Well the year is pretty much over, an what a long strange trip it has been! Old and new
places and faces. Planes,trains and automobiles, sun, rain and snow, the road that goes
on forever and the show that always goes on! Amazing to think we have just finished our
13th year! The project in Manchester was a nice way to finish it. After a bit of a shaky start
(people not turning up or dropping out for various reasons) it turned into one of the
strongest productions of Giselle we have done. I think it is the largest percentage of girls
on point we have had so various sections had to be upgraded somewhat. The only down
side was it was the least number of boys we have for Giselle, but never the less the chaps
held their own. I was especially impressed by the Villagers, they were definitely the
strongest group we have had for that dance.
The shows didn’t mark the end of the year for us though, we are now well into our principal
rehearsals for Swan Lake. It’s looking like it’s going to be a very interesting production.
The principals are looking very strong and it was fun to see Emma and Amy knocking of
their 32 fouettes yesterday! Even I have been chipping in. As Oli is busy in France I have
been partnering Julianne for the Act 2 pas de deux so she gets a feel for it before Oli turns
up this weekend. I even managed the overhead lifts yesterday, not too shoddy for an old
wreak hahaha. We have had our first two auditions for next year in Dartford and Newcastle
and there seems to be lots of excitement for the new production and the turn out was very
high. As I write bales of fabric are being delivered to costume makers, sections of set
delivered to our stores, frames booked for cloth painting and studios booked for sound
editing. All heady stuff! As well as getting ready for Swan Lake the principals are all busy
over the break with Strauss galas, K Ballet in Japan, exams, independent dance projects
and teaching. Hope they find time for a mince pie or two!
At the certificate ceremony in Manchester commendations went to Isaac Bowry for his
sympathetic portrayal of Wilfred, Emily Bancroft (Wili) for out standing understudying, Tia Roberts (Scullery Maid), Daisy Edwards (Nymph), Daisy Twells (Hunt/Nymph) the
four Friends for good technique and the Villagers as a group. Miss Lewis also commented
that she thought the footwork from the whole cast was the best in the country and praised their musicality and co-ordination.
Prizes went to Luke Wilson (Butler) and Georgina Cartwright (Friend). There was also a
rare Miss Lewis Special Prize for Lucy McMahon (Cook) and Corina Clark (House
keeper) for their out standing performances throughout the whole project!
I have had messages from Lowri Shone to say she will be playing the young Clara in ENB
production with her younger brother, Rowan taking the role of Fritz and their brother Rhys has now joined them at Tring. Nina Bridgewater-Bagnall passed her RAD Grade 8 with
distinction and is now at the Northern Ballet School, Charlotte d'E Vallancey passed her
RAD 6 with distinction and enjoying being an associate with Central School of Ballet, Katelyn Severn who will be performing in Ballet West’s production of Swan Lake across
Scotland and hopefully China again, Grace Carr who passed both her RAD Advanced 1
and Cecchetti Intermediate with Distinction and will also be dancing Clara with ENB, Sophia Lyon now at Elmhurst will be performing in BRB production of The Nutcracker at
both the Hippodrome in Birmingham and the O2 arena in London (just down the road from
me) and Frederick Gunningham who will be playing Fritz in the RB’s production of The
Nutcracker at the Opera House. Looks like EYB owns Nutcracker this Christmas!
Congratulations to all!
Well thats it from me for this year, hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and we look
forward to seeing or hearing from you in the New Year. Keep working hard (after some
mince pies and chocolates from the tree)!
Well that was the summer! It rained through the project in Woking and the sun shone through Southsea,
which of course was the wrong way round! We had to go out doors a lot at the school in Woking so it was
lots of coats and over shoes and carrying tiny ones who had forgotten to take them! No out doors in
Southsea, so the sun shone all the time and none of the windows in the gym opened so everyone was wet
with sweat rather than rain! Both places we were returning with productions we had done before in years
passed, in the case of Woking it was Coppelia after a 10 year break and in Southsea it was putting
Nutcracker to rest for a while at the venue we premiered our current production. The standard in both places
was very high and as is often with the case so was the noise level! I have given up shouting and now opt for
a sullen grumpy silence and waiting with arms folded until silence descends before continuing. I’m getting
very good at it. The cast in Woking was one of the biggest we have had and I had a record number of 51 in
the Czardas! Good job the stage was large! Also there were not enough girl’s costumes so some of the older
ladies had to wear boys costume and I would like to thank them for the good grace in which they did. The
audience attendance was also very good in Woking keeping up with our visit 10 years ago which is a huge
relief at the moment as production work on “Swan Lake” is now underway and it all needs to be paid for.
Those of you who follow these rambles on a regular basis will know we have a very special relationship with
the Kings Theatre in Southsea and our visits there are always a highlight of the year that we visit. Although
quite a difficult venue on the technical side (the principals never stop complaining about the rake) they
always pull out all the stops for us, it is definitely a venue where Ben has met his match in their .marketing
lady. Her enthusiasm for what we do is amazing. It is always quite an emotional visit for Julianne as well as
she is local to the area and her parents always organize coach loads to come to the matinee and once again
her Gran was there to watch, now at the amazing age of 104!. You will also be able to see our Coppelia set
in the panto at the Kings this year as we are loaning it to them. One the producers, Paul Graham (aka Bic) is
also our stage manager.
Next year is now all booked up, the dates are now up on the website although a couple of audition dates are
to be settled when we have found venues to hold them. Two of the original venues let us down so we had to
rearrange with new ones, this mainly affects those who were looking forward to us returning to York,
hopefully we will be able to go in 2013.
At the certificate ceremony in Woking commendations went to Matthew Pawley (Czardas/Combat) and Peter Wetherall (Betrothal/Combat). Both improved and achieved a higher standard of
technique. Alexandra Swets - good understudy for Lead Morning Hour and Dawn solo plus an excellent
Friend in her own role, Louise Adamson-good understudy for Lead Morning Hour and excellent
interpretation of the mechanical Coppelia Doll, Jali Parris- excellent dramatic ability in acting the 'nervous
Friend’, Ruth Newton and Hannah Griffiths- good personality in the Lead Czardas. There was also praise
for the girls in trousers in the Czardas and the Morning Hours for good and improved pointe-work.
The junior Prize went to Lydia Mackett (Night hour/Scottish doll) for polished performance, neat technique.
very good classwork and concentration. The senior Prize went to India Berrow (Friend) for being a diligent
worker, very concentrated and an example of a hard consistent worker, her pointe-shoes were never off.
There was also a Julianne's Best Doll Prize which went to Darcy Brown.
At the certificate ceremony in Southsea commendations went to Claire Hackston (Governess) for dramatic
interpretation, Paige Elson (Lead Flower) for good performance and technique, Lewis Heath (Child/
Chinese) for much improvement and concentration and good performance, Ashley Merrikin for his role as
the Mouse king and wonderful leaps, William Ireland (Wooden Nutcracker) for improved technique and
good jetes, Fraser Buchanan (Father/Jig) for good acting in the Party scene, Elizabeth Maclennan for
being an excellent maid and Rebecca Jones for her lovely portrayal of Clara. It was also commented that all
pointe-work gained strength and the Snowflakes were very very good with excellent lines and discipline.
Prizes went to Mukeni Nel (Fritz) and Emily Drain (Soldier/Russian dance). Both dancers conveyed what
EYB stands for. Strong Performance quality, musicality, consistent work throughout each class and rehearsal
and constant technical improvement.
I have messages from Kizzie Burkett who passed her RAD Advanced 1 with distinction and is now going to
go to Cambridge University to study Geography, Katelyn Severn who continues to do well at Ballet West,
recently passed her RAD Advanced 2 with distinction and is taking part in the Genee International
Competition in South Africa and Hannah Cauchi who has recently graduated from the Urdang Academy and
now can be seen on tour with “Top Hat”. Well done all!
Well thats all from me now, we start work in Manchester this weekend, another strong and large cast (sullen
grumpy silence at the ready haha) so it promises to be a good ending to the year. Keep your news coming in
and as always.
Keep working hard!
Well the last two projects were pretty epic even by EYB standards! A real tale of two cities as the theatres in Shrewsbury and Cardiff booked us to perform within a week of each other! This meant we had to split into two teams for the teaching and then come together for the performances, a logistical head ache I can tell you. Team Shrewsbury (led by me) did Nutcracker and team Cardiff (led my Miss Lewis) did Coppelia. You would think it would be easier to do the same production in each venue, but there would have been no time to alter costumes and wash them! This was hard work for the principals as they had to rehearse 2 productions in the time they would normally do one. This was compounded with the fact that Emma was still recovering from her back injury. She managed to ease herself back into performing by guesting as Lead Arabian and Madam Bonbon in Shrewsbury and then was back to dance Swanilda in Cardiff. It was good to see her back in action.
I can’t really comment on the rehearsals in Cardiff as I was not there but to say Shrewsbury was hard work is a bit of an understatement! We seemed to be cursed for our traveling, the M1 and M6 were nightmares every week, a 3 hour journey taking at least 5 most journeys and then on the parents showing day both cars broke down on the way back to London! So we were feeling pretty stressed most of the time. We were unfortunately very short of boys in Shrewsbury, only 2 turned up at the audition which is a bit of a problem for Nutcracker! By the end of the first weekend we were up to 3 small boys but were still short of older boys for fathers. When we came back for the next sessions we had managed to recruit 2 young men from Stagecoach, essentially actors with no Ballet training. That said they threw themselves into the Ballet classes with great gusto and managed to get to grips with the choreography for the party dances and added depth to the scene with their acting. Benjamin Davis was a hit as the Mouse-king, what he lacked in Balletic technique he certainly made up for in enthusiasm and characterization! We also had special guest appearances from Oli and Lorien doing their own and very different versions of the Jig on the nights they weren’t performing the prince, very entertaining. The other big frustration in Shrewsbury was the high level of absenteeism, we only had a full cast once before the performances and that wasn’t even on the parents showing day. On the plus side the theatre had ironed out all its bugs from our visit 2 years ago (it had only just opened then) and is very well run now with an excellent crew and we were rewarded with sell out shows on the Saturday!
It was interesting for me to come into the theatre in Cardiff not having been involved with the teaching (it was nice to be able to be Mr.Nice for a change haha). I saw the cast at the audition and the casting day so I got to see the leap from then to the theatre without the hard work in-between. It was our first visit to Cardiff and Wales and it was quite overwhelming to see the response and the enthusiasm from pupils, parents and audience. We had a standing ovation after the show on the saturday night! The ticket sales were excellent as well so hopefully we will be invited back again. All in all a very exciting visit for us.
At the certificate ceremony in Shrewsbury commendations went to Amelia Evans (Clara) for a lovely and strong performance, Paige Thomas (Soldier/Russian) for standing in for “Mother” in rehearsals, Elizabeth Harris (Reed-pipe) who stood in for leading snowflakes in many rehearsals and the parents showing day, Harriet Arnott, Charlotte Stratham and Sasha Woodward (Lead Flowers) for improvement, Oliver Vaughan (Wooden Nutcracker) for performance quality, Chloe Nesbitt (Flower) for improvement, the Chinese Dance as a group and all the Flowers for improved point work and always being there!
Prizes went to Philippa Ashworth (Mouse/Reed-pipe) and Amaris Gillies (Lead Snow) with a rare “Miss Lewis Prize” going to the two Stagecoach boys Benjamin Davis (Mouse-king) and Jordan Slater.
In Cardiff commendations went to Rochelle Davis (Friend) and Lauren Harris (Little Friend) for lovely performance quality, Molly Vallis (Coppelia Doll) gaining strength on point and more confidence, Alice Cornes (Dawn Solo) who was a Work hour in Swindon a few years ago and has shown how far hard work can take you! Eva Vestergaad (Lead Czardas/Morning Hour), Mia Watkins (Prayer/Little Friend) for consistent work and concentration through rehearsals and good performance quality, Bradleigh Reeks and Alexander Smith for improved confidence and Kellie Jones (Friend) for stepping into Morning Hours in performance when Jemima Scott was sick.
Prizes went to Huw Boucher (Lead Villager/Combat) and Katy Green (Scottish Doll/Night Hour)
I have had messages from Elena Redmond who got Merit for her RAD Inter Foundation and along with her sister Shannen has joined Youth Action Entertainers, they do ballet dancing for older residents who live in sheltered housing, Charlie Day who has been touring with London Children’s Ballet, passed his ISTD grade 6 with distinction and has been awarded both the ‘Paul Watson’ scholarship bursary for the Tring Park’s “Kick-start” program and a ‘springboard’ bursary which are given out by Hampshire County Council, delivered in partnership with Hampshire Dance, Shannon Spurdens who got 90% for grade 4 RAD and 88% for grade 5 RAD, Charlotte d’E Vallancey who has been accepted into the prep 2 course at Central and Tring for their Classical Ballet Academy and Amelia Evans who won a Genee Dance Challenge at the BRB studios chosen by Mr Gary Harris Artistic Director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Congratulations to all.
Well thats it from me, keep your news coming in. Good luck to all those students starting vocational schools next month and too the ex students moving into the profession!
Keep working hard
As you will see from the number of commendations below we had a very
strong cast in the production of Nutcracker in Stoke! Also they were good fun
to work with and I was even able to indulge in some good natured teasing
(I know - I’m a bad man) but “Blushy”, “Fritz’s Girlfriend” and “Lunch” took it
well (they know who they are, ha ha ha) and the rest of you will just have to
wonder (mainly it’s my inability to remember people’s names). The only thing
that blighted the project a bit was the high level of absenteeism which is very
frustrating for the choreographers and detrimental to the development of the
show and lots of overtime for the understudies! In fact the only time we had
a full cast was by the second act at the parents showing! I felt the cast only
reached their true potential by the last show.
We had drama as well, poor Emma had a bad back injury which meant she
was unable to perform in Stoke (a dancers nightmare) and as a result Amy had to learn the Sugar Plum Fairy in a week! As I am fond saying, there is
no shallow end in EYB, it’s deep all the way down! With the help of Lorien’s
excellent partnering she produced a lovely performance which we were all
proud of. Stoke was also Brenden and Amy’s premier in the Snow pas
de deux so it was a heady weekend for her! Emma’s back is slowly getting
better and she will be performing in Shrewsbury but not Sugar Plum yet,
we are all hoping she will be ok for Coppelia in Cardiff. The other knock on
effect of this was I had created a new version of the Arabian dance featuring
Amy and Brenden as a central couple and had to rework it back to my other
version just featuring Brenden! The Arabian girls coped well with having to
relearn the dance. Brenden is a tall chap so they had fun carrying him on! (oh
how “Blushy” blushed!) Another bit of drama was poor Lara Burton fell ill after
the performance on the Friday and was unable to perform on the Saturday,
we all send her best wishes and hope she recovered quickly! Another thing
that has been blighting us is the M1 and M6 which is continuing into our
Shrewsbury project, we have had constant journeys from hell which is very
tiring and frustrating! Such are the joys of the touring life! Mind you Julianne’s
FaceBook status’ on the subject have been very entertaining, if we ever
decide to Twitter she should definitely do them.
At the certificate ceremony in Stoke commendations went to Alexandra
Holmes (Snowflake) for excellent understudying and going on in reed
pipes on the Saturday performances, Leisha Harrison (reed pipe) for
good technique, Charlie Bishop (Fritz) for good acting and personality, Jeanette Gould (Flower) for a lovely smile and sense of enjoyment, Tamika
Williamson and Emma Clowes (Snowflakes) for good performances, James
Walker (Mouse king) for attack and coping well with the costume (I think
he is the smallest MK we have had!), Shoto Iko (Teenager/Spanish) for an
excellent and animated performance, Anna Lakin (Lead Flower) for lovely
performances and Laura Wain (Flower) for improved point work. Group
commendations went to The Arabians for coping with different versions, both
the Flowers and Russians/Soldiers for excellent group work and working as
a team (Julianne wants me to mention how much she enjoyed working with
the flowers) and the Dolls for excellent mechanical feel!
Prizes went to Harry Powell (Father/Jig) for excellent improvement and stage
personality and Tia Roberts (Child/Chinese) for acting, performance quality
and good technique.
No messages this month but we have been catching ex- students in their end
of year shows at vocational schools and moving into the profession (Caroline
Rees has been touring with European Ballet and Kesi Dory will be joining
Ballet Theatre UK in the autumn - do go and support them if they come to
a theatre near you). I also caught some Central School of ballet students
braving the elements in an outdoor performance at St. Paul’s Cathedral in
what was probably the wettest day in London this year! Well done all!
Well that's all from me for now, the next letter will be a tale of two cities and
two teams and probably another rant about the M1 and M6! look forward to
hearing all your news and as always, keep working hard.
I don't know what it is about Worthing, but the weather is always amazing when we go there! What a contrast to Newcastle were we were always trying to keep warm to Worthing where we were always trying to keep cool! The gym we were using was a bit like a greenhouse and it was quite hard to motivate everyone when they are melting in the heat, the sun is constantly in their eyes and all we all really wanted to do was go and sit in the sun! Those of you that follow these letters regularly will know what a difficult venue the Connaught Theatre is, the lack of wing space meant we had to be a bit creative with the set as there was nowhere to keep the hut and as usual half the cast were housed front of house in the dress circle bar and had to be taken outside to get to the stage! We had a thunderstorm on the friday night, lots of plastic bags were involved. The Friday was of course the Royal wedding day which pretty much killed the audience for the show that evening, the wedding date was announced long after we were booked and there was no way to shift our dates. Fortunately the rest of the shows were well attended. West Sussex council were their usual unhelpful selves forcing us to have the dress rehearsal after school, leaving us no time to do any corrections. Having said all that the performances were very strong and every one coped well with the difficulties and a huge thanks to all the chaperones as always who make it possible to run the backstage arrangements. Emma and Amy were very touched by the flowers the Wilis presented them, there was a lovely card signed by all the cast and I enjoyed the little bottle of Brandy I was given! Thanks to all!
Outside of EYB, Miss Lewis, Julianne, Oli, Lorien and Emma have been busy putting together and performing a “Swan Lake Cabaret” for a lavish birthday party at the historic Whitehall Banqueting House. If you are in London at any time it is a fascinating place to visit (Charles I was executed there, the ceiling was painted by Ruben...) or check out their web site. Miss Lewis cleverly condensed the story to 8 min using sections of the Act 2 &3 pas de deux and having a Black and White theme with both Black and White Swans on stage together dancing with both the Prince and Rothbart. With a 40 piece orchestra and a fiery coda the earned themselves a standing ovation at the end! Brendan is currently in Japan guesting with K ballet and Emma and Lorien will be performing excerpts from Giselle for the Dance for Japan day at the Central School of Ballet on the 28 May, there is a link to the event on our official Facebook page.
At the certificate ceremony commendations went to the Aristocratic Children as a hardworking group, Eleanor Pettitt (Wili) for team work and concentration, Alexei Hawkey (Hunt and understudy Wilfred) for good acting ability, George White (Hunt) for technical improvement, Emily Whiffin (Cook) for good stage performance., Olivia Tay (Housekeeper) for improved technique and performance, Hector Mitchell-Turner (Wilfred) for good acting and performance and the Wilis as a group,pointe-work was much improved.
The Junior Prize went to Megan O'Hanlon (Villager) She always danced well and stood out in the group and improved in class work and well performed. The Senior prize went to Chantelle McDermott (Duchess) for excellent performance quality and use of head and shoulders.
Just a few messages this time round. Sophia Lyon will be joining her sister Imogen at Elmhurst in September and Imogen will be performing with BRB in Coppelia. Caitlin O’Farrell has been offered a place at Laine Theatre Arts, Ellie Warner who has been performing in Rumplestiltskin with London Children's Ballet and I had a long e-mail from Dixie Webb-Heller who got Distinction for her RAD Intermediate and chronicling her further adventures on the CAT scheme in Norwich- I really must get her to write a guest spot! Well done to all.
Well that's all from me, keep your news coming in and as always
Keep working hard
Its been a long time since my last letter to you all so as you can guess quite
a bit has happened! The end of last year and the beginning of this one
was taken up with auditions for the coming year which cas taken us from
Newcastle and all the way down to Worthing and ports between! I think this
year has the most amount of travelling to be done by us ever. The start of the
year saw us integrating our new staff into the well oiled machine that is EYB.
Amy Drew and Brenden Bratulic had to learn the whole of Coppelia and
how we operate when in the schools. They are both lovely people to work with
and have slotted in so smoothly that it feels like they have always been with
us. They gave a lovely 1st performance with us in Newcastle. Ben Garner has now taken over full time from Biddy and is filling those rather large shoes
with what seems like unlimited enthusiasm and energy and has come up with
lots of new ideas for promoting the company.
With all the Media attention
on “Black Swan” we have found a knock on effect and had a bit of a media
battle to do a report on one of the students in Newcastle and another of the
students was being followed for a report on teenagers and how unfairly they
are depicted at times. Newcastle was hard work for us as it is the furthest
north we have visited and the travelling took its toll, but I have to say the
students were very well behaved and fun to work with so it all felt worth while.
We had the added bonus of staying in Tynemouth while rehearsing which is
well worth a visit if you are ever in that part of the world. The shows went well
in Newcastle and for me I felt my Villagers were one of the tightest groups I
have had and I was very pleased with what they achieved.
In other news we are definitely planning to do Swan Lake next year as
our new production and Miss Lewis and I have already had brain storming
sessions to work out how we are going to approach it and make it work for
EYB! There is also the small matter of financing a new production which will
not be easy in these current financially strapped times but needs will find a
way. It feels like it is going to be a very exciting project and Giselle proved we
can take on the more dramatic classics and stay true to the spirit of EYB.
I managed to get to see Alex in “Fairies” at the ROH and enjoyed the show
very much with its very clever use of puppets and she is keeping her self very
busy with other projects as well. Matthew popped in and did class with us a
couple of weeks ago and he seems to be thriving at “Phantom” and doing a
few bits of computer stuff for us. Speaking of which, we have redesigned our
web site, new features and lots of new photos so check it out and let us know
what you think!
At the certificate ceremony commendations went to Amy Kyle, Abbie
Dosworth and Madeleine Davies (Spanish Dolls/ Night hours) Stuart
Thompson (Czardas/Combat) for performance quality, Emily Arkle and Emma Hansen (Dawn Duet/Friends), The Morning Hours as a group,
especially Katie Appleby and Joanna Humble who had improved, Charlotte Wraith and Sophie Liddle (Czardas/Work Hours) for improved
technique and performance quality and the 2 Lead Villagers Amber Clark and Katie Grant.
Prizes went to Sarah Clews (Little Villager) for her consistent smile, enthusiasm and personality. Alice Charlton (Coppelia Doll) for stronger
Pointe work and improvement.
The very rare Miss Lewis’ special prize went to Madeleine Davies for
presentation, head line, co-ordination and technique.
I have had messages from Grace Carr who got to perform the role of
Young Clara in ENB new production of The Nutcracker at the London
Coliseum, Henry Gibbons who got Distinction for his RAD inter foundation, Georgia Curtis, Rossie and Sophie Poppitt who were in Peter Pan at
Wolverhampton, Alex Johnson who has gained a place at the Royal
Ballet lower school at White lodge, and Dan Looney to say how much he
is enjoying his second year at Arts Ed and that he will be performing in the
musical version of Romeo and Juliet in Beijing! I also managed to attend a
performance of Design for Dance at the Cochrane Theatre in London and was
thrilled to see so many ex students now training at London Studio Centre,
Rambert School and Central School of Ballet both performing and presenting
their own Choreography! Well done to all!
Well that's all from me for now, work has started on Giselle in Worthing
already (where we will have to compete with the Royal Wedding) and we will
see the return of Oli there as well. Keep your news coming in and as always
keep working hard!