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Anything by Matthew Hart will be good I think. He is so meticulous and daring in his choreography and can instill humour. A very good idea this to introduce the audiences of the future to ballet, as well as giving the third year ENBS students such an amazing opportunity to perform.

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I hope this goes well for ENB; it's such a great idea. My DD was about 3 and a half when we took her to her first ballet - the previous incarnation of ENB's Nutcracker. She sat on my knee and was utterly transfixed for the whole thing. Having said that, she's never been a fidgeter and has always had a long attention span but I appreciate that not all 3 year olds are the same, so an abridged ballet is a great idea.

 

And as Kiwimum says it's a lovely opportunity for the ENBS students. I'll be interested if they do any more "My first"s.

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The Peacock theatre in London is not the most conspicuously sited - but you only had to follow the parade of mums with little girls in frilly pink dresses to find My First Sleeping Beauty.

 

The staging uses Aurora's nurse as a narrator to guide us through the story, provide insights into ballet technique and (not so successfully) encourage some audience participation. At the performance I saw it was this narration where children's attention wandered most. The dancing commanded attention unaided.

 

But Matthew Hart's version has some nice touches - and makes us reconsider the drama of the story. The lilac fairy performed 16 fouettes (we were invited to count along) to denote the years passing between the first two acts. Carabosse is a disguised knitting woman at the start of the second act - the inevitability of her course is made clearer.

 

However, where the narration prefigured the action the response of the children in the audience was to lose interest in how the dance conveyed it. Mimed passages explained by the narrator nurse - both clearly expressed - was a case of information overload. Left to its own devices, the dance alone was sufficiently cptivating to engross the young audience. The power of Carabosse was genuinely scary.

 

Indeed, children's powers of comprehension should not be underestimated. The tiny tot near me mainatained a running commentary: "that's the baddie" (the disguised Carabosse), "why doesn't the lilac fairy do something?" (before she did), "why are the all wearing the same dress?" (Aurora's friends - why do they?), "she might not like them" (Aurora's choice of the four princes).

 

Is there a need for such a staging? I'm in two minds.

 

My first ballet in this country was a schools' matinee of Coppelia by Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet, back in the 1970s (led by Murray Kilgour and Petal Miller). The preface to a performance of the complete ballet was an introduction to the work, its characters, ballet technique, staging and lighting methods, audience behaviour. It was well pitched, fun and informative - far more so than this First Sleeping Beauty - but would probably be judged too pedagogic these days. The need nowadays is for an experience.

 

At the Peacock, it was an experience mainly for little girls who took every opportunity to waft their furry pink wands -and for one already socially competitive girl, a flashing perspex butterfly. Very few dads and boys were in the audience. Bad habits are formed young.

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It was an experience mainly for little girls who took every opportunity to waft their furry pink wands -and for one already socially competitive girl, a flashing perspex butterfly. Very few dads and boys were in the audience. Bad habits are formed young.

 

Thank you, Paul, for your interesting review. And I applaud ENB's effort here to introduce ballet to the young, or the very young even, and it's certainly great for ENBS students. It's a great start. But I worry that a production like this is preaching to the converted. The little girls, the furry pink wands, the lack of dads and boys... Bad habits are indeed formed young. Children's theatre performances and productions surely manage to get more of a gender mix in their audiences, and there's a wide range of stories, both old and modern, that are used; many children's theatres create their own tales from scratch. Why can't there be more short ballets for children that encompass a wider range of stories? Space, superheroes, animals, the list is endless. Children's bookshops are full of good tales that could make fantastic ballets and might have a broader appeal. If best-selling musicals can be created on the theme of cats or trains, why can't ballets? Some might wince at the thought of Spider-Man the ballet, but it might work!

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Bad habits are indeed formed young.

 

And, sadly, by the parents, among others. I've "known" one of the children I mentioned for years: when she first started going to ballet lessons, I asked her mother what would have happened if they'd had a boy instead - would they have sent him? I got the "good grief no, we'd have sent him to rugby instead" response. On the other hand, I had a colleague who took her 2 boys, 8 and 6, I think they were, to ENB's proper Sleeping Beauty a few years ago, and despite my reservations they were really taken with all 4 acts of it.

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Well my 15 year old ballet-hating son is obsessed with killing Nazi Zombies [don`t ask !] with his friends on XBox live. Obviously, he knows i used to be a dancer and trained in classical ballet for about 8 years. To give him a bit of an education,regrettably,about 2 winters ago i took him [okay,"forced him"] to accompany me to the European Ballet production of Cinderella. I told him it would broaden his horizons and would be good for him. Needless to say, he hated it from start to finish, and said afterwards, it was the worst thing he`d ever seen. About a year later, when Moscow Ballet La Classique were going to be performing Swan Lake, again, i decided to effectively drag him there.[ Okay, i told him if he comes with me i will give him £20. It worked.!] But,i am pleased to say, when we got home later on he said, "Actually, that wasn`t too bad at all. Much better than stupid Cinderella anyway". I was delighted. ! Not that it has in any way converted him. But i think he could appreciate the music, the dramatic elements to the story etc. So, what i would say is, whatever age children get to see their first ballets doesn`t really matter. Nor does it really matter if it isn`t their cup of tea after all. But the experience of live theatre,whether its ballet, opera, Shakespeare or whatever, i think is a wonderful gift to give a child, regardless of whether they actually thank you for it or not.!

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Yes, just like my parents taking me to HMS Pinafore at Sadler's Wells for about my 10th birthday. I really didn't like it (and still don't much), but it did help introduce me to other Gilbert & Sullivans.

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would 15 year old boys be better off seeing Ballet Revolucion or 'The Bad Boys of Dance' as an introduction into ballet? (is this a new thread???) I was having a conversation today about how easy it is to get boys street dancing.

 

Maybe watching a fusion of both will get boys into a more ballet oriented frame of mind.

 

A little like starting out reading Harry Potter books can lead onto a love of reading.

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We saw 'My First Sleeping Beauty' yesterday in Birmingham and I thought it was perfect, and there were lots of dads and a fair few boys in the audience. Altogether a charming and perfectly-pitched performance, the narrator really helped to explain the mime and it saved me having to whisper the meanings to my two, then missing the next bit. It meant that we could relax and enjoy - I even learned something! The workshop afterwards was a real hit and again there were some boys enthusiasticaly taking part. We would definitely take part in future similar productions.

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