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ENB's Ecstasy and Death, 2013


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Yesterday I had the privilege of watching a complete run of ENB’s triple bill for the Coliseum next week.  Forget the “Death”, this show is pure Ecstasy and I would urge everyone to see it.  The rehearsal started with “Etudes” which will close the programme.  I have loved this ballet since I first saw LFB dance it in the late 1970s. It has to be the ultimate celebration of classical ballet technique and ENB’s latest staging shows the company at an all-time high – immaculate work by the female corps de ballet at the barre and then all the fireworks you could wish for from the entire ensemble.  Vadim Muntagirov was dancing at this rehearsal and, what he lacks in the showmanship of past interpreters, he more than makes up for with clean, virtuoso technique coupled with supreme elegance – he really is a superstar in the making.  New to the rep is Kylian’s barefoot ballet “Petite Mort” and two casts have been assembled from all ranks of the company with some interesting new partnerships. Each cast had a go yesterday and they are both excellent. The ballet starts with six men ingeniously dancing with six fencing foils and then dissolves into a series of pas de deux.  As always with Kylian, these are complicated and intriguing. Those who know anything about Medieval poetry and songs know that ‘petite mort’ or ‘little death’ is a euphemism and the whole piece is sexually charged but tasteful enough for a family audience.  Last was “Le Jeune Homme et la Mort” which will be the centrepiece of the programme.  I was lucky enough to see all three casts.  LeRiche and Rojo simply sizzled, he a tortured soul from start to finish.  Putrov, dancing as a last-minute replacement for Acosta, has a bit of a way to go to match LeRiche but is certainly worth seeing.  The final performance will be danced by the company’s own Fabian Reimair and the enigmatic Jia Zhang.  I have long considered Reimair to be the best dramatic male dancer in the company and he does not disappoint in this role, seizing the opportunity to showcase his considerable technique while giving an emotionally draining interpretation.  This programme is a feast for the eyes and ears and it is unfortunate that (in my opinion) poor choice of title and image to advertise it means that ticket sales have been slow when it really should be considered a highlight of the ballet year.

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Just back from tonight's rehearsal. Of course, any detailed comment would be out of order until the performance itself. But I wanted to say that it is a cracking show. Please don't let misjudged advertising get in the way - especially since there now seem to be a number of ticket offers to take advantage of.

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Absolutely brilliant mixed bill - Petite Mort is very striking, Le Jeunne homme et la Mort is smoking hot, and even good ol' Etudes sparkles delightfully. Go see! Here are a couple of quick shots - more to come when I get the chance....

 

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Nicholas Le Riche & Tamara Rojo in Le Jeunne homme et la mort
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


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Amber Hunt, James Streeter in Petite Mort
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


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Ken Surahashi in Etudes
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


See more...

Set from DanceTabs - English National Ballet - Ecstasy & Death mixed bill
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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A very busy triple bill ENB's Ecstacy and Death.  Here are some more pictures from the rehearsal.

 

ENB%2BLe%2BJeune%2BHomme%2Bet%2Bla%2BMor
 
Nicolas Le Riche - Young Man and Tamara Rojo - the Girl 
 
ENB%2BPetit%2BMort_jr_003_mort1_klimento
 
Daria Klimentova and James Streeter 
 
ENB%2BEtudes_jr_369_etudes_forbat_takaha

 

 Erina Takahashi and Esteban Berlanga
 
Edited by John Mallinson
Edited to correct 3rd photo caption
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There was an enthusiastic audience at the opening night of this triple bill. I think that Petite Mort sits well on ENB. It was good to see Vadim dancing in this - rather out of his comfort zone, I'm sure. The audience applauded this piece warmly. Nicolas le Riche was charismatic in Le Jeune Homme. The sets were a bit basic. Etudes - a big ensemble piece - was very well danced by everyone. I particularly wanted to mention James Forbat. I don't think that I've ever seen him dance so well. There was also great dancing by Esteban, Vadim and Erina.

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Agree about Le Riche.  He provided an added sense of occasion to the evening, firmly rooted in the detail of character.  It stood out.  Thought Ms. Rojo rather gilded her lily of Death unnecessarily on this occasion.  Hers was an oft too ornate mirror held up to the Frenchman's colorful and gloriously rooted nature.  Less I think would have been more on this occasion.  That said this was certainly the stand out piece for me of the entire evening.  Troubling I felt that the intervals needed to be so much longer than the first two ballets themselves.  (Was this the building and stripping of a now rather weary set for Le Homme?)  Sadly these two intervals rather over-weighed Etudes I think, a ballet I felt I'd seen ENB itself dance with greater overall technical precision/cohesion and, dare I say it, joy under past regimes.  Still, that too may be but a trick of my own and now oft wavering memory.  

Edited by Meunier
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There was an enthusiastic audience at the opening night of this triple bill. I think that Petite Mort sits well on ENB. It was good to see Vadim dancing in this - rather out of his comfort zone, I'm sure. The audience applauded this piece warmly. Nicolas le Riche was charismatic in Le Jeune Homme. The sets were a bit basic. Etudes - a big ensemble piece - was very well danced by everyone. I particularly wanted to mention James Forbat. I don't think that I've ever seen him dance so well. There was also great dancing by Esteban, Vadim and Erina.

I love watching James dance. He is beautiful to watch.

 

As an aside, that doesn't look like James dancing with Erina in the photo above - is the caption mistaken? Or just an unusual photo? It looks more like Nathan Young.

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In early discussion of this triple bill, someone wondered what common ground the pieces shared in relation to the “Ecstacy and Death” title. Having seen last night, I would suggest exhilaration and danger: the swords in Petite Mort, the doomed Jeune Homme and the need for absolute precision in Etudes, especially as ENB have a reputation to maintain in this one.

 

To pick upon Bruce's point (#10) , I see that Yohei Sasaki is now on the staff of ENB. I always admired his very precise and musical style as a Royal Ballet dancer and I was delighted to see the ENB men jumping last night with much more coordination than I usually notice “round the corner”.

 

I hope the BBC coverage brings them more custom, ENB deserve full houses for this bill.

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Poor Tamara. More casting headaches. First Yonah is unable to dance and now I see that Vadim is being replaced in Etudes, although not in Petite Mort. He's being replaced by Alban Lendorf for two performances and Ken Sarahusi for the third: see ENB's website for details.

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What a difference a day makes.  Saw 'Ecstasy and Death' for a second time tonight, e.g., the third performance.  Vis a vis my own comments above concerning the first night of this triple bill; (i) Madame Rojo tamed her indulgences of the previous outing and Le Jeunne Homme rang out in mutual clarity as this potent duologue should; (ii) Etudes was much transformed in terms of precision.  I understand from someone who works for ENB that Vadim was truly in pain the evening before and that it hadn't been decided until 3.00 pm on Wednesday afternoon that he would dance Etudes AT ALL.  Under the circumstances he did VERY well last night and some of the mismatch with Forbat (who, himself, looked in much finer fettle this evening if for no other reason - and there were a few - than he is a much better height balance with Lendorf) was immediately rendered entirely understandable.  Lendorf made ALL the difference; Takahashi's game was raised in terms of confidence in placement and there was overall a much more seemly balance surrounding the entire affair.  As to Lendorf; he did what he was brought up to do ... and boy did he do it BRILLIANTLY.  Such finesse.  It was an honour to be there to witness the inspired joy of his birthright!  Agree with Bruce that the ENB men in general did better than many other male ensembles we oft see locally; that on both performance counts. Refreshing too that the programme ended earlier - perhaps the intervals were somewhat curtailed?  I'm uncertain.  Nice to see Prince Andrew in the house.  

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I felt that Vadim wasn't at the absolute top of his game last night in Etudes and his pre-existing injury probably explains why. It will be a shame if, as looks likely, he is unable to dance it again this run. However, it was no hardship to see Lendorf, obviously. I hope that Vadim's injury isn't too serious.

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Troubling I felt that the intervals needed to be so much longer than the first two ballets themselves.  

 

Yes.  Understandable because of the complexities of Le Jeune Homme, but it's the sort of thing we've been complaining about about certain RB mixed bills for years now.  To me, the shortness of the first 2 ballets plus the length of the intervals dealt a bit of a blow to the evening as a whole.

 

Sadly these two intervals rather over-weighed Etudes I think, a ballet I felt I'd seen ENB itself dance with greater overall technical precision/cohesion and, dare I say it, joy under past regimes.  Still, that too may be but a trick of my own and now oft wavering memory.  

 

If your memory is wavering, Meunier, then so is mine.  I was flashing back to, I guess, the late 80s/early 90s and making comparisons.  Obviously if Muntagirov has an injury then we have to make allowances, but I didn't spot an awful lot of "joy" - or perhaps "relish"?

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Have seen this programme twice now (with three more to come) and enjoyed every minute of it.Love Jeunne Homme and the opportunity to see Le Riche dance it had me filled with expectation for some time.He didn't disappoint with a riveting performance.Petite Mort looks a welcome addition to the ENB rep and the whole company deserve applause for a sparkling Etudes.Other than the long intervals the only disappointment was finding the balcony closed at the first matinee and I'm led to believe the same will be happening on Sunday.

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I saw both of yesterday's shows with the exception of the matinee Petite Mort, due to train problems I arrived at the start of a long interval! I have the DVD of this work and have grown to really enjoy it, all the dancers at the evening performance looked gorgeous, this is a very intimate work and great to see ENB dancing in a completely different style. Ivan Putrov gave a good debut as the Young Man in the Petit, strange how new this ballet looks considering it dates from 1946, in the evening Nicolas le Riche and Tamara Rojo turned up the temperature as expected!

 

Strangely I thought Etudes did look dated, I agree with those who think it seemed better years ago at the RFH, for myself I didn't see half so much ballet then and had no videos or DVD's, nowadays I see so much more and have become fussier! Shiori Kase was delightful, especially in the pdd partnered by

Arionel Vargas, as she was in Nutcracker, both men were good too, all these were debuts, and then the evening surprise of seeing Alban Lendorf, great attack he brought to the ballet, agree James Forbat danced very well, did he do 32 fouettes or was I dreaming?

 

Fantastic day, just a shame about all the empty seats although it was lovely sitting at the back of the Dress Circle with nobody in front of me for rows and rows, great view.

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Picked up a seat for £10 in Row D of the Upper Circle for today's matinee (the Balcony was closed) and was able to move to the front row as the theatre was half empty, although the audience was hugely enthusiastic. Perhaps there's a glut of dance this week but it is ominous for Rojo's ambitious programming policy. If audiences won't respond the board is bound to intervene. That would be a great pity. I don't really know much about ENB's current dancers to my shame and was hugely impressed by much of what I saw. Of course, Rojo and Le Riche danced up a thrilling storm in La Jeune Homme et la Mort but the ensemble, in particular, the men were outstanding in ensemble and panache in Petit Mort. It was astonishing how modern the Petit felt and I loved the contrast between the classical purity of Mozart's music and the angular formalities of Kylian's style. Etudes seemed rather long and fussy by comparison and the rather cacophonous orchestration of the Czerny was not to my taste. Nor did the dancers always look technically comfortable (I appreciate that some of the demands are fearsome). Nevertheless, there were some dazzling moments from Shori Kase and Guilherme Menezes (such foutées) and it was an excellent afternoon

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Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending both of ENB’s performances at the Coliseum and was delighted that both attracted quite large houses although I suspect most people were there on ticket offers.  Except for James Streeter, the matinee cast for “Petite Mort” were all making their debuts and it was lovely to see Amber Hunt and Tamarin Stott, who do such beautiful work in the corps de ballet, have their chance to shine beside principals Elena Glurjidze and Erina Takahashi.  Both of them, along with Stina Quagebeur, then provided a complete contrast as the epitome of Romantic sylphs in “Etudes”.  The evening cast of “Petite Mort” gave their second performance and, as I mentioned after the rehearsal, there were some very interesting new partnerships – Ovsyanick and Forbat and Summerscales and Berlanga are two to watch out for. I wasn’t too keen on the costumes which seemed dated (reminded me of 1970s modern dance) but the lighting was great and made me even more aware of how Kylian can create so many stunning and highly inventive images using two bodies and how different but how perfect different casts can look dancing the same movements. And because he uses the pulse of Mozart’s music, the sometimes frenetic movement perfectly complements the adagio feeling of the music.  In “Le Jeune Homme et la Mort”, we had the student (Putrov) and the Master (Le Riche).  I would like to see Putrov again when he has had time to grow into the role so that his interpretation matches his very fine dancing. His ‘girl’ was the elegant Jia Zhang who was an ice-cold dominatrix who used her hauteur to totally crush him.  Tiny Tamaro Rojo, dancing with Le Riche, was a spitfire, tormenting him with demented glee. Le Riche himself inhabited the role with every inch of his being to devastating effect and the two of them received a rousing ovation which was richly deserved. The matinee saw the debuts of Shiori Kase, Ken Saruhashi and Guilherme Menezes in “Etudes”, all of whom gave very accomplished performances.  I felt the rest of the company, while dancing with great style and precision, were not taking advantage of being in the limelight and there was a slight reserve to their performance.  However, all this disappeared in the evening, with most of the dancers appearing for the second time that day, albeit it some in different places, when they revelled in the chance to show off their formidable techniques and they sparkled from start to finish.  The performance was led by Erina Takahashi who danced up a storm in all the virtuoso sections but was such a sublime sylph that I longed to see the company’s production of “La Sylphide” again just so I could see her in the title role! She is a very modest dancer with a huge talent and it was lovely to hear the very enthusiastic audience clapping and cheering at every opportunity. Her cavalier for the sylph section was Berlanga who clearly relished dancing with her, as did her partners for the virtuoso sections, James Forbat and Alban Lendorf.  Forbat continues to impress as a sensitive partner and an elegant technician.  Lendorf, replacing Muntagirov at very short notice, gave a masterclass in the Bournonville style without ‘milking’ the Mazurka as Schaufuss and Patrice Bart used to do.  All credit to him and Takahashi for the very smooth pas de deux work on almost no rehearsal!    If anyone still hasn’t seen this fantastic programme and is at a loose end tomorrow afternoon, I am sure there are still plenty of ticket offers available!

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Isn't it interesting how we all 'receive' performances differently? With regard to Jeune Homme, I appreciated Le Riche's quality of movement, honed over years of practising the role. But, from close up, I found his face somewhat unchanging and far too 'vieux' to be credible. On the basis of only a fortnight's rehearsal period at most, Putrov not only danced it beautifully (albeit not quite achieving some of the more acrobatic moves) but showed a wide and utterly believable range of emotion. I found him very moving and Jia (his Girl/Death) a menacing foil, lethal in movement as well as intent. By contrast, at the two performances I saw by her,Tamara seemed hurried and brought too much of Mary Vetsera to her interpretation.

 

As an aside, I do hate it when dancers milk the applause as Rojo and Le Riche did. 

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Saw this triple tonight (or rather 'last night' as I've only just got home!) and thought ENB were fantastic. It's a risky bill, requiring the company to meet a very high bar in terms of technique, drama and intelligence. I think they pulled it off with great aplomb.

 

Having seen Petite Mort on YouTube many times it was fantastic to see it live. It's a very fragile piece at times, making you almost hold your breath to avoid breaking the spell, and I thought the ENB dancers pulled it off. To me, James Forbat and Ksenia Ovsyanick stood out.

 

I saw Le Jeune Homme et la Mort in the Petit triple bill a couple of seasons ago and was impressed by Jia Zhang then. She again played the role of death with an erotic intensity, matched by Putrov as an emotional artist. It was the first time I'd seen Putrov dance and was very impressed; his dancing had a controlled recklessness to it that seemed to fit the piece well.

 

Etudes was a showcase for the company and proved that under Rojo's reign the company are thriving. Tamara herself danced the lead female role and showed the audience exactly why she's one of the biggest names in ballet. Her initial solo sections were charming, her pas de deux beautifully musical, and then her later sections were just gobsmacking. Her first set of fouetté turns had every fourth fouetté staying en pointe (don't know if this is standard choreography for Etudes - never knew it was even possible!); she ended her first fouettés with (I think) a quadruple and her second set of fouettés with (again, I think) a quintuple - eking out one final turn with a cheeky smile. The whole company was in fine form, James Forbat again excelling in the men and dancers like Nancy Osbaldeston and Lauretta Summerscales standing out for the ladies.

 

A great triple bill and whilst the Coli wasn't exactly full, it got a rapturous reception. I was particularly pleased to see much younger audience than you usually get at a ballet. It certainly seems like ENB are trying to attract the twenty-somethings and it seems to be working (and they all seemed to thoroughly enjoy it!). 

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I am concerned that my late post after the show last night might come across as negative when I actually feel so positive about the Ecstasy and Death Triple Bill. After the dress rehearsal, four shows and (hurrah) one still to come I feel exhilarated by a company in really fine form across a range of repertoire. The strength in depth, which is quite extraordinary, is exemplified by the appearance of Ken Saruhashi (an Artist only 20 months into his career) substituting as the leading man in Etudes, firstly for Dmitri Gruzdyev and, last night alas, for Vadim Muntagirov. Guilherme Menezes, another substitute I believe and as junior as Ken, acquitted himself really well as the second man in two matinee casts. I agree with DavidW that Ksenia, Nancy and Laurretta shone among the younger women, as did Marize Fumero who joined last autumn from Cuba and, of course, Shiori Kase.

 

I am so pleased for ENB that the programme has been so enthusiastically received and hope that the company will be able to sustain its innovative intentions. The timing of this run of shows - after many weeks of ballet at the Coli - clearly did not help the ticket sales but, surely, ENB needs to scrutinise its marketing. I have been given several leaflets for Boston Ballet outside the theatre this week. Nothing was being handed out to audiences about E & D over the fore-running weeks. Or, perhaps, if people will come for, say, £20 but not for £40 - £60, there is a message there worth heeding?

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I am so pleased for ENB that the programme has been so enthusiastically received and hope that the company will be able to sustain its innovative intentions. The timing of this run of shows - after many weeks of ballet at the Coli - clearly did not help the ticket sales but, surely, ENB needs to scrutinise its marketing. I have been given several leaflets for Boston Ballet outside the theatre this week. Nothing was being handed out to audiences about E & D over the fore-running weeks. Or, perhaps, if people will come for, say, £20 but not for £40 - £60, there is a message there worth heeding?

 

One thing that I was completely unaware of until yesterday was that ENB (and most visiting companies to the Coli) offer student standby tickets on the day of performance. I had originally planned to buy the cheapest ticket available (£8 or so - student budget!) but ended up paying £15 for a standby ticket that put me in the Dress Circle. Obviously this means that ENB didn't make the full £65 on the seat I used, but they doubled what they would have made from me. It seems like if they are aiming to attract a young audience they need to publicise offers like this. Perhaps something like offering £20 tickets for under-30's would be a good idea? Sure, offers are costly to a company, but discounted tickets are better than empty seats (of which, unfortunately there seemed to be quite a lot of in the Dress Circle last night). 

 

Oh, and on a separate note, I thought the programmes looked fantastic last night. Modern, fresh, fashionable and reasonably priced (£6, like the ROH). 

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I was really excited when I saw this programme advertised.  I first saw Rambert dancing Petite Mort at least 20 or more years ago and have always loved it.  Etudes was one of the first ballets I saw on a mixed programme and I have such happy memories of it.  It was a bit of a no-brainer really that I was going to enjoy this programme.

 

I saw the matinee on Friday and I had an afternoon of bliss!  I thought the company danced Petite Mort superbly.  The men, especially, were in almost perfect synchronicity with both their foils and the women and all danced soooooo well.  For me the 2 standout men were James Forbat and Max Westwell although it's almost unfair to pick them out.

 

I've never seen Jeune Homme live before - only the odd extract on TV.  I was totally enthralled by Ivan Putrov - such a range of emotion and such a fabulous dancer.  Jhi Zhang's understated menace as Death was a perfect counterbalance to his angst.  A truly magnificent performance by both dancers.

 

And so to the joy that is Etudes.  The company looked wonderful in this, very well rehearsed and very precisely danced.  I thought occasionally that the leads were a bit careful, not having the dangerous edge of the dancers I remember from my early days as a ballet-watcher, but they are more junior members of the company and I would be telling fibs if I said I did not enjoy their performances.  I most certainly did!

 

It was a splendid afternoon and I just wish I could see the programme again.  I can't understand why these performances didn't sell out months ago, it is such an enticing programme.  Well done ENB!

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I saw the matinee yesterday and today. Le Riche was great again. I really enjoyed seeing Fabian Reimar's debut. He doesn't have quite the technique and athleticism of le Riche but was still very good. Judging from his performance, I think that ENB could have dispensed with Putrov's services. Not that I saw him, but Fabian could, I think, have done the other two performances as well. It's a shame that he only performed once. I'm sure that he would have grown in the role. I was impressed with Jia who did, of course, dance the same role in 2011. Alban Lendorf replaced Vadim this afternoon and that was an unexpected pleasure for me. He danced the exuberant bit really well and his leaps in the air were incredibly high. I thought that Etudes was liveliest today. Was that because Tamara was dancing? I don't know whether she's better than Erina (and Shiori - amazingly good really) technically, but she certainly had greater stage presence, although I preferred the softness of Shiori, and Erina in particular, in the "Sylphide" section. Once again, James Forbat danced really well today. It seemed to me that his part was the most difficult of the men's parts in the piece. Yesterday Ken and Guilherme put in very creditable performances in the parts danced by Alban and James although it was a stretch for them. I loved Petite Mort (so beautiful and clever and witty) and I hope that the company do something like this again as they are good in this type of work. I really liked the company in the Itzik Galili piece which was commissioned as part of Dance GB and I hope that Tamara will ask Galili or someone like Hofesh Schechter or Crystal Pitie to choreograph something in the future. Although the audiences were disappointing in size at two of the performances which I saw they were very appreciative and applauded all the pieces enthusiastically.

 

As an aside, to those in the know, what has happened to Zdenek Konvalina? I don't think that he has danced in anything since last August. Is he injured? Has he left ENB? Has he been given a leave of absence? I would have expected him to have danced in Etudes.

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I

As an aside, to those in the know, what has happened to Zdenek Konvalina? I don't think that he has danced in anything since last August. Is he injured? Has he left ENB? Has he been given a leave of absence? I would have expected him to have danced in Etudes.

 

Yes, sadly he's injured at the moment

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