Jump to content

Bristol Russian Youth Ballet Company "Cinderella"


Recommended Posts

 

On 31 Aug 2012 a little lad from Mottram called Reuben Graham died at Frenchay Hospital  in Bristol. While they were in Bristol Reuben's family were housed in a CLIC Sargent Home from Home, After his death the family appealed for funds to establish a similar residence in North West England in Reuben;s memory, To raise money for the appeal the Bristol Russian Youth Ballet Company visited Stockport to dance Cinderella at the Plaza on 16 Feb 2014.

According to its website the Bristol Russian Youth Ballet Company was formed by Chika Temma and Yury Demakov in September 2011 to offer talented dancers from Bristol and the South West between the ages of 14 and 19 and opportunity to work with world class dancers.  Temma and Demakov studied at the Kirov (now Mariinsky) and Bolshoi ballet schools respectively and have established the Bristol Russian Ballet School to teach ballet in the Russian tradition. I am not sure how the Russian tradition differs from other countries' traditions but I hope to find out.

At her talk to the London Ballet Circle on the 11 Feb 2014 Elena Glurdjidze said that she had met Chika Temma in St Petersburg and that they had become friends. She spoke warmly about Temma's school in Bristol and also about the appeal in Reuben Graham's memory in North West England,  As I said in my earlier post,

 

"My admiration for Glurdjidze increased all the more. She is not simply a great dancer. She is also a lovely human being."

 

Glurdjidze is the Patron of the Bristol Russian Youth Ballet and she wrote in the programme about her pride and delight in her connection with the School and at dancing Cinderella "in this very special performance" which was her first experience of dancing with youngsters.  I should add that she has already given classes to the Bristol students which I mentioned in my previous article and she will be teaching at an iintensive course at the School between 13 and 17 April 2014."

 

The School does not just teach teenagers,  Adult ballet classes are also available and one of the students on the adult ballet course is David Wilson who keeps the Dave Tries Ballet blog.  As I said in an article about his blog last September:

 

"Dave reminds me of myself 40 years ago. I had my first ballet lesson at about the same age when I was an undergraduate. I also went to graduate school in the United States (UCLA in my case). And I got into ballet for very similar reasons to Dave (see "Why I'm Trying Ballet" 4 Aug 2011)."

 

When I wrote that article I thought Dave was still in America for I added that if he ever came  back to England I should love to meet him.

 

I got the opportunity to meet Dave on 16 Feb 2014 because he was in the show. He danced two roles, the dancing master in the first scene with the ugly sisters, and the king at the ball. These were both demanding roles both dramatically and technically and at one point he had to lift the ballerina and deliver her into the hands of Arionel Vargas who danced the Prince. In fact Dave had to lift several dancers including the wicked stepmother who was danced by Demakov. Had Dave started his ballet career at the age of 5 and studied at a leading ballet school his performance would have been commendable. When one considers that he started only a few years ago at graduate school it is all the more remarkable. It says a lot for him and also for his teachers on both sides of the Atlantic. His training is set out in detail in his blog and it makes fascinating and for me at any rate inspiring reading.

I have seen a lot of versions of Cinderella in my time most recently David Nixon's at The Grand. I think my all time favourite is the first one I saw at the Royal Ballet with Sir Fred Ashton and Sir Robert Helpmann dancing the ugly sisters in the early 1970s. The production that I saw on Sunday was close to that version in that it retained the Prokofiev score and the fairy godmother was a woman danced delightfully by Leanne Shears unlike Nixon's and it wasn't set in wartime London unlike Matthew Bourne's. 

There was also some quite delightful touches.  In the first scene Cinderella is given extra work to do by the stepmother and sisters including picking up the contents of a bowl that are discharged on stage. At that point a group of mice appear who pick up those contents and present them to the ballerina. The mice were danced by pupils of the Sara England School of Dance and the smile on the face of Elena Glurdjidze as she accepted them was delightful.

Another scene that I liked which I do not remember in anyone else's version were the dances of the Spanish and Indian Princesses as the Prince and his attendants scour the town looking for the owner of the glass slipper.  The Spanish princess was danced beautifully by Ellie Wilson who is now at the Rambert School. I hope we shall see a lot more of her.  Also to be congratulated were Miriam Bennett, Celeste Lewis-Williams and Christina Lojo who represented the Indian princess.  The reason there were three of them was that the princess had 6 arms like Kali. Not an easy feet to accomplish on stage and they executed it brilliantly.

Of course, the top of the bill were Glurdjidze and Vargas and they glowed. When I filed past Glurdjidze on 11 Feb 2014 I told Glurdkidze that I would be in the audience on Sunday to which she replied that she would give her very best for that performance. She was as good as her word. Two weeks earlier I had seen her in The Dying Swan at The Gala for Ghana. She had been beautiful then and wonderful on Sunday night. Vargas, of course, is a magnificent dancer and a great favourite of the crowds as Conrad in Le Corsaire. He gave a thrilling performance.

Everyone on the stage on Sunday did well: the sisters, Caitlin Anstis and Paige Pulin, who were anything but ugly but showed their potential as character dancers, the fairies (Georgia Smart, Sarah Sigley, Abigail Baker and Miriam Bennett), Time (Andrea Santato), the Minister (William Griffin) the fairy attendants and the pupils of Denton Community College and Ashton Sixth Form College who danced in the ballroom scenes.

As I had seen previously seen plenty of empty seats at the Lowry and Palace when the Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet and Rambert have been in town I feared that the Bristol Russians might not get a good audience even with Glurdjidze and Vargas on the bill. While they did not quite fill the Plaza I was pleased to see that they did not do badly. It is very important to support companies like the Bristol Russians and also Chelmsford Ballet in Essex and Ballet West in the Scottish Highlands because they bring ballet to new audiences and give the dancers and teachers of the future. 

I did get to meet Dave after the show making an exception to my usual practice of never going to the stage door however good the performance because the artists need their space too. We did not have long to talk because a coach was waiting with its engine running to take him and his wonderful companions back to the West Country.  And I am glad to say that the Reuben Retreat project is well on target. Before the show Mrs Graham mounted the stage to say that the appeal had raised most of the funds it needs and had already found a property and begun to deliver counselling services.  So well done her.  If you want to contribute to the Reuben project you can do so through Virgin Money Giving.  If you want to support the Russians in Bristol keep checking the "Support Us" page of their website.     

Edited by terpsichore
  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

David Wilson may be too modest to mention it but he has just published a fascinating account of the performance from the perspective of s dancer on the Dave Tries Ballet blog. It is very well written and is the next best thing to living through the experience.

 

He has also linked through to a very touching note by Mrs Graham (the mother of the child in whose memory the Reuben's Retreat appeal was established) on the appeal's website.

 

I am delighted to learn that there will be another performance of this ballet in the West Country in May which I hope to attend.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

The performance of Cinderella by the Bristol Russian Youth Ballet Company in Stockport on 16 Feb 2014 was to raise funds for Reuben's Retreat.  While scanning the business news for the North West I came across this encouraging news item in today's Business Desk: "Reuben's Retreat moves closer after property purchase",

 

If anyone is interested the company together with Glurdjidze. Vargas and Dave are performing the ballet again at The Playhouse at Weston Super Mare on 4 May. As I fancy a trip to the seaside I shall be there.  

 

I also hope to catch Dave after the show if he has time.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks very much for the posts, Terpischore! I wouldn't have known about this (or even, for that matter, the company itself) were it not for this thread. As there were two rather nice stalls seats still free, I've booked in for the WSM show, so maybe I'll see you there! £16 to see two amazing ENB principals, the famous Dave and some potentially very talented young dancers? Bargain.

 

One of the delightful things I've discovered over the last few years exploring the ballet world is that, with the right expectations, as fun an evening can be had paying under £20 for a ballet school performance or touring company as can be had for £100 at the ROH. And this forum is a goldmine for discovering events like that near me that wouldn't ordinarily cross my radar. So to everyone who posts regularly about the smaller events, thank you very much! :)

Edited by BristolBillyBob
  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks very much for the posts, Terpischore! I wouldn't have known about this (or even, for that matter, the company itself) were it not for this thread. As there were two rather nice stalls seats still free, I've booked in for the WSM show, so maybe I'll see you there! £16 to see two amazing ENB principals, the famous Dave and some potentially very talented young dancers? Bargain.

 

One of the delightful things I've discovered over the last few years exploring the ballet world is that, with the right expectations, as fun an evening can be had paying under £20 for a ballet school performance or touring company as can be had for £100 at the ROH. And this forum is a goldmine for discovering events like that near me that wouldn't ordinarily cross my radar. So to everyone who posts regularly about the smaller events, thank you very much! :)

 

Very true. I'm off to Southport tomorrow to see The Little Mermaid for £15 and I shall return next month to see Ballet Black for a fraction of the cost of a seat for the same show in The Linbury.

 

I will look out for you next Sunday,   I think you are in for a treat.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was lucky enough as a Northerner to see this in Stockport. All credit to Chika and Yury for putting on a great performance - they really do know how to nurture those with a love and talent for dance (my daughter is proof of this) and to do it all for such a wonderful cause! Hope you enjoy the show again in WSM with the amazing Elena Glurdjidze and Arionel Vargas!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Terpsichore for reminding people about this performance - I've been rehearsing all weekend and everyone is so excited to perform Cinderella again! It's great to hear that BristolBillyBob and yourself will both be at the show - I hope to catch you both after the performance (and I hope you enjoy it!). I'll be donning my wig again to play the King - such a fun role!

 

I'm pleased to say that you'll be getting a little extra ballet on Sunday compared to the Stockport show too - there will be a short ballet section before Cinderella of the Underwater Kingdom scene from the Little Humpbacked Horse - featuring children of all ages from the Bristol Russian Ballet School (including myself as the Ocean King in a Pd3 Adage). I wasn't familiar with the piece before we learnt it, but it's really lovely and it's amazing to see all the children dancing so well in it. There'll also be children from the school featured throughout Cinderella in various scenes.

 

I think it goes without saying that it is an absolute honour to share the stage with the incredible Elena Glurjidze and Arionel Vargas. They are both beautiful dancers and really kind people too - sharing their knowledge and inspiring every dancer on the stage. I'm also so pleased to share the stage with the brilliant Yury (as the stepmother) - who along with the fantastic Chika run the school and youth ballet company. I completely echo JoJo's comments about them deserving all the credit. I owe so much to them both who have really pushed me and helped me achieve what, to me, seemed impossible. If you'd told me when I started dancing that I'd be performing in two full-length ballets (Swan Lake and Cinderella) and alongside such amazing dancers as Glurjidze/Vargas I would have never believed you. 

 

There are still some tickets available for Sunday's show - which can be purchased from the playhouse box office or online: http://www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk/theatre/productionpage.aspx?hid=104&nid=1738_3&zid=3 

 

It should be a great show!

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 
Yesterday I drove the 430 miles to Weston Super Mare to see the Bristol Russian Youth Company dance Cinderella again. It was a long and exhausting journey but well worth it. In my view and that of others who had seen them before in Stockport they even better this time. The guest principals, the lovely Elena Glurdjidze and the illustrious Arionel Vargas sparkled as never before. There were good performances from the other guest artists as well as the senior members of the company. But the dancers who impressed me most were the children several of whom showed considerable promise both in Cinderella and in a scene from The Little Humpbacked Horse that was staged immediately before Cinderella. I am now a staunch fan and supporter even without Glurdjidze and Vargas or even DavidW who is about to start new adventures in California.
 
Here is my review of yesterday's performance:
 
"On 16 Feb 2014 the Bristol Russian Youth Ballet Company and their special guest starsArionel Vargas and Elena Glurdjidze danced Cinderella in Stockport to raise money for Reuben's Retreat. It was a good show which I reviewed earlier in this thread. Yesterday, substantially the same cast danced the same work at the Playhouse Theatre in Weston Super Mare.  In my view, in that of others who had seen both performances and in the view of at least one member of the cast, they did even better this time.

There are several respects in which yesterday's performance appeared to be better than the previous one. The first is that they danced with greater confidence and panache.  The visual jokes such as the faux pas of Cinderella's sisters danced again by Caitlin Anstis and Paige Pullin or the tussle over the outside orange between the king (David Wilson), his minister (William Griffin), the sisters and their mother (Yury Demakov) seemed funnier.  The Spanish princess's dance was performed haughtily yet alluringly by Ellie Wilson.  Even the stars, Vargas and Glurdjidze, seemed to sparkle more. The second respect in which yesterday was better was that the choreography appeared to have been revised. It was slicker and smoother - especially the children's dances in Act I.   In this production there were birds as well as mice with boys as well as girls. All the important bits were retained such as the pas de deux when the prince spots Cinderella at the ball and falls in love with her, the comic attempts by the sisters and mother to force their feet into the glass slipper and the delicious moment when Cinderella produces her slipper to the prince. The third respect in which yesterday was better was that the company had an even more receptive audience in Weston than in Stockport.  The auditorium was full.  There were very few empty seats in the stalls and not many in the circle so far as I could see. Overhearing conversations in the bar at the interval and in the seats around me it was clear that many had seen ballet before and knew what to look for. Certainly, the audience knew when to clap.  Ballet, like the other performing arts, is a two way communication and he mood of an audience can make or break an evening.

There are several reasons for yesterday's success.  First, the cast had danced this work before in Stockport. They knew that they worked well together and that the audience had liked them. Hence the confidence, panache and sparkle.  Secondly, they were on home turf before a West Country audience.  This is very much a Bristol company.   It was clear from the conversations that I overheard that there was lots of local pride.  Very much the same pride as I had noted in Chelmsford when the Chelmsford Ballet Company performed The Nutcracker on 19 March 2014. In Stockport, the Bristol Russians had to enlist the help of local dance schools for some of the roles and their students danced very well.   But in Weston the company could use their own pupils, all of whom are good and some of whom show considerable promise.

That promise was demonstrated by the Underwater Kingdom Scene from The Little Humpbacked Horse, one of the classics of the Russian ballet but one that is rarely seen in England. The music is by Cesare Pugni who also wrote the score for Diana and Actaeon which Michaela dePrince and Sho Yamada of the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company dance so well and are soon bringing to London.  The Underwater Kingdom had big and little pearls, corals, star fish and seaweed for students of all ages and both sexes swimming in the ocean that was the domain of David Wilson.  That ballet was danced immediately before Cinderella and was a lovely taster. Most importantly it showed what the school and company can do without English National Ballet superstars. It has turned me into a fan and I shall follow and support their future productions.

The only respect in which yesterday's performance might have been improved was in the operation of the curtain and the lights. The music started when the house lights were still blazing. Somewhat disconcertingly as I was in the middle of a tweet about the show. Twice the curtain rose after the applause had ceased and one of those was for the youngest children who deserved a roar but received somewhat less acclaim.

After the show I met David Wilson at the stage door again. I had a slightly longer chat with him this time about the performance and his job in Silicon Valley.  I am delighted for him.  My graduate school was in California and I know the state well. There is a lot of good ballet there.  I am sure all my readers will join me in wishing him well.  David started DaveTriesBallet blog and took his first ballet lessons in New Jersey.  It will be interesting to read his adventures in the West.  While waiting for Dave I was introduced to Ellie Wilson who is as delightful to meet as she is to watch on stage. She is in her first year at the Rambert School and again I am sure everyone will also join me in wishing her all the best.   Last but not least I met Alex or BristolBillyBob in Weston.  It was good to make his acquaintance and I look forward to meeting him again.

Finally, a word about Reuben's Retreat. Before the show one of the managers came on stage and told Reuben's story, the efforts of his parents to remember him and the success of the charity so far for which he received thunderous applause. Recently, the charity announced that it had acquired property in the Peak District for accommodation for families of children with life threatening or limiting conditions (see Grace Nolan "North West charity announces property purchase" 25 April 2014 Huddled). The Bristol Russians and their guest stars have helped to make that possible for which all of us in the North are grateful."
  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

...as fun an evening can be had paying under £20 for a ballet school performance or touring company as can be had for £100 at the ROH.

 

 

Well, yesterday was proof of this completely. For the price of a cinema ticket and popcorn, Bristol Russian Ballet's production of Cinderella was a real treat, and my thanks and congratulations go to all at the company for a wonderful show. :)

 

Firstly, I should say how lovely it was to meet Terpsichore - and to learn how to pronounce this! - and Dave after the show. I'm so glad you enjoyed the show, Dave. What a memory that will be to take with you to America! All the very best of luck stateside. I'll keep an eye out for you in SFB's casting. ;)

 

It's so hard to review this production, because there are so many layers to how enjoyable it was.

 

Elena and Arionel were predictably fantastic (surreal as it was seeing them on a mid-sized stage in a slightly tacky seaside resort). Neither tried to steal the scene, and you could tell that both were there solely to share their talents with the students of the company. It must have meant the world to the students to be sharing a stage with such stars, and the generosity of spirit on stage was both apparent and abundant in Elena and Arionel. They both interacted with subtle, kind encouragement with the younger dancers and gave the older dancers respect as equals. It was actually genuinely moving, and I have the utmost respect and adoration for both of them for what they've done for the company.

 

While the ENB pair were predictably the most accomplished dancers, they weren't the only stars on the stage. The younger dancers in the mice scene would have walked any Britain's Got Talent phone vote just on their adorability factor alone! Dave Wilson and William Griffin were brilliant fun as the King and Minister respectively, particularly in their scenes with Vargas. Andrea Santato was astonishing as Mr Time, with a fantastic crispness in his dancing. The seasonal fairies were all very strong, particularly in their solos. My ballet buddy and I were both particularly taken by the Spring Fairy, Georgia Smart, who danced beautifully and just had that hard-to-define likeability. I was also particularly impressed by Ellie Wilson as the Spanish Princess. Terpischore was kind enough to introduce me to her after the show, and I wish her all the very best at the Rambert ballet school. She has a bright future, I'm sure. 

 

There were a few teething issues at the curtain call, but these were largely, I suspect, caused by surprise at the enthusiasm of the response from the audience. There was so much warmth from the auditorium, from adoring parents and friends seeing their loved ones on stage, from local ballet fans still probably disbelieving that two ENB principals had come to their tiny town, from enthusiasts like me just appreciating a jolly fun afternoon at the ballet... It's a very different event to a night at the ROH, but smaller shows like this have a special quality and enjoyment that you simply can't get elsewhere, all of which makes the already cheap-as-Weston-Super-Mare-sandy-chips £16 seem even more like a preposterous bargain. 

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...