More fool me.
What I experienced at the Peacock Theatre, where London Children’s Ballet has presented its latest show, Anne of Green Gables, was a performance of the utmost professionalism, where every aspect of the show went towards a thrilling whole: exemplary choreography, gorgeous sets and costumes, a melodious, specially commissioned score played live, massed ranks of lively, impeccably drilled children, and totally engaging soloists, foremost among them 13-year-old Annalise Wainwright-Jones as Anne. More about her in a moment.
Currently led by artistic director Ruth Brill, London Children's Ballet is a unique organisation: a charity which every year gives up to 50 children aged nine to 16 the chance to work towards a West End performance. So popular has it become since its foundation in 1994, that every year upwards of 600 children audition to join for a year. The ones that are accepted are chosen on the basis of talent only, regardless of height, shape or income. They are given free training, and the whole experience culminates in a live performance on a real theatre stage.
The tailor-made show is always based on well-known and much-loved children’s books, such as Little Lord Fauntleroy (2016) and Ballet Shoes (2019). This year it was the turn of Anne of Green Gables by the Canadian author LM Montgomery.
It's the story of the spirited 11-year-old orphan Anne, who lives on Canada's Prince Edward Island. Adopted by an old brother and sister to work on their farm, she gets herself into all manner of trouble and scrapes before winning the affection of the entire community.
The clarity of Jenna Lee’s choreography would be the envy of many seasoned dance-makers working for established companies. Her story-telling is exemplary, steps and mime creating an easy-to-follow narrative, her steps so fluent they seem totally natural, rather than being (as they must be) adapted to the still-developing abilities of young dancers.
Ditto Gus Nicholson’s melodious and eminently danceable score, amazingly his first for ballet.
All the children were superb, totally at ease on stage, acting and dancing so naturally as to put a permanent smile on your face.
As Anne Annalise Wainwright-Jones offered the complete performance. A student of the prestigious Tring Park School, her classical schooling shines through in beautiful lines – her arabesque is a wonder to behold – soft arms, lively movement, acting that easily blended sassy and moving, and, last but not least, stamina – she was on stage throughout the work’s 90 minutes or so.
One can only hope that she pursues a career in ballet and follows in the footsteps of London Children’s Ballet alumni such as Anna Rose O'Sullivan, currently a principal dancer with The Royal Ballet, and James Streeter, first soloist with English National Ballet.
|What||London Children's Ballet, Anne of Green Gables review|
|Where||Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, London, WC2A 2HT | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Holborn (underground)|
27 May 22 – 29 May 22, Fri at 17:30, Sat at 13:30 & 17:30, Sun at 12:30 & 16:30 Dur.: 1 hour 40 mins inc one interval
|Price||£18-£55 (+booking fee)|
|Website||Click here to book|