Tuesday, 31 March 2015


Michaela DePrince in Swan Lake
Photo Angela Sterling
(c) Dutch National Ballet, All rights reserved

First the bad news. Thursday's screening of First Position which I announced on 20 Jan 2015 has had to be postponed. It's too near to Easter and all the Quarry Hill regulars are on holiday.

Now the good news. She's still coming to London on 7 July 2015 (see Dance with DePrince 2 March 2015) and she has is rising in the company so we can see her in Amsterdam whenever we want.

More good news is that the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company is coming to London on 5 and 6 June 2015 and I have my ticket already. DePrince won't be dancing this time. She is about to be promoted to coryphée. But the Junior Company has lots of other good dancers such as Nancy Burer, Emilie Tassinari,Veronika Verterich, Bart Engelen, Cristiano Principato and Thomas van Damme. If you want to see them get your skates on because Arena tickets are selling like hot cakes. Today is the first day of sales for the new booking period for the general public and there was not much left.

Yet more good news is that Ernst Meisner, the artistic coordinator of the Junior Company, is speaking to the London Ballet Circle on 20 July 2015.

And even more good news is that I have an excuse to publish anoher of the great photos of DePrince that Richard Heideman sent me.

La Bayadère

On Saturday I saw Shobana Jeyasingh's Bayadère - Ninth Life and you will see my report (I can't call it a review because I am still digesting it) at La Bayadère - The Ninth Life 29 March 2015. Jeyasingh suggested a connection between a visit by temple dancers from Pondicherry to Paris in 1838 and Petipa's ballet in St. Petersburg in 1877. While I was sceptical at first I think there may well have been through Théophile Gautier,

The reason for my scepticism is that there was a 39 year time lapse and a thousand miles of distance between the visit of the temple dancers to Paris in 1838 and the premiere of La Bayadère in St Petersburg in 1877. But then I remembered that Gautier was the librettist of Giselle.  Marius Petipa who created La Bayadère knew Giselle well and staged his own version in St Petersburg in 1884. When you compare the two ballets you notice similarities. For instance the heroine dies a pretty horrible death in both ballets.  Giselle in a fit or by a heart attack upon learning of Albrecht's deception; and Nikiya by a bite from a snake concealed in a basket of flowers. Both have visions of the afterlife: the vengeful wilis on the prowl in the forests and the shades in the mountains, Both visions provide great roles for the corps. 

Except for the entry of the shades which is sometimes shown at galas, La Bayadère is not well known in this country. Natalia Makarova has staged a version for the Royal Ballet which was last danced two years ago (see La Bayadère on the Royal Opera House's website) and it has been performed by visiting companies from Russia. A performance of the whole ballet in the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg can be seen on YouTube. There is a pretty good entry on the ballet in Wikipedia. The Royal Ballet website has a great interview with Nehemiah Kish who danced Solor and an interesting article by Paul Kilbey entitled Eastern Promises: The allure of the Orient in opera and ballet with a clip of the dance of the bronze idol.

The reason I have compiled these resources is that Marion Pettet of the Chelmsford Ballet Company who tweeted yesterday
Anyone who watched her in Pineapple Poll and Carnival of the Animals two weeks ago will agree that Marion  knows a lot about ballet. I mentioned it as a possible project for the company because they have a lot of good female dancers who could dance the shades well. I would love to see someone dance this ballet again.

I know who would be the perfect Nikiya -  not because she is of South Asian heritage but because she reminds me so much of the first English dancer to dance that role. But I can imagine others such as Leebolt, Gittens and Mutso in the role. Rojo, Nixon, Bintley, Hampson - are you listening?

Post Script
10 April 2015

The Paris Opera are staging Nureyev's version of La Bayadère between 17 Nov and 31 Dec 2015 (see the Paris National Opera's website). I know what I want for an early Deepvali present.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Another Beautiful Photo of Michaela DePrince

Michaela DePrince in Swan Lake
Photo Angela Sterling
(c) Dutch National Ballet 2015
All rights reserved

As promised, another beautiful picture of Michaela DePrince in the Dutch National Ballet's recent production of Swan Lake. I am grateful to Richard Heideman of the Dutch National Ballet for sending me this photo and to the company for authorizing its reproduction.

If you are in Leeds on 2 April 2015 you can watch First Position at Cafe 164 (see Cafe 164 to screen "First Position" 20 Jan 2015). If you are intermediate level or above you can take her master class at Danceworks on 7 July 2015 (see Dance with DePrince 2 March 2015).

You can find other articles about DePrince at Michaela DePrince at TEDx Amsterdam 28 Nov 2014,

I shall be reviewing DePrince's autobiography Hope in a Ballet Shoe shortly,

Sunday, 29 March 2015

La Bayadère - The Ninth Life

Théophile Gautier
Photo M. Berthali Wikipedia

Shobana Jeyasingh Dance's La Bayadère - The Ninth Life at the Linbury yesterday lasted about an hour but it was one of the most intense hours that I have ever spent in the theatre. I had come to the performance expecting a transposition of the story of the ballet into bharatha natyam or some other Indian dance idiom but it was nothing like that. That would have been too easy and it is clear from the list of her works on her company's website that Jeyasingh doesn't do easy. Instead, it compared and contrasted a modern Indian's perception of one of the classics of Western dance with Théophile Gautier's perception of Indian classical dance.

At least I think that is what it was about. My friend and colleague Gita Mistry understood it much better than I did. She has studied bharatha natyam (see Our Three Hundredth Post - Now we are a Team 21 Feb 2015) and picked up on cues like the counting of time and the sharp heel movements that had passed me by. She explained her understanding of this work to me patiently over dinner (a curry as it happens) and the long drive back to Yorkshire. I admired the virtuosity of the dancers and I came reasonably prepared for the show having read everything I could about it but without Gita's commentary it would have been very much harder for me to appreciate the show.

The performance opens straightforwardly enough with a blogger and his computer. He is an Indian man in a check shirt sitting on the floor as the audience arrives and takes their places. The lights dimmed. He began to type and words appeared on the screen. On a visit to London, he explains, a friend had taken him to the ballet to see La Bayadère. He found it a remarkable experience. He set out the story noting that it set near modern Hyderabad. He listed the characters - Nikiya, Gamzatti, Solor, the holy man - each of whom appeared behind the screen. "I've never seen a holy man move like that" he mused to the audience's laughter. The plot he described as "pure Bollywood" the only authentic bit being the protracted Indian wedding. And finally the entry of the shades.

The next scene focused on the words of Gautier who saw real bayadères or temple dancers from Pondicherry when they visited Paris in 1838.  At first came wonder and appreciation for the dancers - their wonderful soft skin and teeth - but then disdain - blue gums, the ears riddled with holes, the gifts of tobacco, the dancer's feet one toe separated from the others like a bird's foot - and this refrain was repeated with the temple dancer manhandled on stage.

Gita told me that much of the dancing in that scene had been bharatha natyam which I might have worked out for myself had Indian instruments been played but there were no hints of that in Gabriel Prokofiev's score. This was a combination of voice with percussion and other sound. The soundtrack from this trailer will give some idea. As I say above, Jeyasingh does not do easy.

Listening to Gauthier's words which were repeated several times, it dawned on me why India unlike China, Japan and Korea appears relatively unmoved and uninfluenced by Western ballet or for that matter classical music. I had considered that conundrum several times in this blog (see, for example, More on Ballet in India 4 Sept 2014). Gauthier, the author of Giselle, never really understood or appreciated an Indian dance form that has subsisted for more than two millennia. Why should an Indian pay regard for an art form which in its modern embodiment is barely two centuries old!

As I said above I found the show intense. Gita felt it too.  Both of us would have preferred a different score. I would have liked Indian instruments and rhythms. But we are both glad to have seen the show. Armed with the knowledge that I now have I should like to see it again. It is going on tour but only in places like Eastleigh, Exeter and Watford. "Why not bring it North?" I asked the choreographer whom I approached after the show. She replied that she would love to do so.

Further Reading
31 March 2015   La Bayadère  

Saturday, 28 March 2015

More Ballet in Essex

Photo Jane Lambert
All rights reserves

Sheila Beelam who keeps the wonderful Just Ballet shop in Thorpe Bay just outside Southend has just posted the following announcement on Facebook:
"We have just managed to book in a photo shoot for next Wednesday 1st April 10.30am - 1.30 pm at the Palace Theatre in Southend. We are looking for the following to help model our beautiful collection of leotards:
  • 3 x adult dancers (UK 6-8, UK 8-10 & UK 10-12) 
  • 3 x 8 - 11 year old dancers 
  • 1 x 4 - 5 year old dancer 
Each dancer will receive a Just Ballet gift voucher, goody bag and a complimentary image from their photo shoot.:-)
Casting closes this Sunday 29th March at 10 pm".
I visited Sheila in her shop last month on the way back from Amsterdam and was very impressed.It was just like Aladdin's cave and she was running a recording of Giselle on her monitor. I had previously bought two leotards from her (she stocks all sizes even for hippos like me) and I bought another really pretty one for me plus something for a friend in Sheffield.

The shop is just round the corner from the sea front and you can park outside. There are no restrictions.

If I were an Essex girl I would love to take part in this shoot. As I have written quite a lot about ballet in Chelmsford and Harlow this week I thought that some of them might like to apply to take part.

Cuballett Hamburg 2015

Last year Joanna watched and very kindly reviewed a performance of Swan Lake by the National Ballet of Cuba in Havana (see Joanna Goodman We are the dancers, we create the dreams: Ballet Nacional de Cuba’s El Lago de los Cisnes in Havana 8 July 2015). At the end of the show Alicia Alonso appeared for a standing ovation. "It was a privilege" wrote Joanna," to have the opportunity to see her in the flesh."

This year the daughter of that great dancer is coming to us. Or at least next door. Laura Alonso and other teachers from Cuba will hold a series of classes in Hamburg in May. The highlight promises to be a master class by Laura Alonso herself on 23 May 2015. Judging by this video of her rehearsing dancers for Les Sylphdes it should be quite an experience. Also teaching will be Reynaldo Muniz Delgado. Here he is coaching a dancer for The Sleeping Beauty. The visit will end with a gala by Cuballet Hamburg on 31 May 2015.

Further information about the classes and a link for online registration can be obtained from the home page of Cuballett Hamburg's blog. It will be a good time to come to Hamburg. The euro is lower than it has been for a while. We will have had our election and our politicos and civil servants will be busy horse trading. What better time to take a breather. And what could be better than dancing,

Friday, 27 March 2015

Chelmsford Ballet - the Magnificent Marion as Britannia in Pineapple Poll

Marion Pettet as Britannia (and Mrs Dimple)
Photo Amelia Potter
Reproduced with kind permission of the Chelmsford Ballet

Last Sunday I reviewed Chelmsford Ballet's Pineapple Poll and Carnival of the Animals (A Delight Indeed 22 March 2015).Marion Pettet has kindly sent me 4 photos all by Amelia Potter which I shall publish individually.

Here is the magnificent Marion as Britannia in the closing scene of Pineapple Poll To the right stands Andrew Potter as Admiral Belaye.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

"Taking Flight" in more ways than one

Michaela DePrince, Dutch National Ballet
Photo Robin de Puy
(c) 2014 Dutch National Ballet
All rights reserved

According to Richard Heideman, press manager of the Dutch National Ballet, Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina by Michaela and Elaine DePrince is to be made into a film. He reports that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has acquired the film rights and will make a full length feature film with Alloy Entertainment. Elysa Dutton and Les Morgenstein of Alloy will produce the film with Matt Dines of MGM.

Closer to home, First Position, a film in which DePrince already appears, will be shown at Cafe 164 in Leeds on 2 April 2015 (see Cafe 164 to screen "First Position" 2 March 2015) and she will take a master class at Danceworks on 7 July 2015 (Dance with DePrince 20 Jan 2015).

DePrince joined the Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet in 2013 and the main company as an apprentice in 2014. She is expected to be promoted to coryphée shortly. One of our best young choreographers told me recently that he hopes to work with her.

I am a great fan of this remarkable young woman for two reasons. First,she is thrilling to watch. Secondly, I also have close connections with Sierra Leone.

If anyone wants to read more about her there is a list of links to my other posts in Michaela DePrince at TEDx Amsterdam 28 Nov 2014,

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Another Ballet Company in Essex

Harlow Playhouse
Photo Wikipedia

On 11 Oct 2014 I attended one of the first performances by Ballet Black of Christopher Marney's Dogs don't do Ballet at Harlow Playhouse (see Woof 12 Oct 2014). The theatre must have recorded my interest in dance against my email address in its database for I received an email from The Playhouse yesterday advertising a performance of The Nutcracker by the Harlow Ballet between 16 and 19 April 2015. Now I have never heard of the Harlow Ballet but then I had never heard of the Chelmsford Ballet either until the 14 Dec 2013 (see The Chelmsford Ballet 15 Dec 2913) and they turned out to be very good (see A Delight Indeed 22 March 2015).

According to its website The Harlow Ballet consists of two separate organizations:
"The Harlow Ballet Association is a democratic organisation that "exists to enable the presentation of dance performances in which those appearing shall principally (though not exclusively) be students of the Harlow Ballet School".
The Harlow Ballet School is a legally constituted Partnership that teaches children and adults to dance. The Harlow Ballet School has had its home in The Playhouse, Harlow since it opened in 1971.
The Harlow Ballet Association and Harlow Ballet School join forces from time to time to provide intensive courses culminating in special Gala performances at The Playhouse."
The "Performances, Special Courses, Workshops & Master Classes" page states that the Harlow Ballet performs a classical ballet every Easter. Its first production was The Sleeping Beauty in 2000 and it has performed Giselle "in a version close not only to the original choreography, but also to the original libretto by the Marquis de Saint Georges and Theophile Gautier."  Towards the end of that page there is a review by Rosemary Caswell of Les Sylphides and other ballets for the Harlow Star. Its News page reproduces a review by one Bridget McAlpine of a gala that seems to have taken place last November.

The School seems to teach adults as well as children (see Classes). Indeed, they seem to be encouraged (see Calling All Adult Dancers - and "would-be" dancers by Bridget McAlpine. Students are taught in the Cecchetti method and an interesting article entitled STILL VALID? An examination of whether the methodology of MAESTRO ENRICO CECCHETTI is suitable for teaching adult dance students in the twenty first century can be downloaded from its website. The Further Training page states that pupils from the school have continued their training at leading ballet schools and some of them have danced with the Royal Danish Ballet, English National Ballet and Scottish Ballet.

Harlow is not a big town. With a population of just over 82,000 it is about the same size as Halifax and much smaller than Chelmsford or Huddersfield. To sustain a show over 4 days in the very theatre where Ballet Black launched its popular children's ballet is no mean achievement. I am not sure that I will be able to see The Nutcracker but I will certainly get to one of Harlow Ballet's shows. Some folk are snooty about Essex. I don't know why. Two ballet companies (and for all I know there may well be more) in one county so close to London is something to celebrate.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Is Ballet really the same as Kung Fu?

Congratulations to Jinhao Zhang for his success in the Emerging Dancer Competition. According to this film his entry into ballet was serendipitous. His mum wanted him to take up Kung Fu but the class was full. An enterprising ballet teacher in the studio next door spotted him and invited him to join her class. She told her mum that ballet was the same as Kung Fu and luckily for us she and her son were persuaded.

I should also like to congratulate the other finalists including Isabelle Brouwers who worked with Northern Ballet's Kenneth Tindall. I believe that one of my other favourite choreographers, Christopher Marney, contributed to the event and as soon as I find out more I shall let you know.

Lastly, congratulations to Laurretta Summerscales who was the Peoples' Choice.

Last November I was fortunate enough to see all the dancers in class which brought home to me the breadth and depth of talent of this fine company (see Coppelia in Oxford 2 Nov 2014). I wish each and every one of them all the best.

Further Reading

24 March 2015   Jinhao Zhang wins Emerging Dancer 2015  English National Ballet

Monday, 23 March 2015

The Royal Ballet's Swan Lake - that's more like it

Huddersfield Odeon

I have not been too kind about HDTV transmissions of the Royal Ballet's performances from Covent Garden ("¡Por favor! Don Quixote streamed to Huddersfield" 13 Oct 2013, Good Quality Hamburger at the Very Least - Giselle streamed from Covent Garden 27 Jan 2014" and "Manon Encore at the Huddersfield Odeon" 20 Oct 2014) though I recanted slightly over The Winter's Tale ("The Winter's Tale - Time to eat my Hat" 29 April 2014). In general I have much preferred Pathe-Live's transmissions from Moscow. But yesterday I watched the recording of the Royal Ballet's Swan Lake which was broadcast on 17 March 2015 and it was all right. More than all right. It was good,

The performance itself must have been wonderful. I saw Golding and Osipova in Onegin last month and was bowled over by them. Avis, another favourite, danced Rothbart magnificently. The sets and costumes were sumptuous. The music is majestic. Although I had to miss the last season in order to have the time and money to see Northern Ballet's Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights and the Sapphire gala, I am familiar with this production and enjoy it very much. It is in fact my favourite Swan Lake though I have yet to see more than extracts from van Dantzig's.

However, it was the recording that I want to commend today. I like to think that those responsible for the HDTV transmissions have been listening to moans from people like me or at least looked at the Bolshoi transmissions and learned from them. I thoroughly enjoyed the interviews with Anthony Dowell, Jonathan Cope and Cynthia Harvey. I now know why Swan Lake is set in 19th century Russia rather than medieval Germany despite the Teutonic names of the main characters. According to Dowell that was the suggestion of the designer, Yolanda Sonnabend, who was inspired by Fabergé. Dowell spoke warmly about his conversations with Sonnabend though he thought things might have been taken a little too far when an egg appeared in her studio one day.

In the past I have criticized Bussell as a presenter but her contribution yesterday was valuable.  She spoke about her coaching by Fonteyn. Fonteyn had told her always to remember than she was a woman and not a swan. Bussell referred to Acts II and III as "white" and "black" Acts referring to the colours of the ballerina's tutu - terminology I had never heard before - and she said that she like other ballerinas had never been entirely satisfied with her performance as Odette and Odile in the same performance. One was always stronger than the other.

I also enjoyed the clip of the rehearsals and coaching in the second interval. I recognized the studio in which Cope trained Golding. Sibley and Crisp had spoken there last year (see "Le jour de gloire est arrive - Dame Antoinette Sibley with Clement Crisp at the Royal Ballet School" 3 Feb 2014). So although I must have seen many performances of Swan Lake in my lifetime I learned something new yesterday.

Something of the magic of last Tuesday's performance filtered through to the audience of the Huddersfield Odeon yesterday. Everyone laughed when Osipova picked up the toy swan during her curtain call. Finally, I felt a twinge of pride when the credits mentioned additional choreography by David Bintley for Bintley was a local man. I wonder how many members of the audience picked up on that.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

A Delight Indeed

On Wednesday Leanne Shipp tweeted
She was so right. Any company would have been proud of yesterday's double bill.  As it was performed largely by dancers who do not yet make their living from dance it was all the more remarkable.

Note my terminology. I did not say "amateur" deliberately. There was nothing amateurish about the show. Everything was polished. Not just the dancing (which was perhaps not so surprising since several members of the cast were either at, had been to, or were on their way to, top ballet schools) but the direction, stage management, sets, costumes, lighting - even the glossy programmes. All the more impressive when it is considered that the production was completed in a year on a limited budget and much of the set painting and costume making would have been done by the members themselves.

There were two one act ballets yesterday evening - Annette Potter's Pineapple Poll based on John Cranko's choreography and a new ballet by Christopher Marney called Carnival of the Animals. The works complemented each other perfectly for Marney has much in common with Cranko. Pineapple Poll was created early in Cranko's career and while Marney has created a string of successful ballets for Ballet Black, Ballet Central and others it has to to be remembered that he is still a very young man (see Christopher Marney 16 March 2014). If, as I fervently hope, he lives to a ripe old age and his career maintains its present trajectory Carnival will be regarded as an "early Marney". I can foresee school and university teachers yet unborn setting essay questions like "Pineapple Poll and Carnival - compare and contrast" to the grandchildren of yesterday's corps de ballet.

For those who do not know the Cranko ballet there is a good synopsis in Wikipedia. There are five key roles: Pineapple Poll, Jasper the pot boy, Captain Belaye, Blanche his bride and her aunt, Mrs Dimple. Jasper falls in love with Poll but she has eyes only for the captain. She steals on board his ship with her friends to attract his attention but he has eyes only for Blanche and she is so disappointed when the captain leads Blanche and Mrs Dimple on board HMS Hot Cross Bun. However when Jasper enlists as a midshipman Poll finally takes an interest in him and the ballet ends happily with Mrs Dimple representing Britannia. With music selected and arranged from the works of Sir Arthur Sullivan it was a great patriotic romp.

Captain Belaye was portrayed majestically by Andrew Potter. Readers of last year's review of The Nutcracker will remember that he was Drosselmeyer. Jasper was danced by Stephen Quildan whom Jessica Wilson has interviewed recently in Dance Direct (see Stephen Quildan – Educating Experiences 13 March 2015). He displayed great virtuosity - I couldn't help clapping one particularly difficult jump even though I shouldn't have done - but also he expressed loving, longing, disappointment and despair so eloquently. Scarlett Mann was a delightful Poll - coquettish, determined, devious but still delightful whether selling trinkets on the quayside or marshalling the crew of the Hot Cross Bun. Also attractive was Megan McLatchie as Blanche. However, for me the star of the show was Marion Pettet as Mrs Dimple - and Britannia. Last year she was Frau Stahlbaum. A wonderful actor as well as an accomplished dancer and a great chair of the Chelmsford Ballet Company.

The Carnival of the Animals was written by Saint-Saëns which is best known for The Swan. That piece upon which Fokine created The Dying Swan for Anna Pavlova never fails to move me even when I hear it on a DVD player or over the radio. There are many reasons for that - some personal - to which I alluded in my review of Northern Ballet's Sapphire gala last week (see Sapphire 16 March 2015). Last Saturday Javier Torres presented a new interpretation of Saint-Saëns's music and last night we got another. A pas de deux between Quildan and Jasmine Wallis which was also lovely. Typical Marney.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Marney did not create a new version of The Carnival of the Animals. He made a ballet about a company that was about to dance The Carnival of the Animals. A young stage hand longed to dance - perhaps because of his longing for its principal dancer performed beautifully by Wallis. But when he tried to lift her - dainty though she is - he found that pas de deux work was not quite as easy as it looked. According to Tim Tubbs's programme notes the ballet was set in the 1930s - the heroic early days of the English ballet after Diaghilev had died but before the Second World War when endless touring by the Vic-Wells Ballet won the hearts of the nation to this originally foreign art form. There were a few animals - foxes perhaps - and a yapping lap dog quite invisible to all but the dancers but clearly another dog like Bif which could do ballet (see Woof 12 Oct 2014 to understand the reference) - but the main characters were people. Quildan the stage hand, Wallis his sweetheart and principal dancer and Pettet her mother.

Again, Pettet stole the show for me as the bossy, fussy but affectionate mother but she was not the only star. Quildan with a foot in a bucket one moment and fumbling the ballerina the next - showed that he can amuse an audience as well as amaze it. Wallis was an adorable ballerina. Everybody in that show danced well. Jessica Wilson (the blogger who interviewed Wilson and danced Harlequin last year) and Jenni Stafford as the ballerina's friends, Georgia Otley and Amelia Wallis (Clara in last year's show) as playful school kids, Hannah Cotgrove, McLatchie again and Carly Parry as the domestics and Mann, April Goulding and Darci Willsher as the company's dancers. It must have been such a thrill for them to work with a dancer of the calibre of Marney and one which each and every one of them richly deserved.

I loved The Nutcracker but this double bill was even better. "What are you doing next year?" I asked Marion Pettet when I congratulated her after the show. "Not sure" was the answer. I suggested La Sylphide at first because ir is a ballet in a British setting which should be danced by a British company. But then I remembered their wonderful young women dancers (some of whom I have mentioned above) which is the company's strength. Wouldn't they be splendid in the entry of the shades in La Bayadère?

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Danceworks Academy

Photo Danceworks
All rights reserved

Danceworks is best known for its classes for adults. Particularly in ballet. It attracts outstanding teachers and performers from around the world to take its classes. One of them will be Michaela DePrince on 7 July 2014 (see Dance with DePrince 2 March 2015). I just wish I were young enough and good enough to benefit from that class. I urge all who are to do so while places are still available.

However, Danceworks latest initiative is an International Ballet Academy for younger dancers which will open on 14 Sept 2015. According to Danceworks's website, the "focus is to identify and develop young talent to work towards the highest level of classical ballet formation and to enable those who want to enter into a professional career in any of the various forms of dance or theatre arts." The academy is open to boys and girls aged 8 to 16. Classes will take place at Danceworks's premises at 16 Balderton Street just off Oxford Street near Bond Street tube.

The course Director will be Kim White of the  Vevey Youth Ballet School in Switzerland. White was the first American to compete in the Grand Prix of Lausanne and she studied under George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Alexandra Danilova, Melissa Hayden, Oleg and Mireille Briansky. The Artistic Director will be Antonia Franceschi who was one of the last dancers to be selected personally by George Balanchine to join the New York City Ballet. Classes will also be given by Celisa Diuana who danced with the Royal Ballet until 2012.

An original syllabus for the course known as the International Ballet Curriculum has been prepared by White and Franceschi. It will also be used in Danceworks's first International Ballet Summer Intensive for students aged between 8 and 16 which will take place at 16 Balderton Street between the 20 and 31 July 2015.

Applications for both the Academy and the summer school can be made through Danceworks's website and further particulars including information about fees and scholarships can be obtained on request. It appears to be possible to take classes at the Academy on a drop in basis at the cost of £22 for an hour's class and £26 for 90 minutes.

I hope everybody who takes these courses learns a lot and has fun. I shall be very grateful for any feedback from students or parents and relations.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Eh up!

Yesterday I wrote about Wuthering Heights. On Saturday we heard how the first Yorkshire pudding was made (see Sapphire 15 March 2015), Continuing the Yorkshire theme the Royal Academy of Dance has just announced the judges for the finals of the Genée and two of the three have very strong connections with Yorkshire.

David Bintley was actually born in God's own county:
"Huddersfield is not as famous in the world of classical dance as St Petersburg, Paris or London, but it was the birthplace of David Bintley - one of the most consistent and significant forces in British ballet."
Mr Bintley will be pleased to know that ballet is taught well in his home town (see  Team Hud Adult Ballet Class 22 Jan 2014 and The Base Studios, Huddersfield 13 March 2013) and that the Choral continues to flourish there (The Choral 19 Dec 2013).

David Nixon OBE was born in Canada but he is Artistic Director of the Northern Ballet which is based in Leeds. Nothing shows his feel for this county better than Wuthering Heights. As I said yesterday in my review of that ballet:
"I have lived in the Pennines for 30 years among the royds, below enormous skies and know the sudden and sometimes dramatic changes of colour of heath and sky. Rarely have I seen such faithful re-creation of nature on the stage."
The Genée is to return to London between the 10 and 19 Sept 2015. The programme is set out in the RAD's website. Both the semi-finals, which take place at Stratford Circus Arts Centre between the 16 and 17, and the finals, which take place at Sadler's Wells on the 19, will be open to the public. Although those events take place in London there will be associated events in other parts of the UK (see Creative Spaces on the RAD website). Applications to take part in the event will be open from the 1 May 2015. The RAD offers financial support to candidates through its Darcey Bussell bursary scheme and other initiatives.

Many of the greats of British ballet have launched their careers at The Genée - Doreen Wells, David Drew, David Edwards and Leanne Benjamin to name just a few and more recently Céline GittensXander Parish, Francesca HaywardSean Bates and Mlindi Kulashe. One school that has done well at The Genée over the years is Ballet West in Taynuilt (see Ballet West: - You Can't Argue With Success 2 Feb 2015).

The RAD appeals for funds to support the event and those who wish to do so can find out how on the Support The Genée page of the RAD's website.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Wuthering Heights

Top Withens, the inspiration for Wuthering Heights
Photo Wikipedia

Northern Ballet, Wuthering Heights, The Lyceum, Sheffield, 18 March 2015

On Saturday Northern Ballet acknowledged its northernness by performing Jonathan Watkins's A Northern Trilogy (see Sapphire 15 March 2015). It did so again last night at the Lyceum in Sheffield with David Nixon's Wuthering HeightsI've seen quite a lot of Northern Ballet lately: two performances of Romeo and Juliet on 7 and 12 March 2015 (see Northern Ballet's Romeo and Juliet - different but in a good way 8 March 2015 and Leebolt's Juliet 13 March 2015), the Sapphire gala on 14 March 2015 and a rehearsal and performance of Wuthering Heights yesterday.  I enjoyed all those performances but the one that I appreciated most was last night's Wuthering Heights.

That is probably because I attended the rehearsal and a discussion in The Crucible bar afterwards. I have only read Emily Brontë's novel once and that was decades ago. While I acknowledge its greatness this sort of work is not my favourite literary genre.  I read the book purely out of homage to its author and deference to its reputation and not because I wanted to. I found it very hard going and was glad to reach the end.  I much prefer her sister's work, particularly Shirley and Villette not to mention the work of other contemporary authors.  Because Wuthering Heights was not my favourite novel I was not tempted to see the ballet on the previous times it had been performed. I have to confess that I put off buying a ticket until after I had seen the rehearsal and it was entirely on the strength of the rehearsal that I decided to stay for the evening. Had I come to last night's performance without seeing the rehearsal and attending the discussion I would have been unprepared and might not have understood the choreography and enjoyed the evening as much as I did.

The ballet's synopsis is not quite as I remember the novel and not as I had expected it to be.  I had feared that it would start with Cathy's tapping at Lockwood's window and that it turn out to be somewhat other worldly and creepy like Giselle.  I was pleasantly surprised to find it was nothing like that. There was a momentary projection of Cathy's image in the first scene but that was no more spooky than the flickering image of Odile in Act III of Swan Lake. No. The ballet is a lot more subtle than that. It is very much about relationships - between Cathy and Heathcliff and Edgar; Cathy and Heathcliff and Hindley; Heathcliff and Cathy; and Isabella and Heathcliff and Hindley. It is also set in two timelines - the childhood of Cathy, Heathcliff and Hindley and their adulthood - with plenty of flashbacks. As a result Nixon has created a young Cathy and an adult Cathy and a young Heathcliff and an adult Heathcliff.  There are scenes when the young Cathy danced with adult Cathy and the young Heathcliff with the older Heathcliff. The ballet ends with the adult Heathcliff kneeling in the falling snow beneath a single spotlight with the young Heathcliff and Cathy playing around him. It was very arresting.

There are, of course, other major roles for Hindley, Edgar Linton, his sister Isabella and Ellen Dean.

In the rehearsal young Heathcliff was danced by Kevin Poeung, adult Heathcliff by Isaac Lee-Baker, young Cathy by Rachael Gillespie, adult Cathy by Dreda Blow, Hindley by Mlindi Kulashe, Edgar by Nicola Gervasi, Isabella by Jessica Morgan and Ellen by Victoria Sibson.  From where I was sitting in the middle of row R of the stalls it appeared that we got Jeremy Curnier as young Heathcliff, Tobias Batley as adult Heathcliff, Rachael Gillespie again as young Cathy, Martha Leebolt as adult Cathy, Hironao Takehashi as Edgar and Hannah Bateman as Isabella in the evening performance and that was confirmed in the cast list.  But the cast list said that Jeremy Curnier was also Hindley which can't be right and that "Samantha Moore" was dancing Ellen. I have never heard of a Samantha Moore but I do know Pippa.  Clad in a mop cap and 19th century garb I could not recognize her positively but the role required a strong character dancer which Moore proved herself to be par excellence when she danced the nurse in Romeo and Juliet a few days earlier. I can't think who else it might have been*.

Yesterday I enjoyed watching Gillespie twice.  I have raved about her many times already and probably embarrassed her to distraction for which I apologize profusely but she is one of three graces of British ballet who delight me in a very special way (see Not too sure about Fairies but I certainly believe in Rachael Gillespie 21 Dec 2014). The others are Ruth Brill of the Birmingham Royal Ballet and Sarah Kundi of English National Ballet. I don't know what it is about those artists. None of them is yet a principal though I am sure that is only a matter of time but when one of them dances I float.  Sibley had that effect on me 40 years ago though surprisingly not so much Fonteyn. Among male dancers Xander Parish delights me in a very similar way as does Damien Johnson of Ballet Black.

Yesterday evening I saw three of my other favourites, Batley, Leebolt and Bateman and they all danced magnificently. So, too, did Takahashi who in my humble opinion expressed considerable nobility as Edgar. In the discussion in The Crucible Janet McNulty who must know the ballet very well described him as "a wimp" and that was the consensus but that was not how Takehashi's danced him. It was difficult to get into the ballet in the rehearsal because there were occasional stops and starts and corrections but I am sure I shall be delighted by Lee-Baker and Blow when I see them. Sibson was an impressive Ellen in the rehearsal as was Moore or whoever danced Ellen in the evening.

The evening performance moved a lady in the centre of the front row who looked very like Janet McNulty to rise to her feet and she was joined by her companion. "Good old Janet", I thought. "The dancers deserve it" and I stood up too. I don't know who else did but I am sure there would have been some more.

So yesterday's pleasure was quite serendipitous. In case you are wondering why I decided to stay in Sheffield when I had many other commitments it was a combination of attractions. First, there was Claude-Michel Schönberg's score for which Nixon created spectacular lifts and jumps. Some of those lifts were quite innovative and I guess very uncomfortable for the ballerinas. Both Cathy and Isabella were grabbed by the throats and bundled like laundry in pas de deux with Heathcliff. Returning to the score I found it enchanting from the opening oboes. Next there was the choreography that I have already described. Blow and Lee-Baker had been magnificent and I was eager to see what Batley and Leebolt would make of it. Then there were Ali Allen's sets and David Grill's lighting. I have lived in the Pennines for 30 years among the royds, below enormous skies and know the sudden and sometimes dramatic changes of colour of heath and sky. Rarely have I seen such faithful re-creation of nature on the stage.

I did not think I would like this ballet but I did and I am now quite hooked on it. I am not sure I can get to see it while it is still in Sheffield but I will certainly follow it on tour.

Finally, I would like to commend Joanne Clayton of the Friends of Northern Ballet for arranging the discussion after the show. As I was at the box office I missed the introductions of the speakers. One was a gentleman and the other a lady. They certainly know the novel well and also the choreography. They alerted me to details that I had missed in the rehearsal. I looked out for those details and understood their significance in the evening. We need more events like that in the North. There are plenty in London organized by the London Ballet Circle, Danceworks, the London Jewish Cultural Centre and others. I had contemplated organizing some myself but had been deterred by the fear that nobody would turn up as we have a different culture in the North and a much smaller audience for ballet. Joanne Clayton's success has made me think again.

*Someone who knows a lot more about Northern Ballet than me has just sent me a DM to confirm that Samantha Moore is Pippa Moore and that there is some history.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

A chance to see more of Neumeier's work: Dutch National Ballet's La Dame aux Camelias

Those of us who were lucky enough to see Northern Ballet's Sapphire gala on Saturday were treated to John Neumeier's version of The Nutcracker. I haven't seen much of that choreographer's work and I would like to see more. There is now an opportunity since the Dutch National Ballet are dancing La Dame aux Camélias in Amsterdam from the 10 April 2015. For many of us outside London, Amsterdam is at least as easy to reach as our own capital and it is good deal less outrageously expensive once you get there.

This ballet which is based on Dumas' novel has been around for a bit. It was first performed in Stuttgart in 1978 with Marcia Haydée in the title role. It is in the repertoire of the Ballet of the Paris National Opera which can be seen on YouTube. This is not the first ballet to be inspired by the Dumas novel. Sir Frederick Ashton created Marguerite and Armand for the Royal Ballet with Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev as the principals.

The Dumas novel has also inspired Verdi's opera but neither Ashton nor Neumeier used Verdi's music in their ballets. Ashton chose Liszt'a piano sonata while Neumeiet preferred Chopin. Sets and costumes are by Jürgen Rose. I don't have any information about casting yet but I'll let you know when I do.

Performances take place on 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 19, 23, 24 and 26 April 2015 in the auditorium of the Stopera and tickets cost between C15 and 90 (£10.78 and £64.67 see what I mean about affordability). You can book through the Dutch National Ballet's website or call the box office on +31 020 625 54 55.

If you want a good hotel I can recommend the American which is a few hundred yards from the auditorium. The airport bus stops outside and the fare is only C5. Amsterdam is a fine city with plenty to see and do. It is very welcoming. Most of its residents speak at least some English. I greatly prefer it to London.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Ballet Cymru's Cinderella

Two of my personal highlights of last year were Ballet Cymyru's performances of Beauty and the Beast at Lincoln and Stuck in the Mud in Llandudno. They are a lovely company with some lovely dancers. I am a particular fan of Krystal Lowe who like me spent part of her education in Los Angeles and also of Mandev Solkhi who was a magnificent beast in Lincoln last year.  I snapped both of them on the streets of Llandudno in September.

On 8 May 2015 Ballet Cymru are premièring a brand new version of Cinderella at the Riverfront Theatre in Newport. Newport was sent up terribly by the Jay Z Spoof Newport A state of Mind and also by the local response You're not from Newport but it is actually quite a pleasant place.  Just a few minutes drive from the centre is Caerleon Roman fortress and baths, one of the most important archaeological sites in Britain. It is also the southern end of the magnificent Wye Valley which is an area of outstanding natural beauty.  It has a Norman Castle though there is not much left of it and, of course, the UK Intellectual Property Office which is how I happen to know the place so well.

Ballet Cymru has commissioned its own score from Jack White who wrote the music for Stuck in the Mud. The ballet is choreographed by Darius James and Amy Doughty. The sets and costumes have been designed by Steve Denton. After its opening in Newport the show will tour England and Wales with one performance in Scotland at Ayr

Ballet Cymru has particularly connections with the London Ballet Circle. Darius James is one of the Vice Presidents. The Circle has organized at least one visit to Newport and encourages its members to attend its performances in London.

Sunday, 15 March 2015


This year marks the sapphire anniversary of the formation of Northern Ballet so the company celebrated yesterday with a magnificent gala at the Grand Theatre in Leeds. Four new works were premièred by the company and dancers came from Australia, Germany, Russia and London. There have been only three other occasions when I have seen such an array of talent from around the world. They were the Yorkshire Ballet Summer School gala at Sadler's Wells on 29 Sept 2013, the Yorkshire Ballet Summer School gala at the Grand Opera House in York on 30 July 2007 (when incidentally I saw Xander Parish and his sister Demelza for the first time) and a gala for Sir Frederick Ashton's retirement on 24 July 1970. Artistically it was a glorious evening to which the audience duly paid homage by rising  as one at the end.

We saw 13 works last night:
They were all good but for me there were three highlights.  

The first was seeing Klimentova and Muntagirov together again. I never thought I would ever see that beautiful ballerina again especially after her last performance at the Royal Albert Hall and certainly not with Muntagirov after he left English National Ballet for The Royal Ballet. The last time I had seen then was in The Nutcracker at the Coliseum just before Muntagirov announced his departure (see Cracking! 14 Dec 2013). Theirs was one of the great partnerships of ballet and seeing them again together in my own county was like a miracle. That pas de deux  alone made the evening for me.

Next was Torres's A Dying Swan and there's a story behind that. I inherited my love of ballet from my mother. My father, a highly educated, urbane and kindly man, didn't care for it at all. He regarded men's tights and women's tutus as bordering on indecency and the whole art form an instrument of Soviet propaganda. Don't forget I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s when we scrambled the V-bombers on more than one occasion. The Bolshoi arrived in London immediately after Khrushchev had crushed the Hungarian uprising. But my mother had seen Pavlova dance the Dying Swan at the Grand Theatre in Leeds when she must have been a very little girl (see In Leeds of all Places - Pavlova, Ashton and Magic 18 Sept 2013), It made such an impression upon her that she could describe the choreography in every detail.  I have seen Pavlova's performance on flickering film and I know my mother's recollection was accurate. I had longed to see a modern ballerina perform that dance and I did at the Gala for Ghana 4 Feb 2014 when Elena Glurdjidze danced the piece. It was as beautiful as my mother had described and I wept. A few days later I actually met the great ballerina at the London Ballet Circle and told her the story and she seemed to be moved too.

So there was a lot of emotion welling up inside me before Torres took to the stage. At first I was in despair because the cello was almost drowned by sound effects but then it shone through and so did Torres. He was as beautiful and as moving as Glurdjidze. And indeed as Pavlova so far as I can tell from my mother's description and the film. Again I was moved to tears. Now I am a hard nosed barrister specializing in patents and I don't cry easily but I couldn't help myself yesterday. Some of those tears were prompted by my associations with Pavlova and my mother's story but most sprung from Torres's dancing. And when the auditorium exploded with applause at the end of his piece I felt sure it was the latter.

My third highlight was Jonathan Watkins's A Northern Trilogy. Do watch his video for so long as it remains on YouTube. He set three ballets to Stanley Holloway's monologues - Yorkshire Pudding, One Each a Piece All Round and The Lion and Albert. For this Leeds audience it was mother's milk and it was for me too because I had heard those monologues from both parents while growing up in Surrey. Neither my Yorkshire mother nor my Lancashire father ever allowed me to forget that I had been born in Manchester and if ever I inserted an "r" into "grass" or "bath" I was met with a contemptuous "Oh you cockney clod." Bateman, Blow and Leebolt were beautiful  (especially the angel). Lee-Baker made a great Albert and Poeung can do no wrong in my book. I think I liked Yorkshire Pudding best. Why? No reason except my friend Gita, who has joined me in turning Terpsichore into a business and is as Yorkshire as my mum, published a recipe for Yorkshire pudding in Milan, Happy Birthday 3 June 2013 Gita Mistry Food. Gita's first name means Heaven in one of the Indian languages and her Yorkshire pudding really is heavenly.

As this post is already long I will try to canter through the rest but I must say a few words about Kenneth Tindall and Xander Parish.

Tindall is one of the best young choreographers we have and I love everything he has created including the ballet we saw last night. His work appeals to the brain as well as the heart. We Never Said depicts two mannequins in jeans and jackets who come to life to music by The XX, In the programme notes Tindall quotes an anonymous poem:
"My love for you is statuesque, come let us dance like we're made of stone."
Batley and Leebolt were magnificent.  As it happens I met Tindall in the foyer before the show and he said a few words about his plans which are exciting.  I shall be featuring him and his work later this year.

Xander Parish is not only a great dancer he is also a very kind man. I saw him dance Romeo when the Mariinsky visited London (see Reet Gradely: Romeo and Juliet, Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Opera House 29 July 2014 31 July 2014) and Joanna Goodman and I were lucky enough to meet him at the London Ballet Circle a few days later. Because proceedings take place under something like the Chatham House Rule I can't say anything about his talk but I think I can give two instances of his kindness.  First, he lifted one of his younger admirers as I had seen him lift Tereshkina a few days earlier. That young girl who is a promising dance student was thrilled to bits. Secondly, he signed a birthday card for my ballet teacher's younger daughter. I had offered him two cards to sign - one from the shop at Covent Garden for his old company and the other of Martha Leebolt as Cleopatra from our shop at Quarry Hill. And guess what! He chose Martha. My ballet teacher's daughter was as thrilled as the young student he had lifted in London.

Now for Xander Parish's performance. It is always a thrill to see him. He and his sister shone in 2007 and he also shone last night but I do wish he had been given something like Balanchine's Apollo in which role he dazzled London last year. Now don't get me wrong. I had seen Daniel Montero of the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company dance Ballet 101 in Amsterdam and London and I like it very much. Parish performed it beautifully though it ended with him flat on his back from his exertions rather than in little pieces as in the Dutch version. But having seen Parish's Romeo I wanted more. So I guess I must save my kopeks and go to Russia after all.

I'm afraid I won't do justice to the rest in this post but hopefully others will follow. Nixon's Sapphire showed off our excellent young men. Lean, sleek and muscular like greyhounds. Do watch this YouTube video. De Andrade's A Fatal Kiss reminded me of Tango and Buenos Aires and the novels of Luis Borges. Shift was Bruce at his best. Jones and Bull were magnificent. Australians are perfectionists as I know from personal experience having been taught by one. It was great to see a bit more of Gatsby again both the Charleston and the pas de deux. Little Monsters to the music of Elvis Presely oozed sexiness and menace. Blow's Juliet wowed me last Saturday and now I am yet another of her devoted fans.  And having seen just a little of Neumeier's The Nutcracker and Trusch I want to see more.

There is just one thing that worried me about last night and that is that there were empty seats even in the front stalls. Gita managed to get a good seat at a good price towards the rear of the stalls a few hours before the show. Also it was not the usual ballet going crowd. There were some faces I recognized such as students from my Over 55 class and, of course, Janet McNulty of Balletco Forum from Liverpool but not many. I felt I was one of the younger ones and as I was at Ashton's retirement gala I am no stripling.

That and the fact that there were rows of empty seats on Thursday for the last night of Romeo and Juliet troubles me about Leeds. According to the authoritative Globalization and World Cities Research Network Leeds is only a gamma city on its classification of cities whereas even Manchester where Northern Ballet began is a beta and London together with New York is an alpha plus. How long can this mid-size town support a company of the quality of Northern Ballet? in his speech before the show Nixon mentioned that all the shows in London are fully booked whereas yesterday's gala and next week's Wuthering Heights are certainly not. Had the gala taken place at The WellsThe Coliseum or even The Albert Hall it would have been sold out for months. It makes me wonder for how much longer Northern Ballet can afford to remain Northern?

Further Reading

Nick Ahad   Dancing to music of time 15 March 2015 Yorkshire Post

Friday, 13 March 2015

Leebolt's Juliet

Watching the same ballet twice in a week is  not something I do very often for a variety of reasons. But I was so taken by Northern Ballet's Romeo and Juliet last Saturday with Tobias Batley and Dreda Blow in the title roles that I made an exception. I felt compelled to see it again last night but this time with Martha Leebolt and Giuliano Contadini as the lovers.

It was, of course, very good. How could it be anything else with Leebolt as Juliet, Contadini as Romeo, Antoinette Brooks-Daw as the nurse, Javier Torres as Tybalt, Lucia Solari as Lady Capulet, Sean Bates as Benvolio and Matthew Koon as Mercutio not to mention another impressive performance by Isaac  Lee-Baker  as Friar Lawrence. But somehow some of the sparkle of Saturday night was missing. That was surprising because the last night of a run is often the best. Especially when a show has received excellent reviews as this one has as well as great feedback from the audience.

The absence of sparkle was not the performers' fault. The dancers danced their hearts out as they always do and the Sinfornia played well. But theatre is a two way communication. A great show needs a great audience as well as a great cast and last night's house was definitely not the same as Saturday's. For a start there were fewer of us. The stalls where I sat were nowhere near full. And they were plenty of distractions. The Grand is a very noisy auditorium at the best of times. There's a light rumble whenever someone shifts in his or her seat. But when a file of latecomers take their seats in the middle of the first Act it sounds like a tube train. Worse, there were giggles at certain points such as when Juliet with her back to the audience slips off the top of her clothing before her embarrassed nurse or when the lovers envelope themselves in a sheet in the bedroom scene.

However, there are advantages of seeing a show twice in quick succession and that is that one notices details of the choreography and the story that one missed first time round. Maillot's choreography that I found angular on Saturday does have beauty though of a kind that we are not used to in this country. Until my concentration was disturbed by the arrival of latecomers I reflected on the relationship between the friar and his acolytes, Kevin Poeung and Jeremy Curnier. They hoist Lee-Baker in the air with his arms outstretched as in a crucifixion. The balcony pas de deux is really quite lovely, There is exuberance as Romeo slides between Juliet's feet. There is playfulness as she listens to his heart as Romeo lies prostrate at her side.

One of the reasons why I prefer not to see the same show twice in the same theatre in quick succession is that it is natural to compare one cast with the other. I'm not going to do that here. I liked Leebolt and Contadini just as much as Batley and Blow but they were very different.

Leebolt, who has danced all the major roles in Northern Ballet's repertoire, was magnificent but she was much more like Cleopatra than a teenage girl. There were times when that was good. She communicates emotion well. We could feel her anger throughout the theatre when Romeo sloped into her bedroom after strangling her cousin. Nobody does rage better than Leebolt. Again nobody does despair better than her. Her entreaties to the friar where masterly. It is a big ask of a mature woman at the height of her career to put herself literally in the shoes of a child - though not impossible for a I saw Fonteyn dance Juliet convincingly when she was well over 50.

Contadini was a perfect fit for Romeo, He was boyish, tender, headstrong, contrite and above all passionate, He partnered Leebolt convincingly.

Solari, Brooks-Daw, Torres, Koon and Bates and indeed the whole cast danced well in their roles. They deserved a lot more than one round of curtain calls.

I shall miss Maillot's Romeo and Juliet now that it is done. If ever there was a ballet that should be taken to the Wells then it ought to have been this one. I would just love to know what a London audience would make of a Romeo and Juliet without sword fights but with a turbulent priest. As they put up with Pastor's version for Scottish Ballet last year which was in many ways a lot more radical I think they just might buy it