English National Ballet School, London
May 1, 2019
Later this year, the English National Ballet school moves to their impressive new home on London City Island, a facility which brings the school and company under one roof. While the studios might be nearing their sell-by date, the talent within was fresh and inspirational in this final choreographic evening at their old premises in Chelsea.
There were new criteria for the awards this year. First years danced in solos of their own choreography, second years had to do a group piece and third years could make their own choices. The first years also had to select music from a list of the best of contemporary classical composers including Philip Glass, Max Richter, John Cage and Dimitri Shostakovich. This limited choices, but the results were creative and novel. A top award for whoever is leading musical education at ENBS.
First year solo winner was Katharine Lee. Her Curiously Haunting embodied these words in ballet that ventured beyond the traditional boundaries. A performer of charm, she combined her strong technique with fluid movement in a work of expressive maturity.
Stefano Magosso’s Beyond Myself to music by Philip Glass, was a work of unabashed self-expression. His warm personality would have earned him the audience prize, (had it been on offer) however this fun, quirky work using innovative floor work, gained second prize.
Third prize went to an energetic work from Andrea Zulian, also using music by Glass, but the expression was now interior and angst ridden. The choreography, effectively structured, involved the whole body with arms and upper body fully engaged in an original and unusual style. Not placed but worthy of mention, was Maya Nye’s Awaking of Senses where attention to detail and originality scored in a performance of great integrity.
In the group section first prize went to third year student, Cai Sesma Pérez, for My Dear Love set to Max Richter’s Sarajevo. It referenced the Bosnian war but rather than portraying the conflict it was a moving expression of grief by a quartet of women gaining strength in their shared sorrow. It was performed with maturity and understanding notable from Maeve Nolan.
Second prize went to another third year, Laura Trabalón Sanjuán for When lost in our minds … to Verses by Ólafur Arnalds. It was a duet that moved outside the box, in a relationship that alluded to both harmony and disaffection in choreography of contrasts. This piece also benefitted from committed performances from Nolan and her partner, Victor González Pérez.
Third place winner and one of the most interesting works of the evening, was Impermanence, created by a team of second year choreographers: Katarina Jakimier, Joel Kioko, Liudmila Loglisci, Alejandro Moya, Federico Romaniello and Penelope Scarian. It was a complex work with ambitious innovative movement but an innate sense of structure gave it impressive cohesion. Their theme was finding balance and existing together in equilibrium, and this they achieved in concrete form.
Despite the fact that Director of Dance, Carlos Valcárcel, nor the full panel of judges were able to attend, this evening was about developing new choreographic talent and on that score it was hugely successful. Many of the students had chosen to explore complex concepts and found ways, with a greater or lesser degree of success, of expressing this in dance. And this is something to celebrate.