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ENB's Emerging Dancer 2014


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A couple of photos from the rehearsals in the afternoon before the competition. Naturally, the dancers were not full out, saving themselves for the competition later that day - still, got a couple of nice shots - dancers just can't help themselves!  :-)
 
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Alison McWhinney (A Million Kisses on My Skin)
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
 
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Junor Souza & Alison McWhinney (Esmeralda pdd)
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
 
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Set from DanceTabs: ENB Emerging Dancer 2014
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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I thought Alsion McWhinney's solo (David Dawson's A Million Kisses to my Skin) was radiant; Vitor Menezes' take on Ana Maria Stekelman's natively spicy Mambo Suite delightfully witty and both his and Senri Kou's  rendering of the pas de deux from Bournoville's La Sylphide delicatley dedicated in the sincerity of its core relationship portrayal.  Wonderful too to see two fine new choreographic entries in the colourful person of Junor Souza in his own (as assisted by James Streeter) haunting Last Minute (not to mention his own powered thrust in the coda variation in the Esmeralda pas aside the aforementioned Ms. McWhinney) and most especially the gloriously explosive Nancy Osbaldeston in her own Skye - which surely must win my own vote for the most explosive opening - and insightful eye make-up - of the evening.  Stunning too - AS EVER - were the short - and zealously edited films by ENB company member, Laurent Liotardo.  (There is no question but this lad has a great career ahead of him in terms of a second career.)  Fine too to see the Lyceum being employed as such a fine venue for dance (replete with its raised stage) - at least from my seat at the very back of the barely raked orchestra stalls.  Finally, kudos to Ms. Rojo for being both charming as well as potently brief in her handling of the award presentation and for populating this year's 'family' outing outside of the standard war horses. All in all a good evening was had by all methinks.  For that and ALL much thanks.      

Edited by Meunier
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Unlike Meunier, I thought that it was a terrible venue. The bottom of dancers' legs were not visible from several rows at the front of the Stalls, the acoustics were poor (several people said they could not hear what the dancers said on the lovely film clips), and the lack of circulation space turned what has previously been a relaxed and sociable occasion into a fight to move around. Moreover, the wonderful 'company' atmosphere which had so enhanced the event at the QEH seemed somewhat muted by the surroundings of the Lyceum. Such a pity!

 

But, as others have said - congratulations to all participants.

Edited by capybara
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I thought that it was a terrible venue. The bottom of dancers' legs were not visible from several rows at the front of the Stalls,

 

I made my comments based on the fact that I went in thinking it would be horrific in terms of the selected venue.  It was wonderful to see it so full (at least around where I was sitting and refreshing that ENB require a larger venue each year for this important programme to meet demand.  Must confess I didn't travel upwards.)  The fact that the stage was slightly raked from such a high angle to begin with would have retarded the view of the front rows (never a good place to watch dance from in most venues in my personal opinion - Have you ever tried sitting in the front at the Met in NYC, Capybara?) but blessedly allowed many more than I had originally thought might be the case the chance to have a clear view.  From the back of the stalls the ENB 'family' atmosphere was, I'm pleased to report, heated.  I'm sorry this was not shared by those in the very front.  Blessedly I did not have a problem hearing the film clips.  I'm somewhat surprised as I was immediately under the first balcony overhang.     

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Firstly, congratulations not only to Junor and Alison as winners but to all the dancers in what was a joyous evening. However, I cannot say the same for the venue. I was in row D in the Royal Circle and in front and to the left of me was a contraption that was used to send the films to the stage which blasted out noise from what appeared to be it's cooling system of some sort. Perhaps my hearing aids accentuated the noise but no mention had been made of this when I purchased the tickets. Whether this had been put there purely for the ballet I know not but if that is permanent then patrons to the Lion King should be warned beforehand.

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English National Ballet

Emerging Dancer Award 2014

Lyceum Theatre, London – 19 May 2014

 

 

Nominees:          Madison Keesler

                              Senri Kou

                              Alison McWhinney          

                              Vitor Menezes

                              Junor Souza

                              Joan Zamora

 

Judges:                 Deborah Bull

                              Clement Crisp

                              Gillian Lynne

                              Arlene Phillips

                              Tamara Rojo

                              Wayne Sleep

 

 

It is a clear indication of how the importance and popularity of the Emerging Dancer competition has grown in the five years since its inception that it is now held in large West End theatres.  The first competition was held in a rehearsal studio in Markova House, ENB’s London headquarters.  

 

The evening was hosted by BBC newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky, and began with the six nominees paired off in couples for three pas de deux.  Senri Kou and Vitor Menezes danced from La Sylphide, Madison Keesler and Joan Zamora from Flower Festival and Alison McWhinney and Junor Souza from Esmeralda.   The first two pieces are choreographed by Auguste Bournonville, and his light, fleet-of-foot style did not sit easily on any of the dancers.  However, they all made a very spirited attempt and they clearly enjoyed the opportunity to dance ‘outside the box’.   Alison and Junor chose a classical pas de deux from Esmeralda, and this was more successful, with Junor dancing an impressive variation and partnering very solidly.

 

Following the pas de deux, each nominee danced a solo variation, and this allowed them to choose how best to express themselves for this competition.  Each solo was preceded by a short film of the dancer.  This was done very well and it was interesting for the audience to know what the dancer was feeling and why they chose their piece.  Vitor Menezes danced a fun Mambo Suite, and Joan Zamora a solo from l’Arlesienne.  Senri Kou chose Neumeier’s ‘Nocturnes’ and danced it impressively; delicate, vulnerable, but with an underlying power.   Alison McWhinney chose David Dawson’s ‘A Million Kisses to My Skin’….the shortest solo piece but very intense and demanding and at speed throughout.  She danced it very well and clearly impressed the judges.  The young Madison Keesler (in her first year with the company) danced a beautiful, emotional and riveting solo from Liam Scarlett’s ‘Theme and Variations’.   Costumed in a long red dress, she embodied grace, elegance, musicality and a very strong, yet subtle,  technique.  One to watch, and a definite future winner of this award.  The final solo of the evening was danced by Junor Souza, to a piece he had choreographed himself (with help from James Streeter) called ‘Last Minute’.  This was clearly the winning performance, with Junor giving a fine and disturbing interpretation of the menace inherent in the music and within his choreography.  Junor was amongst the first crop of nominees for the Emerging Dancer award five years ago.  He did not win then, but having been there that night five years ago, and then last night, the all-round progress and improvement to all aspects of his dancing was manifest.  Soaring jumps, pinpoint spins, dramatic expression:  all were there in reams.   He was having a great time, and his joy of dancing was felt and appreciated by the audience.  Junor has had a wonderful season and he is a worthy winner of this award.  His night was further enhanced when he won the People’s Award as well.  This award is voted for by ENB’s audiences, and he was clearly thrilled to have received it.  For the first time, there were two winners of the Emerging Dancer award (the other being a delighted Alison McWhinney), and this is one way that shows the amount of talent currently in ENB. 

 

A very vocal and appreciative audience (including many dancers from the company and from the RB) reinforced the general atmosphere of support for both the competition and the company.  Not only the two winners, but the other four nominees put on a wonderful showcase for ENB and this bodes well for its future.

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I want to support what Sim has written regarding Junor souza, this dancers progress through the company has been amazing; he always showed promise, but year by year he has technically grown in stature and is a fine partner as well as being an outstanding technician.  I wasn't surprised in the least that he won the People's Vote award - it has seldom been so richly deserved.

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A very vocal and appreciative audience (including many dancers from the company and from the RB) reinforced the general atmosphere of support for both the competition and the company. 

Good to hear of the "external" support as well :)

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After sitting out most of the 2012/13 season through injury, Junor Souza has hardly been off the stage in 2013/14. He danced all three main roles in Le Corsaire [Ali, Lankendem and (recently in Madrid) Conrad], he seemed to be either the Prince or the Nutcracker at most performances over Christmas, and he was first cast lead couple (with Alina Cojocaru) in Maliphant's Second Breath at the Barbican in April. He is also cast for Romeo in June. Promotion to Principal must surely await him in July?????!!!!!

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You would think so! ENB has a fair few at lead principal rank but only 3 dancers at principal rank. He definitely deserves it.

 

On a slightly related note, I've always wondered in ballet companies do they make preparations for two dancers to be promoted in 'partnership' once they start to get close to principal ranking? I ask because the thought crossed my mind when last years promotions were announced and James Forbat and Laurretta Summerscales were both promoted to first soloist. I pondered whether ENB were testing the water for them to be a potential future pairing. However she's been paired with Arionel Vargas for both Swan Lake and Le Corsaire but did partner James Forbat for Nutcracker and of course in Beijing last year and last night dancing the Manon pas de deux. Junor is to partner Begona Cao for Romeo and Juliet so that could be a possibility for the future! I definitely sense a promotion for him this year and perhaps another for Ksenia. I'm not sure if we will see as many as last year though.

 

To get back on the topic at hand - I wonder how the decision for it to be a tie was made. Unfortunately I couldn't attend but I imagine there must have been an extremely similar standard from both Junor and Alison. Congratulations to them both!

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Here is the official announcement:

 

 

ENGLISH NATIONAL BALLET ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF THE EMERGING DANCER COMPETITION 2014  

 

English National Ballet is pleased to announce both Junor Souza and Alison McWhinney, as joint winners of the prestigious Emerging Dancer Competition 2014. Alison and Junor performed the pas de deux from Esmeralda.  Junor, who performed Last Minute, also won the People’s Choice Award.   

 

The Competition, generously supported in its fifth year by Talbot Hughes McKillop (THM), was held last night (19 May) at the Lyceum Theatre and hosted by Natasha Kaplinsky. The judging panel included renowned dance industry figures including, Deborah Bull CBE, Clement Crisp OBE, Dame Gillian Lynne DBE, Arlene Phillips CBE, Tamara Rojo, Wayne Sleep OBE.

 

Alison, 27, from Australia, who performed A Million Kisses to my Skin, said of receiving her award: “I can’t quite believe it, I’m a bit emotional! – I’m just very grateful to everyone who helped us.”  

 

Junor Souza, 24, from Brazil, said: “The thing I most want to say is thank you very much to our mentors, especially Zdenek Konvalina, who was amazing at helping me with my presence on stage and I am very grateful for that.”   

 

As well as the accolade of the title, the Emerging Dancer winner receives £2,500, the People's Choice Award winner receives £1,000 and all nominees receive £500 each.  

 

Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director English National Ballet said: "We are delighted to welcome on board Natasha Kaplinsky and the new judges for the Emerging Dancer Competition 2014. I am thrilled to be joined by such an elite group of talented individuals, who between them cover such a broad range of dance expertise."  

 

The Emerging Dancer Competition is an annual opportunity for English National Ballet to recognise and nurture the phenomenal talent of its up-and-coming dancers and the Company recently announced the following chosen finalists for the Emerging Dancer Award: 

 

  • Madison Keesler
  • Senri Kou
  • Alison McWhinney
  • Vitor Menezes*
  • Junor Souza 
  • Joan Sebastian Zamora  

The competition encourages excellence and potential within the Company and throughout the Summer English National Ballet’s artistic, music, administrative staff and Principal dancers have been voting for their favourite Emerging Dancer. The Competition, was artistically directed by Associate Artist George Williamson.  
 
Last year’s (2013) Emerging Dancer Award was won by young dancer Nancy Osbaldeston who received rave reviews for her performance in Petrushka. As well as the accolade of the title, the Emerging Dancer winner receives £2,500, the People's Choice Award winner receives £1,000 and all nominees receive £500 each.  

 

Tamara Rojo, English National Ballet Artistic Director said: "The Emerging Dancer Competition 2014 was such a fantastic evening and showed the company in such strong form. It is an important event that helps us to connect with our audience and help them to get to know, and care for our dancers and their tremendous talent. I was very proud of everyone."  

 

At a time when the Arts Council is reducing its funding, Talbot Hughes McKillop's sponsorship of the award is a practical demonstration of its belief that business has a clear responsibility to engage constructively in providing support to the arts.  

 

Paul Horn, Managing Partner, Talbot Hughes McKillop commented: “Talbot Hughes McKillop are proud to be invited to continue as sponsors of the Emerging Dancer Award 2014. Talbot Hughes McKillop and English National Ballet share a mutual commitment to delivering outstanding quality at the highest levels of performance and professionalism. Our sponsorship of the Emerging Dancer Award since 2010 has successfully enhanced the profile of the nominees, allowing individuals to flourish and start to achieve their potential.”  

 

 

*replaced Ken Saruhashi due to injury.  

 

 

For further information about English National Ballet 2013/14 Performance Schedule visit www.ballet.org.uk  You can find English National Ballet on Facebook and Twitter @ENBallet  

 

 

Notes to Editors

The Emerging Dancer Competition is an annual event for English National Ballet to recognise and nurture the phenomenal talent of its up-and-coming dancers. The Award encourages excellence and potential within the Company. Throughout the Autumn English National Ballet’s Principal dancers and artistic, music and administrative staff vote for their Emerging Dancer and the Company’s brightest talents are shortlisted to compete in a thrilling live final in May 2014.   

 

Talbot Hughes McKillop (THM)   The Emerging Dancer and People’s Choice Awards are generously supported by Talbot Hughes McKillop, the restructuring experts. Talbot Hughes McKillop (THM) provides experienced leadership to corporates, creditors and shareholders in distressed and other event-driven special situations. The firm provides hands-on, practical support, typically using small, partner led teams to deal with both the financial and operational aspects of a restructuring situation. The role may involve partners from THM taking executive roles (for example as Chief Restructuring Officer) and/or other Board of Director appointments. Founded in 2001, THM has handled some of the highest profile pan- European restructuring projects. THM  believes that the arts have a critical role to play in enriching the life of communities throughout the country, as well as in fostering emerging young talent. Business has a clear responsibility to engage constructively with arts organizations in providing finance and other forms of help and support. This is even more critical at a time when the state has had to reduce its financial support for the arts, creating a funding gap that needs to be bridged. For more details, please see the THM website www.thmpartners.com  

 

Alison McWhinney Birthplace; Port MacQuarie, Australia Age started dancing; 4 Training; English National Ballet School, Ecole Ballet Studios, English National Ballet Joined 2005 Favourite roles; Harlots in Manon  Favourite production; Swan Lake in-the-round Career highlight; dancing at the Sydney Opera House Other info; Genée Silver Medal winner and Prix de Lausanne Prize winner. Nominated for the 2013 Emerging Dancer Competition  

 

Junor Souza  Birthplace; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Age started dancing; 7 Training; English National Ballet, Joined 2008, First Artist 2010, Junior Soloist 2011, Escola de Danca, English National Ballet School Role would love to dance; Solor in La bayadère Career highlights; Dancing the Prince in The Nutcracker and as Albrecht in Giselle, Romeo in Nureyev’s Romeo & Juliet and Prince Siegfried in Derek Deane’s Swan Lake  Other info; performed in the Roseta Mauri Competition and loves to sing

Favourite costume; Swan Lake

Partner you would like to dance with; Monique Loudières  

 

Last Minute Choreography Junor Souza Assisted by James Streeter  Music Catfish Row IV Fuge Chicago Symphony Orchestra  
A Million Kisses to my Skin Choreography David Dawson  Music J.S. Bach  
Esmeralda  Choreography Jules Perrot Music Cesare Pugni  

 

Generously supported by Talbot Hughes McKillop, the restructuring experts.

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