The Royal Ballet School Summer Performance 2018

The whole School at the end of the Grand Défilé. ©2018 The Royal Ballet School. Photographed by Tristram Kenton

The whole School at the end of the Grand Défilé. ©2018 The Royal Ballet School. Photographed by Tristram Kenton

The Royal Ballet School

Summer Performance

Royal Opera House

8th July 2018

Taisuke Nakao dancing the Bluebird from Aurora’s Wedding. ©2018 The Royal Ballet School. Photographed by Tristram Kenton

Taisuke Nakao dancing the Bluebird from Aurora’s Wedding. ©2018 The Royal Ballet School. Photographed by Tristram Kenton

The air is scented with expectation; the curtains swish back and the tantalising breeze of hope begins an aerial dance. Because this is the Royal Ballet School’s Summer Performance, tightly rehearsed, with enough variety to showcase the students at their best, and something for everyone in the audience, all tied up with a phosphorous ending.

But first, a beginning. This year, nearly forty dancers from the three years of the Upper School and two students from White Lodge (the Junior School) were involved in Sir Anthony Dowell’s version of Aurora’s Wedding, essentially the last act from The Sleeping Beauty. It’s quite the test for any dancer; fiercely classical and precise, a signature work for The Royal Ballet, and the students rise to the challenge.

Notable were the Lilac Fairy’s attendants – Lydia Baker, Sofia Linares Vazquez, Abby Morgan, Ren Morioka, Julie Petanova and Marianna Tsembenhoi – plus the White Lodge students as Little Red Riding Hood and The Wolf, Katie Robertson and Joseph Birtles Clarke. Highest praise has to go to Taisuke Nakao for his sublime Bluebird, hitting every silken note with an ease and grace rarely seen. He, along with five others, head to The Royal Ballet Company on the Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Programme (all of the graduate contracts are listed here).

After the grandeur of the wedding, an excerpt from Didy Veldman’s Toot. Brilliantly timed, funny and sharp, Harris Bell (whom I singled out in last year’s performance) leads a group searching for their own identity, questioning the Leader’s authority with a side of anarchy and hope (and a very impressive series of fouettés).

– White Lodge Year 10 and 11 students (with 3rd Year Harris Bell background as the ‘leader’) dancing Didy Veldman’s TooT. ©2018 The Royal Ballet School. Photographed by Tristram Kenton

– White Lodge Year 10 and 11 students (with 3rd Year Harris Bell background as the ‘leader’) dancing Didy Veldman’s TooT. ©2018 The Royal Ballet School. Photographed by Tristram Kenton

Ginevra Zambon & William Boswell tackle the amusing balloon duet with a perfect iambic pentameter. The balloons were also on their best behaviour.

Ginevra Zambon and William Boswell dancing Didy Veldman’s TooT. ©2018 The Royal Ballet School. Photographed by Tristram Kenton

Ginevra Zambon and William Boswell dancing Didy Veldman’s TooT. ©2018 The Royal Ballet School. Photographed by Tristram Kenton

Sea Interludes, by Andrew McNicol, is a little too long but redeemed by some exquisitely fluid dancing by Marianna Tsembenhoi (having a good show) and James Large, as you can see from the photo below.

Marianna Tsembenhoi and James Large dancing Andrew McNicol’s Sea Interludes. ©2018 The Royal Ballet School. Photographed by Tristram Kenton

Marianna Tsembenhoi and James Large dancing Andrew McNicol’s Sea Interludes. ©2018 The Royal Ballet School. Photographed by Tristram Kenton

Snegurochka, choreographer by Tania Fairbairn with Tchaikovsky’s music, introduces the students from White Lodge with its Russian character style in a tale of the Snow Maiden.

Robert Binet’s beguiling Self & Soul highlighted the strength of Harris Bell’s partnering and the strength of Rebecca Blenkinsop’s pointe work. Like a butterfly dancing along the edges of winter, Blenkinsop’s dancing served as a perfect foil for Bell’s seamless sprezzatura.

Rebecca Blenkinsop and Harris Bell dancing Robert Binet’s Self & Soul. ©2018 The Royal Ballet School. Photographed by Tristram Kenton

Rebecca Blenkinsop and Harris Bell dancing Robert Binet’s Self & Soul. ©2018 The Royal Ballet School. Photographed by Tristram Kenton

Nacho Duato’s Excerpts from Bach, Multiplicity Forms of Silence and Emptiness, with Simon Regourd as Bach, was by turns amusing (Crinolin, with Taisuke Nakao’s trademark ease – and with that costume, serious sasspants attitude) and out of touch (Chelo, danced very well by Madison Bailey but an example of how not to choreograph for a woman).

A short pause, and the electric hyphens of every year in the School, like the brightest stars stapled to the inkiest of skies blazed across the stage in the Grand Défilé to a rising crescendo, thanks to Carl Czerny’s Etudes nos 13 and 14, arranged and orchestrated by Knudage Riisager, and to the students who, once again, exceeded all expectation.