Royal Ballet School Meets Again on Stage

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LONDON – Students Royal Ballet School During the UK’s first quarantine last spring, classrooms scattered around the world went virtual and it was pretty tough at first.

It wasn’t just the time differences between Chinese, Australian, and Japanese students, among others, who weren’t eager to get up in the middle of the night to meet their classmates at the virtual barre in Europe during the day.

Technical problems also arose as the recorded music played by the teachers was out of sync. “When I look at my screen, big war and our legs would be in different positions and everyone was on completely different timings,” he recalls. Ava May Llewellyn, 19-year-old British ballerina who has been in school since she was 11. “And the teachers always said, ‘Yeah, really good job. But musically, I really don’t know who’s right.’”

But things got better.

With the UK’s second (October) and third (December-March 2021) quarantines, teachers and students have reconfigured their digital settings, allowing them to work with a live companion, and living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and back patios around the world have become makeshifts. . dance studios.

Next week, the students’ hard work during the hybrid training – they return to face-to-face teaching in early March – will be showcased in annual summer performances on the main stage at the Royal Opera House. On Saturday, for the first time in two years, 88 out of 210 dancers will be able to perform in front of an exhausted, socially distancing audience.

This year’s showcase, which was highly anticipated as it was canceled due to last year’s pandemic, features classical pieces alongside contemporary pieces such as choreographer Kenneth MacMillan’s 1974 “Elite Syncopations” for the Royal Ballet.

Founded 95 years ago by dancer and choreographer Ninette de Valois, the Royal Ballet School is the official training center for both the Royal Ballet and the Royal Ballet, headquartered in the Royal Opera House. Birmingham Royal Ballet. Over the years, both ballet companies recruited most of their dancers from school graduates.

Royal Ballet director Kevin O’Hare described the show as “a fantastic opportunity to witness some of the most exciting talent in dance today” in an email, and Caroline Miller, head of the Birmingham Royal Ballet. The school’s “excellent classical education developed what is now celebrated worldwide as the ‘English style’.”

On the outskirts of London live dancers aged 11-16 at the lower school; Others, 16 to 19, are in the upper school, connected by a footbridge to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.

There are approximately 30 students in each grade year, split almost equally between boys and girls. Until the final show on 10 July this year, where only older students will participate, the school will have run 32 shows across London, mostly just for parents and school supporters.

Famous alumni of the school include Margot Fonteyn, Darcey Bussell, Marianela Nuñez and Sergei Polunin. “A lot of people really want to go there,” he said. Clark EselgrothAt age 18, she went home to North Carolina during her first quarantine. “I grew up watching performance videos of Royal Ballet, so I always thought this was my dream.”

Like a number of international students during the curfew, Mr. Eselgroth was unable to attend the same classes as his year group or have a regular teacher. “But I had other teachers that I didn’t have, which was really great,” she said. “The more eyes you have for different things, the more hopeful you will be.”

Miss Llewellyn has also found a bright side in isolation. “I’ve definitely learned to be persevering, self-motivated and self-correcting more,” she said of working in a small bar in her parents’ bedroom in Bristol. “In the studio at school, you’re doing all these exciting line parts,” so there may not be time to think about working on “these little details.”

Teachers also found some satisfaction. Ricardo Cervera He said digital teaching is “uncharted territory for everyone,” but with surprising benefits. Students didn’t just have to go back to the basics – most homes didn’t have room for moves like jumps and pirouettes – they also focused more on things like Pilates and strength training.

“By the time we got back to school, we could fly and go much faster,” said Mr Cervera, a former first soloist of the Royal Ballet and an alumnus of the school. “We had a lot of time to work on all the key elements – participation, placement, all their fit. And actually, as a result, I saw real improvement in their technique, they came back really strong and confident in their own abilities.”

He added that the school could incorporate some digital learning as a tool to strengthen ballet foundations.

With all the dancers dying to get back to the studio, the school’s medical team moved in with the teachers to evaluate how to do it. comforting the dancers come back from injury and take care of their mental health as well.

“She was a little shocked at first,” said Miss Llewelyn of the return, “but you know, she’s coming back quickly.”

Mr. Eselgroth, who will be joining the Finnish National Ballet’s youth troupe in the fall, said he was drawn to butterflies when the students recently started costume rehearsals for the show. He was like, “Wow, that’s why I’m doing this,” he said, “which is a huge source of happiness for all of us.”

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