And so it’s been every year with English National Ballet School (ENBS). This year, though, as we’re only too aware, schooling was one of the aspects of everyday life totally disrupted by lockdown.
It is to the school’s credit, therefore, that despite the limitations of lockdown and strict social distancing, it was able to produce a Virtual Summer Performance, by means of a stylish film now available to watch on ENBS website.
In a mind-boggling feat of will and coordination, three choreographers – Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Didy Veldman and Andre McNicol – worked with the School across four time zones to create and rehearse works especially fitting to these students and their very specific circumstances; BalletBoyz assembled the final film, creating the illusion of multitudes and ensemble work out of film of individual dancers.
The three works presented are very different in character and give the young dancers an opportunity to show their talent in a variety of contemporary forms – no pure classical dancing, though, no pas de deux, no pointe work.
To this reporter, the most affecting work in this remarkable trio of performances was the third and final piece, Andrew McNicol’s Gradus, set to a slow, intense score by Peter Gregson
Annabelle Lopes Ochoa’s Memorias Del Dorado, which opens the show, is a meditative piece on a Japanese theme, set to a dreamy score by Max Richter. It starts with a boy kneeling on tatami mats in a typical Japanese house, slowly leafing through a book, where the images of dancers come to life.
Memorias Del Dorado is a short piece where all the expression is carried through movements of hands, arms and heads, the faces remaining expressionless, the focus always on the torso, even when the camera moves away to reveal the full body.
In full contrast, Didy Veldman’s Not So Strictly is a playful, energetic and very urban piece, set to a jazzy score by Joe Loss, which segues into a well-known Katchaturian tune. Here the dancers are clad in casual urban wear, shorts, T-shirts, trainers or bare feet, performing in fairly orthodox contemporary dance language on rooftops, against brick buildings and in verdant parks.
Dogs and one cat, presumably the dancers’ own pets, put on fleeing appearances, and why not?
Without exception, the freshness and abandon of these young dancers are impressive and deeply moving; and although it’s not easy clearly to ascertain individual talent in such a virtual performance, their commitment comes across loud and clear.
This is a film that breeds hope for the future of dance in the UK, even in the present challenging circumstances; it is well worth 20 minutes of your time.
You can view ENBS Virtual Summer Performance for free here
|What||ENB School Virtual Summer Performance|
|Where||Online | MAP|
11 Jul 20 – 11 Aug 20, Available on demand Dur.: 30 mins approx.