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Elmhurst School for Dance

‘The Argonauts’, ‘Contract 8’, ‘Concerto’, ‘Swan Lake extract’, ‘Le Cinq’, ‘Graduate Showcase’, ‘Studies for Dance’, ‘Coppelia Act III’, ‘Grand Defile’ and others

July 2010
Birmingham, Elmhurst School

by Julie Woodhams

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As posted on our Postings pages...

I'm not very eloquent, but I said elsewhere that I would do a "review" of the performance yesterday, so here are my thoughts. It was "Old Elms" today and my son said there were some well known faces there (particularly from BRB which he's always happy about) - so perhaps someone else could add their review later...

The school are putting on three programmes (one only performed the once for a gala evening). I watched yesterday (Saturday) afternoon.

The show opened with "The Argonauts" (from David Bintley's The Orpheus Suite). What a fabulous opening - full of energy showing off some of the older sixth form boys talents well. This was when I first notice Nicol Edmonds and he caught my eye through the rest of the afternoon.

Next was "Contract 8" - the dance the year 11s performed at the Gymnastics comp opening recently - interesting choreography and well rehearsed - to be expected as they had worked hard on it to be ready for the opening!

Then followed three character/national dances from the year 7,8 and 9s - some great potential showing there in some of the dancers - more later on my thoughts about the content generally...

Next was my favourite (for obvious reasons for those who know me) - Concerto - a classical piece, mainly made up of first year sixth form students - lovely music (Bruch Concerto No 1 in G) which I already love and seeing them dance to it brought me to tears. I have to admit to mainly having eyes for only one student but other than him Lydia Arnoux stood out (and again later as the Fiancee in Coppelia) as such a beautiful, petite dancer who just oozed a joy of dance.

The Pas de Quatre from Swan Lake was very capably danced by Megan King, Jessica Clyde, Joshua Barwick and Nicol Edmonds (two of my favourite boys in the year so I was pleased about the casting). Beautifully costumed and I think that helps to bring out the best in them.

Then the year 9 girls did a "modern" piece to a Hairspray song - lacking in enthusiam - sorry girls - really needed far more "oomph" (technical term there...) - they didn't look comfortable with the style but it's something they can work on.

Next we were treated to all the year 8, 9, 10 and 11 boys dancing to Michael Jackson songs - now they can teach the girls something about enthusiam!! (Just noticed Sam Brown's name in the credits for choreography - well done Sam - you did a great job). There are a few boys who stand out - one or two in each year, but I'm afraid I don't know their names.

Now my "blonde" moment comes - because I remember watching Le Cinq but can't remember a thing about it (that happens to me - think my brain shuts down temporarily). Sorry dancers!

So when my brain came back on-line it was time for the Graduate Showcase. Now this how I think the Defile should be - so it was a treat to have it put in the middle. I have mixed feelings about the graduate year performances so I'm not going to pick anyone out either way - but it was good to see them all dancing and a treat to hear that bit of Czerny (along with others) - thank you Sami for choosing it - gives me goosepimples. Now my only complaint - a pianist played and I personally (and I did hear a few comments about this in the interval) would have preferred to hear the orchestral versions and I'd've been happy with a recording. More about orchestras/theatres later...

After the interval, more Czerny (thank you Sami again), with "Studies for Dance" - I wasn't sure about this to start with as I initially was disappointed that it wasn't a "grander" bit of choreograhy, but by the end I'd decided I actually really enjoyed it. It was dance by a selection of students from different lower school years and they were all lovely. Beautifully performed.

And finally the icing on the cake - Coppelia Act III (well it would have been the icing for me if my son had been in it, but never mind...). A huge thank you to Sir Peter Wright for allowing them to put this on, and to David Bintley and BRB for the loan of the costumes (I presume) - how lovely to see them in such beautiful costumes. Nicol Edmonds and Megan King were a very "handsome" couple as Franz and Swanhilda. The "Dance of the Hours" was fabulous - well done girls - you looked like a strong corps de ballet. Abigail Prudames was very good "Dawn" and Sophie Rance danced a very moving "Prayer".

Then the usual Grand Defile to finish - this is my third year watching this and I'm always left feeling a bit disappointed - the various year groups are on so fleetingly - I would really like to see this developed more as a stronger finish.

Now just to go back to a couple of my earlier comments...

It's difficult with such a big school to give everyone a chance to shine in the end of year performances, but perhaps two different programmes could be offered with more for the lower school in one, and concentrating on the year 11s/sixth form in the other. Then, as parents, we'd all be a bit more satisfied. And the students need an opportunity to perform - they don't get many.

My next comment is linked in to that - please, please Mr Kelly, try to get them in a theatre for a gala performance. I thought it was a very strong programme this year, but I spent lots of time thinking how wonderful they would've looked on a "proper" stage with a live orchestra and a big audience to perform to. I want people from all round the country to be able to come and watch them, not just parents/families (we can't buy enough tickets for all the friends and family who want to come) and "Friends".

I don't know if there are tickets still available for the gala evening but it might be worth asking as I think Robert Parker is doing a solo! It's really not feasible for me to go up for a weekday evening performance, so I'm missing out.

I'm looking forward now to seeing the other programme on Friday on Speech Day - and happy to see that I'll get to see a bit of Giselle in that programme (but sadly not Concerto again ;-) )

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