in ballet have given me most pleasure in 2014?

I have to start with Ballet Black because I saw their triple bill no less than four times last year. It consisted of three works: Limbo by Martin Lawrence, Two of a Kind by Christopher Marney, and A Dream within Midsummer Night's Dream by Arthur Pita. I loved them all but my favourite was the Marney. Marney is a choreographer I particularly admire (see my appreciation Christopher Marney 15 March 2014). I was thrilled to meet him when he spoke to London Ballet Circle and again at the premier of Dogs Don't Do Ballet in Harlow in October. I saw Ballet Black perform those works in London, Southport where I was lucky enough to meet Cassa Pancho and several of her dancers for the first time,  Nottingham and Leeds. They got better and better each time so it was their last performance at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre in Leeds that I enjoyed the most. That was the first of my personal ballet highlights of 2014.

The Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre was the venue in which my over 55 class danced as part of the end of year show. To dance on the same stage as some of my favourite artists was a terrific experience. Literally the time of my life but I doubt if it was for anyone else so I shan't count that. Instead I shall mention Northern Ballet's mixed bill which consisted of Lubovitch's Concerto 622, van Manen's Concertante and Kenneth Tindall's The Architect. I am a fan of all those choreographers, particularly Hans van Manen who is one of the resident choreographers of the Dutch National Ballet of which I am now a Friend.  But it was Tindall's The Architect that thrilled me most that day. A few days earlier I had contributed to an appeal by Hannah Bateman to raise funds on Kickstarter to film The Architect which I supported  (see They Made It!  20 June 2014). It was a great pleasure to meet Bateman and Tindall at the 10th anniversary gala for the CAT gala. 

Tindall like Marney trained at Central. Another talented young choreographer from that school is Paul Chantry who is one of the founders and artistic directors of Chantry Dance Company. I owe them and in particular their dance director Gail Gordon a personal debt of gratitude for coaxing me onto stage at Lincoln Drill Hall on 9 May 2014 (see Chantry Dance Company's Sandman and Dream Dance 10 May 2014) for that was the first time I had danced in public. Without that experience I would never have have put my name forward for the Northern Ballet Academy end of year show. That day was memorable in several other respects. I met Mel Wong and two other talented young dancers. I helped make and dance in a ballet which is now on Vimeo. I saw a great performance of Sandman by Paul Chantry and his wife Rae Piper. But best of all I got to know Chantry Dance Company which does great educational and outreach work as well as great shows (see Chantry Dance - Making Connections 30 Aug 2014).

Another company that does great outreach work as well as great shows is Ballet Cymru which has a close connection with the London Ballet Circle. In June I saw their Beauty and the Beast in Lincoln which was a great show but an even better show was Stuck in the Mud which they performed on the streets and by the beach of Llndudno in collaboration with Gloucestershire Dance. Ballet Cymru has some wonderful dancers and it was a great pleasure to see them again but it was the contribution of the Gloucestershire dancers that impressed me on that occasion. It was my first experience of accessible dance and I immediately saw its value for an audience. Instead of overcoming disability the dancers add a new dimension to dance. Seeing that performance and later meeting the choreographer Marc Brew was definitely a highlight of 2014.

Marc Brew works in Glasgow which is the home of Scottish Ballet, the first ballet company that I got to know and love (see Scottish Ballet 20 Dec 2013). Last year I saw two great performances by that company, Romeo and Juliet in May which promoted me to become a Friend of the company and The Crucible with Ten Poems in October. If I allowed a company more than one highlight they would be five and six from last year. I anticipate that Peter Darrell's The Nutcracker which I shall see next week will be one of the highlights of 2015.  As I have to chose one from Scottish Ballet it has to be Krzysztof Pastor's Romeo and Juliet.

Two other performances of Romeo and Juliet were highlights for me in 2014, First, the Mariinsky's at Covent Garden with Xander Parish in the leading role. I was lucky enough to meet Xander Parish when he spoke to the London Ballet Circle a few days after the show. My ballet teacher's daughter's birthday fell just a few days afterwards. I presented him with two cards - one from the Royal Ballet's shop and the other from Northern Ballet's and he paid us the compliment of choosing the Northern Ballet one.

The other Romeo and Juliet that thrilled me was English National Ballet's Romeo and Juliet in the round at the Albert Hall. The principal roles were danced by Friedemann Vogel and Alina Cojocaru. It was a bittersweet moment for me because I feared that would be the last time I would see Sarah Kundi whom I have followed ever since she was with Northern Ballet. I was overjoyed to learn that she had been recruited by English National Ballet (see Saved for the Nation 17 July 2014). In November I saw her and my other favourite dancers from the company in company class (see Coppelia in Oxford  2 Nov 2014), Kundi is not just a fine dancer but also an entertaining blogger and I strongly recommend her notes on tour.

For a while Kundi danced with MurleyDance and it was she who drew that company to my attention. I saw their triple bill in Leeds on 1 Dec 2013. Although I had come to see Kundi I was impressed by the other dancers and David Murley's choreography. I saw the company again in October when they danced Hail Britannia 28 Oct 2014. They had evolved tremendously.  It was almost a different company.  I liked all the works but my favourite was Anaish Parmar's Shaadi.  That was about an Indian wedding and I loved the way the choreographer combined east and west. There was Indian music but also I'm getting married in the Morning. There were wonderful jumps and pointe work.

I mentioned van Manen and Pastor above. They are two of the reasons why I have become a Friend of the Dutch National Ballet. A third is the Dutch National Ballet's Junior Company who came to London in May. I had already seen them in Amsterdam and they were even better at the Linbury.  As before there were superb performances by Michaela DePrince and Sho Yamada and my favourite ballet of the show was Ernst Meisner's Saltarello. I have featured the Junior Company earlier this month and I am looking forward to seeing them again in their opening show in Amsterdam on 6 Feb 2015.

I saw the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden twice last year as well as several HDTV transmissions in the cinema. Because they are the gold standard I expect a lot from them and my reviews have been a little more critical than those of other companies.  It goes without saying that two of the best performances of the year by a country mile were Giselle in January and The Winter's Tale. As I have to choose one show from each company it has to be Giselle  with Carlos Acosta and Natalia Osipova. I think that is because I already knew Giselle and although I find Act II superstitious and creepy it contains the most sublime choreography I know. Although I was a trifle disappointed when I first saw Winter's Tale I got to appreciate it when I saw it in the cinema and on TV on Christmas day and I now like it very much indeed.

My favourite ballet of 2014 was Gillian Lynne's re-creation of Robert Helpmann's Miracle in the Gorbals for Birmingham Royal Ballet which I was at Sadler's Wells in October. I had seen Helpmann dance with Frederick Ashton in Cinderella and he also presented the gala to Sir Frederick which I saw when I first became interested in ballet. Miracle in the Gorbals broke new ground in many ways just as its almost exact contemporary Appalachian Spring did in the USA. Even though Lynne's production was a re-creation rather than a revival its performance was something of a miracle in itself and a joy to behold.

Post Script

What will be my ballet highlights for 2015? Here are some of my suggestions: Looking Forward to 2015 - My Choices 29 Dec 2014.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The Junior Company on Tour

Earlier this month I published a suite of interviews and articles about Ernst Meisner and his latest recruits to the Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet (Meet Ernst Meisner and his talented young dancers 6 March 2014). These remarkably talented young dancers are about to go on tour (see the Junior Company's page on the Dutch National Ballet's website). Their first performance will be at the Stadsshouwburg in Amsterdam on the 6 Feb 2015.

I was there last year and it was one of the most memorable evenings I have spent in the theatre (see The Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet - Stadsshouwburg Amsterdam 24 Nov 2013 25 Nov, 2013). The crowd was ecstatic especially when Hans van Manen took a bow after dancers from the Junior Company had performed his Quintet.

I will be in the audience at the Stadsshouwburg when the Junior Company launches its tour this year. Tickets for the show have been selling like hot cakes but there are still a few left if you hurry, The cheapest way to get to Holland is by easyJet from Southend Airport and the American Hotel is just across the road from the theatre, If you go through you can get some pretty good deals.

If you miss that performance you can catch the Junior Company in one of the other cities of the Netherlands. According to Wikipedia the land area of the Netherlands is only 16,939 square miles of which 18.41% is water and there is excellent public transport so it is not difficult to reach these other theatres. Another option is to wait until they perform at the Linbury in the Spring. However, I have to say that for those of us who live some distance from London Amsterdam is much easier to reach and a lot less expensive than our own capital.

If you want to meet Ernst Meisner he is giving a talk to the London Ballet Circle in March. A date has not yet been fixed. I'll let you know as soon as I learn it myself.

Finally. as this is probably my last post before Christmas I should like to wish all my readers around the world a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Clara grows up- Grigorovich's Nutcracker transmitted directly from Moscow

The audience at the Bolshoi Theatre in 1858
Photo Wikipedia

I saw The Nutcracker in a whole new light this afternoon. Most of the productions of The Nutcracker that I have seen focus on the divertiseements in the land of the sweets culminating in the dance of the sugar plum fairy and her cavalier - Wayne Eagling's version for English National Ballet being the big exception (Cracking! 14 Dec 2013). Yuri Grigorovich version, which was transmitted this afternoon live from the Bolshoi Theatre to cinemas around the world, focused on a young girl's transitioning into womanhood and her falling in love with her nutcracker.

Accordingly, Clara (who is called Marie in the Bolshoi's version) has a much bigger role than in most productions. Today she was danced by Anna Nikulina a leading soloist with the company. Her partner was Denis Rodkin. In the interval Rodkin explained that his ambition to dance was fired by seeing a production of The Nutcracker on television in which Ekaterina Maximova danced. He asked his parents where he could learn to dance. They told him about the ballet school warning him that it would be no easy life. Undeterred he started ballet lessons and has not looked back since. As in the Eagling version, Clara dances the sugar plum role though in a white tutu rather than a plum coloured one. Similarly, the nutcracker dances the part of the fairy's cavalier. The ballet ends with Clara wearing a wedding veil.  But although Clara imagines herself as a young woman it is only a dream. She wakes up in her parents' living room  in her nightie with her nutcracker in her arms.

There were some other interesting touches. The mouse king, danced today by Vitaly Biktimirov, is a major character. He appears in the first act in a puff of smoke in the Stahlbaums' living room and disappears down a hole with the nutcracker in another puff of smoke in the second.  Eventually the nutcracker emerges triumphant bearing the mouse king's skin and crown. The second act takes place not in a land of sweets but in a forest dominated by an enormous Christmas tree. The divertissements are very slick each following in quick succession even before the previous dancers have left the stage.

The character who holds the ballet together in this version as in all others is, of course, Drosselmeyer. He is in every scene from the Stahlbaums' party to the apotheosis. Today Andrei Merkuriev danced Drosselmeyer.  Pensive, alert, inspired by brain waves, he was very well cast for the role.

As in all Bolshoi transmissions the ballet was introduced by Katherina Novikova. She is an excellent presenter. Fluent in English and French she is an incisive and perceptive interviewer. I had her in mind when I conducted my interviews with Gavin McCaig and Ernst Meisner and his talented young dancers.

Every time I see an HDTV transmission I notice something new. Today I noticed the floor of the stage give a little whenever a dancer jumped. Something I have never noticed even when I have been in the front row of the theatre.

Not too sure about Fairies but I certainly believe in Rachael Gillespie

Northern Ballet, Peter Pan, The Grand, Leeds 20 Dec 2014

Rachael Gillespie is one of the dancers who lift my spirits after a hard week. She seems to love to dance and her joy is infectious. Watching her perform is almost like participating in the dance. Tonight she was Tinkerbell and she was lovely.  Having seen J M Barrie's play as a child I remember being exhorted to believe in fairies to save brave Tinkerbell. I wondered how David Nixon would translate that moment into ballet. The answer was a voice off stage: "I believe in fairies". It was followed by another and then another. Jeremy Curnier asked "Do you believe in fairies?" adding "Tinkerbell will live if you do".  "Yes" roared the crowd followed by thunderous applause that shook the auditorium. Up sprang dear Rachael with her winning smile. Corny, I know, but great theatre.

Rachael Gillespie was not the only star last night. There was of course Peter danced magnificently by Curnier. Antoinette Brooks-Daw was a natural Wendy. Javier Torres made a splendid Captain Hook. Wicked and devious but also gallant and flamboyant to the end. Did he really have to walk the plank into the jaws of Sean Bates, the ticking crocodile? Also delightful was Lucia Solari as the Neverbird. I admired Torres and Solari in Cinderella when I saw them in Sheffield last month (Cinderella - even better 30 Nov 2014) and at The Grand last boxing day (Northern Ballet's Cinderella - a Triumph! 27 Dec 2013). They are developing into a really strong partnership of which we enjoyed glimpses when they doubled as Mr and Mrs Darling. All danced well - the Lost Boys, Mermaids, Pirates, everybody - and it would be unfair to single any of them out for special praise.

Nonetheless, I must say a word for Dominique Larose who danced Nana. Having seen Ballet Black's Dogs Don't Do Ballet (Woof 12 Oct 2014) I doubted that any dancer could dance a dog as well as that company. But Larose's Nana was as canine as Cira Robinson's Bif. I only wish that Vlad the Lad could have been in Leeds last night. I loved all the animals. As I said in my review of Cinderella, if Northern Ballet can do bears not to mention birds, dogs and crocodiles - so well surely one solitary bear was not beyond the Royal Ballet.

To my great delight Nixon followed the Barrie play very closely (see the scenario). Stephen Warbeck's score fitted the story perfectly and afforded ample scope for Nixon's ingenious choreography. You can hear some of the music if you have or can download Spotify. Peter Mumford's sets and lighting and Kim Brassley's costumes were magnificent as you can see from the photos.

Yesterday was a splendid evening and just what I needed after a trying fee days.

Post Script

The splendid performance of Peter Pan by Northern Ballet at The Grand on Saturday reminded me that the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 contains a provision that creates a special intellectual property right akin to copyright for the benefit of Great Ormond Street Hospital ("GOSH") for sick children. In have explored the legislative history of the special IP right and its features in GOSH - a special IPR that never grows old 22 Dec 2014 IP Yorkshire.

Leeds also has a children's hospital which appeals for funds and as you can see from the Northern Ballet website, Peter (also known as Gavin McCaig) and Tinkerbell (Alison Bayston) paid it a visit on 16 Dec 2014.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Chantry Dance and MurleyDance all in the same day. How good is that!

Assassination of Riccardo
Illustration August Pollak, Wikipedia 

On Friday afternoon I received the following email from Rae Piper, one of the artistic directors of Chantry Dance:
"Apologies for the late notice, but we have just been given 2 tickets for the general dress rehearsal of 'Un Ballo In Maschera' to be held at the Royal Opera House on Monday 15th at 11am-2:30pm. If you would like these tickets, you are very welcome to them - it would be our pleasure to give them to you. Please let me know if you would like them, and I will arrange to get them to you."
I did not need to be asked twice. Opportunities like this don't grow on trees and I know a good thing when I see one.  I accepted with alacrity and then rang one of my friends to see whether she was free to come to London with me.

My friend and I had seen an HDTV transmission of the Met's production from New York at the National Media Museum which we both enjoyed. She also knew Chantry Dance having also seen Paul Chantry and Rae Piper in Halifax a few weeks ago (see "The Happy Prince in Halifax" 21 Nov 2014). We knew they were assisting Lucy Burge with the choreography and that they would also be in the show.

We got up very early yesterday morning and set off for Luton Parkway just after 06:00. Although I live in Yorkshire I do most of my work in London and have tried every way of getting there. Unless you book well in  advance trains are expensive and you have to allow at least 90 minutes to drive from Holmfirth, park and pick up the ticket from one of those irritating ticket machines with a perpetual queue. The number of trains I have missed waiting in the queue at Sheffield station does not bear thinking about. It also costs an arm and a leg to park by the station. I have found the best way is to drive to Luton Parkway (which usually takes no more than 2 and a half hours) where one can park all day for £3 and then take the Thameslink into St Pancras. Had the day gone according to plan we would have reached Luton no later than 09:30 and Covent Garden well before 11:00.

Alas, the day did not go according to plan. We found ourselves in a horrendous snarl-up outside Nottingham which delayed us by 2 hours. The result was that we rolled up at the Opera House late and had to watch the first part of the opera on a monitor. However, we were able to take our seats after the interval and were treated to a brilliant show. There were excellent performances by Joseph Callleja as Riccardo, Dimitri Hvorostovsky as Renato, Ludmyla Monastryska as Amelia and indeed the whole cast. Although their's was a non-singing role it was good to see Paul and Rae on stage. We were particularly pleased to see them because they had not been well the day before and feared that they might miss the rehearsal.  Happily they had recovered enough yesterday morning to soldier on and, like the rest of the cast, they did very well. The music conducted by Daniel Oren was magnificent. Our tickets were in the stalls circle so we were very close to the orchestra.  The sets and costumes were beautiful. It was every bit as good as the Met's production. We congratulate those who have been fortunate enough to get tickets. You are in for a treat, folks.

After the rehearsal I returned to chambers. Tomorrow is our Christmas party which I shall miss because it clashes with the Huddersfield Choral Society's public performance of Handel's Messiah. We therefore held an impromptu party to which I invited friends from the barre as well as the bar. Paul and Rae did not pick up their Christmas card upon which I had written an invitation but Paul Kelly and David Murley of MurleyDance were able to come. Over wine and mince pies it was interesting to discover just how much my world has in common with theirs. As I discovered when I took to the stage the part of my brain which engages when I go into court kicked in to play when I found myself on stage (see "The Time of my Life" 28 June 2014).

I am a great fan of both Chantry Dance and MurleyDance. I owe Chantry Dance a great debt of gratitude for coaxing me on stage (see "Chantry Dance Company's Sandman and Dream Dance" 10 May 2014). Had I not been in Dream Dance I would not have put my name forward for the Northern Ballet Academy end of year show. That was one of the greatest moments of my life and I owe a lot of other people - notably my teachers Annemarie Donoghue, Fiona Noonan and everyone else who has taught me for advancing me to that point - and Mel, Dave Wilson and the folks in Chelmsford for encouraging me to have a go.

Saturday, 13 December 2014


Manchester's Theatre Street: The Dancehouse Theatre, Northern Ballet
School and KNT Danceworks
Photo Wikipedia

Manchester City Ballet, The Nutcracker, Dancehouse Theatre, 12 Dec 2014

For the last week Jeannette Winterson has been talking about Manchester on Radio 4. The title for her talks is Manchester: Alchemical City. She has chosen that title to celebrate our city's genius for creating riches of all kinds - intellectual, cultural, spiritual as well as material - out of base matter.

A good example of that genius is Northern Ballet School which set up in a derelict cinema on Oxford Road. If Manchester is to the United Kingdom what St Petersburg is to Russia then Oxford Road which connects out great universities to several of our theatres and concert hall is our Theatre Street (see "The New Mariinsky" 4 May 2013 for the significance of "Theatre Street").  The space has been converted into a magnificent centre for the study and performance of all kinds of dance. As well as the School, which justifiably describes itself as "an international centre of excellence in training for classical ballet and musical theatre" there is KNT Danceworks for adult classes which I attend whenever I can  (see So Proud of Manchester - KNT Danceworks Complete Beginners Class 29 Aug 2014) and the Dancehouse Theatre. Every year, members of the school dancing as Manchester City Ballet, present one of the classical ballets in that theatre.  This year they chose The Nutcracker which I saw last night.

The Nutcracker must be a challenge to stage because every member of the public thinks he or she knows the ballet and has his or her own notions as to how it is to be performed, whether a balletomane or not. It is one of the traditions of Christmas like Handel's Messiah. Most of  the major companies of the world have a version in their repertoire. The ballet is often shown on television. Tunes from the ballet like the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Waltz of the Flowers are played, whistled and even sung in all sorts of versions. There is not much of a story and thus not much for the principals to do but there is lots of character dancing and the second act is chock full of divertissements. 

Because the ballet is so well known choreographers and producers are tempted to put their own twist on the story and introduce gimmicks such as balloons. That is nearly always a mistake.  As I said when I reviewed Chelmsford Ballet's production ("The Nutcracker as it really should be danced - No Gimmicks but with Love and Joy" 20 March 2014) the ballet works best when it holds fast to Hoffmann's story and Petipa's choreography. Yesterday's performance by Manchester City Ballet was true to the original though the Stahlbaums were elevated to the Russian nobility as Count Pyotr and Countess Katrina, Drosselmeyer was renamed Kazimir and Clara's naughty little brother was called Misha rather than Hans or Fritz.

There were some interesting linkages between the first and second Acts. Clara had an elder sister called Natalia who morphed into the Sugar Plum Fairy and Natalia's fiancé in Act I became the Sugar Plum Fairy's cavalier in Act II. The battle scene between the toy soldiers and the rodents was one of the best I have ever seen. That was choreographed specially by Anton Alexandrov separately from the rest of the ballet which was choreographed by David Needham.  I should add that I loved Sarah Oxley's set designs, particularly her backdrop for the kingdom of the sweets with cup cake fillings substituted for onion bowl cupolas.

Manchester City Ballet showed that Northern Ballet School has a lot of very promising young dancers. Misato Ito who danced the Sugar Plum Fairy and Natalia and Jack Brownhill who was Sugar Plum's cavalier and Natalia's fiancé displayed considerable virtuosity. Nicole Hamill was an adorable Clara. She was given much more to do than in many productions in that she danced several of the divertissements of Act II.  Her dance with the children was particularly charming. Steven Lloyd, who also danced Clara's father was a magnificent King Rat. Luca De Martino, who was also Harlequin and in the Chinese tea dance was a great Nutcracker. Bradley Parsons, who also danced in the Spanish chocolate was an excellent Kazimir (Drosselmeyer). Megan Reid danced delightful solos in the snowflake and waltz of the flowers. While all the divertissements were good I cheered particularly loundly for the Russians - Alex Burrows, Carlos Oliviera and Harry Powell - the Mirlitons - Yui Hayahsi, Yukiho Kasai and Aida Martinez Pastor - and Columbine - Sayaka Sugimoto who also accompanied Bradley Parsons in the Spanish dance.

Unlike the second city of Russia the second city of the United Kingdom does not host a major ballet company for the moment (though that may change with the massive investment in The Factory - Manchester (see "Let's bring the Royal Ballet to The Factory Manchester11 Dec 2014)), but our city does have a very good ballet school on its theatre street.

Post Script
If you want to find out more about Northern Ballet School and the studios in which KNT Danceworks operates there is a beautifully made video called "Want To Be Here - A taste of life at Northern Ballet School" which I thoroughly recommend.

Friday, 12 December 2014

The Bedouin of Ballet

Ballet Theatre UK's Swan Lake. The Atkinson, Southport, 11 Dec 2014

I introduced readers to Ballet Theatre UK ("BTUK") when I reviewed their performance of The Little Mermaid in Southport (see "Pure Delight - BTUK's Little Mermaid in Southport" 27 April 2014). I wrote:
"BTUK is no ordinary company. It has a punishing schedule. Before coming to Southport it had danced a matinee and evening at Dunstable on the 22 April, an evening show at Tamworth on the 23, a matinee and evening at Keswick on the 24 and an evening at Runcorn on the 26. Today it crosses the Ribble to Blackpool and on 1 May it comes to Rotherham and then on Peterborough on the 2. I counted over 66 different venues throughout the British Isles. This show has quite elaborate scenery and props and sumptuous costumes. Bearing in mind that the dancers must find time for company classes, rehearsing their next production, eating and drinking, some kind of family and social life as well as travelling, I take my hat off to them."
 Last night BTUK returned to Southport to dance Swan Lake and I was in the audience to welcome them.

I have to start by saying that with the exception of Matthew Bourne's (see "Swan Lads - Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, Bradford Alhambra 4 March 2014" 5 March 2014) this was the most unusual Swan Lake that I have ever seen. It was very much shorter - two acts instead of the usual three or four. Different dancers danced Odette and Odile and in this version Odile turned out not to be all bad. Nobody gave Siegfried a bow. He simply got lost in the woods looking for Odette. Instead of cygnets there was a pas de quatre  - that is to say two men and two women and not just four girls with arms linked in lock step. Siegfried and Odette already knew each other at the start of the ballet. We see Rothbart turn Odette into a swan so that he could offer Odile to Siegfried as a bride. Siegfried is not deceived by Odile's appearance but is influenced by the same sort of drug that Puck used to make Titania fall in love with a donkey in Midsummer Night's Dream. This was not the only balletic allusion that the choreographer, Christopher Moore, used.  Odile wielded a sword just like Giselle in the mad scene before she plunges it into Rothbart's body. And there is a sword fight in Act II just as in Romeo and Juliet. Instead of the lovers plunging into the lake to break Rothbart's spell there is a happy ending which would have pleased Joseph Stalin.

Not everyone likes the reworking of this plot. Yesterday, one of the members of my ballet class warned me that BTUK "had murdered Swan Lake." When I asked her what she meant she replied that the music was still there "but precious little else." It is true that some important bits of the ballet are missing - most notably Legnani's 32 fouettés and the Venetian dance though the czardas and the Spanish dance survived - but the ballet still worked. In fact, I have to congratulate Moore on his adaptation of this ballet for the exigencies of touring.

If BTUK were a traditional company with principals, soloists, coryphées and corps it might have been possible to run the traditional version of Swan Lake but this is a touring company where all the dancers are of approximately the same age and experience and each of them is allowed a go at the leading roles. This production was engineered for a young company constantly on the move. Hence my nickname for them: "the Bedouin of Ballet".

My only criticism of the show is that BTUK never publish cast lists though they do sell a very glossy souvenir brochure for a fiver. Towards the back of the brochure there are biographies and thumbnail photos of the dancers. It is always difficult to recognize on stage faces in a programme because of the lighting and make-up but I was told by the programme seller I mentioned in my Little Mermaid review that Nathalie Cawte was Odette, Claire Corruble Odile, David Brewer Rothbart and Vincent Cabot Siegfried, They and indeed everybody in the company danced beautifully and deserve to be commended.

Tomorrow the company are performing in Cannock. They are spending the weekend in Warwick. Then on to Dorchester and Newbury before a well-earned Christmas break. This company is taking ballet to every nook and cranny of the British Isles introducung the art to new audiences just as Peter Brinson's Ballet for All did in the 1960s and 1970s. They all deserve our gratitude and there are many ways we can repay it through their support page.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Let's bring the Royal Ballet to The Factory Manchester

Palace Theatre
Photo Wikipedia

With 2.9 million inhabitants the Greater Manchester metropolitan area is the second largest conurbation in the British Isles. It is also the largest conurbation without a resident world class ballet company. London has lots of good companies - the Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Rambert, Ballet Black to name just a few. Birmingham has the Birmingham Royal Ballet, Glasgow Scottish Ballet, Leeds Northern Ballet and Newport Ballet Cymru.

It has not always been so. Northern Ballet began life in Manchester but moved across the Pennines first to Halifax and then to Leeds.  It now has a magnificent home at Quarry Hill in Leeds with its own theatre in the same neighbourhood as the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds College of Music, Yorkshire Dance, the BBC and the Grand.  There is no reason why it should move anywhere else. Of course, we still see Northern Ballet in Manchester from time to time just as we see the Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Rambert and many other companies. We also have the Northern Ballet School which performs a classical ballet every year at the Danceworks Theatre in Oxford Road. All very good but not the same as having our own world class company.

A few years ago there were plans for the Royal Opera House to establish a Northern base at The Palace with regular seasons for the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera in Manchester. That would have been wonderful but austerity put paid to that (see Rob Sharp Royal Opera House shelves move north 28 Oct 2010 The Independent). Although the news report says that the plans have been put on hold nobody has tried to revive them in the intervening time.

But maybe we can do so now.  In his Autumn Statement 2014 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a £78 million investment in a massive theatre and arts centre on the site of the Granada Studios to be known as "The Factory Manchester".  It is part of a £7 billion programme of investment in transport, science and technology and the arts to transform the cities of the North into a "Northern Powerhouse" to serve as an economic counterweight to London.  

An economic counterweight needs culture.  As Manchester City Council recognizes in its press release "£78m for The Factory Manchester - a new large scale, ultra-flexible arts space" 3 Dec 2013 
"The Factory Manchester will play an integral part in helping Manchester and the North of England provide a genuine cultural counterbalance to London, supporting the city and region's growth."
Now Manchester already has The Hallé, The Royal Exchange and The Lowry which go a good way towards providing that cultural counterweight but it needs first class opera and ballet to be complete.

We could try to persuade an established company in another city to move to Manchester as Birmingham, Glasgow and Leeds did but that would be resented by the city such company would leave behind and we Mancunians are too big hearted for that. We could also grow our own company but that would take years. Dusting off the plans that were put on hold only five years ago now seems a viable option. If the BBC can move to Media City why not the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera for at least part of the year? The second city of the nation needs and deserves nothing less.

Post Script
The following paragraph appears in the Wikipedia article on the Royal Ballet:
"The Royal Opera House and Manchester City Council are currently in the planning stages of a new development known as Royal Opera House, Manchester. The proposal is for the Palace Theatre in Manchester to receive an £80m refurbishment, creating a first-class theatre capable of staging productions by both the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera. The Royal Opera House would take residence of the theatre for an annual 18 week season, staging 16 performances by the Royal Opera, 28 performances by the Royal Ballet and other small-scale productions. The proposals would establish the Palace Theatre as a designated base for the Royal Opera House companies in the North of England, as a producing house for new ballet and opera, and as a training centre for all aspects of theatre production. The proposals could potentially lead to the creation of 700 jobs for local people.
The proposals have been approved by Andy Burnham MP the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, and accepted by a number of public bodies. However the plans are currently being revised to address the concerns put forward by those who are opposed to the plans. Issues that have been raised include:
  • How will the refurbishment of the Palace Theatre be funded?
  • Will the proposals impact negatively on The Lowry, a theatre and arts complex in nearby Salford?
  • Will the Manchester season present the same standard of performance as the Royal Opera House in London?"
More on Ballet in Manchester

13 Dec 2014 Alchemy
9 Nov 2014  A Mancunian Nutcracker
10 Oct 2014 What Manchester does today
29 Aug 2014 So proud of Manchester

More on the "Northern Powerhouse"

10 Dec 2014 Jane Lambert "Let's take this opportunity with both hands" IP North West
8 Nov 2014 Jane Lambert "Northern Futures Summit" IP Yorkshire (see the links to other articles)

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Bourne's "Lord of the Flies" at Bradford: good though not quite my cup of tea

William Golding
Photo Wikipedia

New Adventures' Lord of the Flies closed in Bradford to a standing ovation  though it has to be said in an auditorium that was a good deal less than full. I was one of the few members of the audience who did not stand up on Saturday evening. Neither did I cheer. But I did clap. For although the show was not quite my cup of tea it was good.

Based closely on the novel by William Golding about a group of schoolboys on a desert island who descend into savagery when left to their own devices. it was far from comfortable to watch. The cast was of course all male and many of the dancers had been recruited from local schools. An on-line form on New Adventures ' website explains:
"Lord of the Flies is a unique project that will bring together professional dancers from our company and young male dancers from the regions in which we will present the production. Over the coming months each regional venue will be launching large-scale community outreach programmes to find the young men to be in the show. We are interested to hear from young men aged between 10 - 25 year old. No previous experience of dance is necessary. "
The main characters were Ralph, Piggy and Jack danced respectively by Sam Archer, Sam Plant and Danny Reubens of New Adventures. They all performed well and I think I would have liked to have seen more of those principals had the story and choreography permitted.

The score by Terry Davies fitted the story very well. There was a lot of percussion and rhythm. The choreography which had to be within the capability of schoolboys with no previous experience of dance while allowing the principals to shine was devised cleverly by Scott Ambler. Lez Bretherson made ingenious use of hampers and clothes rails as props.

The show was dramatic, well produced and well danced. For the children who took part it must have been a wonderful experience. Nureyev, Acosta, Polunin and indeed Bourne himself had already eroded much of the the prejudice against dance for boys. Shows like this bury it for ever and for that alone it deserves to be commended.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Now you can see why I am such a fan of the Dutch National Ballet

I am very grateful to Richard Heideman, press officer of the Dutch National Ballet for bringing this video to my attention on twitter:

I think it is the best flashmob that I have ever seen.

For those who don't follow ballet this dance is a scene from the second act of Giselle . Myrthe, Queen of the Wilis, summonses the souls of girls who died of a broken heart just before their wedding night. Giselle, the heroine of the story, has just joined their number because she died in the arms of her mother on learning that Albrecht, a local aristocrat who had dressed up as a peasant was really a count and already engaged to be married to another lady. In some versions Giselle kills herself with Albrecht's sword which he left lying around for Hilarion, Giselle's old boyfriend, to pick up. In other productions, Giselle dies of shock or a broken heart.

I find something very dark and creepy about Giselle on stage which I find hard to reconcile with my religious beliefs (see Reflections on Giselle 29 Jan 2014). But Petitpa's choreography to Adam's haunting score is magnificent and I watch it as an abstraction as I would a ballet Balanchine. The beauty of this film is that it strips away the spooks and superstition and celebrates the glorious choreography and gorgeous music.

Shot in a Beijing shopping centre with the dancers wearing trainers and jeans rather than pointe shoes and romantic tutus with little wings hanging out at the back and their hair worn loose rather than in buns this is a marvellous way to appreciate this wonderful romantic ballet.

I am in no position to rank ballet companies but I have seen the world's finest including the Royal Ballet, English National, the Bolshoi and Mariinsky and American Ballet Theatre. Of all the great national companies the Dutch is the one I admire the most and like the best. If you want to learn more about this wonderful company I have written 11 articles about Ernst Meisner and his outstanding young dancers.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Meet Ernst Meisner and his talented young dancers

Ernst Meisner
Photo Robin DePuy
(c) Dutch National Ballet 2014
Reproduced with kind permission of the Dutch 
National Ballet

Having danced with the Royal Ballet for 10 years Ernst Meisner is very well known and very well-liked by British audiences. In 2010 he returned to the Netherlands and joined the Dutch National Ballet as a grand sujet. He is now Artistic Co-ordinator of a group of exceptionally talented young dancers within Dutch National Ballet known as “the Junior Company”.

I saw their opening night in Amsterdam on 23 Nov 2013 which I reviewed in The Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet - Stadsshouwburg Amsterdam 24 Nov 2013 25 Nov 2013. In May 2014 Ernst Meisner brought his Junior Company to the Linbury and I reviewed their show in And can they fly! The Dutch National Ballet Junior Company at Covent Garden 30 May 2014. The more experienced members of the Junior Company have now joined the Dutch National Ballet as apprentices and their places have been taken by Bart Engelen, Martin ten Kortenaar, Lisanne Kottenhagen, Ryosuke Morimoto, Cristiano Principato, Emilie Tassinari, Yuanyuan Zhang and Riho Sakamoto.

I had admired the works of Rudi van Dantzig and Hans van Manen for many years but I started to follow the Dutch National Ballet only recently. I am now a Friend of that company and am getting to know It better. I was led to the National Ballet by the Junior Company and have written a lot of articles about both of them in Terpsichore. Noticing my interest in the Dutch National Ballet in general and the Junior Company in particular Ernst Meisner kindly agreed to help me write this feature by answering my questions and introducing me to the new members of the Junior Company.

As there is a lot of material I have divided this feature into a number of posts. The first is on Ernst Meisner’s work with the Dutch National Ballet. The second is on the Junior Company. The rest of the feature consists of interviews with each of the new members.  I asked each of those dancers:
  • how he or she had started to study ballet;
  • where he or she had trained; 
  • whether there was a dancer or choreographer who had inspired the new member and if so who it was;
  • whether a teacher had inspired the new member and if so who;
  • the member’s greatest achievements to date;
  • the roles he or she had already danced;
  • the ballets or roles that the member wished to dance;
  • the new member’s favourite dancers and choreographers;
  • the member’s immediate ambitions;
  • his or her long term ambitions such as choreography, teaching or another career outside ballet; and
  • the member’s interests outside ballet such as sports, music, film and other performing arts.
I am very grateful to Richard Heideman, Press Manager of the Dutch National Ballet, for putting those questions the dancers on my behalf.

If you want to meet Ernst Meisner you will have a chance to do so in March when he talks to the London Ballet Circle. I understand from Susan Dalgety of the Circle that the date of his talk has not yet been fixed, I shall post details of the date, time and venue of his talk as soon as I learn them.

Meet Riho Sakamoto of the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company

Riho Sakamoto
Photo Robin DePuy
(c) Dutch National Ballet 2014
Reproduced with kind permission of the Dutch 
National Ballet

Riho started ballet because her grandmother wanted her to develop a good posture. She would start dancing around whenever she heard music. That is why her mother and grandmother thought that it would be good for me to learn to dance.  Riho studied in Japan for few years and then went to study in Washington DC to study at the Kirov Academy of Ballet.

Many dancers have inspired her particularly Rudolf Nureyev. "I like his idea of always wanting to learn new things, exploring what your body can do, and by working with new dances you can find your new self," she said. She was also inspired by her teacher Elena Tenchikova who taught her for three years who Riho described as "not just my teacher, but also like a second mother to me." For instance, as a young girl Riho did not know how to apply a stage make up. Elena Tenchikova showed her how to put it on giving her private lessons as the performances approched.

Her greatest achievement to date and been entering the Junior Company and working with people she admires.  

Already Riho has enjoyed dancing the first act of Don Quixote as Kitri, the second act of Giselle, the second of La Sylphide, the first act of La Bayadere, the role of Aurora, and the pas de deux from La Fille Mal Gardee which was her first pas de deux

When asked what ballets she would like to dance, Riho replied:
"This is a very difficult question, because I would love to dance every role and ballet possible. I would love to play an evil character, just because I’ve never done them before, and I would also like to dance Giselle again someday. I would also love to dance In the Middle Somewhat Elevated' by William Forsythe, and I was inspired by Million Kisses to my Skin by David Dawson."
Riho's favourite dancers and choreographers include Sylvie Guillem, William Forsythe, Kristina Shapran, Evgenia Obratsova, Maia Makhateli, and Anna Tsygankova.

Riho's immediate ambitions are to 
"continue working with amazing ballet masters here with the Junior company and to become a better dancer, and to be part of the main company here with the Dutch National Ballet." 
In the longer term she would love to be a ballet master in a company, teaching at a school, or  a choreographer one day. She does not know what she would like to do exactly, but she knows she would like to stay in the ballet world.

Her interests outside ballet include singing, watching TV, cooking, and playing the piano.

A very interesting and determined young woman, I wish her well.

Meet Yuanyuan Zhang of the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company

Yuanyuan Zhang 
Photo Robin DePuy
(c) Dutch National Ballet 2014
Reproduced with kind permission of the Dutch 
National Ballet

Initially a student of Chinese dance, Yuanyuan had a chance to try ballet and fell in love with it. She studied at the Shanghai Theatre Academy where she drew inspiration from her teachers. Also, when she was young she saw many dance videos and they all inspired her. Her greatest achievement to date was coming fourth in the Cape Town International Ballet Competition and her golds in the classical dance and modern dance awards.

She has already danced in Le Corsaire, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker and the role she would particularly like to dance is Giselle which she thinks is very beautiful.

Yuanyuan's favourite dancer is Alina Cojocaru.

Her immediate ambitions is to enter the Dutch National Ballet and in the longer term she sees herself as a ballet master.

Outside ballet Yuanyuan likes music and singing.

I look forward to seeing Yuanyuan dance and I wish her well with her career.

Meet Emilie Tassinari of the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company

Emilie Tassinari
Photo Robin DePuy
(c) Dutch National Ballet 2014
Reproduced with kind permission of the Dutch 
National Ballet

Born in Bologna. Emilie Tassinari has lived most recently in Finale Emilia in Northern Italy. The town suffered a serious earthquake in May 2012 which destroyed or damaged many beautiful old buildings including the clock tower, castle and cathedral. It also damaged the dance school where she used to study and destroyed the pool where she trained as a champion swimmer.  I am sure I speak for everyone in hoping that the old buildings can be restored to their former glory and that an even better pool and dance school will be built. 

Emilie thanks her mother for her interest in ballet. As she was an only child her mother encouraged her to take up physical activity rather than slump in front of a TV or computer screen.  From an early age she trained in both competitive swimming and classical ballet. In 2009, which was also the year she competed in the National Swimming Championship, she was noticed by the Director of La Scala Ballet Academy who invited her to audition. She was accepted and began her professional training at the Academy.

Friends and colleagues in the National Ballet and Junior Company have inspired Emilie. All her teachers have contributed to her professional and personal development, but she was influenced particularly by Bella Ratchinskaja, Leonid Nikonov and Tatiana Nikonova who strongly believed in her, supported her and helped her throughout her through her studies. She also acknowledges the influence of Giuseppe Carbone, director of numerous companies including the Cullberg Ballet and La Scala. They have all communicated to her the idea that dance is a language conveying emotions and feelings and that the discipline is effective if applied with empathy and adaptability.

Getting into the Junior Company and her development as a dancer through her own hard work are her greatest achievements to date. While she was at the Academy she danced the pas de deux from The Flames of Paris, the First Shade in La Bayadere, and the pas de trois from Paquita in La Scala. In a gala in Italy for Vito Mazzeo, she danced the pas de deux from Coppelia and Ernst Mesiner's Embers. Her main interest lies in the great classical ballets such as La Sylphide, Giselle and La Bayadere  but she has found stimulation in diversifying her experience by experimenting with the choreography of Juanjo Arquez. She also hopes to work with Hans Van Manen and David Dawson.

When asked to name her favourite dancers and choreographers Emilie replied:
"There are a lot of wonderful dancers in the world who I really love and I can’t give only one or two names because for each role I have my favourite dancer. I loved working with the choreographer Patricia Neary for the ballet Serenade, who transmitted his passion to me for Balanchine."
Her immediate ambition is to enter the main company of the Dutch National Ballet and to continue to work hard to reach the top and become the best that she can be. Having only just started her career as a dancer Emilie is not thinking about what she will do afterwards.

If there were more hours in the day Emilie would attend more concerts. She particularly likes Chopin. She would also like to study painting.  However she adds:
"The truth is that the dance takes all my time, all my body, brain and heart. But when I want to relax the muscles and mind, I go back to swimming."
Clearly a very intelligent, disciplined and thoughtful young woman, I wish her every success.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Meet Cristiano Principato of the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company

Cristiano Principato
Photo Robin DePuy
(c) Dutch National Ballet 2014
Reproduced with kind permission of the Dutch 
National Ballet

Cristiano comes from Novara in Northern Italy. When I asked him how he came to study ballet he replied:
“Since I was a child I couldn't say still and I always moved and danced, especially when I heard music or saw dancers on television. I starred attending dance classes a the age of 9 and thus fell in love with ballet.”
Cristiano studied for 2 years in Novara. Then at the age of 11 he auditioned for La Scala Ballet School in Milan, He was accepted and stayed there for 8 years. At school he was inspired by Massimo Murru of La Scala Ballet and by the choreographer George Balanchine.

His greatest achievements to date have been his graduation last June, working experience as a professional dancer in the corps at La Scala Ballet and getting into the Dutch National Ballet's Junior Company. He has already danced the Prince in The Nutcracker, the pas de trois from Paquita, the Waltz Boy in Balanchine's Serenade, one of the soloists in Balanchine's Theme and Variations, Bim's friend in Gaîté Parisienne as well as in works by Angelin Preljocaj and Jiří Kylián. His most important role in Milan was the matador in Nureyev's Don Quixote.

Cristiano’s favourite roles in the classical repertoire are Albrecht, Siegfried, Romeo and Onegin. In contemporary dance he would love to dance Forsythe's Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, Dawson's A Million Kisses to My Skin and Kyliàn's Petit Mort.

His favourite dancers are Polina Semionova, Marianela Nunez, Roberto Bolle and Leonid Sarafanov and his favourite choreographers are George Balanchine, Rudolf Nureyev, William Forsythe and Christopher Wheeldon. He is also very interested in Ernst Meisner's work.

Cristiano's immediate ambitions are to work hard this year, to learn what he can from his teachers, to enjoy every performance and generally to become a very good dancer. He hopes to make a career with the Dutch National Ballet. In the long term his dream is to direct a major company where he can create new ballets. He has loved choreography ever since he was a child.

His passions outside ballet are travelling, reading (especially contemporary fiction), cinema, pop music, good food and the company of good friends.

Here is a another young man who knows where he is going and I shall follow his career with interest.

Meet Ryosuke Morimoto of the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company

Ryosuke Morimoto
Photo Robin DePuy
(c) Dutch National Ballet 2014
Reproduced with kind permission of the 
Dutch National Ballet

Ryosuke was born in Osaka and studied ballet in Japan and Germany. He started to study ballet because his elder sister did it. He studied at the Tanaka ballet school, the Hamburg Ballet School and the State Ballet School of Berlin. He was inspired by Olaf Höfer who taught him for 2 years in Berlin.

Like Bart and Lisanne he said that getting into the Junior Company was his greatest achievement to date.

He has already danced Ali and Birbanto in Le Corsaire and looks forward to dancing Rothbart in Swan Lake and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. These are interesting choices that suggest a career as a character dancer. His favourite dancers are Sergei Polunin, Isaac Hernandez, Casey Herd, Joaquin de Luz and Marian Walter. Again, interesting choices.

His immediate ambitions are to get into the Dutch National Ballet and then progress to soloist as soon as possible. In the longer term he wants to teach.

Ryosuke’s main interests outside ballet are baseball and music.

A very interesting young man who knows where he is going. I look forward to seeing him dance and I wish him all the best.