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.

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