Each year the graduating students form a company known as Ballet Central and tour a full programme to various venues around the country. This year, due to Covid, has been particularly challenging but, as the saying goes, “the show must go on”, and it is to ten venues around the UK. Even though the students learned all the choreography via Zoom alone in their kitchens, living rooms and hallways, they showed the members of the LBC a very professional and polished performance.
Following a warm welcome to the new premises at Paris Gardens, Christopher Marney, Artistic Director, introduced the first excerpt from Le Corsaire, Act 1. The choreography has been adapted, in order to comply with Covid regulations, but remains true to the ballet. The dancers have been split into two bubbles and there are two troupes, Bourne and Petipas, who are touring the show.
Following the ensemble piece, we saw the final Pas de Deux between Medora and Conrad. Even though the young couple were masked, and we couldn’t see their faces, the emotion came through in their lovely, lyrical dancing. Until the students were allowed back into the school in March, they had had no pas de deux training all year. You wouldn’t have known it!
The afternoon finished with an opportunity to hear from Chris and three of the dancers, Lucy, Mayuko and Jake. They discussed the challenges of preparing for this year’s Ballet Central tour. The programme is varied and shows off three aspects of the dancers’ versatility, classical in Le Corsaire, contemporary in a new piece by Charlotte Edmonds called Jigsaw and “dance theatre” in Sir Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling.
The students not only dance but they manage the lighting, wardrobe and stage duties at each of the theatres where they are to perform. Following an early morning arrival and set up, they do a full class, technical rehearsal, performance and then break down the production, pack up and return to London that same night. It’s a very tiring day but tremendous preparation for their future careers in professional dance.
It was a truly delightful visit to Central and we look forward to soon being able to visit in person at the new Central School of Ballet. The afternoon ended with a round of applause from the audience, warm wishes for the students as they leave Central and, for Chris Marney who is leaving to begin a new chapter of his career, a very warm thank you and good luck!!