“We are very lucky, at LCB, with our patrons,” explained Laura Jane Ogilvy, a trustee of the charity, at the beginning of the evening before introducing much loved Royal Ballet principle, Lauren Cuthbertson to the stage. In the intimate setting of the Linbury Studio Theatre, Lauren was joined by fellow principle Nehemiah Kish for an exclusive Masterclass on the progression of the par de deux. Captivating all with her wit, charisma and warmth throughout, the audience delighted in hearing Lauren’s tales of working with Sergei Polunin, Federico Bonelli and choreographer Wayne McGregor as well as enjoying stunning examples of par de deux from many parts of the Royal’s extensive repertoire.
The Masterclass progressed from the first steps learnt in school aged 14 to the innovative and original choreography of Christopher Wheeldon in the Royal Ballet’s recent production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In an example of an exercise perfected in the early years of training the audience learnt of the perils of the shoulder sit (no man wants a face full of tutu …) and the necessary balance and skills required to master even the basics of the dynamic that should unfold between the man and the woman.
It was obvious from the comments flying around at the drinks reception which followed that Lauren charms her audience in voice equally as much as she does on the main Opera House stage; “I notice there are a couple of empty seats but I hear it’s a really good episode of Downton Abbey tonight.” She quipped, while after performing a dazzling moment from The Nutcracker she added “book now for Christmas!” with a knowing smile. Moreover, she and Nehemiah were more than happy to talk to the wealth admirers post Masterclass over a drink or two, an implicit act demonstrating perfectly how LCB strives to connect ballet with a wider audience.
The Masterclass is one of the many unique experiences LCB offers its supporters and young dancers. For those unaware of their small but vital existence in the ballet world, LCB is a free opportunity for those who successfully audition to perform on the West End stage for a week in April. Most recently a talented cast of 50 performed Frances Hodgeson Burnett’s classic A Little Princess to sell out audiences. It is easy to understand why the LCB is held in such high regard with the appointment of Lauren as patron not the only Royal Ballet involvement the charity has enjoyed; soloist Samantha Raine was responsible for the choreography of A Little Princess and 2013’s production of The Secret Garden will be the work of Erico Montes. Additionally, the afternoon of September 23rd had also seen 24 LCB dancers enjoy a workshop with soloist Jonathan Watkins, yet another ballet star who understands and importance of the experience the LCB offers and will voluntarily offer up his only free day of the week to nurture young talent.
Neither do you need to look far for LCB success stories, indeed Ella Vickerman, responsible for dancing the role of Sara in their most recent production, has freshly been accepted into the Royal Ballet School and many others similarly gain places into vocational schools during and after their time with LCB. Given the evening I was fortunate enough to witness, it is hardly surprising the children are so inspired by the LCB experience. After all, where else can a young dancer go to have the opportunity to sit, listen entranced and gaze wide eyed, at one of their ballet idols passing on their wisdom to a future generation?
First published on www.dancetabs.com