Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Chelmsford Ballet

Amelia Wallis         Courtesy The Chelmsford Ballet Company

An amateur company with patrons like Christopher Marney, choreographer of the wonderful War Letters for Ballet Black, and the great ballerina, Doreen Wells, invites attention. On the home page of their website the Chelmsford Ballet Company describes itself as "an amateur company who set professional standards for all [its] work, involving professionals in [its] productions, courses, and other teaching and workshop opportunities." According to the history page it traces its history back to 1947 which makes it older than English National Ballet, Scottish Ballet and Northern Ballet.

I heard about the company through twitter. English National Ballet had been tweeting about the work that goes into their costumes for The Nutcracker (see "Cracking" 14 Dec 2013). I commented:
"@ENBallet's tweets on the amount of work which goes into each dancer's costume for a classical ballet like The Nutcracker is an eye opener."
The Chelmsford Ballet's publicity officer Jessica Wilson replied:
"@nipclaw @ENBallet we are busy sewing ours too, mouse king head has arrived and soldiers are at the ready!"
I followed the links and found the company's website.

The dancers are staging The Nutcracker at the Chelmsford Civic Theatre between the 19 and 22 March 2014 and I shall be there to review it on the opening night. If you want to come too, the following link takes you straight to the box office.  Clara in that performance will be danced by Amelia Wallis whose photo appears above. She and the other dancers were auditioned at a Nutcracker workshop other pictures of which you can see here.

If you do see the show it is worth staying awhile to visit the city and county. It has a very pretty 15th century cathedral dedicated to St Cedd who was one of the earliest English saints. There's a fine Saxon church that is also dedicated to him by the nuclear power station on the coast. Chelmsford also has a fine Shire Hall near the cathedral where the Crown Court used to sit. I got to know the city well in my early years at the Bar because my clerk sent me regularly to cross-examine coppers and plead mitigation there.  Essex is very like the North. It also has factories, coast and even a few hills though none quite so high as ours. More importantly, it has gritty, generous hearted people with a thirst for education and a determination to get on - not la-di-da but just like us. In fact I regard them as honorary Northerners.

Returning to the company for a second, there are classes for the company and guests which I would love to take, a regular newsletter and lots of other events. You can join as a dancing or a non-dancing member for a very reasonable subscription. You can download the application form here.  If you live nearby and are into dance, what are you waiting for?

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