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My very first post to Terpsichore was a review of The Nutcracker by Ballet West Company. I was so impressed that I had to write it down. I had been blogging for years on the law and had even found an excuse to squeeze in a review of a show by Northern Ballet on the ground that choreography is an intellectual asset protected by copyright. The only way to do justice to Ballet West's performance at Pitlochry was to publish my review somewhere. As I did not then know any other dance blogger I decided to start my own ballet blog
Not least the most impressive aspect of that 2013 performance was that it was largely a student show, Ballet West states on its website:
"As part of your studies, you will be part of the Ballet West company which gives you the experience of working with professional dancers and choreographers to perform classical ballet repertoire and new works in genuine performance contexts throughout your time at Ballet West."Now all ballet schools stage shows but the unique feature of Ballet West's training is that they take their show on a strenuous tour of Scotland. Between 25 Jan and 16 Feb 2020 they will perform Swan Lake no less than 12 times in 8 cities and towns including Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee, Some of their venues such as the Glasgow Armadillo and the Stirling Macrobert Arts Centre are fair size auditoriums which they manage to fill.
Bearing in mind that all major classical companies in the UK except the Royal Ballet tour the country regularly and some of them such as Ballet Theatre UK and Ballet Cymru can cover enormous distances between performances, this must be the best possible training for professional life. In fact, Ballet West notes:
"Previous students always consider the experience of these performances as the most useful in securing work and preparing them for life as a professional dancer."The only other school that sends its students on tour is the Central School of Ballet. They visit even more venues but they start in March and finish in July.
Although Ballet West is a small school located a long way from Londo, it achieves a lot, One of the last British students to make it to the final the Grand Prix de Lausanne was a Ballet West alumna (see Natasha Watson in Lausanne 15 Nov 2014). She also did well in the Genée a few months earlier. So, too, have a number of other students. The school holds outreach classes in the vicinity for students of all ages. Possibly Ballet West's most impressive achievement is the training they give to their associates. Some of those students are very young. Many travel long distances to attend classes and rehearsals. They have a limited time to prepare for a show. But the standard of performance is very high indeed.
If I had a son or daughter of the appropriate age with an interest in and aptitude for ballet, I would certainly not discourage him or her from considering Ballet West very seriously.