Monday, 11 June 2018

Inspiration in Bingley - Cinderella at Bingley Little Theatre

Author: M G Spiller
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Sara Packham Theatre School and Ballet North Cinderella 10 June 2018 18:00 Bingley Little Theatre

Surprisingly, the most memorable moment of the weekend came not in the valedictory performances of Dreda Blow and Victoria Sibson on the last night of Jane Eyre (excellent though though the company was - see Jane Eyre at the Lowry 10 June 2018) or in David Nixon's speech when he presented to Dreda Blow a framed photo of what I am reliably informed was a framed photo of herself as Beatrice in Ondine (apt though it was) but in a speech by the mother of a former student of the Sara Packham Theatre School at the end of a performance of Cinderella by children and adult ballet students at Bingley Little Theatre last night.

The speaker introduced herself as a parent of an actor who had established himself in New York but had started his career at that very school in Bingley. Presenting the choreographers to a packed auditorium, she explained that they were teaching not just ballet but important life skills that would transform children into confident, poised, beautiful human beings. After her speech the instructors gave each of the dancers - children as well as adults, boys as well as girls - a single rose. "This may take some time" somebody said from the stage. It did but nobody minded a bit. It was a lovely gesture and a proper induction into the traditions of the ballet.

Bingley, for readers who may not know this area, is a small town just outside Bradford. In the 19th century it was a mill town specializing in the manufacture of worsted. Now it is one of the more sought after neighbourhoods of the metropolitan district of Bradford. One of its attractions is an Arts Centre which includes the Bingley Little Theatre. It was there that a cast selected from the School and Ballet North in Halifax gave four performances of Cinderella on 10 and 11 June 2018.

I learned about the production through attending a class by Charlotte Ingleson at Ballet North in the Dance Mill on 31 May 2018 (see Class Review - Ballet North Halifax 2 June 2018). I was introduced to the class by Elaine Berrill who was one of the dancers attending Jane Tucker's class in Huddersfield on 26 May 2018 (see We have a Company 27 May 2018 Powerhouse Ballet). I noticed in the programme that Charlotte was one of the choreographers of Cinderella and that another was Martin Dutton who had taught me in a special class at KNT (see And what a class we had Feb 2017) and workshops on The Nutcracker and La Bayadère (see KNT Nutcracker Intensive 21 Dec 2017 and KNT's One Day Workshop on La Bayadère 15 April 2018).

Charlotte also danced one of the leading roles as Cinderella's mother and fairy godmother. Her young daughter also had a role in the work as a cat. There was yet another name on the cast list that I thought I knew. That of Oscar Ward as the prince. The Oscar that I knew was one of the star pupils at Ballet West and a finalist in the BBC Young Dancer competition. Could it be the same? Oscar Ward is not a very common name and not every young man with that name will be an accomplished dancer. I messaged Gillian Barton of Ballet West to find out.
"Could be, but don’t really know. I’ll try and find out." she replied
As it happened it was a coincidence. The young man who danced before us is also very promising. When I congratulated him I told him about his namesake though Yorkshire Oscar had already heard of Scottish Oscar. If he is minded to train for the stage he could do a lot worse that follow in the footsteps of the other Oscar.

 As Gillian observed,
"Every one of our male graduates has gone on to do amazing things. BW is a great school for boys as they get so many opportunities."
Earlier today, Isaac Peter Bowry whom I had first seen as Drosselmeyer in The Nutcracker in 2013 announced on Facebook:
"So I’ve got another big announcement to make!! 
I can now say that I am officially joining the Birmingham Royal Ballet to perform in Kennith Macmillan’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ 
I’ll be performing in all the Birmingham performances between the 26th- 30th June!"
But I digress. There were lots of other dancers who impressed me.

There were three Cinderellas - one as a child, another as a young person and the third as the belle of the ball. Young Cinderella was Alice Brocklesby, Clarice Keller-Bradbury and Sienna Brandolino alternated in the role of Cinderella as a young person and Leah Robinson and Sophie Talbot in the role of Cinderella at the ball. I am not sure which of the alternates I saw last night but I congratulate Alice and the other dancers who portrayed her in later life.

The show was basically the Cinderella we know to Prokofiev's score with a little bit of The Sleeping Beauty bolted on. The bolt on was a divertissement that enabled four talented soloists - Hollie Kate Smith, Harriet Berry, Katie Barber and Jess Leeming to dance Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter fairies and Lexie Meehan a dragonfly. Lots of roles were found for lots of dancers from mini-movers to the adult pointe class. It was good to see a few very talented young boys in the cast.

At the ball Oscar Ward showed that he can jump, turn and lift with the best of them. His Cinders in a classical tutu was lovely. Her stepmother, Catriona Ford, and step sisters, Ellen Richard and Grace Macdonald, amused us with their antics. One in an unsightly green wig and the other in pink. They also got a tiny bit tipsy towards the end giving an entirely new meaning to pas de bourée. There was humour too is the search for the owner of the missing slipper. One candidate barely broke her conversation on her mobile. Another nearly dropped a pile of precariously positioned pizzas. A hefty subject in a wig and a skirt had a go to a squall of derision.

This was tightly directed, well rehearsed with realistic sets and costumes. I saw a lot of happy mums and dads and siblings, even happier artists and a particularly proud and happy Charlotte Ingleson. The audience were appreciative and engaged. It was a treat to be there.

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