NEWSLETTERS 2008


December 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
May 2008
March 2008

 

December 2008

Hi There

Well another year over and its hard to believe that EYB has been going for 10 years! Where does the time go. Hastings was a tough one to finish the year on. We had the smallest number of people auditioning, the smallest cast and the smallest audience ever, about a third of what we are used to so we made a loss on that one. We also has the worst local council ever in East Sussex. What is fine with every other council round the country is not fine with them and we were left hanging as to whether 2 of the girls would be allowed to do the shows or whether they would let us do the shows at all! Poor Miss Lewis spent the whole of the dress rehearsal day sorting it out and didn’t even get to see the dress. But the show did go on and EYB did what EYB always does and a whole bunch of the Hastings cast turned up the next week to audition for Worthing to go through the whole thing again. Hastings also saw Lorien’s debut as Prince Albert which went very well. I was very proud of what he managed to achieve in such a short time, he and Emma work very well together.
So it has been a bit of a roller coaster year for us but we have had highs as well. We have done more productions (8) this year, a brand new production in Giselle, we had record attendance in Norwich, we have new premises (finally) and of course Miss Lewis getting the MBE in recognition of the work that EYB does. As Miss Lewis said at the ceremony at the end of Hastings “in spite of what East Sussex council may say EYB will be around for another 10 years!”

At the certificate ceremony in Hastings commendations went to both the Wilis and Villagers groups for their group work and improved point work from the Wilis, Sophie Bartlett and Hannah Spencer (Wood Nymphs), James Carroll, Jake Parkin and Alex Drew (Hunt Gentlemen and Wilfred) for improvement and to Hannah Relgelous (Zulme) and Mary Anne Pollock (Wili) for keeping up good spirits and good performances all through the problems with the licences.
The Junior prize went to Phoebe Horn (Villager) for performance quality from day one and the senior prize went to Rachel Hotham (Wili) for her professional approach. Rachel will also be with us in Worthing next year as a teachers assistant.

I have had messages from Amy Shelton who is doing a BA (Hon) Ballet Education Degree at the RAD, Sam Butler who has received a full DADA scholarship to attend the Bird College, Amy Milner who will be appearing in Aladdin at the Nottingham Playhouse, Katelyn Severn who will be going to the Ballet West college in Scotland in September, Sula Marshall who will be appearing in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Palace Theatre Newark and Max Hextall-Smith who is now at White Lodge and will be appearing in both casts in the Royal Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker at the ROH. Julianne, Matthew and Lorien will be touring with the Strauss Gala again this year so look out for them.

That all from me this year, keep the news coming in, have a wonderful Christmas and New Year! I think we have earned a few mince pies this year and as always, keep working hard.

Dominic

October 2008

Hi Again

Well, Wolverhampton over,  the end of a long hard summer and a short breather before finishing the year off. Wolverhampton was another big cast and once again they were a noisy one (right from the audition) but as the parents were pretty much the same I guess I cant blame them too much. I did point this out at the photo call and I think someone actually booed me - yeah, go me! The standard was very high as always with a lot of students returning for their 2nd or 3rd time and I think we had the most number of people on point ever. One piece of advice to students who are going to do something like EYB at the end of or immediately after the summer break, it is not a good idea to do nothing for the rest of the break. All physical disciplines require you to do a lot of work on your own outside of your set training. Do a barre, put on those point shoes once a day, it saves a lot of pain and plasters later on.

We had a few dramas as well, one little girl fell ill during the 1st night so another girl had to step in in the middle of the show without any rehearsal which is another good example of the importance of understudying! During the parents show at the school Emma Child - one of the Waltz of the Flowers girls- went over on her foot during the dance and although was in a lot of pain finished the run through. When we looked at her foot afterwards we thought (and hoped) it was just a sprain but said it would be a good to get it checked. It turned out to be a small fracture which was devastating for Emma as she thought she would have to miss the shows! Eventually the doctor gave her permission to make up her own mind whether she dance on it or not so she braved the pain and went on with the show. With a lot of smiling and good use of the upper body (something else we are always going on about) nobody could tell she was in pain or not on point, a true Trooper!

Wolverhampton was also our newest principal Lorien’s debut with EYB as the Nutcracker Prince partnering Emma. They both did very well and will now be continuing their partnership into Giselle as Oli will not be available for Hastings. I’m always joking that there is no “shallow end” in EYB, Lorien’s reply to that was that if The Nutcracker Prince was the deep end then Albert in Giselle must be the high board and is a good job he likes heights! He is a very welcome addition to the company.

At the certificate ceremony in Wolverhampton commendations went to Geena Bennett (Clara) for a professional performance, Eve Crawford (Lead Flower) for smiling, dancing full out and enjoying her dancing, Charlotte Woltynski (Lead Flower) for working hard and getting up from a fall on stage, Laura Martayn (Madam Bonbon) for her clear mime, the Flowers as an ensemble group and the Arabian Girls for lovely arms and strong interpretation.

Junior prizes went to Francesca Kennedy (Chinese and Party Child) who stepped into a Sweet at the last minute during the show and Georgia Curtis (Snow) for good intelligent work who stood in for a Reed-pipe at the Parents Day performance. The Senior Prize went to Jabari Braham (Mouse King/Spanish/Jig) for good strong work and technical improvement.

I have had messages from Georgia Curtis, Rosie Poppitt, Megan Lacey and Taela Yeomans-Brown from the Wolverhampton who will be appearing together in dick Whittington, Georgia Bould who is now at White Lodge and appeared in Swan Lake with the Royal Ballet, Lisa Elston who appeared in Northern Ballet Theatre’s production of “A Tale of Two Cities” in Sheffield, Olivia Cope who is now at Elmhurst, Caitlin O’Farrell who appeared in NBT production of “The Nutcracker” and Rory Layton who is now on the PVP course with Elmhurst.

It has been very gratifying to meet so many past students in the audience at recent venues, some travelling quite long distances to come and support us. Many thanks to them. Well a short letter from me this time, keep your news coming in and keep working hard.

Dominic

September 2008

Hi Again

Hope you have all had a good summer break! As you will know the summer break is our busiest time of year with 3 projects spanning the holidays. It was made even more hectic with the move of company premises (Finally!!!) which happened in the middle of the Bromley crash course, a more awkward time could not be found and with the help of BT messing up the transfer of phone lines and broadband connection you can imagine the disruption and potential chaos. Moving home contents is stressful enough then add an office and the scenery and costumes for 4 full length Ballets! Fortunately we did not have to do it all in one day. Things are gradually getting back to normal but we are still working out where everything has to go.
The performances went well in Nottingham and Bromley, both venues have asked us back in 2010. The Churchill Theatre in Bromley was a new one for us so it was gratifying for us to achieve over 98% capacity at the shows. Nottingham was an odd one as we were in the concert hall instead of the theatre (the theatre had an in house production which clashed with our visit). On the plus side the performing area was larger and flat with good sight lines, on the down side the technical side left a lot to be desired (and upgrading or fixing) and our ticket sales suffered slightly with another family orientated show on at the same time. Having to start the fit up at 7 am was no fun either. Having said that the venue was pleased with our visit and we will be back in the Theatre Royal next time which will make our 5th time! As you will see from the commendations section there were plenty of good individual and group contributions to both productions and as our summer projects are very popular quite large casts as well!
We have a new Principal working with us now, Lorien Slaughter, who will make his debut with us in Wolverhampton as the Nutcracker Prince partnering Emma. His details will appear on the web site soon. Oli has changed companies and is now working with The National Ballet of Spain under the direction of Victor Ullate but will continue to appear with us when possible.

At the certificate ceremony in Nottingham commendations went to Kiah Hill (Hunt Lady) for fluid movement and stage presence, Helena Sandford for being a menacing Nymph,Charles Brink for improvement, Edward Daniels for good acting and improvement, Taylor Bridges and Lucy Davis for being bright Scullery Maids, Jay Olpin (child) for improvement and performance, The Wilis for their discipline as a group and improved point work and the Boys for their drama in the Act 2 scene with the Nymphs.
Prizes went to Johara House (Cook) for performance quality and characterisation, Shaunagh Stones (Friend) for her lovely performance quality and Ellie Waite (Zulme- lead Wili) for her focus, discipline and musicality.

At the certificate ceremony in Bromley commendations went to Callum Littlefield and James Spencer Boyce (Soldier Dolls/Betrothal), Sorrel De Palula Hanika and Katherine Collins (Little Friends/Prayer), Francesca Ardley (Dawn Solo), Laura Nicholson (Coppelia Doll), Lucille Brobbey (Villager), the excellent Betrothal Dance , the Morning Hours/Czardas for their group work and finally the Chinese Dolls for the use of their legs and feet. Prizes went to Conor Ashman (a total showman), Page Elson (Friend) and Morgan Vinall (Villager).

I have had messages from Charlotte Dunn who has been at the RB summer school and will be joining the JAs in Sept. , Neve Campbell who has been accepted into the Hammond Associates, the Elmhurst prevocational program and the Midlands Youth Ballet, Amber Thompson who will be doing full time training at the New English Contemporary Ballet School, Fern Milner who will be going to the Urdang Academy in London, Lily Olpin who has been accepted as a York Scholar, Cora Vanaman who will be playing “Annie” with the Mansfield Operatic Society at the Palace Theatre Mansfield, Dixie Webb-Heller who has been accepted into the Dance East Centre of Advanced Training Program in Ipswich, Emma Bowden who got distinction in her RAD Inter foundation and will be Joining Hammond in Sept. , her sister Rebecca Bowden who has joined the Elmhurst prevocational program, Marielle Thomas who got Distinction in her grade 5 exam after only studying it for 1 term at age 10, Imogen Lyon is now a JA with the RBS in Manchester and the ever busy Ellie Waite who after working with us in Nottingham went to the Sadlers Wells summer school and was awarded the Royal Opera House prize (a day at the ROH watching company class, rehearsals and evening performance by the RB) and got 96% in her grade 8 exam. Congratulations to all.

Well that's all from me, we will taking a well earned break next week after Wolverhampton before we launch into our final project for the year in Hastings and starting the auditions for next year. I’m off to Sweden for a week for my best friend’s 50th birthday party, will probably need the rest of the week to recover!

Keep working hard

Dominic

August 2008

Hi Again

As promised here is Trevor's Guest Spot. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! (I’m thinking of letting him take over the newsletter)

When Dominic suggested that I wrote another piece for the Newsletter my original idea was to write a day by day account of rehearsals for the new production of Giselle, taking it from the first rehearsal in London to the opening night in Stevenage. I hoped to write it from the perspective of Giselle’s father, the part I was cast to do. This, I hoped, might add more interest to the piece. Having read quite a few other theatrical diaries I’d noticed that the best parts in these articles seemed to be the descriptions of all the things that went wrong leading up to the first night. Usually they’re not funny at the time, but make amusing anecdotes at a later date. Unfortunately, for this article at least, nothing went seriously wrong in the lead up to Stevenage, Dominic looked a little frazzled just before the dress rehearsal and the wardrobe department had quite a lot of minor sewing jobs, but apart from that everything seemed to go remarkably smoothly, which was wonderful for everyone concerned with staging Giselle, but wasn’t going to help me write this piece. So instead I’m going to rattle off a few tales of “First Nights” of other productions that I have been involved in.

This is what it’s usually like!!

Starting with, Imagine a huge stadium, usually used for rock concert, boxing matches and similar large scale events. I don’t remember the capacity of the venue, but I think it held between five and ten thousand people. We were due to dance a production that we’d performed many times before, but with new scenery especially made to fit the vast stage that had been built at one end of the stadium. And that’s where the trouble started. The scenery designer (French) and lighting designer (Italian) had a slight artistic difference. We were on stage at the time and had just started class, prior to the dress rehearsal, when we heard them arguing somewhere behind the backdrop. I think we had just started “tendus” when they both appeared at the side of the stage, Red faced, and with a lot of continental arm waving, they continued across the front of the stage and down a set of stairs that led to the auditorium. The screaming increased as they made their way to the back of the stadium and with much banging of exit doors they disappeared. I think we’d got to Ronds de Jambes by this point. Battements Frappés were fairly uneventful, just the sound of the piano, but as Fondus started they reappeared at the back of the venue and proceeded to reverse their journey towards us, still arguing. We’d got to Fondu second side as they climbed the steps and stood centre stage shouting at each other. They paused briefly for a second, presumably to catch their breath, then the fight continued. This was not exactly Queensbury rules, this was more like, take twenty paces, turn, and come out swinging handbags, and designer handbags at that. They were still at it as we launched into Développés. Nose to nose the screaming continued,, then it would stop and they would walk away from each other. Then they would both think of something else to scream and it would start again. By the time we’d got to the second side of Développés I think they must have finally run out of abusive things to shout at each other, because with one final hissy fit they turned and stomped off in opposite directions. I don’t remember what the pianist had been playing but he very humorously changed the music to the song “We’ll meet again, don’t know where. don’t know when”. Incidentally, the scenery and costumes looked stunning that night.

Another first night.

I was making a cup of tea in the wardrobe having just been in a one act ballet which had proved to be rather a failure. Also in the wardrobe, as I made my tea, was the designer of the piece that I had just danced in. This is his story. I think he was in the middle of a “Theatrical Disasters that I’ve been involved with” evening, and this story is set in the world of the Opera, proving that first night disasters can, and do happen everywhere. Major Opera house, Mozart opera, one of the “Dames of the Operatic World” in the lead role. All in all, a major theatrical evening.

This is what was supposed to happen.

Overture to Act One. Lights down. Curtain out. “Dame of the Operatic World” sitting elegantly down stage wearing a huge crinoline fanning herself with an ornate fan. 4 bars of intro music then she starts to sing. And this is what really happened. Overture, as rehearsed, Lights out, as rehearsed, Curtain out, not as rehearsed.

Unfortunately the bottom of the curtain had got caught on the hem of major operatic star’s crinoline. Up went the curtain and so did the front of the dress. Instead of seeing an elegant Diva in a crinoline, the audience saw a pair of chubby knees and a pair of Marks and Sparks knickers. The Stage Manager, realising something was wrong, quickly brought the curtain in, bounced it slightly, and took it out again, but still attached to the dress, giving the audience a second look, just in case they hadn‘t believed what they’d seen the first time. Down came the curtain again and the Stage Manager tried for a third time to get the opera started. Fortunately this time it worked perfectly. After the Act had finished “the Management” went backstage, and tried to hide. The designer was the unlucky one who happened to bump into “Dame of the Operatic World” as she made her way to her dressing room. “My God, what am I going to say to her?” he thought. She approached him, stopped, raised one eyebrow quizzically and said to him with more charm than he thought possible “You know I’m a star don’t you?” She then smiled and made her way majestically to her dressing room. And it was never mentioned again.

Early on in my performing career I was involved, in a very minor way, in a production that everyone thought was going to be a failure, but turned out to be a massive hit. We’d been performing one of the big Tchaikovsky ballets at the start of the week, somewhere in England, and were due to dress run the new piece on the Thursday afternoon. I think we opened the new piece on the Friday.

The first of the problems was that the last ten minutes hadn’t been choreographed (it still hadn’t when we opened). The designer had been forced to design the scenery not knowing how the ballet finished, which had been a slight problem as it was a story ballet with many, many different scenes and had a time span of about fifty years. Added to the designer’s problems was the fact that the choreographer had added another 12 characters to the piece without telling him, so of course there were no costumes for those parts. None of us found out until the dress run . Fortunately we had at the time a marvellous wardrobe master, absolutely unflappable. After we’d finished the dress run, he and the designer went shopping for material while we got ready for the evening show. Later that night, as we all went home, the wardrobe master unwrapped the bales of new material, plus a full bottle of gin and set to work. In the morning when we came in for class we found the wardrobe master sound asleep on the floor covered in Court Lady cloaks from the Prologue of Sleeping Beauty. On a table next to his sewing machine was an empty bottle of Gin and hanging on a rail, 12 new costumes.

It’s not only on the stage that problems arise, this story happened in the orchestra pit. It was the opening night of Swan Lake somewhere in England, I can’t remember where, and a new drummer appeared in the Band Room. It wasn’t that unusual for deputies to be sent along, but as this chap was totally new, there were a few concerned faces. The Orchestra Manager approached him and asked if he was all right and was there anything that he needed (Coded words for do you know what you doing?). “Don’t mind me lad ,” he replied, “I’ve done it all; Musicals, Ballets, Pantos, even done a stint in the Circus. I’ll be just fine”. So the Orchestra Manager left him alone. Half an hour later the house lights dimmed and the Conductor picked up his baton; another opening night of Swan Lake had begun. The new drummer missed his first cue, and he missed his second. The Conductor scowled in his direction. He wasn’t looking at the music on his stand and he certainly wasn’t looking back at the Conductor. He was watching the stage waiting for the curtain to go up. Which in due course it did. The new drummer missed his third cue and his fourth, while the Conductor frantically tried to signal to him, anything to get him to watch, but no, he was too intent on watching the dancers. Then he broke into action.

On stage two of the “waltz couples” had to do a series of big lifts and as the two girls were thrown into the air for the first time the drummer responded with a drum roll on his snare drum followed by a cymbal crash. This he repeated another three times, one for each lift. Not exactly what Tchaikovsky had intended. By this time the Conductor looked as though he was going to blow a fuse and the trombone section were nearly on the floor with laughing. A few more missed cues, then it was the Prince’s first entrance. On stage he bounded and proceeded to execute a combination of waltzes and soaring coupé jetés. His short solo finished with a multiple pirouette and a double tour to the knee. Another drum roll and cymbal crash. What was amazing was that he didn’t miss a trick. Anything remotely “flashy” big lift, fast spins, they all received the same treatment, loud drum roll followed by a even louder crash. And nobody could stop him, as he didn’t take his eyes off the stage. By the end of the Act, forty minutes later, the only members of the orchestra remotely playing the right notes were the string section. Everybody else was either crying or trying not to splutter down their instruments. We were one percussionist short for Acts Two, Three and Four that night. We didn’t see him again.

Theatres can be dangerous places. This story happened the morning before we opened in a production of Sleeping Beauty. I’m not absolutely sure where we were, but I know someone was on strike, which had caused power cuts. It might have been the miner’s strike of the 1970s, or it might have been Basque Separatists blowing things up. Whatever the cause, I know the theatre had no lighting, Dressing room were OK, as they had windows, but the stage was in total darkness. To help us rehearse the local electricians had wired up two follow spots, high up in the theatre roof, to the theatre’s emergency supply, so we could use that. We’d started class, which was OK, although the two search lights did tend to blind you, as they were on full blast. We’d done port de bras and first little jumps and had decided to do one more exercise before we stopped. And that’s when we had the accident. Because of the intensity of the lights you couldn’t really see where the front of the stage was. And the inevitable happened. One of our cast, a soloist due to dance one of the cats in Act Three, started the exercise, perfectly happy, then screamed. He’d jetéd off the edge of the stage. Fortunately the music stands broke his fall, and he only sustained a few bruises. He went on that night.

I once saw an industrial Safety Report that had been done for one of the regional theatres on the south coast of England. Contained within the report were these two recommendations: At the front of the stage there must be built a permanent, six foot high wire fence. And, All staff, both performers and technical crew, must, at all times, wear builder’s hard hats whenever they enter the stage area. I think a corps de ballet in Swan Lake wearing white tutus and matching hard hats would have been a interesting idea.

And finally. To the casts of Preston, Worthing, High Wycombe, Stevenage, Billingham, Norwich and Nottingham a big hello, and remember that if you’re thinking of joining this profession of ours, it can at times be wonderful but it can also be maddening, frustrating, silly, funny, annoying, badly paid, and one is also likely to get injured at some point, but if it’s a compulsion for you, and you have to do it, then the best of luck to you. It can also be the most wonderful experiences ever, and to any parent who thinks their child might have this blinkered compulsion, be afraid, be very afraid. Trevor

The usual stuff from me next month, enjoy the rest of your summer break.

Dominic

July 2008

Hi Again

Apologies for the delay in getting this letter out, things have been very hectic these last months and I’m having difficulty in sifting through the kaleidoscope of shifting memories. So this is going to be a ramble - even for me! The two historic cities of York and Norwich. Minsters, castles, shambles, rivers, races, Lord Mayor parades, nude cycle rallies, hotels, traffic jams, motorways, theatres, shows and a sea of young faces. In one week we rehearsed in both York and Norwich and did the casting days in Nottingham and Wolverhampton, over 400 of you (and with some of you being in more than one production I can be forgiven for wondering where I am some times), 700 young people in the audience for the dress rehearsal in Norwich and the Q&A session afterwards (“what do you do if you fall over?”, “why do boys wear tights?”, “do you ever get fed up with your job?”). Then there was the frustration of trying to get the production together in Norwich with so much absenteeism (for various reasons) off set with some delightful performances (especially my wonderful Bar Maids in Norwich aka “Trixie & Dixie”) and then sheer admiration for one of our youngest dancers, Kezia Coulson aged nine, who organised a show which raised enough money for her school (Thorndon Primary School) to come and watch the dress rehearsal in Norwich. Outstanding. The cramped conditions back stage at the Grand Opera house York, leading groups of dancers through corridors from their front of house dressing areas to the stage, trying to get a room of cryonites and songbirds to leave on the last night as they were all weeping because they didn’t want it to be all over and the crew rescuing Miss Lewis and the staff in her car after a tire blow out leaving York at midnight. The sheer pleasure of visiting a theatre as well run as the Theatre Royal Norwich, their enthusiasm for what we do and yet again a record audience attendance over the performances and dress rehearsal. The pride in Miss Lewis receiving her MBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace, Julianne upping her game at a time in life when most ballerinas have hung up their point shoes (she never ceases to impress me) and Alex coming to grips with her first leading role for EYB. All a bit mind blowing. So in answer to the young man who asked me “Do you ever get fed up with your job?” well, I some times get tired and grumpy, but hey, it’s never dull!

In York commendations went to Nathaniel Britton (The Duke) for improvement and dramatic ability,Poppy Salenius (Solo jewel & Relative) for Performance quality,Lisa Elston (Songbird) for being consistent and “head girl“ of the Cinderellas! Olivia Jarvis and Nicole Jackson (Little Jewels) for working hard,Tammy Newsome (Guest) for constant interpretation and drama, Ellicia Britton (Guest ) for performance quality and personality. The Senior Prize went Max Maslen (Photographer) and Junior Prizes went to Nicole Dixon (Friend) and Courtney Green (Little Jewel).

In Norwich Commendations went to the group work from the Prayer girls and Work hours the latter smiling, the boys for their improvement, the Villagers who’s pointe-work improved ( I also thought they were the best group of villagers I have had) Dixie Webb -Heller and Tiffany Smith (lead villagers -aka Trixie & Dixie), Amy Moll ( Main Friend) and Natalie Bradley (Prayer/Little friend) for performance quality. The Junior prize went to Kezia Coulson (Betrothal Dance/Scottish Doll), Senior Prizes went to Charlotte Dickens (Main Friend) and Rebecca Cresswell (Coppelia Doll)

I have had messages from Emily Starling who will be going to Bird College in September, Ebony Kitts who has been accepted as a Louise Brown Scholar in York and Laura Reid who will be going to the Northern Ballet school in September.

We are in the middle of our project in Nottingham now and then go straight into Bromley so I wont get another letter out until we finish there. Trevor will be writing a guest spot for me in the meantime though.

Until next time, keep working hard!

Dominic

May 2008

Hi Again

Well we have finished in Billingham, are half way through York and start in Norwich next week so finding time to write this has been a bit difficult! Billingham was a “tough one”. It is a 5 hour journey for us to get there so because of this and the advice of the theatre the shows were booked for just after the Easter holidays so we could do our 2 week crash course during the Easter break (similar to our summer course) to cut down on the number of journeys we would have to do. All well and good except the theatre did not take into consideration that half our catchment area was over the border in North Yorkshire whose Easter holidays were the 2 weeks after the rehearsal period!(A headache for many families around the country as many areas had different Easter breaks). This meant that prospective students weren’t able to commit to the rehearsals and we had a small audition (for us) and a smaller cast than normal. Fortunately the most of students from N. Yorkshire managed to get time out from school but there were a handful that could not so there were gaps when we were choreographing (which is always frustrating) and a lot of standing in by understudies (as always, so important). Then on the last day of the 1st week Miss Lewis came down with a nasty flu virus which made her so ill she could barely stand so there was no way she could teach or do the drive back to London. Another car had to come up from London to collect Miss Lewis and two of the staff leaving Miss Lewis’ car in Billingham which made coming back the following week interesting as well! By the following Tuesday both Julianne and Bridget had come down with the dreaded lurgi as well so we were a bit depleted and fragile by the time we came back for the second week and poor Oli because of his commitments in France was only allowed to be with us for the parents day and the performances on the Saturday. Before we go into the theatre Bridget always visits and checks out the dressing rooms so we can work out who is going to be were and how many chaperones we will need which she duly did in Billingham. When we arrived to do the fit up we discovered the new technical manager (one of the most unhelpful I have come across) had taken it upon himself to take over one of the dressing rooms for his office and to start to demolish another big one which meant we had to reallocate everything and move the Wilis out to the front of house again, another headache. A very tiring and stressful 3 weeks. Having moaned about all that the students did very well and the performances were warmly received as usual which is the important bit. Next year is pretty much booked now, the details will be up on the web site soon but probably not until Miss Lewis has managed to move. This is taking longer than it should due to the current housing/ mortgage problems but she should be moved by the middle of June now (fingers crossed).

At the certificate ceremony commendations went to the 4 Friends Harriet Arnott, Kate Pilbeam, Georgina Stocker and Katherine Winter, Jessica Langley (Wili), Lydia Hurren (Nymph), the Wilis as a group, the girl children for their use of legs and feet and finally the whole cast for their dramatic input. Prizes went to Emily Leedam (Parlour Maid) for performance quality and use of legs and feet, Stuart Thompson (Hunt Gentleman) for his application and professional approach and Niall Tyzack-Carlin (Wilfred) for his stage presence, strong acting and promising dancing.

I have had messages from Charlotte Stratham who got Distinction for her Intermediate Foundation, Cree Williams who will be going to the Rambert School in Sept., Oliver Cooper who has been accepted into the London Junior Ballet and won the Junior Ballet trophy at the Royal Tunbridge Wells Festival, Charlotte Edmunds who has been performing in LCB productions of “The Secret Garden” and “Jane Eyre” and with the Royal Ballet in “Beatrix Potter”, been accepted into the RB JA’s and will be going to White Lodge in sept., Alexandra and Victoria Fletcher who both got distinction in their grade 7 and 8 respectively, Imogen Lyon who has got a scholarship for the Hammond Dance Associates and finally Molly Jennings who got distinction for her RAD Intermediate and is training with Anna De Boisson in London.

Well that's it from me for this time. Trevor has promised to write another guest spot but he says he is having trouble because he wants to make it amusing with anecdotes of things that go wrong but we are too organised and things generally run too smoothly for him to find any disasters to write about! I think that is a compliment.

Keep working hard

Dominic

March 2008

Hi Again

Well here we are all once more, well into the New Year and with lots of news to share. Apologies for not getting this out sooner but things have been very hectic these last 2 months (not only with EYB) and I needed to lock myself away in a darkened room and do things that have nothing to to do with Ballet for a week. I have now emerged into the light (and Snow!!) and am ready to go.

Our 10th anniversary year started with the great news that Miss Lewis had been awarded the MBE in the new years honours list. A long time coming and well deserved. It was a bit spooky as I had a feeling that this might be the year and was actually searching the honours list for her name when Miss Lewis phoned me with the news! Many thanks to the Sidcup Ballet Club for the nomination and those parents who had also written to the PM and the Palace.

We then launched into the audition season for the rest of the year, which is a bit more hectic this year as we are now doing 8 projects a year. We had a bit of a hair raising audition at Bromley, the biggest of the year in the smallest space available! The “small” amount of scenery that “wouldn't possibly get in the way” turned out to take up 3/4 of the stage and couldn’t be moved!!! You can imagine my and Miss Lewis’ faces when we turned up (early as usual - thankfully) to find this out. With a total reorganisation of our audition procedure we managed to get the job done (to everyone's satisfaction). I was very proud of the EYB team that day.

Then onto Stevenage and our new production of Giselle. This was a big adventure, we haven’t done a new production from scratch for a looong time! The easy part is we have the same production team that have designed and made all our other productions so we know everything will turn up and be of good quality and will need very little tweaking, the hard part was that we were moving into new territory with the tone of the production. Giselle is a lot more drama based than our other productions with the cast more integrated within each act and with a very demanding and exposed corps de ballet in the second act. Getting the balance right between the original and integrating what EYB are known for was a bit daunting. The way EYB works with choreography is fairly unique. Most productions only have 1 choreographer, we have at least 4. Miss Lewis comes up with the central idea for the production, she and I then break it down into groups and the logistics for rehearsing then we divide the choreography up and assign it to who is most suited to look after each section. We then all get together , thrash ideas around, fight for our corners and then Miss Lewis decides what goes in and what goes out. Then we come to the casting day. Things are always different in the flesh than on paper. Go away and rethink. Then Come the rehearsals. The problem with a new production is you have no idea how long each section is going to take to put together, you have to trust your experience and instinct. I do the timetable each day for the rehearsals, think of doing a suduko with a hundred numbers.... It also means I set targets for completion times (lots of rolled eye balls, dark looks and mutterings...) but with a team as tight as EYB you can trust that it will be done. One of the nice things during this period for me was to see the development within the team and the integration of our new members. Kasper continues to develop as a choreographer and was responsible for editing the music (a natural as he is a composer!), Trevor did his 1st piece of choreography for us (not a worry for us as he has many years experience) and developed a nice rapport with his group the Wood Nymphs. Emma had the daunting task of licking the Wilis into shape and with the assistance of Alex did an outstanding job. Then to the theatre. Lights, Sets, Costumes, Props, Designers... need I say more? Well considering the obstacles (no extra production day, the limited availability of the principals - Julianne and Matthew still on tour, Oli hard at work in France flying back and forth) it was surprisingly smooth,. We overran the technical by 10 mins (the 1st time in 10 years!), which- as I remember in my days as a young dancer in an Opera house never getting away before midnight and in one independent production still staggering around at 4 in the morning - is pretty d*mn good going. The performances? Did it all pay off? Follow this link  and read the review (you must have had enough of my ramblings by now).

At the certificate ceremony commendations went to Jenny Allbrook (Friend) for quality and line, Elizabeth Cowell and Emily Wigley for understudying  Lady Bathilde, Megan Pay and Emily Powell (Scullery Maids) for performance quality, Frazer lucas and Dominic Sibanda as they improved greatly, the Friends- a smiling group, Wood Nymphs as a group and the Outstanding Wilis as a group received an Easter egg each! The Senior Prize went to Jack Rubens and the Junior Prizes to Elise Voyce and Harry Wood.

I have had messages from Alfie Jago who has been offered MDS scholarships at both Tring and Elmhurst, Helena Sandford who got distinction for her RAD grade 5 and merit for her Intermediate foundation, Samantha Hacklett and Sarah and Laura Webb who all got distinction in their RAD exams, Shannen Redmond who performezd in Panto at the Elgiva Chesham and got merit for her RAD Intermediate foundation, Elizabeth Cowell who has become an associate with the New English Contemporary Ballet  and finally Benjamin Thomas has been given a place at RBS White Lodge. congratulations to all!

One other piece of news, Miss Lewis is in the process of moving the company headquarters which will hopefully completed in the next couple of weeks so keep an eye on the website for any changes in contact details. Well that's it from me this time, hope you all had a good Easter (not too many Chocolate eggs! - is there such a thing?)Keep working hard

Dominic