English National Ballet | Overdose

When your twitter feed is constantly full of praise and excitement for English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire, and every time you read a newspaper and there is ANOTHER glowing review, it makes the wait for your turn to watch a very long one.

Finally, my turn came on Friday night and I got to see it.

What should have just been a regular trip to the ballet turned into 24 hours of ENB-dancer-spotting, Acosta-show-stealing, inferiority-complex-inducing and oh-my-god-there’s-Tamara-Rojo moments.

Before we even got inside the theatre the ENB-dancer-spotting-game had begun. Yonah Acosta walked right past us, across the road and into the shop opposite.

Then I had my first Balletomane Fail. I had read the seating plan the wrong way round while booking tickets and rather than be second row from the front we were second row from the back. Cue doubt over whether I have read the seating plan right for Romeo and Juliet in June…I think I have booked front row tickets for Rojo/Acosta. I feel a massive self-induced sulk coming on if I am at the back.

Dancer-Spotting Round Two: Ksenia Ovsyanic walking around the stalls looking for her seat. I guess you do see a lot more from the back…

Le Corsaire was amazing, and another performance that is broadening my ballet watching repertoire away from the traditional classics. Shiori Kase as Gulnare was the highlight of the evening for me, lightfooted, quick and very graceful, showcasing steps I have just learnt in class, but doing it a million times better!
Yonah Acosta clearly stole the show with his crazy-high jumps/turns/splits. Acosta clearly got the biggest cheers at curtain call that night.

Le Corsaire is particularly different from most ballets I have seen in the way the danseurs get to show off their strength throughout, with the most amazingly powerful and high jumps and turns. Unfortunately Ken Saruhashi was injured in Act I doing just that. He handled the injury well, managing to hold out until the end of the scene before hobbling off stage.

Dancer-Spotting Round Three started on Saturday morning waiting outside the theatre to watch company class. In fact, I lost count of the number of dancers recognised as they headed towards the stage door. By the time we had gone in, I was having some sort of major ballet-nerd-out and feeling pretty giddy about watching ENB in class. (And yes, I was holding out for the fact that Tamara/Daria/Vadim could be in class.)

Class kicked off with Hua Fang Zhang teaching just like last time. Again, I was amazed at how quickly the dancers followed her instructions at the barre. And, again I was amazed at the strength, the flexibility and the skill of the dancers.

As I have been struggling with my pirouettes recently I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to watch the professionals and pick up a few tips. In fact all that happened was that as the class went on I started to feel very small, very inferior and almost embarrassed to admit that I dance too.

Watching class is very different to watching a performance. The performance is the finished product, class is where you see all of the hard work and effort that goes into being a dancer and it certainly makes you appreciate the dancers more.
I didn’t pick up any tips, they all turn like demons, too quick to break anything down properly. The chainé turns were gorgeous, and I really want to do them in class again soon.

There was a little highlight at the end of class. Vadim suddenly appeared in view and we had the little treat of watching him and Fernanda Oliveira rehearse briefly on stage. It was like ‘bonus-Vadim-time‘ before he left for the Royal Ballet. Bittersweet but a nice little bit of ballet history to treasure.

Dancer Spotting Round Four: Daria wasn’t at class, so I doubt I will get to watch her dance ever again. However, there was somebody walking around the stalls quite a bit. Her name is Tamara Rojo and every time she walked by I think my heart stopped a bit. And spotting Tamara Rojo defintely earns you the most points in the Dancer Spotting game, even if it does send you over the edge.


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