Last Wednesday I attended an ENB Masterclass at their new premises on City Island.
This was for Friends and their guests and well worth the trip over there......though we no longer get provided with wine and nibbles etc at least the new premises has a cafe so can obtain refreshments from there .....which Markova House didn't use to have of course.
In one of the huge light and airey new studios we were treated to a rehearsal of Le Corsaire with the young dancer ......who recently won the ENB Emerging Dancer Award....Julia Conway.
She danced a bit from the role of Medora and was then coached by Mayumi Ganley ( originally from Tokyo Ballet) who is ENB Ballet mistress and Repetiteur.
On the piano was the delightful Gavin Sutherland.
It must be very difficult for dancers to get into performing spirit in the glare of a fully lit studio even if the audience is largely appreciative!
But Julia was able to take on board advice given by the coach who was gentle and informal and make the improvements to her performance. Sometimes advice was given on technique and very precise ....even down to a head position ....and sometimes on stage direction ....where to start and finish the solo and the precise diagonal to use!
After the coaching session Julia, Mayumi and Gavin were then interviewed by Jennie Harrington who has now retired as a dancer from the Company and since has the job of Assistant Artistic Co-ordinator.
Jennie is a clear speaker ( and used to be excellent on ENB dance workshops) and started by asking each of them what Corsaire meant to them.
Of course for the dancers it was the excitement of the piece and the beauty of the costumes but Gavin Sutherland was explaining it took a long time to assemble the music for the current production. I had no idea that Adolph Adam ( Giselle) for example was the main original composer but these days there are bits by Delibes and other quite a few other composers and bits arranged by Gavin himself of this ENB production.
There was then some discussion on the role of the conductor for ballet performances and it was obvious that at ENB the dancers are well served by Gavin and they talked about the collaboration between himself and them before performances. .....they are all in it together is what was expressed and he feels it is part of his job to support the dancers on stage.
I don't think I misheard this but it seems as if he keeps scores marked for different dancers!! And then told a story about how he had just been chatting with one dancer ( sorry didn't get her name) ready set for her performance when who should actually walk out on stage but Tamara Rojo.....the dancer he was expecting had got injured literally just before the performance....so a bit of a shock to which he had to quickly adjust!!
It was obvious he really loves his job and the dancers I feel are very lucky to have him.
After the interviews there was a short Q and A for the audience before the session was concluded.
A really nice evening ...not too long ....and a bonus to bump into some dancing friends ...there to attend classes (highly recommended) for a quick catch up before heading out into a rather damp evening out there in City Island! Inspite of the drizzle it was rather enjoyable to walk across the red bridge at night time with all the surrounding building lights from Canary Wharf and beyond. This also my first venture up to London since August!
One thing I noticed is that when you come off the jubilee line into Canning Town you could be at a complete loss as to where to go as although we knew the way if it was your first time it could take a while to find out where to go to get to City Island! There is a small sign when you are nearly there anyway but I do feel for such a busy little hub there should be larger and clearer signs for all directions out of the station including City Island.