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Two of our wonderful Ballet Central 2017 dancers, Amy McEntee and Ruaridh Bisset can be seen rehearsing the Romeo & Juliet ballroom scene especially choreographed by Jenna Lee. Click on the link to watch the video!
The Ballet Central 2017 Tour is now underway, performing at 22 theatres over a five month period! Ballet Central 2017 tour dates & tickets
On Friday evening 17th February Amy McEntee and Ruaridh Bisset, final year students at Central School of Ballet, performed a five minute pas de deux opening and closing the autumn/winter show of renowned fashion designer Joshua Kane at the London Palladium.
Over 2,200 people saw the show, hailed as the largest attendance of any London Fashion Week show. Amy and Ruaridh performed in specially created three piece suits in Joshua’s signature style. The performance, against a dramatic set and falling snowflakes, was created in close collaboration with Joshua and his team, rehearsals having taken place at Central’s studios in Clerkenwell.
Central’s Director Heidi Hall said: “We admire Joshua’s work immensely. We have great empathy with the creative process and the sheer effort required to produce a fashion show of such gravitas.”
“This type of opportunity, where students perform in a different type of environment, working with creative experts and short lead times, contributes enormously to learning. Central is known for the versatility of our graduate dancers. Amy and Ruaridh demonstrated how their preparation for the forthcoming Ballet Central tour has equipped them for this most exciting of evenings working with Joshua and his team.”
Amy aged 18 from Glasgow said: “I really enjoyed the preparation, creating a new piece with Ruaridh especially for the fashion show. It was fun to be part of the build up to Friday evening; being fitted with Joshua’s tailoring that was adapted so we were able to dance.
Ruaridh aged 19 from Manchester added: “It was a thrilling evening. The response to our performance at the London Palladium was overwhelming. And the clothes were all stunning. Amy and I dance together on a regular basis and this has cemented our partnership in advance of the Ballet Central Tour.”
Joshua Kane said: “Mixing art forms has always been at the forefront of both my collections and runway shows. As my Joshua Kane Journey collection has a theatrical inspiration I wanted to combine as many elements of theatre possible. Working with Central School of Ballet has been an absolute pleasure and an amazing experience. To see the two dancers Amy and Ruaridh bring my tailoring to life with their beautiful duet was for many the highlight of the show.”
The Joshua Kane brand is known for its fine tailoring based on distinctly British influences, focusing on unique quality fabrics and an individual style. The new collection shown on Friday evening included a women’s range for the first time. Joshua is widely considered to be the next Alexander McQueen, having worked for Jaeger, Burberry and Paul Smith before launching his own label in 2014 when he also established his flagship store in Spitalfields in London.
Ballet Central is the graduate touring company of Central School of Ballet. The annual Ballet Central tour is now underway, visiting 22 theatres across the country from Exeter in Devon to Dumfries in Scotland over a five month period. Ballet Central 2017 Tour dates & tickets and Ballet Central 2017 Tour Trailer
In this special blog entry, our dancer Tom Broderick tells us about Ballet Central’s performance in Chelmsford!
Chelmsford, to me was always going to be the most important show, purely due to the fact it is the nearest to my home town of Southend-On-Sea. With over forty people coming to support me, many of which hadn’t seen me dance since I first moved to London to attend Central three years ago, the pressure was certainly on. For the first time I was dancing the Prince in the Cinderella Pas de Deux, as well as appearing in Mapping #3, Insinuare & anon. These had all gone well in rehearsal, so on Wednesday night, in apprehension of the 5.45 am wake-up call, I tried to ignore the multitude of mixed feelings whirring around my mind and get some sleep.
I certainly hadn’t been wrong. When my alarm rang through my ears at that ungodly hour it took a lot of self control to not simply roll over and ignore it, but by the time I got to school and was on the coach I began to feel a little more alive. The journey wasn’t long and the ‘Welcome to Essex’ sign did seem to drum up some excitement in me and the three others who originate from our palatial county, so once the extra shots of coffee had kicked in we were ready for the get in. Here lay our first problem.
One part of Ballet Central, is not only do we perform at each venue, but also partake in a team whereby we aid the setup and get out of the show. This helps broaden our knowledge of the theatre. I am on the wardrobe team which means, simply, that we look after all the costumes, unpack and prepare them for each show. In practicality this often proves more problematic than expected, with small items such as cufflinks and earrings disappearing constantly. At Chelmsford however the costumes decided to step up their game in the disappearing act, with a pair of bespoke footballers boots going missing, with no suitable spare. This meant a mere pair of shoes caused seven frantic teenagers to scramble through trunks, bags and boxes, whilst still attempting to steam and iron the hundreds of other items. Did I mention by this point it’s only 9.30 am? The dramas of a touring ballet company!
After what seemed like hours of standing behind a steamer, de-creasing costumes and hanging them on their assigned rails we were finally done. A quick trip to a coffee shop later for more caffeine, a miraculous change of attire and there we were on stage doing class. The hour and a half for me, whizzed by. This was the point where the nerves were starting to creep in, not helped by the steady stream of bleeps coming from my phone. Various tweets, texts and emails flooding in from friends along the lines of “Can’t wait to see it tonight! Better be good!?”… No pressure eh??
So class finished and it was onto a run through. As each new venue is different with varying stage and wing sizes, an afternoon run through is always a necessity to iron out any creases in the running of the show before the evening performance. Believe me there are normally a few. This run went fairly well, for me at least, with only a few notes such as spacing for the Pas de Deux so that we finished in our allotted spot light. The main issue was just that the wings were a lot smaller than previous venues, but with some close packed quick changes and slight adjustment of curtains we managed.
There we go, preparation finished. The time had reached 5.45pm, we as a company had been going for twelve hours and sustenance was in order. Consequently with my parents arrival I was soon in the nearest pub for a scoffed dinner. Maybe it wasn’t sensible to go for the large fish and chips before a show, then again dancing has never stopped my food consumption before! The joys of a fast metabolism!
Back at the theatre again, gosh this day seems to be never ending and we haven’t even got to the show yet! I forgot to mention earlier that I am the one member of the company shall we say lucky enough to be on two of the theatre teams so once back in the theatre I proceeded to grab the front of house case and set up our merchandise stall before the rest of the team joined me. Somehow I didn’t actually get much selling done, mainly due to the crowd of friends and relatives now piling into the foyer. I was stuck in an almost constant embrace, going from one to the next for almost ten minutes and by that time the half hour warning had been called so in the blink of an eye my makeup and costume were on, I was warmed up and standing in the wings watching the first piece finish and seriously considering running away right there and then.
I managed to stick it out and myself and Giulia performed our debut of the Cinderella Fireside Pas de Deux. The five and a half minutes were over in a heartbeat and as we took our bow the roar from my friends and family was simply amazing. Pure elation is the only way I can really describe how I felt when I came off. As we saw Heidi shedding a tear as we left the stage all we wanted to do was bounce up and down like hyperactive six year olds, but I only had one more piece until I was on again so it was of to get changed. The rest of the show continued in the same way, with everything going perfectly and by the time I finished anon, I was both shattered and extremely happy. The fairy god mother must have been watching over me as well as Cinderella because it really couldn’t have gone any better.
Now it was time to do the whole process in reverse. Back into the foyer; hugs and kisses left, right and centre, a quick drink to celebrate, backstage, help to pack away, on the coach and finally back to London. As I got in bed I glanced at the clock which read 11.45. Eighteen hours and possibly one of the best days of my life. It certainly was time for some sleep, after all we needed to be back in school at ten the next day for rehearsals. Hertford’s show was only two days away. As my mother constantly reminds me “Well, you will choose these careers Tom!”
Backstage at Cambridge
May I welcome you to the blog about Ballet Central’s fourth performance of their tour in the wonderful city of Cambridge. Enjoy!
10.15: Local café in Cambridge
The Get-in appeared to go very smoothly this morning. For those readers who don’t know, the Get-in is the process where the company set up the theatre ready for the performance (including the stage, lights, sound, costumes and front-of-house). One student noted ‘I am learning so much about what it takes to put on a performance’. Once the Get-in was done, one of the best parts of touring is exploring the city you are performing in and the time between the get-in and class offers that opportunity. Cambridge is best known for its University and is peppered with buildings dating as far back as 900AD mixed amongst the more modern shopping developments. Needless to say, the most important mission was to locate the nearest coffee shops, all of which were luckily within walking distance – success! The time went quickly and before long it was time to make our way back to the theatre.
1pm: The stage, ADC Theatre
Company class with Bill Glassman was taken on stage at the ADC Theatre. The ADC is a lovely theatre located in the heart of Cambridge, we really enjoy being there as the theatre staff are so friendly. With the rousing music by Phillip Feeney, the company were ready and prepped for the dress rehearsal.
5.15pm: Auditorium, ADC Theatre
The rehearsal is finished! During the rehearsal one student seemed to turn her ankle but she carried on regardless and apart from an ice pack or two, she was fighting fit by the time the rehearsal was over. As the final corrections were given, and the lights and sound tweaked, we found out that the performance was sold out! Yay!
7.15pm: Front-of-House and Backstage, ADC Theatre
The eager audience are starting to trickle in now and they seem very excited. No one was more excited than a 6-year-old who had dressed up in a sparkly dress for the occasion! Programmes were bought in a flurry of interest and it was nice to have so many audience members coming up and declaring that this is their fourth or fifth time of seeing Ballet Central. Backstage, the energy is high and mixed with slight nerves. Everyone was ready to perform – getting into the zone, focussing on what they needed to do for the evening.
8.30pm: Front-of-House, ADC Theatre
First half done – and this time the mood was jubilant both backstage and front of house. The little girl declared to me that she wanted to be a ballet dancer and other audience members made their way to the students who were front-of-house and were effusive in their praise for the company. Backstage, wave after wave of students came off the stage saying that it was so far their best performance. They are loving the responsive audience!
9.30pm: On the coach back to London
It was a flurry of activity backstage as costumes were taken off, organised, the stage floor rolled, the lights dismantled and the merchandise packed away. The ADC theatre came alive tonight – the performance was a great success!
May I welcome Carys Applebee to our blog! Hope you enjoy the interview:
It has been really good fun. Being on tour, seeing different theatres, being backstage and helping the technical crew has been great! The supportive atmosphere is just amazing – even the early starts and late finishes are worth it!
2. What have been your favourite moments?
The opening night dancing Insinuare, the piece by Leanne King and Sara Matthews, has definitely been a highlight. The performance went so well and being backstage and being part of the excitement was fantastic!
3. What pieces have you been learning?
I have been learning as many pieces as I can because I want to have as many opportunities to perform as possible.
4. What is your favourite piece and why?
My favourite piece is Chris Marney’s anon. – the rehearsal process has been so rewarding. His piece is a narrative so we were able to explore and develop our skills as actors as well as dancers, which I really enjoyed. I also appreciated how he really took time to work with us individually, giving all casts opportunities to practice and push our boundaries.
I also love doing Insinuare – the rehearsal process was collaborative meaning that we as dancers were able to input our own ideas into the piece, a fantastic experience and insight into the world of choreography. This was great for me as I really enjoy choreographing myself. I have recently had the opportunity to choreograph a duet for a project called ‘Design for Dance’ where dancers from Central School of Ballet collaborate with design students at Central St Martins to create and perform a new piece. Working with different dancers, I really started to understand the hard work behind each piece of choreography.
5. What has it been like working with different choreographers?
It has been interesting to see how the choreographers have different ways of working. The contrast between working on a narrative piece like Chris Marney’s anon., working creatively on Insinuare and then putting on the pointe shoes for the technically demanding Florestan Pas de Trois, can only be experienced at Ballet Central
6. When did you start dancing?
I started when I was 3 years old in Dorset and then I moved to Chichester where I started taking class with Teresita Marsden who was such an inspiration. As I got older, I became more determined to dance and did the CAT scheme at The Place and Pre-Senior programme at Central. It was during that time that I decided to audition for Central as I really loved the classes I was doing.
7. Who inspired you to dance?
I think I have been very lucky with the teachers I have had who have all been so inspiring in many different ways. Also reading articles about dancers who have overcome adversity to follow their dreams – I know it sounds a little clichéd but it helps me when I am having a bad day to think of those people and know that I can do the same.
8. What’s the best advice you can give to future dancers?
Be open-minded! When I was younger I was determined to do ballet and only ballet, so when I first had the opportunity to do some contemporary I used to try any excuse to skip the classes – I feel ashamed to admit this now! Doing the Pre-Senior programme at Central really opened my eyes to the many facets of contemporary dance and now it is my favourite type of dance! I feel I can really express myself in ways that ballet sometimes cannot.
9. Any plans for the future?
I am very excited to be starting as an apprentice with Springs Dance Company. It will give me a lot of opportunities to perform as well as to explore choreography which I am really keen to continue. I’m really looking forward to it!
7.15: Front-of-House, Platform Theatre, London;
So here it is – the opening night and the atmosphere front-of-house is palpable with excitement. All the months of preparation, rehearsal and sheer hard work culminates to this point. The tickets are sold, programmes are sorted, the merchandise is out and the audience is ready with anticipation…what will this year’s group of talented Ballet Central students perform tonight?
7.29: Backstage, Platform Theatre, London;
Walking backstage, I am greeted with a sense of excitement! The usual collection of items expected of a touring dancing company are all present…hair grips, hair ties, hair extensions, wigs, used foundation, lipstick, pancake make-up, the odd pointe shoe, and holey pairs of ballet tights as well as some welcome bunches of flowers and good luck cards. One thing I did notice was that there were no costumes lying about – the wardrobe department seemed to be working very hard to make sure that all costumes were perfect…to the point that Richard, the Resident Costume Designer, was fashioning a torchlight on his head! And now I hear a cheer emanating through the dressing rooms as the opening bars of Kennth Tindall’s piece, Signature 31/30 are played through the speakers. It has finally started.
7.40: Backstage, Platform Theatre, London
First piece done and a resounding agreement that the dancers believed they had ‘smashed it’ (I think that’s a good thing!). So far so good.
8.15: Backstage, Platform Theatre, London
Every wave of dancers returning from having performed their pieces enters backstage with excitement, adrenaline and a sense of relief. The consensus is that it is going very well – everyone was doing their best performance and everything was coming together. As the final piece before the interval closes (the exciting Mapping #3 by Darshan Singh Bhuller), I wonder how the dancers are feeling at this point. Remarkably, the atmosphere backstage is focused but calm. There seems to be little evidence of nerves, no short fuses and an overwhelming sense of comradeship and supportiveness – eavesdropping on conversations between dancers one was remarked as saying ‘that was the best you have ever done it…your acting is amazing’ and another ‘you killed it tonight, phenomenal’. It was a privilege to witness such encouragement.
8.45: Auditorium, Platform Theatre, London
Having experienced backstage in all its glory, I am now roving as an audience member…I am going over to the other side of the curtain. Having spent some time wandering front-of-house in the interval, I have been able to hear some amazingly positive comments from audience members – one said ‘it blew my mind’, another said ‘the best I have seen of Ballet Central and I have been coming for the past 11 years…they just keep getting better and better’. So, sitting in the audience now it feels wonderful to know that they are enjoying it as much as the dancers are performing it. But now the lights are dimming and the curtain has gone up…and the stage is filled with warm light as two ballerinas in salmon pink, glittering tutus, Guilia Pazzaglia and Kotoko Yamamoto holding on to a decoratively adorned Tom Edwards stand ready to dance.
10.00pm: Kings Cross Tube Station
What a night – we were treated to the traditional Florestan Pas de Trios, the languid Insinuare and the Chris Marney’s energetic anon...as the curtain fell down and the audience remained clapping and cheering willing for it not to end. From what I could tell, there were no dramas, no wardrobe malfunctions, no lighting hazards. Everything went as smoothly as it could go. ‘I feel spoilt!’ one member of the audience said…I think that sums up the evening for everyone!