Saturday, 9 March 2013

More on Ballet West

Just before I set off for Leeds to see The Great Gatsby the postman delivered a large white envelope from Ballet West. One of my very few criticisms of their performance of The Nutcracker at Pitlochry was the lack of a programme. Inside that envelope to my enormous delight was a programme.

Inside the programme was a compliments slip from the company's administrator and admissions officer, Leanne Irwin, with the following message:
"Many thanks for the lovely review! We think it's amazing you travelled such a long distance to see us perform! We hope to see you at our next show."
I was so pleased that I called them immediately to thank them. The lady who answered the phone thanked me again for the review and told me that they were so happy that they printed it out and posted it on a notice board by their rehearsal studio. I am grateful that people read my blog and the thought that the company were happy with it was a bonus.  Dancers have brought me and millions of other members of the public around the world considerable pleasure.  It is gratifying occasionally to be able to return the favour.

Now that I have the programme I can tell you so much more about the company.   It is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity. It is directed by its founder, Gillian Barton.   Jonathan Barton is the company's senior principal dancer (which some companies would call premier danseur noble) and I am told that Sara-Maria Smith, its other senior principal dancer or ballerina is his sister.   It will be remembered that it was Mr. Barton and Mrs. Smith who danced at Pitlochry. The choreography that I admired so much 2 weeks ago was adapted by its guest chorus master Daniel Job.   I still can't tell you who designed the sets or arranged the lighting but the costumes were by Anne and Vicky Horn.

Much of the programme is about the work of the school which claims with some justification to be a Centre of Excellence. Its students have done well in all sorts of national and international competitions and many have found their way in to major ballet companies around the world.   As well as its full time courses it holds
  • holiday schools for particularly gifted students in July, 
  • monthly classes for aspiring professionals in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth, and
  • outreach classes for kids and adults at various centres around the Highlands and Islands.
Ballet West's patron is the comedian Billy Connolly.   "I know ballet isn't something that people associate with me" wrote Connolly in the foreword, "and they're always surprised .when they see me in the audience, but I've loved ballet for a long, long tine ever since my daughter took me to see "Cinderella" in London." He adds that he went under protest and has been a "ballet convert ever since."   We know the feeling, Mr. Connolly. That has happened to us too.

In the inside of the back cover is the headline "Can you help Ballet West?"   Suggested ways include:
  • Helping students with tuition costs;
  • Becoming a patron or sponsor;
  • Joining the mailing list for information about future events. and
  • Making a donation.
If you are interested in doing any of those things please contact
Ballet West
Ichrachan House
PA35 1HP
Tel 01866 822641
The same page indicates that they are planning to tour the rest of the UK and that was confirmed by the lady I phoned on Thursday.   The next show is planned for March 2014 or thereabouts and this time they hope to dance in London and perhaps a few other big cities in  England.

9 March 2013
I have just added Gillian Barton's adult ballet class to the "Where to learn" page and the "Adult Ballet" side panel.

Ballet West also have a Facebook page with some great video and photos.

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