Celebrating our 2023 summer performances

Celebrating our 2023 Summer Performances

On Saturday 16 July our students illuminated the Royal Opera House main stage in their final performance of the year. This performance concluded our 2023 Summer Performance season, following our in-house performances at both White Lodge and Upper School, the Next Generation Festival at the Royal Opera House, and our five performances at Opera Holland Park.

Seeing all our students perform together is always a special occasion and we were delighted to have such a warm audience fill the seats. Friends, family, staff, alumni, and members of the public were left in awe by the end of the spectacular matinée. We also welcomed several members of the press, who celebrated our students’ talent in their reviews:

Plaudits all round, to teachers and dancers, for presenting a very high standard end-of-year performance. As my companion said, “What a wonderful show. What amazingly talented children and young dancers. I could not have enjoyed it more.” And that surely says it all. – Nicola Clare, Seeing Dance

Plenty to love, but most of all one must admire the professionalism, attention to detail and sheer love put into the rehearsal of this performance. – Amanda Jennings, Dance Europe

Our final performance opened with the Vision Scene from Carlos Acosta’s reimagined Don Quixote, performed by our Upper School ladies:

Acosta’s 2013 account of the Vision Scene from Don Quixote opened the show in extravagant designs by Tim Hatley. Upper School students from all three years were presented as a full-scale ensemble with a female corps de ballet, soloists and principals, framed by huge flowers on the backdrop – a jardin des fleurs with pretty tutus and jolly music by Minkus: bliss for lovers of 19th-century ballets and proud parents and teachers. – Jann Parry, Gramilano

The all-female corps de ballet danced with nifty, fast footwork – Jonathan Gray, Bachtrack

This ethereal sequence was followed by Fast Blue, a new piece by Mikaela Polley which she choregraphed on our Upper School Men:

Mikaela Polley’s Fast Blue, to music by Elena Kats-Chernin, gave the young men of the Upper School a chance to shine in the things they love doing best: jumping and turning. It’s a celebratory work and allowed the dancers to group, line-up and dazzle in solos, duos, trios and more. – Jonathan Gray, Bachtrack

A sinuous solo was performed in silence by Austen McDonald to his own rhythms, before being joined by sleekly dressed cohorts, darting across the stage like arrows. – Jann Parry, Gramilano

Fast Blue by Mikaela Polley was a winner. Abstract with a dramatic subtext, it was ballet based with turbo-charged dynamics and the senior male students made it their own. The power, strength and precision in their dance was remarkable as was their teamwork which included exciting partnering. – Maggie Foyer, Dansportalen

Tom Bosma’s Hora La Aninoasa showcased our White Lodge students next:

The younger dancers from White Lodge gave accomplished and charming performances, especially in Hora La Aninoasa, a Romanian folk dance where the work with the ‘sticks’ deserves a medal for performers and teachers alike. – Nicola Clare, Seeing Dance

It was a pleasure to see such young dancers happily taking to the stage. –  Jonathan Gray, Bachtrack

Years 7 – 11 were all included in Hora la Aninoasa choreographed by Tom Bosma and danced to Romanian folk music. Brightly costumed and expertly rehearsed, it was a joyful offering that showed a heightened sense of rhythm as the young students clapped or beat sticks to the unusual music. – Maggie Foyer, Dansportalen

Our 1st and 2nd Year students performed Kenneth MacMillan’s The Four Seasons:

Kenneth Macmillan’s The Four Seasons breezed in with serenity, along with wafts of dancers clothed in beautiful pastel colours to match the mood. It’s very polite, gentle dancing with the students displaying an elegance that belies their years. – Cheryl Angear, Ballet News

The piece requires a large corps de ballet of male and female dancers, with quick beaten jumps, rich épaulement and back bends and fast footwork, all in the ‘old’ Royal Ballet style. I thought the ballet enchanting and eminently worth reviving in full. It also offered the audience a chance to see a very different side of MacMillan’s choreographic style, one almost entirely based on classical technique. – Jonathan Gray, Bachtrack

The first act of the matinee finished with Jiří Kylián’s eccentric Sechs Tänze danced by our Pre-professionals:

This witty, thoroughly engaging piece is so musical, so rewarding, so choreographically, clever so theatrical – I could go on! Women with dishevelled ponytails and men in seventeenth-century wigs all filled with powder that shakes out in clouds as they move, perform hilarious but insightful dance that tells a comedic story without an actual plot line; this concept requires maturity to interpret and the Pre-professionals here handled it all with style. – Amanda Jennings, Dance Europe

More interesting was Jiří Kylián’s Sechs Tänze , a comic interlude of eighteenth-century manners, semi-dressed, with powdered wigs and murderous intent. The wit is razor sharp, the movement brilliantly inventive and the students attacked it with glee and near-faultless precision – Maggie Foyer, Dansportalen

The curtains opened for the second act to reveal students from White Lodge and Upper School ready to perform August Bournonville’s Konservatoriet:

Bournonville’s Konservatoriet is famous for its challenges and it was astonishing to watch teenagers stepping up to meet and surpass the demands of this very exposing piece. Danced by White Lodge Years 7, 10 and 11 and Upper School 1st and 2nd Years, there was never a fifth position missed, never a moment where turnout or placement faltered. – Amanda Jennings, Dance Europe

August Bournonville’s Konservatoriet gave evidence of the nerves of steel these young dancers possess. The opening grand plié is terrifying, but it was safely achieved without a wobble. It’s a challenging ballet and, based on the ballet class, offers excellent training as the dances need to show all aspects of their technique. – Maggie Foyer, Dansportalen

We then saw BOLD by Goyo Montero with our 1st and 2nd Years:

BOLD, by Goyo Montero, was devised for the Prix de Lausanne international ballet competition, and was danced here by the Upper School students. Jet black costumes, lots of running about, another dose of aural stimulation, with phenomenal talent from Rebecca Stewart; a dot of traffic on a busy stage. –  Cheryl Angear, Ballet News

Goyo Montero’s BOLD, a large-scale work dressed in shiny black unitards, also needed close teamwork and the dancers, moving swiftly in ever changing formations, were impressive. Owen Belton’s dynamic score kept the pace on the move, and light-hearted snippets added a fun element. – Maggie Foyer, Dansportalen

Our Pre-professionals danced extracts from Within the Golden Hour by Christopher Wheeldon:

Even better were the extracts from Christopher Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour, beautifully and sleekly performed. – Jonathan Gray, Bachtrack

For beauty in movement, look no further than the excerpts from Christopher Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour, one of his best abstract works that sees the dancers moving to music by Antonio Vivaldi and Ezio Bosso. Guillem Cabrera Espinach and Tom Hazelby were excellent in their visceral duet, while Sierra Glasheen and Blake Smith were all sensuality in their much more subtle, beautifully understated pas de deux. – David Mead, Seeing Dance

In excerpts from Christopher Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour, the dancers show they are ready for twenty-first century ballet. Ezio Bosso’s music is complex and the speed is fast but the dancers, dressed in Jasper Conran’s radiant designs, took it in their stride ready to take their place on the professional stage. – Maggie Foyer, Dansportalen

Two of our Pre-professional students gave a rendition of Frederick Ashton’s classic pas de deux from The Two Pigeons:

I was pleased to see Liya Fan and Tom Hazelby giving an impressive count of the final pas de deux from The Two Pigeons, very well danced and interpreted. – Amanda Jennings, Dance Europe

The tear-inducing final pas de deux from Ashton’s The Two Pigeons was included as a tribute to Lynn Seymour, who was so poignant as the Young Girl in the 1962 ballet. Liya Fan, 3rd Year, got the fluttering bird imagery just right, tenderly supported by Tom Hazelby. – Jann Parry, Gramilano

One of our graduating students performed a solo by Robert Battle, Takademe:

Takademe, a solo choreographed by Robert Battle, a man incapable of producing anything other than intriguing, well-constructed work was given a blisteringly charismatic performance by Caspar Lench – Amanda Jennings, Dance Europe

Caspar Lench has it all, and the Indian Kathak rhythms to a percussive score by Sheila Chandra only serve to highlight the breadth of his talent. The movement is punchy and speeds along in a panic of red trousers. It’s mesmerising to watch a dancer with the quiet confidence & sheer panache to dance solo on the Royal Opera House stage with measured assurance – Cheryl Angear, Ballet News

Lench went on to give a five-star performance of Robert Battle’s Takademe. It’s an extraordinary solo built on the dynamics of Padhant as Lench’s fluid body matches the virtuosity of the rapid recitation of rhythmic syllables. – Maggie Foyer, Dansportalen

The performance ended with all our students taking to the stage for our epic Grand Défilé:

The ensemble finale, the traditional Grand Défilé ‘walk-down,’ was perfect in both its choreography and timing. – Nicola Clare, Seeing Dance

Then, with wave after wave of young dancers, the audience rose to its feet to cheer the Grand Défilé, which brings the entire school on stage. Seeing the whole school together, it was interesting to note how much more diverse it has become.– Jonathan Gray, Bachtrack

All the School members enter in turn to Czerny’s Etudes music until the stage is filled with aspiring dancers and their teachers. It’s a joyous sight, as is the crowd of family and friends thronging outside the stage door. – Jann Parry, Gramilano