NEWSLETTERS 2005

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November 2005

Hi Again

Well it’s the end of another year! It seems to have been a year of extremes, we’ve had our most successful project in terms of audience attendance (Norwich) and worst (Billingham), most helpful and most unhelpful caretakers in the schools , best run theatres and worse run theatres, seeing in a new production and retiring (for the time being) another and all the other dramas that go with working in the performing arts ! Sometimes I wish for a dull day! It was nice to finish the year with an excellent group of young dancers in York, they may not all have been the most technically accomplished dancers but the hard work, team work, good spirit and behaviour made it one of the most rewarding projects we have done. I have to take my hat off to all the dancers and chaperones for how well they coped with the very cramped and hot conditions back stage and how well behaved everyone was.
As usual we have started the auditions for next year, the one in Manchester was mammoth , with nearly 400 dancers turning up. The pleasing thing for me was the number of people who were not taken who came up to or wrote to us to thank us for the experience. The audition days are my least favourite part of what we do, I hate disappointing people but it is part of how the profession works, there always way more dancers than jobs available.

Julianne’s foot is improving daily, she is currently taking a well earned break in Australia ! She should be back to full fighting strength by the time we get to Stevenage next year.

At the certificate ceremony in York commendations went to all the boys for their enthusiasm and energy and especially Tomas Farrington (Fritz) for his performance and acting quality, the Sweets who were outstanding, the Waltz of the Flowers for their group work with a special mention for 2 of the leads Eilish Cody and Sophie Atkinson, Poppy Salenius(Reed pipe and Mouse) for performance quality and excellent understudying and Emma Wright (Flower)for constant hard work and learning every part she had time to. Junior prizes went to Jessica Stoyes (Doll and Sweet) and Amelia Atkinson (Child and Chinese). Senior prizes went to Lucy Benson (Louise and Spanish) and Kate Andrews (Maid, Arabian and an outstanding Madam Bon Bon).

And now for something different, as Julianne is in Oz , Emma has kindly written a guest spot for me:-
A Promenade of 2005!
“ My first full season with EYB is both a complete blur, and crystallised as individual rehearsals, performances and places. I can remember every gym, main hall, parking lot, theatre, Clara, Duke, and hotel...though they've flown by. We've been through frigidly cold dancing conditions (Bournemouth, York), and stiflingly hot ones (Leamington Spa, Swindon), sticky floors (Billingham), slippery floors (everywhere at some point!) mounting new productions (Nutcracker in Southsea), retiring old ones (Coppelia), loads of plasters and tubes of Germolene, and many well deserved rounds of applause.

Starting the year with Sleeping Beauty is the best way to get the principal dancers back in shape after a break. Of all the ballets we have in the repertoire it has the most dancing for the lead couple, with 3 pas de deux and 2 solos each...well, 2 1/2 for the Aurora! I always have fun helping the Friends with their Act I & III dances and the Rose Adage, every group was so responsive and determined in rehearsal. I've also helped out with the Jewel ballet this year, with the "Little Jewels" dance being the first one I've choreographed by myself. I still await a group of Cryonites somewhere in the country who will get those diagonals in Act II right so I don't have to kick anyone!

The role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in Nutcracker was new to me this year, and though it has less dancing than Beauty, it's hard in a completely different way. It's a bit nerve wracking to do your first bit of proper dancing in the last 20 min. of a ballet, when everyone else has been on stage for over an hour! If I feel I'm getting nervous waiting to go on in Act II I like to go backstage and watch the other diverts, especially the Bon Bons who always make me laugh! I commend the girls in "Waltz of the Flowers", for smiling through what must be Tchaikovsky's longest waltz ever! I've performed it in Canada years ago so I know how hard it is to look pleasant for the 7 min. of none stop dancing!

Coppelia will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the first lead role I ever danced with EYB (Canterbury '04). When I first learnt it I wasn't familiar with the music or the choreography, so my brain was working overtime, especially in Doctor C's workshop with all the running back and forth with the little dolls (flop!). This year I was able to have more fun with the dancing and acting as I wasn't having to concentrate so much on what came next! I always like it when I get to dance with the rest of the cast, and I did a lot of that with Swanhilda's friends.

Thinking back over the last 8 months, typing this in my flat in London, it all seemed to go on forever, and yet it also seems to have finished so quickly. I have savoured every moment of it, and look forward to next year with new and old challenges, gyms, theatres and faces.” Emma x


Our principals are busy as usual, Julianne and Matthew will be touring with the Strauss Gala again, Emma and Roddie will be going to Alaska to guest with the Anchorage Classical Ballet again (performing the Act 3 pas de deux from Sleeping Beauty, Boutique Fantastique and a new piece to be created on them.) Kasper is busy teaching at the Urdang and will appearing in a BBC documentary called "Shakespeare's Happy Endings" which he also did the choreography for. Oliver is still working hard in Toulouse, dancing in The Taming Of The Shrew by Cranko, touring within France with a Balanchine triple bill (Theme & Variation, Apollo, Who Cares?), and a new Carmen by Italian choreographer Davide Bombana, he has been chosen to do the role of Escamillo. I am finishing up some choreography for the Anglian Ballet Company which will premiered on the 3 Feb. 2006 at the Quay Theatre in Sudbury (Suffolk). I am collaborating with the Artistic Director on a version of “Pictures at an exhibition” so if you are in the area come and support them.

I have had an e-mail from Jeremy Davidson’s mum with some photos of the boys in York backstage, if you are interested in sharing them contact her at karen@davidsonweir.freeserve.co.uk . Nicola License wrote to say she has been accepted on the prevocational training course at London Contemporary Dance at The Place in London, I’ve also had messages from Joshua Hutchings and Caitlin O’Farrell to say that they have been offered places at Arts Educational School in Tring. Congratulations to all !

Well that's it for this year, hope you all have a great Xmas and new year, hope to see lots of you again next year and as always....

Keep working hard !

Dominic



Sept 2005

Hi Again

I’ve just got back from a short break in Sweden visiting friends (Goteborg was the 1st place I worked in when I left college 24 years ago), it was nice to chill out and sup a few beers with my best buddy. Friendship has been one of the themes that has cropped up in recent e-mails from you guys, how many of you make close friends during the course, not only students but parents as well. Time passes quickly, it was amazing in Swindon to have students who have been with us from the earliest days, Megan Gibson was with us in our 1st production in Yeovil (I think she was one of the little Dolls in Nutcracker) and was now dancing the Blue Bird pas de deux, Emma Pickering was one of the Claras in Stevenage (my 1st EYB production) and now was one of the solo Jewels. Not only is it rewarding to see our students continue to improve but also our principal dancers, Emma has definitely come into her own this year - if she balances any longer in the Rose Adage we will have to turn off the music to wait for her! It was also exciting to see Oliver and Maria do their 1st Sleeping Beauty together, especially as they work in different countries and had very little time together - Oliver had to fly back to France for a performance between the parent’s showing and the dates in the theatre. So this all goes to show that with EYB, as with the rest of life, what you get out of it depends on what you are willing to put in.....

The ticket sales in Swindon were a bit disappointing - we sold out on our last visit - there were some problems with the marketing so Bridget had to do a lot of extra work, so thanks again to all the parents who helped out.

Going back to time flying, this month marks the 20th anniversary of Miss Lewis and myself working together, where does the time go......Well enough of my rambling here’s Julianne’s “My Left Foot -part two”

“ I have just returned from Swindon where I was very impressed with the performance, it felt weird not being involved at all! The children were of a high standard and some lovely performance quality - well done! It was also great to see the team up there - not often you get to sit out front!

I think I was still in plaster when I last wrote, it was two weeks in all and I was very excited indeed about getting the plaster off - I think I expected a lot more or maybe the excitement and expectation was building up so much that after Tues. 6th the realisation of how long this is all going to take and how much work to get the foot ( and body!) sunk in...

My appointment that day wasn't till 6.30pm so it was the longest day ever, Peter (my husband) drove us into the west end where we parked and went for a cup of tea.. only to find traffic warden just putting a notice on the car on our return - I had taken longer than the 2 minute dash back required and we had out stayed our time, even the sight of me hobbling along didn't melt the traffic warden's heart..

When the nurse cut off the plaster I just wanted to look, - it was such a lovely feeling to be free - a very neat 3 inch scar round the back of the ankle and some lovely colour bruising which is still coming out now. The surgeon came and checked it out and produced some photos taken during the op of inside my ankle! I was fascinated and wished they'd videod it. He said when I was asleep on the table my feet were pointed down, normal peoples' (not dancers!) are turned up at 90 degrees! Next came my new cast, an airboot walker - looks like a ski boot - that straps on and off and holds the foot rigid at 90 degrees. it was painful at first to stretch the tendon, it felt so stiff, and I was disappointed that I couldn't walk. Then the surgeon said i'd have to wear it for 4 to 5 weeks! That was a shock. I'd hoped to be dancing in that time. Still it was a huge improvement and made everything easier.

Since then i'm definitely over the worst and nearly three weeks later am walking unaided around the home - my painful wrists will be very relieved once the crutches go though, getting about on crutches has done wonders on my stomach and abs.., bathing, foot in water! (bliss..) I can swim now - scuba diving course at the moment! Physio twice a week and next week I start pilates. So things are looking up!

To round up, I have meet loads of people who have had similar things, they seem to attract to me like a magnet! Thanks again for all the cards and good wishes. Looking forward to being back teaching in York.”
Julianne X

At the certificate ceremony in Swindon commendations went to Sophie Jones (Lady songbird/White cat), Jessica Kirkham and Emma Pickering (Duet Jewel Fairies), Caroline Rees (Friend) and Nicola License (Cinderella). The Cinderella Attendants/Songbirds also got a special mention as they are the youngest group and also the most attentive and concentrated and were a pleasure to teach. Miss Lewis also asked me to give Thomas Babbage a special mention as we were very pleased with his progress and she forgot to mention him in her talk.

Prizes went to Emily Gara (Cryonite/Honesty), Lily Percival (Jewel/Monster), Maria Walker (Duchess) and Lucy Gallagher (Friend).

I have had messages from Amber-Louise Essery to say she will be performing in Cinderella at the King’s Theatre Southsea in December (one of the lucky 24 out of 206 who auditioned), Hannah Cauchi who is working with the Laines Theatre Arts young Squad, and Lucy Benson who passed her Intermediate Foundation exam at 11 and is now doing classes with the Louise Browne Yorkshire Scholars. Congratulations to you all. Thank you to all of you who write to me to say how much you enjoyed working with us.Thats all for now, next stop York.

Keep in touch and keep working hard

Dominic




" My left Foot "
I was hoping to get this writen in time for the news letter that went out after Billingham but Dom was too quick for me! A huge thankyou for all the cards, and good wishes - They were very helpfull as I was very nervous for my foot opp.

The worst thing was after the Saturday night performance I couldn't work out which foot hurt the most!! I must have landed heavily on my right one at some point and strained it slightly.. so all the way till Wed when my opp was I didn't know which foot was bothering me more.. .

On Tues I went to pineapple for a last class (for a couple of months) and saw the others rehearsing which was wierd - not being part of it - then went home and tried to get everything organised and ready for my overnight stay at the Princess Grace Hospital in central London.

Wed morning came. Pouring with rain, so nervous I could hardly talk to my long suffering husband who was driving me, felt like a fraud as it doesn't hurt to walk. The hospital is great though, more like a luxury hotel and at least i didn't have to be wheeled to my bed in a wheel chair like you would in a normal hospital. Just hung around in my private room ( thank god for private medical insurance! ) and all the usual checks - blood pressure and so on - and a visit form my surgeon and anesthetist, I was given my hospital gown and paper knickers to put on and wheeled down.......

I remember breathing deeply and everything clouding over.. then waking up in recovery! all over in about an hour! The surgeon came to tell me how it went, - just as well they opperated now as the tendon was showing signs of wear and tear, in some way I wish they'd filmed it and i could see what they did but no way did I want to be awake during..

Now Miss Lewis and the other E.Y.B staff are working hard on Sleeping Beauty in Swindon and I'm at home watching the weeds grow and getting a sore behind from so much sitting!

My arms are killing me from hauling myself about in crutches but I guess I will get used to it!

I have another 10 days of no wieght on it then I will have the plaster off and the rehabillitation begins.. I keep thinking of poor Dom who had his leg in plaster for 10 weeks last summer with a ruptured achilles... so i am getting off lightly with just 2 weeks in plaster!

Julianne X



August 2005

Hi Again

As you know the last two months has been a tale of two Coppelias, one in Leamington Spa and the other in Billingham, lots of hard work for all concerned. Unfortunately the main thing they had in common was the disappointing seat sales in both venues.

Leamington thought we had done very well, it was a difficult venue and not really suited to us, and as you may remember the roof of the theatre in Billingham had blown of just before the audition so it had been closed for 6 months and the publicity for our show only went out a week before we opened so no body knew we were there. Thankfully the parents in Billingham helped out and we managed to get a lot of T.V, radio and press coverage so we had a respectfully sized audience for the shows. We thought the young dancers in Leamington were very well behaved and that they and their chaperones coped well with lack of space at the Royal Spa theatre. I wish I could say the same for Billingham. Even though the standard of dancing was very high there was a lack of attention and amongst the older girls some unacceptable behaviour which spoiled the project for me and others who had to continuously reprimand people while in the theatre. But having said that the performances were very strong and most of the dancers did themselves proud.

In Leamington commendations went to all boys especially Ben Bazeley, the 2 Lead Villagers Jessica Higgins and Amie Carter, the Work Hours group, and Carolanne Daisley for steady technical improvement.

A special group award went to the 4 Scottish Dolls Grace Carr, Amelia Evans, Charlotte Bailey, and Genevieve Heron. The Junior Prize went to Hannah Davies (Prayer/Little Friend), and the Senior Prize went to Amy Shelton (Czardas/ Morning Hour).

In Billingham commendations went to Rebecca Spence (Prayer/Little Friend), Alice Kilburn (Work hour), The Friends Group, Charlotte Stevens (Morning hour), and Frances Barrett (Morning hour).

Prizes went to Melisa Morten (Morning hour), Rachel Guy (Friend/ Dawn on sat mat), Adele Harrison (Night hour) and Amy Napper (villager).

In other news Julianne has just had an operation on her leg to clear up an injury she has been working on for the last few months so she will not be joining us in Swindon. I have just spoken to her and she is planning to write all about her operation for me to include in the next news letter. If any of you want to send her a message you can send it via me to pass on. Taking Julianne’s place for the performances is Maria Fichaux who you may remember danced with us in Nottingham last summer, so it will be nice for us to work with her again. We all hope Julianne has a speedy recovery and will be back with us in York. Next year is settled now, we will be going to Stevenage, Manchester, Nottingham, Canterbury, Southend, Wolverhampton, and Redhill, full details should be on the web site by the end of next month.

I have had messages from Emma Kelly to say she was sucessful in her auditions for the Royal Ballet associates and summer school and has passed her intermediate foundation at the age of 11, and from Bethany Wells to say she is now a Senior Associate with Northern Ballet and on the waiting list for the Royal Ballet. Congratulations to you both. Sorry this letter is a bit cut and dry but I am very tired/busy and we start work in Swindon tomorrow !

Keep working hard,

Dominic



July 2005

Hi Again

Just a short letter this time as we went straight from Norwich to Leamington Spa so I have not had any time to get down to this and the weather is too nice to spend too much time in front of the computer! Norwich was a great success, with the school’s matinee we had the highest audience attendance in our history so they want us back in 2007. The Theatre Royal in Norwich is a lovely venue, very well run and an excellent crew so we will be looking forward to going back.

Some of you may have seen a story in the national press about one of the boys in the production, Shaine Young, who had been bullied at school because of his dancing. He, his mother and Miss Lewis appeared GMTV and through this Shaine was offered an audition and subsequently a place with part scholarship at the Hammond school. The amazing part of this was that Shaine had done no Ballet before he auditioned for us, the sad part is that boys (and sometimes girls) still get so much hassle for doing ballet, nothing seems to have changed over the last 30 years from when I started dancing, we just have to grow a thick skin and take comfort in the fact that will eventually spend our working lives doing something we love (and be constantly surrounded by some of the most beautiful women in the world....it’s a tough life).

We got some good revues for our Virtuoso performances so although it is unlikely that we will do any more this year we are trying to fit in some performances next year within our busy EYB schedule.

At the certificate ceremony commendations went to Libby Render (Doll), Ruth Barker (Madam Bonbon), and Charlotte Dickens (Spanish). Also The Dolls/Sweets and the Soldier/Russians girls for their group work.

Prizes went to Christopher McQuade (cavalier/father), Katya Hamilton-Smith (Snowflake) and Anna Murray (Reed pipe/Mouse).

I have messages from Gorgie Stocker to say she has been offered a place on the Central school of Ballet’s pre senior program, Samantha Hacklett has made it onto the waiting list for the Royal Ballet School’s JAs, Annabel O’Rourke has been offered a place at Arts Educational in Tring, Louise Flanagan continues to do well at the Royal Ballet School, she made it to the finals of the Young British Dancer of the year and has been performing in "Manon" at the Royal Opera House, and Molly Jennings will be going to Elmhurst in September. Congratulations to you all.

That's all for now, I’ve started posting the dates and auditions for next year on the web site so keep checking. The next letter wont be until after Billingham as we do not have a break until then.

Keep working hard

Dominic



May 2005

Hi Again

Sorry for the delay with this letter but we have been insanely busy this last couple of months and I have been hiding in a dark room for the last couple of days trying to recover! (and upgrade my computer). First up it was great to be back in Southsea, it has become quite a special venue for us. I am happy to report that not only is the Kings Theatre still open but is flourishing and has just gained an extra grant for renovations. We feel very proud to have played a part in keeping such a beautiful theatre open. We had our second highest audience attendance there as well. Yet again we were extremely pleased with the behaviour and attitude to work from the young dancers and we would like to say a special thank you to the Admiral Lord Nelson School for been so helpful, the caretaking staff there are excellent. Our big news was of course the New production The Nutcracker. I have too say it looked stunning! All the designers, makers and painters did an outstanding job so a huge thank you to all of them. The performances were of a very high level, and even though there was a spread in technical ability what was impressive was how well everyone worked within the groups, I was very pleased with the groups I worked with and enjoyed teaching them. Also new to us was our guest principal artist Oliver Speers who currently works with the Capitole Ballet of France in Toulouse, we will be seeing more of him this year in our other Nutcracker productions. Kasper produced his first pieces of choreography for us which resulted in a very stylish Spanish dance and a very charming Chinese dance complete with Dragon! Hopefully he will feel encouraged enough to do more.
At the certificate ceremony commendations went to the Arabians, Russians, Snowflakes and Flowers for their excellent group work.

Rowan Fox-Noble for improvement, Sam Ainslie for the ovation he got every night at end of Russian Dance, Megan Speirs (Chinese & Child) for excellent footwork and Daniel Brooks for brilliant acting and performance quality.

The Senior prize went to Caroline Devane (Madam Bon bon/ The maid) and the Junior Prize went to Karina Hind (Reed-Pipe/ Mouse). There was also a Special Award (a first time) to Natalie Relf (Clara) who was outstanding from the 1st rehearsal to the last performance and was professional beyond her years - she was still only 13.

Emma and Roddie’s trip to Alaska was very successful, they performed the pas de deux from Coppelia as well as other pieces by the director there. They are now trying to decide what to perform next year. Matthew Alan will be performing English National Ballet in their “in the round” production of Romeo & Juliet at the Royal Albert Hall in June.

Our other big news was the VIRTUOSO performances. It felt like one of those projects where anything could get in the way it would, what with sickness, last minute technical problems with the venue, tantrums, and the state opening of parliament closing down westminster it was a wonder it even happened at all! But as ever things were “all right on the night” and Miss Lewis felt it was an Artistic success. One big bonus (for me anyway) was we discovered our new wardrobe lady, Flora Panopoulos, is a very talented designer. Her costumes for my “Firebird” are amazing!

Next year is starting to shape up, we have Manchester, Southend, Nottingham, and Wolverhampton confirmed. I will post the details when the auditions have been confirmed, so please don’t contact the office until then.

Miss Lewis and I have had lots of messages with your news. Neil Towers has gained a scholarship for the Northern Ballet School , Katrina Wilson will be going to Elmhurst, Sophie Baxter will be going to the English National Ballet School, Laura Willey has finished filming in the new Harry Potter film (due out at Xmas) and has gained a Scholarship to go to the Northern Ballet School, and Alexander and Thomas Bennett who through the Royal Ballet JA’s performed at the Royal Opera House in Cinderella at Xmas have gained places at White Lodge and will start as borders in September. Congratulations to you all !

Well that's all I have time for. Keep working hard.

Dominic



March 2005

Hi Again

Well we’re well and truly into 2005 now and we have been busy as usual. We have just finished our 1st project in Bournemouth and have just cast the next one in Southsea. It’s been a bit of an odd start to the year, a couple of the auditions were a bit stressful, the roof of the theatre in Billingham blew off during the storms earlier in the year which meant we had to do the audition in the function room rather than the stage which was not ideal but as it was quite a small audition for us everyone coped very well. The stage in Norwich was not available for the audition either and we were talked into using a dance studio near by, then when we visited the studio 2 weeks before the audition we were told that we were only allowed 50 people at a time in the studio (fire regulations) and it was too late to find an alternative venue! So we had to use another room as well and split the auditions into 2 halves which also meant that the parents and teachers couldn’t watch. They had no idea how popular we are and how many people normally turn up for our auditions! The project in Bournemouth was harder work than usual, they didn’t seem to know what we were all about and we had had difficulty getting people to know about the audition and just what it is we are and what we do. But we won them over in the end and the theatre is talking about us coming back as they felt we had done well even if we felt it had been an uphill struggle. The caretaker at the school we rehearsed at had to be the most miserable and unhelpful we have ever come across and completely obsessed with his floors! I managed to amuse the parents at the meetings with his daily messages about what we couldn’t do. Having said all that the performances went very well and it was business as usual for EYB.

At the certificate ceremony in Bournemouth commendations went to Francesca Wateridge, Sarah Hoar (Friends), the Songbird group and the Russian group for their dedication and Hannah Waters (Duchess), Summer Campbell (Little jewel/monster) and Jessica Lenehan (Guest) for their performance quality. Prizes went to Craig Dimmock (Duke) and Adele Jordan (Honesty/Cryonite).

In other news our new production of “The Nutcracker” premiers in Southsea, the same creative team that worked on “The Sleeping Beauty” has designed , built, painted and sewn it all together so it promises to be excellent.

As I write this Roddie and Emma are in Alaska guesting with the Anchorage Ballet so we wish them luck with the performances. They get back just in time to start teaching “The Nutcracker” in Southsea. Our “VIRTUOSO” performances are at St. John’s, Smith Sq. in London on the 17th & 18th of May and St. Anthony’s Lewiston, Sherborne on the 22nd of May and we are hoping to do more later in the year. I also managed to see The Anglian Ballet company performing the 3 ballets I created for them including the premier of “Riders in the Storm” my Hitchhiking, psychopathic serial killer ballet which went down very well !?!

I have had messages from Amber Thompson who has been accepted into the Urdang Academy Associates and the Northern Ballet Easter course, Rachael Brown who after been offered 4 different places at colleges has decided to accept a place at the Bird College in September, Samuel Butler who will be starting at Arts Ed in Tring in September, Helen Long who got a distinction for her Grade 1 ballet after working with us in Grimsby and Louise Flanagan who is in her second year at the Royal Ballet Upper School and was chosen to dance for royalty in Dubai last year as part of a publicity event for Ebel Watches.

Well thats it for now, keep your news coming in and keep working hard!

Dominic