Backstage on Opening Night!

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 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!

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