This was also the case with the opening work, Let’s Begin, in which Anita Young, the doyen of White Lodge ballet teachers, gave seventy-seven dancers from years 7, 8 and 9 their chance. It was an amazing feat: constantly engaging as each small group ran on to dance a short enchainment, and enlightening as it revealed the clear progression. The steps became increasingly more challenging, and arguably, more fun and it was good to see how inclusive the standard was across each level. It was also a treat to enjoy live music from David Smith playing classical favourites from the ballet class.
For the Juniors there were also cheerful character dances, a meticulously rehearsed and executed Mazurka from Paquita and four pieces of student choreography. I felt Tianie-Finn Grainger’s Classified, was a particularly brave piece, venturing outside the box of ballet choreography and exploring interesting narratives and structures.
For Year 11, Robert Binet’s Earthborn pushed the students to their limit with some very challenging neo-classical choreography. The partnering explored difference and there was a continual subtext underpinning the moves, bringing the dance up-to-date, as it should be for this new generation.
Extracts from Act I of Coppélia showed more of the fine classical training in the Ear of Corn pas de deux danced by a delightful Swanhilda, Rimi Nakano, with strong support from Clark Eselgroth, as Franz and half a dozen lively Friends. A gutsy Czardas was led by Mia Bailey and Jack Bruce, two very engaging young performers.