Thursday, 17 March 2011

The future of British ballet

English National Ballet Emerging Dance Award - reviewed on 28th February
With young dancers performing, the Emerging Dancer Award provides an enticing glimpse into how the future of British ballet will look. The competition is designed to showcase ENB talent and allow up-and-coming dancers to stretch themselves with principal roles. Battling to win a small amount of prize money and a large amount of prestige, each dancer learnt, researched and rehearsed two solos in the little time they usually have free. Judged by leading dance figures including Carlos Acosta and Dame Beryl Grey, the event took place at the Southbank Centre in front of an enthusiastic audience.
Shiori Kase, the youngest at just 19, was a deserving winner with her pure lines and clean technique. She danced Giselle with a quiet, lyrical innocence and her Black Swan showed power and precision. Also performing was Vadim Muntagirov, an already rapidly-rising star, who jumped sky-high and dazzled with multiple pirouettes. Laurretta Summerscales presented a wide-eyed, radiant and youthful Aurora; her Carmen was contrastingly teasing and seductive. Max Westwell was handsome in Don Quixote but lacked vibrancy.
Deserving highest praise are James Streeter and Ksenia Ovsyanick for their artistry. Streeter danced Les Bourgeois with jollity and highly detailed characterisation from his raised eyebrow to his staggering walk. As James from La Sylphide he wore a kilt and irresistible grin which couldn’t fail to make us smile with him. As the Black Swan, Ovsyanick displayed wonderful dynamics of movement and an alluringly sultry gaze seen through long, dark eyelashes. Her daring solo from William Forsythe’s contemporary ballet In the middle, somewhat elevated was even more mesmerizing. Her body curved and circled in every conceivable direction, with jellyfish-like fluidity in her upper back.
With filmed clips of the dancers punctuating the action, we also got a feel for their offstage personalities. What shone out most was their sheer love for ballet. Their total commitment to hard work and self-development as performers was inspiring. As Summerscales put it “I just want to show the best that I can be onstage”.
All in all, the Emerging Dancer Award was a delightful evening and proof that the future of British ballet is in safe hands.

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