18 February 2015 at 7.10pm | Comment on this article
For decades, Britain has undoubtedly been one of the most exciting places to be a dancer and a choreographer. The English style is world-renowned, built on the rich heritage of Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan as well as dancers such as Margot Fonteyn and Anthony Dowell. But ballet training in Britain today looks forwards as well as backwards. For The Royal Ballet’s Director Kevin O’Hare, ‘British dance is having a renaissance.’
‘I think we’re in a very exciting time’, he says. ‘There are lots of great things happening in all the companies around the country. With companies and their associated schools widening their reach and selection processes across the country there are lots of talented students coming through the schools.’
Audiences will soon have a chance to see for themselves how Britain remains a magnet for international dancers and leading choreographers. Students from some of the UK's most prestigious ballet schools will perform in next month’s Spring Celebration, to showcase how the best of British ballet training translates into spectacular performances on stage.
'It's very hard to describe the English style but everybody's always talking about it! It's not maybe as flashy as some of the other styles but it's based on a really solid technique and we love sharp, intricate footwork. We like an ease of the upper body and have a very naturalistic style of performing,' says Kevin.
Ballet companies across the UK are seeing a plethora of new talent coming through the system: Reece Clarke and Gina Storm-Jensen recently joined The Royal Ballet from The Royal Ballet School; English National Ballet School graduate Naomi Bottomer has been contracted by English National Ballet; Elmhurst School for Dance’s alumna Rosanna Ely is now dancing with Birmingham Royal Ballet; and talented students like Andrei Teodor Iliescu, Diana Patience and Megan Pay will perform in Central School of Ballet’s 2015 tour of English towns and cities.
But it is not just gifted emerging dancers who continue to graduate from British schools. ‘There are a lot of great choreographers,’ says Kevin of a country that in recent years has trained artists including Christopher Wheeldon, Liam Scarlett and George Williamson. ‘I think that also starts with the schools. They actually encourage choreography from a very early age… and for me personally, at The Royal Ballet it has been wonderful to see our current and hugely talented array of choreographers producing work that challenges and stimulates our dancers. Together, they are creating the classics of the 21st century.'
Spring Celebration will take place at the Linbury Studio Theatre on 7 March 2015. Tickets are sold out but returns may become available later.