Tag Archives: Royal Ballet School

Advancing Creativity


RB choreographic award

 

Advancing Creativity

Posted on February 16, 2015

On Thursday and Friday evening last week we showcased two key strands of our work, the Ursula Moreton Choreographic Award and aDvANCE. These innovative projects provide opportunities for Royal Ballet School students to explore their creativity and develop skills creating original work.

Ursula Moreton Choreographic Award

This year nine 2nd Year students were shortlisted to develop and show their choreography for the Award, which is generously sponsored by Peter Wilson. There was a rich display of ingenuity put before our three distinguished judges Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet, Jeanetta Laurence OBE, Associate Director of The Royal Ballet and Arthur Pita, choreographer. After much deliberation they awarded first prize to Arianna Maldini for Quia Contra (For and Against), a piece of choreography inspired by an imagined meeting of the four elements of nature: water, fire, air and earth. The piece was set to Ezio Bosso’s music Thunders and Lightnings.

Second prize went to Joseph Sissens for his piece inspired by the transatlantic slave trade called Let My People Go. His emotive choreography was set to The Bitter Earth by Max Richter and On the Nature of Daylight by Dinah Washington.

Third prize was awarded to Grace Paulley for Amo, Amas, Amat, which explored the grammar of love, and the luminosity of impressionist art. It was set to Debussy’s Reverie.

 

The Ursula Moreton Choreographic Award has played an important role in encouraging the development of young choreographers since its inception nearly half a century ago. It has provided a launchpad for many influential figures including David Bintley, Christopher Wheeldon, Cathy Marston and Liam Scarlett.

Ursula Moreton was an instrumental figure in the encouragement of emerging choreographic talent in the mid-20th century. By nurturing  great artists, such as Kenneth MacMillan and John Cranko, she played a vital role in the development of the British style. She was Chairman of the Royal Academy of Dance’s Production Club and later became Principal at The Royal Ballet School.

Our thanks to the judging panel for giving up their valuable time and to composer Russell Hepplewhite, who was music consultant to the choreographers. Congratulations to all the choreographers and dancers involved.

aDvANCE

Our aDvANCE scheme is part of our Dance Partnership & Access work, which provides broader access to ballet and the work of the School through an extensive range of primary and secondary school projects. aDvANCE offers our 1st Year students a unique opportunity to work with young people learning dance in other contexts. This year the students collaborated with students from Featherstone High School in Southall, West London. Over the past five months the young dancers have taken part in a series of creative and choreographic tasks as well as visiting each other’s schools to work together on a joint performance. On Thursday and Friday evening, the audience were treated to a performance by each school group separately before watching the collaborative piece Stabilimentum, choreographed by students themselves led by Dani Batchelor with assistance from Bim Malcomson.

The dancers took the tale of Arachne, a talented weaver who antagonised the goddess Athena and was then condemned to live as a spider, and developed it to create their own abstract interpretation of the story.

We are grateful for the generous support of the Department for Education, the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and The Royal Opera House Covent Garden Foundation.

via Advancing Creativity – Royal Ballet School.

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Teen Ballet Dancer Harrison Lee Wins Prestigious Prix de Lausanne Prize


REPOSTED FROM THE AGE/JOEL MEARES
Harrison Lee, 15, back home in Castle Hill after winning the famed Prix de Lausanne. Photo: Steven Siewert

At first, Harrison Lee thought he was in trouble. His mother had called him into her bedroom early in the morning, and he was “a little scared” – this was not the regular morning routine at their Castle Hill home. Then she gave him the news: “She sat me down on her bed and said, ‘Congratulations, you’re going to Switzerland!'”

It was the news the 15-year-old had been waiting more than a month to hear, ever since he sent a DVD of himself performing a variation from the ballet Flames of Paris to the judges of the Prix de Lausanne, among the world’s most prestigious competitions for young dancers. From 300 entrants, he was one of 70 invited to Lausanne, on the shores of Lake Geneva, for a week of classes and performances.

“When she told me I got in, happiness just took over my body,” says Lee. But he did not leap down the road, Billy Elliot-style, painting his delight for the world in pirouettes and arabesques. “I’m not one to scream and shout and go crazy,” he says calmly. “It just took over inside.”

Harrison Lee: The dancer won the Youth America Grand Prix in 2014. Photo: Steven Siewert

Last week, after eight days of classes and major performances, Lee took top prize in Lausanne. He again showed trademark control when called forward from a line of finalists – some three and four years his senior. “I was shocked, and I was getting very emotional so I had to hold that in until it was over.” He adds with a laugh: “I didn’t want to watch this back five years later and see myself crying.”

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The Lausanne win comes just shy of a year since Lee took out the equally prestigious Youth America Grand Prix: the one-two punch puts him among the most promising, and prized, young dancers in the world. Watching the YouTube video of Lee performing his classical variation at the Lausanne finals – a video that has clocked 37,000 views in less than a week – it is easy to see why. His control and strength astounds: he springs to impossible heights from the raked stage; his toes arch improbably towards his heel. One commenter writes under the video: “Good lord those feet are so good they should pay taxes!”

Brisbane’s Lucid Dance Theatre founder Louise Deleur was a choreographer at the Prix, and watched Harrison on stage and in classes, where the dancers are also scored. “He was blessed with these long legs and beautiful feet,” says Deleur, “but what also stood out about Harrison was his humility and graciousness in class. He’s a beautiful soul to work with.”

Lee spent a week in London before the competition taking classes at the Royal Ballet School. He did some sightseeing – Harry Potter World, even though he’s not a great fan of the boy wizard – but mostly it was business. It’s the same at home: he takes two hours of ballet every day at the McDonald College, and three more hours every day after school. His diet “is not as strict as the girls” but he watches what he eats. He points out, humbly, that teachers Josephine Jason, Jane Kesby and Allan Cross have sacrificed as much as he has for his success.

The goal, Lee says, is to become the principal dancer at a company so that “I can dance as many lead roles as I can”. He’s not being unrealistic. Following his successful 12 months, Lee now has his choice of schools: by September he will be living in New York and attending the American Ballet Theatre, or in London at the Royal Ballet, or anywhere else he chooses to attend in Europe. Recruiters are clamouring.

“It’s weird to think at 16 I will be on the other side of the world, living by myself and cooking and cleaning and washing up,” says Lee. “It’s scary, but it’s what I’ve been training for.”

For mother Cindy, a travel agent, the prospect of Harrison moving is bittersweet. The family delights in his success – his brother skipped schoolies to go to Switzerland and watch Harrison compete; Cindy gets giddy recalling how Li Cunxin (of Mao’s Last Dancer fame) told her he was looking forward to seeing her son dance.

“But it’s sad too to think of your child travelling so far away at such a young age,” she admits. “A lot of people probably don’t understand it – people who don’t have a child with a passion or dream and the talent don’t understand how you could see your child do that. We’re happy to see him reach his goals.”

And wherever Lee lands, mum will be visiting. A lot. “It will be a path well worn, I imagine,” she says.

via Ballet dancer Harrison Lee wins prestigious Prix de Lausanne prize.