There is a little girl in Carlisle who has just started to learn ballet and her mum wants to show her something more than YouTube videos of ballets. So earlier this evening she tweeted me with a request for listings. I referred her to North West Dance and Yorkshire Dance which list more or less everything in the North of England between them. I also told her about the Royal Ballet's Don Quixote which is to be streamed live to cinemas around the world on 16 Oct. I also recommended Northern Ballet's Three Little Pigs and Cindarella and as Carlisle is not too far from dear old Glasgow town I suggested Scottish Ballet's "Hansel and Gretel" for the bairn.
What about ballets for kids in the rest of the country? Growing up in Surrey I looked forward to London Festival Ballet's The Nutcracker at the Festival Hall every January. Well that company is now called English National Ballet and they are dancing The Nutcracker in Liverpool between the 20 and 23 Nov and the Coliseum between the 11 Dec and 5 Jan 2014 with a gala on 13 Dec. The Royal Ballet is also staging The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House between the 4 Dec and 16 Jan 2014.
Although it is not the best ballet for children because it is so sad and there isn't really a happy ending I understand that Ballet West will be touring with Swan Lake early in the New Year.
I hope the little girl gets as much pleasure from dance as I have had in my lifetime. As I tweeted to her mother
"Your daughter will find that ballet is the bit of magic that remains after learning there's no Father Christmas or fairies."Her mother replied that she thought mountains would remain there too and I agreed. Of course, she should find lots of other wonderful things as she grows up such as books and music and maybe science.
If the little girl does take to ballet she should learn more than just pliés and tendus. Ballet is one art form in which women have always enjoyed at least equality. When we think of great dancers of the past it is always the ballerinas who come first to mind - Taglioni, Elssler, Grisi, Karsavina, Pavlova and Fonteyn. Save perhaps for Nureyev and Nijinsky most members of the public would struggle to name any premiers danseurs nobles.
Also. as kids like those in Mathare progress in their art she should also learn that this is no longer an elitist and Euro-centric art form but one that belongs to every part of humanity.