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Ballet Central: Workshop and Lowry Performance


Nana Lily
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Lowry Performance:

I went to watch Ballet Central at the Quays Theatre (Lowry, Salford) last night. Ballet Central is the graduate year of Central School of Ballet. I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening and felt the level of performance, expression and musicality throughout was outstanding for such young dancers of only 18 and 19 years. The rep was varied and interesting with classical and contemporary in a two hour programme. My favourite dances were the opening, "Celebration" by the late Christopher Gable, and the final dance, a narrative, "Whodunnit!" based on the cluedo game, choreographed Mathew Hart. The acting was outstanding with each dancer staying totally in role throughout the dance. Costumes and lighting were superb and so was the music with several original pieces composed and played by their Musical Director Philip Feeney. Its tricky to pick out dancers when trying to work out who they are from the casting sheet, so I am not going to mention any specifically, but felt the standard of dancing was good.

Sadly the performance was poorly attended, a great pity as adults and children alike really enjoyed the evening. A number of my local friends would have gone to watch with their children, but didn't know about it despite being on Lowry mailing lists, in fact I only discovered it last week after receiving an email from North West Dance about the workshops. Its also great value at £10 - £12. There are plenty of tour dates around the UK, so do go and see them, you wont be disappointed!

 

I wasn't aware of the number of international students at a London based school with only 10 out of the 32 students from the UK. Given this school is a conservatoire offering a BA in Dance and Performance (students are funded via the usual university funding route) I found the ratio quite surprising. Are they limited on the number of BA places they can offer? How are international students funded?

 

Workshops:

The workshops are free and supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. If you attend a workshop you also get a discount for the performance. In Manchester they offered a workshop for boys aged 12 to 18, workshops for primary schools and an adult workshop (for all, beginners, dancers, anyone interested in dance!). Not having danced for over 25 years, and being close to 50, no longer having any turn out, plie, extension or any technique whatsoever, I decided to be brave and go along and I had the time of my life, loved it! The Artistic Director Bill Glassman took a ballet class and playing the piano was Philip Feeney the Musical Director. The workshop took place in a lovely studio with huge windows over looking the Quays. We were all ages and non dancers/dancers. Ben Owen, a third year student, gave a contemporary class and then Francesca Tennant (third year student) taught the group part of the rep from "And then hope soared". Five very helpful students were with us to demonstrate and encourage. The atmosphere was very friendly and everyone has a fabulous experience. The students were a credit to their school and their art form, they were very caring and encouraging and I would like to say a big THANK YOU to them, the Ballet Central staff and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for making it possible.

 

I have put the link to the Ballet Central website here so you can take a look at their tour dates. We call this forum "Doing Dance" so I would encourage you to find out about the workshops and go "do some dance!" and watch their show, you wont regret it!

http://balletcentral.co.uk/ontourpage2.php

 

NL

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I went to see this production last night Nana Lily and yes it was very, very high standard. There were three girls at the front of the theatre talking to audience members and yes they were an absolute credit to their school. I am so pleased my daughter will be going to Central in September. Unfortunately she was unable to see this production as she was at school. I also urge people to go and watch what Central ballet are doing as it is a thoroughly inexpensive night out. The only problem I had was some people were eating crisp during the peformance (audience members). I felt like telling them off but thought better of it.

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Dd and I saw Ballet Central at the ROH's Linbury Theatre last year. So impressed with the standard of performance and the evening was made all the more exciting by the fact that Dame Monica was watching and walked right past us! We're easily pleased. :-))

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Thanks for the post nana lily - very much looking forward to it now - we're off to watch the performance tomorrow. Dd found out about it whilst on the ballet central website last week and when I 'phoned for tickets there were only a few left, so hopefully they'll be performing to a full house!

Millie

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"wasn't aware of the number of international students at a London based school with only 10 out of the 32 students from the UK. Given this school is a conservatoire offering a BA in Dance and Performance (students are funded via the usual university funding route) I found the ratio quite surprising. Are they limited on the number of BA places they can offer? How are international students funded?"

 

Anyone have any comments on this part of my post?

 

NL

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International is too general I'm afraid, you need to break it down into EU and non EU. Any student from a country which is in EU has the same rights as a UK student. I am not sure though who funds the student, whether it is through their own government or whether they can apply for funding here.

 

I still find it troubling that only half those who start the course in 1st year are accepted onto 3rd year to finish their degree. If you are one of those who doesn't make it into 3rd year, it seems there are few options left. Does anyone know of places that will accept you into the 3rd year of a degree course elsewhere? University funding is for four years maximum, but as you have already used up two years, you can only start another degree course if you fund yourself for one year.

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Is it really only half? :-( I suppose if you did the first two years successfully you would have your Foundation Degree (it's the same at Rambert, I believe). Do people join Central for the third year, or is Ballet Central only made up of a proportion of the students that have passed 1st and 2nd year?

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The stats seem to be generally known - but are plain to see for anyone who goes to Central as a visitor, associate or for a Day of Dance. The noticeboards give timetables for the different classes in the three years and the number of students in each year are plain. Names of dancers in Ballet Central are published on the website.

 

So if you have your foundation degree after two years what happens then? I don't believe any other degree courses restrict the numbers in the third year in this way. Everyone can finish their course and gain their degree.

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The number of students who go all the way through Central from first year varies considerably from year to year. There has been considerable movement with the current 3rd years since they began - probably more than usual but this has been for a whole variety of reasons. I know of students who have moved to Elmhurst, ENBS and Laine, others have decided they no longer want to pursue a career in dance and have returned to a traditional education and then there are those who have sustained injuries or required operations (a lot of bone spurs in this group) which has meant they have either decided to leave or are taking an extra year to do the foundation degree before progressing to 3rd year. It is therefore not simply the case that half the year did not get into Ballet Central. This year has also always had a larger proportion of non-UK students than other years and it is quite common for students to join just for 3rd year from varied backgrounds including some who have already worked professionally although I'm not sure why they would want to do this.

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I asked that question to one of the young girls in the auditorium that was a Central graduate, did many students go on into the third year. She told me that it is assumed that all of them will go through, however if you were not going to be sucessful then you would be told by the teachers. I don't know how true this is, she could also have been talking about her own year.

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Where did you get your figures from pas de quatre? There have never been anywhere near this number in the years I know about. There are 24 girls and 17 boys in the current second year which is considered quite a large year group.

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There are 42 in first year approx 18 ish of whom are male. Most students I think are British.

 

It seems accepted that you sign up for foundation degree for two years and then audition for Ballet Central and third year. I think it is a good incentive and a taste of what is to come as a professional dancer.

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Thanks for the information, I am sure a few years ago the numbers were higher. Perhaps the government put a cap on the number of funded places or perhaps the numbers were made up by non-EU foreign students. Bruce Sansom had a very high international profile, not least because he was a member of the jury for Prix de Lausanne.

 

Three years ago when Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (then known as RSAMD) announced their new Modern Ballet degree, I rang them to get more information. They were the only establishment which has been totally open - they said they would be allowed to take 12 funded UK & EU students and there would be a further 8 unfunded places for students from the rest of the world - and no, UK & EU students could not pay themselves for an unfunded place. I don't know if the numbers have changed since then, but it will be interesting to see how their first batch of graduate this year fare in the jobs market.

 

Perhaps you could bring us up to date Spooky, on the current procedures for auditioning for third year at Central.

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