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I can't be the only one who was at the RBS showcase this evening, surely?

 

I only started attending RBS events a year ago so am a bit green and don't feel qualified to comment in detail, but I found it absolutely strong throughout.  Varied repertoire, no weak links, dancers who consistently engaged with the audience. Though it was a "mostly Upper School" showcase, I actually probably enjoyed the one White Lodge piece (Erik Bruhn's "Here We Come", danced by boys from years 10 and 11) most of all.

 

For me, the standout among the Upper School boys was - as it was last year - Harrison Lee.  Many strong dancers among the ladies but I was particularly taken with Yu Hang (the pas de deux soloist in Concerto).  I spent the interval chatting with Mike Volpe, OHP general director, who (having watched rehearsals) picked out Nadia Mullova-Barley as having particular star quality (for the record, last year his similar pick was Arianna Maldini).

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The RBS programme last night was, as RuthE says above, mainly danced by Upper School students. The running order was Les Sylphides  (Fokine), Here We Come (Erik Bruhn) danced by White Lodge boys; Swan Lake pas de Quatre (Ashton), Echad Mi Yodea (KYR,1990) (Chad Naharin), Onwards (jonanthan Watkins), Solo (Hans van Maanan), See Blue Through (Didy Veldman), and Concerto (MacMillan).

 

The Director (Christopher Powney) says, as he usually does, that the programme "is crafted to demonstrate the students' high level of training". It certainly displayed some stand out talent - for me particularly Sae Maeda (in Les Sylphides), Daichi Ikarashi and James Large (in the Bruhn), Davi Ramos and Ginevra Gambon (in the Watkins), Harrison Lee (in Swan Lake and Concerto), Yu Kunhara and Yu Hang (in Concerto), and Katharina Nikelski (in the Veldman). Huge congratulations to them and to all the students who have clearly worked so hard.

 

However, I didn't feel that the choice of repertoire quite hit the spot this year. For me there wasn't the usual balance among the pieces, some felt over-long and, unfortunately, I didn't experience quite my usual sense of sheer joy as a spectator. I look forward to the second programme on Saturday which will showcase the younger students more.

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2 hours ago, RuthE said:

The Naharin is stuck in my head on a constant loop this morning!

 

 

Mine to RuthE, strange piece yet very compelling. I also loved the three boys dancing Solo. Joshua Junker; Fernando Martin-Gullans and Augustus Payne - stunning performances. I hope both of these are performed at the matinee on the 9th in the ROH. I also loved See Blue Through - danced by Katharina Nikelski and Harris Bell two very talented people.

To be fair all the performers are hugely talented otherwise they would not be in the school.

 

If I was picking one it would be Harrison Lee. I saw him last year in a more contemporary piece and this year he displayed his brilliance in the classical genre with Swan Lake with a bit of MacMillan thrown in for good measure.

 

Hope the RB sign this young man up, he would face some extraordinarily  talented young men but it could be the challenge that leads him to the next step.

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He seems like a dead cert to be offered a RB contract (and possibly one giving direct entry to the company, rather than an Aud Jebsen year?) but there are other companies of similar prestige in the world and I wouldn't mind betting it won't be his only offer!

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I have to say with sadness in my heart that it would be a fine thing if the RBS would spread the roles around more. They select the students they want to promote when they join the school, almost always sponsored foreign competition winners and so rarely home-grown, and the many other talented students never have the opportunity to be showcased. Please note that whilst Harrison, Yu and Amelia are undoubtedly very talented, there are many talented students who never get a chance to shine and this is highly demoralizing, particularly for the few British students, especially if they have managed to survive the whole way through the school. I thought it very sad that there was so little focus on the current 2nd Year students. The First Year's had some dancing in Watkins' 'Onwards', but the 2nd Years had very little to do outside of the corps in Concerto and, for the girls, 'Les Sylphides'. This was particularly unfortunate given that last year they only had the gypsy corps in 'Deux Pigeons'.

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I don't see how that is relevant as the point of the School Show is partly to be seen and the Ursula Moreton is in-house and therefore private. Furthermore Ursula Moreton happens every year so every 2nd year faces this demand on their time. It is not an either or. Last year's 2nd Year had a lengthy piece choreographed on them by Charlotte Edmonds for the end  of year show which displayed many of the individual talents of the year group well. No, I really think the majority of this year's 2nd years have not been nurtured as they should have been by the school, especially the female students.

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Goldenlily:  As an outside observer, your two posts thus far in this thread strike me as evincing a distinct personal concern over the lack of opportunities given to 2nd Year students in these performances.  That may or may not be the case but, before the discussion develops further, it would be useful to know whether you have a connection as parent, relative or friend with someone in that year.  If not, then so be it - but if there are to be further claims of a lack of nurture at the RBS, it would be useful for us all to know from what basis you are approaching the issue.

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I suppose it depends on what you think the function of the Holland Park performances and the main stage performance are.Is their function to give all the pupils a chance to show family, friends and teachers what they have been doing during the year and the progress they have made ? Are they an opportunity to gain precious stage experience in front of a supportive public that may be prepared to make allowances for inexperience? Are they a celebration of the work which the pupils have done during the year? Are they a shop window for the organisation? I suspect that the answer is a bit of all of these.The performances began in the late 1950's as a way of celebrating the work of the school and showing it to a wider public than might otherwise have the opportunity to see it but even then it acted as something of a shop window for the organisation. The cast of the school's very first main stage performance was led by dancers who had recently graduated rather than that year's graduates.

 

For many years the main stage performance was primarily concerned with the graduating year. The programme would open with White Lodgers performing dances indigenous to the British Isles with Scottish and Irish dancing as staple features and sword dancing making regular appearances.The rest of the programme was generally given over to a two or sometimes a three act ballet.I seem to recall that Two Pigeons was staged with great regularity, but there were years when Coppelia was staged and others when the choice fell on Giselle and one exceptional year when Sleeping Beauty was chosen with two dancers sharing the role of Aurora. 

 

The format of the programme has changed quite markedly during the last twenty years with a wider range of works being performed. During this time RBS programmes have shown a shift to one act works, single acts of nineteenth century ballets and excerpts from one act works with far less emphasis on performing works which are part of the RB's repertory. It has been suggested that this shift in emphasis is closely connected to the school's change of function under Gailene Stock from being primarily the feeder school for the Royal Ballet companies to being a school which produces eminently employable dancers.Others may be better able to say whether the Holland Park performances have given the second years less opportunities to be seen this year than in previous years and whether the "star pupils" are being given undue exposure but I would point out that what the school does varies from year to year depending on the dancers it has available to it at the time of the performances and it is therefore perhaps dangerous to assume that what happens in a single year or a couple of years can be taken as an accurate reflection of what happens every year.

 

A great deal can happen between deciding what to programme and actually getting the ballets selected onto the stage.There have been seasons when the school's star pupils got no exposure at the end of their final year. There was the year not so long ago when the school had to borrow an Oberon from BRB because all three dancers who had originally been allocated to the role were injured and there have been occasions when the school's outstanding pupils played no part in it at all because they had already been taken into the company. I believe that this was true of both Hayward and Naghdi.I have no idea whether their absence meant that second year pupils were given greater prominence at these performances than would otherwise have been the case. But being taken into the company early is not always a barrier to appearing in the main stage show. I believe that Clarke was released by the company so that he could appear in the main stage performance.

 

I don't think that anyone who attends these shows underestimates the amount of sheer work, application and effort that each pupil puts into their training or the mentally draining effect that the assessment process has on the school's pupils. Whether or not they get prominent billing in these performances I think that everyone who attends these performances appreciates the amount of effort that every pupil who appears on the Holland Park stage has put into being in a position to appear there.

Edited by FLOSS
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RBS Graduate contracts this year as listed in the programme

 

Royal Ballet Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Programme

Joonhyuk Jun

Joshua Junker

Sae Maeda

Nadia Mullova-Barley

Aiden O’Brien

Amelia Palmiero

 

BRB

Haoliang Feng

Augustus Payne

Harry Wright

Claudia Nicholson (Apprentice)

 

Ballet Ireland

Sean Flanagan

 

Ballet Nacional Sodre Uruguay

Joseph Fawcett-Wood

 

Bayerische Staatsoper

Isabella Knights

 

Dutch Nat Ballet Junior Compan

Nicholas Landon

 

ENB

Alice Bellini

 

Houston Ballet

Fernando Martin-Gullans

 

Orlando Ballet

Albjon Gjorllaku

 

Scottish Ballet

Jerome Barnes

Alice Kawalek

 

Semperoper Ballett Dresden

Rio Anderson

Ella Vickerman

 

StaatsBallett II Bayerische Staatsoper

 

Rodrigo Pinto

Fraser Roach

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The programmes focusing mainly on White Students included: Let's Begin (White Lodge Staff); Giselle Act 1 - Waltz, Pas de Six and Finale (Petipa/Wright); Russian Souvenir (Tania Fairbairn); Vivace (Tania Fairbairn); Onwards (Jonathan Watkins) - danced by 1st Year Upper School; Alma Serena (Sherril Wexter); The 31st Reel (Donna Philips); The Conservatory (Bournonville); La Sylphide - Reel (Bournonville); Solo (Van Manen) - danced by 3rd Year Upper School; 360 Degrees (Skya Powney, Winner of the Ninette de Valois Choreographic Award) - Friday evening only; Serrated (Anna Daly, NdeVCA finalist) - Saturday matinee only; Fajjar (Rebecca Blenkinsop, Winner of the Ursula Moreton Choreographic Award); Here we Come (Erik Bruhn)

 

It was a delightful programme and it was lovely, as usual, to see all the very young talent on stage and to be able to spot dancers who had impressed in earlier years and, indeed, on the ROH stage in Nutcracker.

 

Incidentally - and I have seen only two performances - all the 2nd Year Upper School Girls seem to have had an opportunity to perform in various pieces, some more than once.

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From previous threads, goldenlily17 has a dd at RBS.  I can understand her frustration.  This frustration is felt by probably 80% of dance parents on behalf of their children.  We as parents see the hard work, the dedication, the disappointment of being overlooked, the sense of injustice that there always seem to be a 'golden few' and that we feel everyone, in a learning environment such as a school, should be given equal chance to prove themselves on stage.  

 

However, this is the dance world we are talking about and the process of selection for schools, shows and companies has an element of subjectivity to it and personal preferences from the artistic staff obviously come into the decision making process.  Being a dancer is not only tough physically but incredibly tough mentally.  Dancers are necessarily, obsessive perfectionists, super critical of themselves and always driving for someone else's approval - teacher, audition panel, artistic director. Being selected is a validation of your ability and to not be the 'chosen one' is hard, requiring a tough mental attitude to persist for yourself.  This happens in every vocational school and every company. Plenty of dancers move company because they are not given chances that they feel they deserve.

 

The RB is very good at protecting its brand, it makes people believe that the only place you can learn to be a ballet dancer of any repute is to train there.  You don't get to hear of all the previous training from other schools that went in first.  Or in some cases afterwards.  You don't see in the dancers biographies all the mixed training they have had, just the RB with a very rare nod to Elmhurst or Tring.  It makes people believe all graduates get jobs - you don't hear of the students that get ousted after the second year of upper school because it may distort that statistic.  The shows will be the same, they will promote their star pupils to promote the school.  RB brand first.

 

Hopefully every talented dancer will find a company that appreciates their unique abilities.  There are many fine companies out there and each one is looking for something different.  Training is tough but I suspect it is even tougher in a company. I am full of admiration for ballet students/dancers, they really are a breed apart. 

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Totally agree with comments made by Goldenlily17 about RBS. The situation with casting has become very unpleasant with the majority of the kids. Large number of parent complaints and kids openly complaining to stafff. These are not the young kids either that don't comprehend the "industry practice " these are young adults that have been at the school for a number of years and have contact with external professionals who agree the treatment of the students is not in line with their industry experience. And yes I do have a dd at RBS - so I know directly what I have seen and heard. 

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I really enjoyed today's RBS matinee at the ROH.  The programme was as follows (details in my posts above): Les Sylphides; Here We Come; Onwards; Swan Lake Pas de Quatre; Echad Mi Yodea; The Conservatoire; Solo; See Blue Through; Concerto  AND ..... :D:):D THE DEFILE featuring all the school's students.

 

There was some delightful talent on display with Sae Maeda, Daichi Ikarashi, James Large, Yu Kurihara, Amelia Townsend, Harrison Lee, Ginevra Zambon, Davi Ramos, Brayden Gallucci, Jerome Barnes, Yu Hang, and Nicholas Landon among those who particularly caught my eye. [I think that about half of these wonderful young people are, or were, White Lodgers while the other half were probably recruited at Upper School level.]

 

In general, I liked the professional feel afforded by the scenery (even though the chandelier in the Bournonville had been hung up seemingly still wrapped for transit). However, even though many items had been sponsored, I found myself questioning the obviously high expenditure for a school on Wayne McGregor-style hanging shapes for the See Blue Through number.

 

On such occasions, one hears many comments from parents which reveal just how much each student's family has been committed to helping them succeed and the huge sacrifices made over many years. So congratulations to them as well as to their talented sons and daughters.

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On the whole I enjoyed this afternoon's RBS Summer Performance 2017.  (Must be brief as i have more work to do than I know how to actually finish.)  

 

The two dancers who especially stood out for me were Sae Maeda - such luscious ballon -  so pleased she is joining as an RB/Aud Jepsen Young Dancer - and - most gloriously Harrison Lee - yet another talented Australian - who - at least to my eyes - seemed to have the entire package already sorted at this the end of his second year.  He would seem a ripe candidate next year to go straight into the RB as an 'Artist' should an opening show itself.  (Plus he won't be troubled by any impending Brexit dilemmas.)  Certainly his placement and musicality bewitched in MacMillian's ever haunting Concerto.  (You can see his winning PdL classical entry here:

 

 

Liked the wit of Archie Sherman in the Tango section of Bruhn's Here We Come.  I hadn't seen it since it was premiered by the National Ballet School of Canada in 1978.  I remember a young David Nixon, OBE (now Northern Ballet's AD) in the ensemble which I recall - given the vagaries of an aging memory - (I was 21 and in the last of year of my PhD at the time) - being stylistically more of a concerted whole than it occasionally was this afternoon  - but then the balletic (and entire) world were in a very different place back then.  Certainly I remember watching a rehearsal for it where the legendary Erik Bruhn was very much playing the drill sergeant to everyone's delight.  Magic.  (As I recall the lads weren't in sailor suits ... but that suited the RB outing well I thought.)  

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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  • alison changed the title to Royal Ballet School at Opera Holland Park/ROH, summer 2017

I agree with Bruce - Harrison Lee is phenomenally talented and I do hope the Royal Ballet are able to sign him up.

 

I also liked very much all of Here We Come and Solo - the School and Royal Ballet seem to have an incredibly rich vein of male dancers.  It was good to see Onwards as there'd been an opportunity to watch this in early rehearsal at a recent visit to the School.  And wonderful to end the main programme with Concerto where in the recent Solo evening the 2nd movement PDD had been performed beautifully.  A hugely enjoyable afternoon, particularly in light of the promotions announcement.

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I missed this year's show....... especially sad to miss a chance to see Concerto .....can still remember Denise Nunn's student performance all those years ago and I see the lovely Yu Hang danced this role this time.

so glad to hear Harrison Lee is doing so well friends from Oz have been promoting him for a while now and I saw what they meant when he was at Prix de Lausanne!!

The names Sae Maede and Jerome Barnes and another male dancer whose piccie was in yesterdays programme also came up with friends who went yesterday who I met afterwards. 

I had intended to go early to get a ticket for this but was unwell on sat night .....too much mixing of Prosecco and lager after our groups performances on Saturday so was also well shattered as otherwise nothing would stop me seeing the RBS show I just find all that young talent so moving and there is usually such a lovely atmosphere in the House.

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Despite the undoubted quality of the dancing, I felt that the Holland Park show was marred by the very poor quality of the sound amplification. This was especially noticeable in Les Sylphides which was danced to a solo piano which was made to sound more like a bar room honky-tonk than a concert grand. It says much for the professionalism of the students that they were able to to turn in a good performance to such a sorry accompaniment - no fault of the pianist. Neither did the recorded items fare too well, being subject to much distortion and a generally unpleasing sound quality. Let's hope that if there is a Holland Park event next year somebody ensures that a decent sound system is installed. In contrast it was a great relief to hear the ROH show accompanied by a live orchestra, with the exception of that  rather curious Israeli mass striptease number for which the recorded music sounded a good deal better over the ROH sound system.

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I absolutely loved the first years piece 'Onwards' by Jonathan Watkins. It was so refreshing and a joy to watch knowing the meaning behind it. I loved that it got the majority of the first years on stage as im the past first years didnt tend to do alot. Also that half of them were from White Lodge was nice to see that they are doing well. I loved the versatility in this years programme and it was such a pleasure to watch all this amazing young talent on stage

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On 7/1/2017 at 11:01, Lynette H said:

RBS Graduate contracts this year as listed in the programme

 

Royal Ballet Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Programme

Joonhyuk Jun

Joshua Junker

Sae Maeda

Nadia Mullova-Barley

Aiden O’Brien

Amelia Palmiero

 

BRB

Haoliang Feng

Augustus Payne

Harry Wright

Claudia Nicholson (Apprentice)

 

Ballet Ireland

Sean Flanagan

 

Ballet Nacional Sodre Uruguay

Joseph Fawcett-Wood

 

Bayerische Staatsoper

Isabella Knights

 

Dutch Nat Ballet Junior Compan

Nicholas Landon

 

ENB

Alice Bellini

 

Houston Ballet

Fernando Martin-Gullans

 

Orlando Ballet

Albjon Gjorllaku

 

Scottish Ballet

Jerome Barnes

Alice Kawalek

 

Semperoper Ballett Dresden

Rio Anderson

Ella Vickerman

 

StaatsBallett II Bayerische Staatsoper

 

Rodrigo Pinto

Fraser Roach

 

According to the list now on the RBS website, there have been three changes since the above list was printed in the Summer Performance programmes.

 

Sean Flanagan is now listed as joining the BalletBoyz

Rodrigo Pinto is now listed as joining Semperoper Ballet Dresden

Fraser Roach is now listed as joining Stuttgarter Ballett as an apprentice.

 

https://www.royalballetschool.org.uk/discover/alumni/graduate-contracts-2017/

Edited by Bluebird
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