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Elmhurst "Summer Rendezvous" show


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Had a wonderful time at the show on Saturday afternoon and thought I'd do a quick review (I'm not good at technical things so it'll be quite vague!!). This was programme 1 and I'll be seeing programme 2 on Friday (not much different but a couple of different dances I believe).

 

The evening started with a delightful "Mazurka" by the year 9s (I think) choreographed by Denise Lewin. The students looked lovely and performed beautifully - it was a lovely bright opening.

 

Next was a contemporary piece, "Deja Vu", danced by the graduate year choreographed by Garry Tomlinson. I'd heard a bit about this before the performance but tried to watch it with an open mind, and actually I quite enjoyed it. It definitely looked under-rehearsed (which it was) and it looked like it needed developing further, but the dancers performed it well and as I said, was quite an enjoyable piece.

 

Then the turn of the year 11s in "La Purezza Delle Linee" choreographed by Gloria Grigolato and Lee Robinson and danced to Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 1. A strong group of students and the dance showed their strengths well - I'm glad lots are staying at Elmhurst and I wish them all well for the next stage of their training.

 

Next was the highlight of the show for many of us - a bit of Fosse - "Rich Man's Frug" from Sweet Charity and re-created by Michelle Blair. Look it up on YouTube if you've never seen it and you'll get a taste of what we were treated to. The graduates were absolutely fabulous in this. They managed to keep the feeling and style as it should be, but didn't over-do it. Special mention should go to Alyshia Waite in the main role (so well cast), and to Josh Woodhams and Joe Taylor. Can't wait to see it again on Friday.

 

Then a chance for the younger students to perform for their parents in "Consider Yourself" - some stars in the making in there and a good opportunity for them to practice their performance skills.

 

Flamenco is always a bit of a treat at Elmhurst - they are so lucky to have Ana Garcia (who then sings live at the performances with Jamie Fekete). The piece, "Cafe Garcia", started with two boys (Owen Daniels and I'm sorry I don't know the name of the other one) from 6.2 who created a great atmosphere and then it built with more and more dancers from different years. Some students could do with a bit more passion in their faces, but to be honest I think they're so busy concentrating on what their feet are doing it must be difficult!! Wonderful footwork which had the whole theatre vibrating. Well done everyone.

 

After a short interval we had "The Alpha Beat" - a jazz piece choreographed by Jenny MacNamara with some of the upper school boys. I quite enjoyed this - the music was good and the boys danced well, but to be honest, it seemed out of place with everything else, and I would rather have seen something else in its place. Sorry boys.

 

Now the turn of some of the lower school children again with three pieces: "Harmony" for the girls (not sure which year) choreographed by Dennie Wilson and Gareth Griffiths - the girls looked exhausted at the end as it involved a lot of running, but they showed off their ballet/dance skills well. Then "Les Jeunes Hommes" for boys (choreographed by Lee Robinson) and "Les Jeunes Filles" for the girls (choreographed by Samira Saidi) - all students from different year groups. Good performances from all the students who were given an opportunity to show what they could do. The boys piece was a little like a class in parts and I'd've liked different costumes, but lovely to see such strong work from them.

 

An even shorter interval to put the fence and gate up.... and then we were treated to "Les Rendezvous" (Ashton) by the 6.2s and graduates. I wish I could see another cast do this too as there weren't many graduates in this performance but it was wonderful to see the students doing some really good quality ballet. Eri Nishibara and Takeshi Watanabe were great in the main roles and the boys in the pas de six managed their lifts and partnering really well. Lovely performances from everyone.

 

And to finish the traditional defile where each of the year groups comes on and off, building to the end with everyone on stage. I do wish the choreography would allow each of the years to put in a small reverance to allow the audience to applaud (it happens quite naturally in the year 7 part which is lovely, and then everyone finds it a bit awkward after that). I'm looking forward to Friday's final performance when we usually get added glitter from the graduates.

 

Overall, I think it was one of the better shows I've seen over the last 6 years, although I would have liked to see the graduates doing more ballet - we only saw some of them in Rendezvous and, apart from the Defile, that was the only ballet we saw them do.

 

And finally I'd like to copy in something I wrote at the end of the review I did of the Elmhurst show in 2010 - because when I re-read it, I still feel exactly the same.....

 

It's difficult with such a big school to give everyone a chance to shine in the end of year performances, but perhaps two different programmes could be offered with more for the lower school in one, and concentrating on the year 11s/sixth form in the other. Then, as parents, we'd all be a bit more satisfied. And the students need an opportunity to perform - they don't get many.

My next comment is linked in to that - please, please Mr Kelly, try to get them in a theatre for a gala performance. I thought it was a very strong programme this year, but I spent lots of time thinking how wonderful they would've looked on a "proper" stage with a live orchestra and a big audience to perform to. I want people from all round the country to be able to come and watch them, not just parents/families (we can't buy enough tickets for all the friends and family who want to come) and "Friends".

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Thank you, Julie, for this. I hope you've put a link in Doing Dance somewhere so that other interested parties can come and read.

 

So, they did "Les Rendezvous"? (And with a fence and gate as well, which I think was more than the Royal Ballet managed last time around!). Impressive. Did they borrow costumes from somewhere else?

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Thanks JulieW.It was a fantastic performance. I really enjoyed Alphabeat too but I felt it fitted in quite well.My 18 year old non DD enjoyed it especially!Agree about the boys in Les Jeune Hommes though-it was reminiscent of watching class!It was lovely to have the younger ones singing in Consider Yourself but I felt that if any of the acts were out of place this one was.The highlight for me was definitely Les Rendezvous.Takeshi and Eri were fantastic and the boys too in the pas de six-one of whom was a 6.1.I can only compare it with RBS shows and have to say it was soooo much easier to watch though I agree about the stage-sometimes I felt much too close to the performers.

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So, they did "Les Rendezvous"? (And with a fence and gate as well, which I think was more than the Royal Ballet managed last time around!). Impressive. Did they borrow costumes from somewhere else?

 

No, they had new, simpler costumes specially made. BRB had sold the old ones but they still had the gate and Elmhurst borrowed that.

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I don't think they were specially made - I'm sure they wore them last year for something! In fact, I think some of the students were a bit disappointed this year to not have lovely BRB costumes but the dancing and choreography of Les Rendezvous made up for it (I also felt a little disappointed not to see something beautifully costumed - but never mind)

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Thanks for the wonderful review julie! I loved the show especially the flamenco number but felt some of the older dancers featured too much and some not enough if you know what i mean! Were you sat on the front row at the saturday performance?

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Thank you Julie for such a comprehensive review that summed up much of what I thought about this year's show. I strongly agree with your comments about offering two different showcases to give everyone an opportunity to perform, my dd was lucky because she is in Miss Saidi's piece but some pupils in year 10 didn't get onto the stage in programme 1 until the defile. It would also be great to see a gala performance in a large theatre where other family members, friends and old teachers can come to see the show - I feel mean telling relatives that have been supportive all year that sorry it is only 6 tickets per family! We will have to work on Mr Parker for next year.

 

I think the Harmony piece was 6.1 ladies - I kept expecting something more to happen in this dance, thought there was a bit too much running in a circle. I thought the boys seemed self conscious in their costumes for Les Jeunes Hommes and although executed the steps well it was as you say like watching a class, preferred previous years Sailor dance which had a bit of life to it.

 

Hope dd got to see Rich Man's Frug in yesterdays run through! She has been complaining that has seen all the other sixth form dances but not this and the photos make it look appealing!

 

I thought the leotards in both Les Jeunes Filles and Les Rendezvous looked jaded - worn and washed once too often! Would have been good to see Elmhurst invest in a few new leotards for these dances. I wish they would make more of the stage too, I know we had the gate for Les Rendezvous but otherwise it was very flat, even a change in lighting occasionally would have helped especially on the contemporary pieces.

 

Blondie we felt too close to the stage too - couldn't really see the patterns in the ballet pieces and found myself concentrating on just one or two of the dancers.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing Friday's performance with the slight change of programme and hope the pupils all enjoy shining at tonights fundraising gala.

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Dancemaddad - I was in the second row :) . I do usually like to site further back for ballet wherever I am, but it was quite nice being able to stare them right in the face for a change ;)

 

I'm surprised that Harmony were 6.1s - they looked very young! I must be getting old. And I agree about the boys costumes in LJH - something a bit more "manly" was in order I think.

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No, they had new, simpler costumes specially made. BRB had sold the old ones but they still had the gate and Elmhurst borrowed that.

 

Elmhurst always struggle with costumes, they don't have the same access as Royal seems to have or the money to spend. The costumes for the girls in Les Rendezvous have been used in previous years. The boys had new shirts for this (I know I made them) my DS moaned like mad about wearing white tights!! Luckily he wasn't in it in the end, so that shut him up!!

 

 

I enjoyed Les Jeunes Hommes despite the costume though my daughter and I argued about the colour! I also waited for more to happen in Harmony there was just too much running. My DS agrees with Julie about Alpha Beat and he was in it. I didn't enjoy Consider yourself it didn't have any impact on us, though the skirts swirled beautifully when the girls spun round.

 

I was surprised that the 2 main girls in Les Rendezvous weren't 6.3 as I thought the ballet was suppose to showcase the graduates!

 

It is hard for them to get everyone on the stage at some point and there will always be some that get missed. If they did something similar to Royal would it work. They are restricted as they only have the school theatre to perform in and ticket sales possibly has something to do with it. It would be great if they could do one performance in a proper theatre so more family and friends can come along and see them. Especially if it is their graduate perfomance.

 

It would be nice if on the performance sheet if they could put which year group they were as it would save trying to work out from the class list who was performing. I did like the class photos in the programme this year much nicer than the individual head shots. Shame it wasn't 6.3 on the cover.

 

Looking forward to Friday's perfomance DS doing more in that one!

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Eri - the main girl in Rendezvous has been in with the 6.3s this year, but because she's younger she's staying on another year I believe.

 

Some excellent points made Kathy! We seem to be in agreement on most things :) (I thought that about the cover too - must have a look at some old programmes!). And interestingly, my son's in the graduate year but is doing less on Friday, but at least it's the 2 best pieces he has - the Fosse and Rendezvous - hey ho......

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we really enjoyed the show - and agree with almost all the posts above! (which saves me having to write my own review) - even though sometimes the result is conflicting! we liked seeing the older ones, but would want to see our DS more as well. I suppose we can't have both. There is an interesting discussion along similar lines in the RBS summer show thread as to why younger ones don't do more. However, Pinapple Poll last year was excellent, and something like that again would be superb.

 

DS made no comments to us about the purplish leotards they had to wear. I suppose wearing some strange costumes is something they will just have to get used to. After all, Edward Watson in Metamorphosis seems to wear a lot of slime and not much else...

 

We completely agree about having a Gala in a larger theatre. The Hippodrome may be a little expensive, but wouldn't it be great to be able to fill that and also have a live orchestra, even if it may not be a full orchestra? I know we would definitely take some time off to see that, and I am sure we would get more family and previous teacher along as well.

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I loved the show on Saturday evening and enjoyed the variety of dance demonstrating the versatility of the students and their training. I agree with all that has been said above. It must be a huge challenge to develop a programme covering years 7 to 6.3, there really isn't enough time in an evening to cover everything and the two programmes don't really differ that much. I believe Elmhurst is the only school to do a fully integrated show, RBS, Tring and Hammond split their shows into upper and lower school? I am sure someone out there will correct me if I am wrong.

It would be possible to split the U and L school programme (maybe years 7 to 10, then 11 to 6.3), but still have that all important whole school Defile at the end of each show. Each child would then have the possibility of being in a ballet and one or even two other dances, but for half the number of shows. Performance opportunities are essential and they need more of them. I agree the graduating year/upper school should have the opportunity to perform in a public theatre. How about the Crescent Theatre, its used by local dance and drama groups, so it cant be expensive.

 

 

Looking forward to watching it all over again this week!

 

NL

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Wish I could watch it again!! I echo most of the comments above although want to put in my pennies worth to say that I loved "Alpha beat" with club music from David Guetta. I thought it was fantastic to see such bang up to date music being used and it certainly appealed to my very image conscious son who loves to dance but doesn't relate to classical so well at the moment. It has given him lots of ideas for choreo of his own. My older DS loves the new jazz teacher and thinks what she does is fantastic and I have to agree. I know what you mean Julie about the piece not fitting smoothly into the rest of the programme, but I have to say that that is why I loved it. It made me sit up and take notice.

I do hope the school considers splitting the show in the future as the kids do need so much more performance experience.

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DS made no comments to us about the purplish leotards they had to wear. I suppose wearing some strange costumes is something they will just have to get used to. After all, Edward Watson in Metamorphosis seems to wear a lot of slime and not much else...

 

Which in turn will be very good preparation for his part in Requiem next season :). I suppose the "getting used to" continues throughout your professional life!

 

Lovely to see so much feedback on this show, and some of the Doing Dance stalwarts dipping their toes in other parts of the forum!

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We watched on Sunday afternoon and I think Elmhurst does a fantastic job of trying to showcase all their talented students. I am no critic so in laymen's terms I enjoyed how they split the show into 3 Acts - the first demonstrating the variety of genres they offer, from ballet, to contemporary, to flamenco and the fabulous Fosse. Followed by Act 2 where we got to see the girls and boys on their own....as parents of 3 DD's, we rarely get to see boys dancing so it's always a treat, I enjoyed both their numbers but do think 'The Argonauts' and 'Libertango' of previous years were a hard act to follow! We then had Act 3, the showcase for the 6th form which was just beautiful, yes the costumes were simple but this let us enjoy it for the dance alone.

 

Having a DD in lower school, I must give special mention to La Jeune Fille, biased as I am, thought it was a lovely piece of choreography ;) . Would have loved to see her in another dance but fully appreciate it wasn't possible. Which leads me to my rather simple conclusion....if they can't take split the show into Lower and Upper Schools and they can't take it to a theatre.......why not just make it twice as long!! We certainly didn't want it to end and can't wait to see it again Friday! :D

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Am I right in thinking that the Elmhurst show is in the nature of a school show attended by family and friends? I note from this forum, Twitter etc that the RBS end of year show seems to be attended by a much wider audience which includes Royal regulars. ENBS do put on their end of year show in a commercial theatre but I understand that it was not well-attended this year. I didn't know that it was on until the last minute and had not previously been aware that the show was open to members of the public. I suppose that BRB and ENBS need to decide whether they want these shows to be more than school shows in which case they need to have some good publicity and encourage balletgoers to attend on the basis that they will be seeing the dancers of the future in training.

 

Regarding venues, a cheaper, but probably not cheap, option would be to hire the theatre at one of the local private/public schools who are always keen to show that they are fulfilling the "public benefit" requirement which the Charity Commission has been looking at closely over the past few years. You would probably not be able to fit an orchestra into the auditorium though even if you could find one!

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The Elmhurst show is open to family and friends of the children at the school - via the parents who can book only 6 seats for the week's run of performances, and to "Friends of Elmhurst" who are allowed 4 tickets. There are other guests who come to various performances - usually the gala which happens on one evening.

 

They are held in the school's own theatre, so there's not much advantage to going to another school - but perhaps a smaller (by that I mean smaller than the Hippodrome) local theatre would be good. I know that most families would certainly bring far more than the 6 tickets they are allowed and although I know the RBS had a certain "following", I'm sure there are plenty of ballet fans around who would like the opportunity to see these talented Elmhurst students - but perhaps I'm wrong. What about all the BRB fans who go regularly to the Hippodrome - wouldn't they be interested in seeing the students (I think some of them are "Friends")?

 

 

(Aileen - there's a slight error in your message "I suppose that BRB and ENBS need to decide..." - Elmhurst and BRB are completely separate - the school is affiliated to them and has strong links but not involved in the running)

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I know lots of people who would like to go to the Elmhurst shows but I was under the impression that the tickets are like gold dust.

 

Julie - how many people does the school theatre hold? Maybe the Crescent or the Rep would be suitable?

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I'm not sure how many it seats Janet - probably around 200. And yes, they are like gold dust - as I say, parents are restricted to 6 per family and they still sell out.

 

Someone else suggested the Crescent.

 

Oh and I meant to say earlier that although an orchestra would be lovely it's not strictly necessary - it's being on a proper stage in front of a good sized audience that's important.

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Yes, Julie, I meant to say "Elmhurst" rather than "BRB". I am aware that they are separate institutions. It would be good if Elmhurst, ENBS and, of course, the other schools could build links with local people and friends of the companies with which the schools have an association. I probably sound cynical when I say this, but it might be easier to do this if more graduates actually got into the UK companies. IMO, it's harder to generate enthusiasm for, and loyalty to, a school and its students when the audience knows that they will not be seeing most of these young dancers after they graduate.

 

Regarding theatre hire, I must have misread the previous posts. I had not appreciated that Elmhurst had a proper theatre.

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I think the Crescent holds around 500, so that would be an improvement. It's handy for the centre of Birmingham too being close to Brindley Place and Symphony Hall. (I'd never even heard of this theatre till BRB performed there in May!).

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I find the way Elmhurst runs it's end of the year shows is fine so why do people, some of whom never seem to have gone there, want to change it. What possible advantage would be gained by hiring a bigger theatre except to lose money.

 

Incidently the shows do not always sell out. There were seats available this year.

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I don't think there is too much to change. The suggestion about a bigger theatre is just for a one off 'gala' performance as RBS do in the ROH. It is a bit of a squeeze doing the defile for example.

 

For the majority of the run, then yes, the school theatre is fine - as TerryAmos says, there were some spare seats on some of the runs (but how would those who aren't parents or Friends of Elmhurst get those?).

 

finally, I don't think the forum will be setting policy! just a place to suggest and share comments - we can all have opinions, and this thread seems to be pretty fair in getting all views. I think, for example, my option of hiring the hippodrome is a bit too 'out there' following other comments on here. discussion about the bill and casting will always be a bone of contention I reckon, regardless of any solution.

 

Edited to add: btw, what did attendees think of the performance this year? we have seemed to segway into planning Elmhurst performance schedule!

Edited by Stirrups36
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I have to say I enjoyed the 2nd show much more than the first. Could be because DS was on for longer. We also got to watch his warm up ballet class.

 

Regarding the debate about a bigger theatre my feelings are that when it comes to your graduate performance there are usually lots of people you would like to be there and want to be there. Currently you are only allowed 2 tickets for that performance and my DS has already said he wants at least 6 people to be there and we are a small family. There may have been empty seats at some performances but how do we know the tickets weren't sold and the people just didn't come once they saw the casting! If we'd seen the casting for the performance before we'd booked tickets we may not have gone. We did though as I love going to the school. For the graduate performance I know that people were waiting around in the entrance hall to see if they could get tickets.

 

Probiem is as I see it, is money, the school can't take on the expensive of hiring a bigger theatre, ferrying the children to it and all of the other costs involved and what happens if they don't sell enough tickets to cover the costs! The school won't be able to cover any losses. This could affect scholarships etc. But unless they try we will never know. IMHO

Edited by KathyG
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It's also perhaps worth remembering that demand for the RBS performance at the ROH hasn't always been as great as it is now. The first one I ever went to was in 1997, I think, and was some sort of big anniversary celebration involving Royal Ballet principals as well. Either it didn't sell out, or it barely managed to do so.

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