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Ballet West is a ballet school not far from Oban in the Western Highlands. It must be a very good school for several of my favourite young dancers trained there. Sarah Mortimer is one. Isaac Bowry is another. Natasha Watson is yet another. Some of the staff and students from Ballet West have recently toured Malaysia as I mentioned in Ballet West in Malaysia on 18 June 2016. You can download a video of two of the students with one of their Malaysian hosts from the Ballet West home page.
The school has a company which tours Scotland at the beginning of each year to give its students stage experience. A performance of The Nutcacker by that company in Pitlochry on 23 Feb 2013 was my very first post to this blog. The show was so good that I returned for Swan Lake the next year (see Swan Loch - Ballet West's Swan Lake, Pitlochry 1 March 2014) the subsequent year, Romeo and Juliet the year after that (see Ballet West's Romeo and Juliet 1 Feb 2015) and The Nutcracker again this year (see Thinking out Loud about Ballet West 8 Feb 2016).
Ballet West have announced their tour for 2017. They will dance Swan Lake again and they will dance it just the way I like it. No Simon. No Anthony. No Odilia. The same ballerina dancing Odette and Odile. No evil genius but a proper von Rothbart danced so impressively last time by my fellow Mancunian Isaac Bowry. And above all there will be no bikes. To get a flavour of their performance I have found this YouTube clip which shows Sara-Maria Barton's brilliance in the black act. That is my favourite part of the ballet for it is the act that contains all those fouettés not to mention the divertissements at the beginning.
The tour will start on 20 and 21 Jan 2017 at The McRobert Arts Centre on the campus of Stirling University. The McRobert Centre has a fair sized auditorium with what appears from the stalls to be a fairly danceable stage. There is a reasonably priced restaurant with a licensed bar and coffee shop in the lobby and plenty of free parking near the auditorium. It might be awkward to reach by public transport as the campus is a mile or so outside the town centre and I have never seen a bus there but there are probably taxis to be hired somewhere in the vicinity.
The company's itinerary is as follows:
- Stirling, Macrobert 20th & 21st January 2017
- Helensburgh, Tower Digital Arts Centre 27th January 2017
- Paisley, Paisley Town Hall 28th January 2017
- Oban, Corran Halls 9th February 2017
- Glasgow, SECC 11th February 2017
- Greenock, Beacon Arts Centre 12th February 2017
- Livingston, Howden Park Centre 16th February 2017
- Edinburgh, EICC, 18th February 2017
If Cinderella's fairy godmother were to appear right now and grant me three balletic wishes, one of them would be for Ballet West to make at least one appearance in the rest of the United Kingdom. I am pretty confident that audiences here would love them. I happen to know from conversations with members of the audience and posts to a ballet fans' forum to which I subscribe that I am by no means the only Sassenach who ventures North at the coldest time of the year to see these fine young artists.
And my second wish? Why it would be to see those same young dancers perform the purest and most beautiful of the Romantic ballets which like them is set in the Highlands. Please, Mr Job, pretty please! Do consider La Sylphide one year. I have seen Danes dance it. Australians. Even an Italian in Trecate earlier this year. Why not Scots?