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The Royal Ballet Amazes Audiences with its Young Rising Stars

by Mila Gorokhovich
February 13, 2003
New York, NY

The Royal Ballet Amazes Audiences with its Young Rising Stars

Mila Gorokhovich
February 13, 2003

As I prepared myself to see the protégés of the prestigious Royal Ballet Upper School on February 13, 2003, I recalled a performance of the Royal Ballet Company in 1997. That evening turned my life upside down. It was the inspiration behind my decision to become a professional ballet dancer. Since that performance, I aspired to attend the Royal Ballet School and follow the footsteps of those who were honorably chosen to dance with the company.

Now, 6 years later, I am at Barnard College pursuing a major in Economics. Due to a variety of reasons, I realized that the Royal Ballet was not in my destiny. However, I never gave up my passion for dance and I have begun to explore other kinds of dance such as ballroom and flamenco.

This year is the first time the Royal Ballet Upper School came to the United States to present a performance as well as hold auditions for the upper school's summer program. Graduate students of the Royal Ballet School held three performances in Hunter College's Kaye Playhouse. These performances were part of an exchange program between the Royal Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, as in March; the latter will be performing at the Royal Opera House in London.

The 19-piece performance included choreography by Mark Annear, legendary Anthony Tudor, Kenneth MacMillan, Fredrick Ashton, Christopher Wheeldon (dancer and choreographer for New York City Ballet), Stephen Greenston, Marius Petipa and August Bournonville. While overall, the evening gloriously revealed the upcoming stars in the world of ballet, there were several highlights that I will touch upon.

The nine-piece Tchaikovsky Suite initiated the performance. The dance of the Czardas reflected a Russian theme as the dancers wore traditional Russian- style skirts, onion-shaped head pieces and rhythmically danced with their hands on their hips. The togetherness of the young dancers was very impressive and beautifully extended arabesque lines shone from every ballerina. The subsequent pas de deux, danced by Nathalie Harrison and Oliver Spears was marvelous as Harrison's joyous expression lit up the stage. When the entire cast came out, it seemed as if the footing got a bit careless but the performance was a pleasant piece to begin the evening. The Finale of the Suite gave the audience the impression that these young, magnificent students were, indeed, welcoming us for their performance.

We Are Here, choreographed by Stephen Greenston, was a beautiful pas de deux danced by Olivia Cowley and Philip Brock-Atkinson. As the dance unraveled, the story plot was left to the imagination of the audience. But it was not difficult to conceive of some interesting relationship between Cowley and Brock-Atkinson's characters. This contemporary dance seemed dramatic and simultaneously enlightening to the calm voice solo of Rosalie Grent, a Yiddish singer. Cowley's long, all-red clad dress emphasized the exquisite lines and shapes of her movements. The dynamic between the two dancers sparked off magic as their synchronized movements flowed one after another.

Concert Fantasy was another climax of the evening. Momoko Hirata, a tiny and talented ballerina, took one's breath away with the clarity and quickness of her steps. Although the choreography seemed somewhat academic, the Hirata and Martyn Carside were spectacular together.

The Waltz and Tango were two of the excerpts performed from Souvenirs, a piece choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon to the enchanting music of Samuel Barber. Leanne Cope and her ten cavaliers were the most exciting to watch as they danced through a flirt-filled tango. The tuxedos of the dancers and Cope's long black chiffon tutu accented one another and complemented the beauty of the dance. Both this and Le Voyage, the final dance (also choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon) exposed the gift of this young choreographer to intertwine influences of Balanchine and De Valois.

The one thing about the performance as a whole is that the dancers fit very well with the choreography given to them. Each piece complemented the advanced ability of the dancers. As the curtain closed on the final bows and the lights turned on, I felt myself re-enter my own reality - which was re-inspired over and over by these protégées and by the amazing choreography.

Although I have come to accept that the Royal Ballet School is not in my destiny, I felt glad that I was so immensely motivated and stirred by the rising stars of this school just as I had been seven years ago. As their students demonstrate the perpetual high standards and brilliance in their technique and presentation, the Royal Ballet continues to live up to its reputation as one of the most prominent ballet companies of the world

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