Some third-year students, who had just returned from performing with English National Ballet on tour in Swan Lake, were that day rehearsing with the Company to open in The Nutcracker at the Coliseum the following week. In addition to preparing for the Christmas Show, second year students were busy getting ready to tour My First Sleeping Beauty. The pieces we saw being rehearsed included an extract from Coppelia, taught by 1st Year Teacher Taina Morales in order to develop the students’ ability to tell a story. There were also some Bournonville style solos and duets and modern choreography, which the whole of the second year had been working on as a group with their modern dance teacher, Hannah Cameron. We also saw an energetic Grand Defile, danced to the finale music from The Nutcracker. Two students, who had recently done well in competition, told us of their recent successes. A young man had been awarded the (Barbara) Fewster Cecchetti Scholarship to support his training and a young woman had won the Barbara Geoghegan Award for the most Promising Student. A third-year student was about to juggle appearing as a snowflake in The Nutcracker with participating in the BBC’s Young Dancer of the Year 2019 Competition.
During the question and answer session, Carlos Valcarcel, the Director, explained that the School’s involvement in recent competitions was largely because of the focus on the Cecchetti method of teaching, which they followed. He was concerned that ENBS students should have a range of experiences to help prepare them for life as a professional dancer: entering competitions was one possible strand but as, if not more important, were the opportunities the second-year students had to tour the ‘My First’ productions and the involvement of a number of third years with the Company, both touring and in London. He added that he had recently been a teacher/judge for the Youth America Grand Prix in Italy where a number of the competitors had indicated an interest in coming to study at the ENBS. In response to questions about accommodation at Hortensia Road and performing at The Wimbledon Theatre, Carlos spoke of the space restrictions at ENBS’s current HQ and about how much everyone was looking forward to moving to City Island where they would be sharing the building with the Company. This not only opened up the possibility of mounting their annual show in the Studio Theatre there but the whole concept of being alongside the Company was also very exciting developmentally for the School and the students.