When I was five-years-old, I first discovered the beauty of ballet and longed to dance all day long in my pink tutu, silky little shoes and my unruly, curly hair tied firmly back into a bun. My mum sent me along to ballet classes at my insistence, but I soon lost interest and told the teacher I didn’t want to do it any more because it was boring (mainly because each week the class had new members and I was bored of repeating the basics). I never had the staying power, or probably the dancing talent, to make it to the big time. My mum’s hopes of a ballet dancing daughter were dashed when she took me to watch Sleeping Beauty and I fell asleep through the whole thing!
Despite this, I’ve always loved ballet and thought the dancers were just so elegant and effortlessly graceful – as so many of us aspire to be. So when I had the opportunity to write about young dancers from the area being given the opportunity to perform Swan Lake alongside international principal dancers from the English Youth Ballet on the Norwich stage, I was very excited to be offered tickets to review the performance for the newspaper as a thanks. I took along one of my best friends who also loves dance and was never far from her tap shoes growing up.
From the second the curtain went up, the dancers had the whole audience hanging on their every step and pirouette, from the very youngest right up to the principal dancers. I had no choice but to look on in awe as they completed routine after routine, each more complicated than the last with a gentle grace and the most delicate of footsteps.
As a writer I feel ashamed that I don’t think myself capable of finding the right words to describe how utterly stunning the performance was, but eyes sparkling with tears and emotion throughout the audience, and the riotous applause at the end said it all. I was overwhelmed by the amount of time and thought that had gone into every intricate step, lift and movement – all planned to the very finest detail. Particularly with the youngest dancers who had been selected locally to perform, these dancers had spent just two weeks training with the English Youth Ballet and yet you struggled to tell them apart from the professionals. There was some serious up-and-coming talent on that stage and the audience certainly agreed, bursting out into applause at the end of a particularly detailed routine or clapping longer and harder than any audience I have previously come across.
Both me and my friend were left speechless by the performance – the only words we could use to sum it up were “Wow” and quite frankly I’m not even sure I’m doing the production justice in this post. All I know is that I have firmly rediscovered my love of dance, particularly ballet, and that it has certainly inspired me to watch other ballet productions. I am now rather desperate to go and see Matthew Bourne’s all-male version of Swan Lake, which I’m sure is equally breathtaking. For those unsure of whether they would love ballet of not – I can’t tell you whether you would or not, but I had thought I would find it boring when in reality I was transfixed. I would recommend going at least once in your life for an experience that is completely incomparable to theatre or cinema.
Are you a lover or a hater of the ballet? And have you seen a production by the English Youth Ballet?