Monday, 25 April 2016

Ballet Central's Only Performance in the North

Yesterday I wrote about Nederlands Dans Theater 2 (see NDT2 at the Lowry 24 April 2016) and I have written a lot over the years about the Dutch National Ballet's Junior Company. None of our leading companies has a junior company as such but Ballet West, the Central School of Ballet and the Northern Ballet School all have performance companies. It is a thrill to watch those excellent young men and women on stage and through this blog I try to encourage them all.

Central's performance company is called Ballet Central which consists of the final year students on its BA (Hons) Degree course. Its website claims that
"Central School of Ballet is the only classical vocational school to offer an Honours Degree and pre-professional touring experience on such a scale. It has been a springboard for hundreds of dancers into the dance profession."
The School was founded by Christopher Gable who was the artistic director of Northern Ballet during its golden age and it has produced many of my favourite dancers including Hannah Bateman, Sarah Kundi, Dominic North and Rachael Gillespie as well as several of my favourite choreographers such as Paul Chantry. Christopher Marney and Kenneth Tindall. Two of the artistic directors that I respect the most, Sharon Watson of Phoenix Dance Theatre and Cassa Pancho of Ballet Black are associated with the School, Watson as an artistic advisor and Pancho as one of its patrons.

Ballet Central is now making its annual tour with an interesting programme which will include works by Gable, Marney and Watson. This year is special because it is the company's 30th anniversary and the work that I am looking forward to seeing most is Marney's War Letters which featured on the cover of this month's Dancing Times. I loved that work when it was performed by Ballet Black three years ago and it will be interesting to see another company's interpretation. One obvious difference from the cover photo is that Ballet Central will be using British uniforms instead of American ones for its male dancers.

One of the dancers on tour is Jasmine Wallis who impressed me in Marney's Carnival of the Animals for the Chelmsford Ballet Company last year (see A Delight Indeed 22 March 2015). Marion Pettet, the Chair of Chelmsford Ballet, saw Ballet Central when it came to Chelmsford a few weeks ago and tipped Wallis as someone to look out for.

Despite their connections with Phoenix and Northern Ballet, Ballet Central's touring schedule allows only one stop in the North and that is at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre in Leeds on Thursday, 28 April 2016. There are still one or two seats left towards the back of the auditorium. Last year's show was dazzling (see Dazzled 3 May 2016). The thirtieth anniversary tour can hardly be less exciting.

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