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REVIEW | Summer Variations | Elmhurst Ballet School

The renowned Birmingham ballet school Elmhurst opened its doors to present its dynamically diverse selection of dances, including a very special final performance choreographed by David Bintley.

In association with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Elmhurst is a school that teaches ballet and dance to the highest of standards in order to prepare the students for the industry. The performances of the evening were danced by the upper school, which included graduates that have secured a place in Birmingham Royal Ballet’s next season.

The performance showcases the excellence of the dancers and gives them all a chance to shine. Opening with Explosion Polka, cchoreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton, it is a colourful first dance that set the tone of the performance. With tight technique and expressive faces, the standard is set very high as soon as the first dancer steps on stage. The year 14 students then erupt onto stage to perform the contemporary number Next Breath where their bodies sculpted organically to create a visually striking number that is entirely engaging.

I was highly impressed by the Pas de Deux between Saho Nozaki and Jordan Wright in Suite of Dancers, choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton, Errol Pickford and Lei Zhao. The delicacy of their partner work is mesmerising, and each lift looked sensationally effortless. Not only do they dance beautifully together but their expression and connection is radiant, it is a truly stunning Pas de Deux.


Year 13 in Ana Garcia’s flamenco ‘Soleá’


Other highly enjoyable moments were when the dancers broke out of the more traditional forms of dance to display their versatility as dancers. Bringing some Spanish flavour to the piece, the flamenco numbers Compromiso and Soleá were spicy, sassy and feisty – it was a great moment to see some of the dancers’ personality shine through this stylish performance. Similarly, in the second act the jazz number Another Day Of Sun from La La Land performed by the year 14s. It portrayed the dancers in a different light as it allowed them to really use their animated faces and go all out with the musical theatre sense of style.

However, of course the highlight of the evening was David Bintley’s piece Comic Cuts, which is an inventive selection of comedic dancers and character numbers. The year 14s really consumed themselves in this piece and gave it the personality and performance. Opening with The Big House, the bouncy movement is sharp and slick, and the intricacy of the ensemble movement creates a feast for the eyes. Billy Brooke and Jordan Wright’s duet as penguins was naturally funny and the Ugly Bug Ball’s playful movement is a real delight.

Hamish Scott and Saho Nozaki as Pharaoh and Cleopatra in the Egyptian Barn Dance stands out as a real favourite, as their stage presence is utterly commanding as a pair. As all the characters unite to perform the finale of the piece, it is an outstanding end to a really high-calbre production. You wouldn’t want to miss these stars of the future displaying the exquisite talent produced by Elmhurst Ballet School.

Read more about the school here.

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