Friday, 9 March 2012

Emerging Dancer 2012

Emerging Dancer Awards, English National Ballet, Queen Elizabeth Hall – reviewed on 5th March
The purpose of English National Ballet’s Emerging Dancer Awards is questionable. 2011 winner, Shiori Kase, has hardly seen a dramatic upsurge in her career since last year. She had one performance as the lead in The Nutcracker, but has not been promoted nor undergone much other development in her onstage roles. So what is the competition actually for, if its emerging stars see little professional change post-event?

Yonah Acosta
Photo: Arnaud Stephenson
One of this year’s nominees, Barry Drummond, pointed out that “everything you learn in the process is much more valuable than the result”. And perhaps it is the chance to rehearse and perform two solos to an audience of company members, press and balletomanes that is the prize in itself. Dancers certainly appeared to be enjoying their experience exceedingly.

Yonah Acosta was impressively dynamic in his two classical pieces. He exploded into showy leaps while maintaining precise technique and his numerous pirouettes finished effortlessly with complex balances. Such supreme and polished virtuosity made him the rightful winner of Emerging Dancer 2012.

Ksenia Ovsyanick’s castanet-wielding Don Quixote was also deserving of praise; fiery and passionate, she appeared stronger than ever before. The evening's highlight, however, was Nancy Osbalsden’s exuberant ballet-cabaret creation, Sway. In a sparkling red leotard and marcel wave wig, she strutted, spun and jumped with sexiness and jollity exuding from every inch of her body. The choreography was musical, full of personality and richly able to display Osbalsden’s charisma and charm. Other solos were technically well-executed, with a few wobbles on pointe and a lack of attack in the contemporary choreography being my only complaints.

Dancers prepare for the competition in the minimal free time they have amidst a busy rehearsing and performing schedule.  A number of nominees highlighted its benefits in challenging and displaying their capabilities. But I am left feeling that their hard work is pointless if it isn't ultimately rewarded with career progression.

Emerging dancer judge and critic for The Financial Times, Clement Crisp, described the awards as “absolutely inspiring. We are looking at the future.” It is great to see English National Ballet’s younger and often unnoticed dancers have a chance to shine. Now the company needs to find more ongoing opportunities for them to showcase their wonderful talents.

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