Dance Europe, Amanda Jennings
Once again, Samira Saidi and her team have produced a delightful Showcase with plenty of burgeoning talent on display. Saidi points out that a showcase in December is a work in progress, since it is only a third of the way through the academic year, but I was very pleased to see that progress since last year has been considerable.
The first half consisted of classwork in ballet (including some difficult and well-taught pas de deux work), contemporary dance and character work. In previous years I have admired the work of the boys and noted that they were stronger than the girls; this year the boys were just as good but there were also some excellent girls, in all three years. Arms are neat, turnout is strong and well used, some difficult adagio work in pointe shoes presented no problems, and pointe work has improved drmatically, with some very impressive pirouettes and good work using the whole foot. The boys showed a strong sense of musicality across all years. There was some tension in necks and shoulders, especially amongst the first years, but natural nervousness at this young age undoubtedly causes this kind of tension to manifest itself in performance. All danced well, but especially notable were the musicality and effortless jumps and turns of Yuki Nonaka (first year); the elegant legs and feet of Eleonora Magnanini and the stylish work and stage presence of Rebecca Mabin (both second year); and the well-presented technique of Marco Bozzato, Ana Maria Gregely and Lucinda Strachan from the third year. Praise too for Nathan Hunt (third year) who pulled off the difficult 'bum lift', holding his partner securely overhead with aplomb. Best of all was Drew Jackson (third year), a neat, highly accomplished dancer whose work has impressed since his first year showcase.
The chararcter work was very impressive, taught with true Russian flair by Olga Semenova, who always presents engaging choreography which the students thoroughly enjoy performing. Here we saw the fluidity snd elegance in the upper back and necks that I had looked for in the classical work. It is a real pleasure to see this important work so meticulously and inspiringly taught.
ENBS has a strong choreographic programme, and Saidi insists that all students participate in it. We saw a selection from each year, and then some pieces from the classical repertoire, ending with a Grand Defilé. The pieces were well chosen, with some opportunities for solos but also stamina-testing corps de ballet set pieces, well rehearsed and neatly danced.
Leanne Benjamin, guest of honour, spoke warmly afterwards and praised the variety of work on show.