summer creations

Flying high: Year 14 in Tempting Fate  by Zak Nemorin 

Summer Creations – New Works

Elmhurst Ballet School


School concerts are not the normal fare of reviewers, but then Elmhurst is not a normal school, nor was this a normal concert.

Like any school it maintains academic standards but first and foremost it is a ballet school, a school of dance in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Its school leavers this year will be joining companies from New York to Estonia, Florida to Switzerland including such prestigious names as BRB, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre’s junior company.

Their final showcase brings together the entire school from Year 7 to Year 14 highlighting not only the talent but also the diversity of the training which saw tap, jazz, contemporary, classical and, perhaps the most spectacular, Flamenco.



Seville comes to South Birmingham with Year 13 and Emociones by Ana Garcia 

Both flamenco pieces were choreographed by the wonderful Ana Garcia, the driving force behind Flamenco Birmingham and a long-standing guest teacher at Elmhurst. Ana studied both classical ballet and Spanish dance, achieving outstanding exam results in both at the Málaga Conservatorie.

It means she knows the demands of both ballet and flamenco. The first piece, Out of Line, with Laura Vanhulle, co-choreographer, saw Year 11 in a dance that was, fast, slick and full of enthusiasm, with the magical Marco “el Canastero” on guitar.

Forget flamenco for tourists, this is the real sound and heart of Andalucía and Marco can make his guitar talk to you, adding the cante, the haunting flamenco vocals, in the second piece, Emociones, which also saw Nina Wertz on piano, all danced by pupils from Years 12, 13 and 14.

Flamenco is about passion and emotion, the sensual soul of Spain, and the three year groups produced a pulsating display in brilliant, rhythmic unison leading to a standoff full of macho bravado and preening elegance between James Lovell and Ryan Felix.


Bailaor . . . James Lovell  in Emociones

From Spain to Scotland with a touch of the highland fling from Year 8 with Cruinneachadh, Gaelic for gathering, with jigs and reels from famed Scottish fiddler Paul Anderson. On display was a lightness of touch and lovely unison of delicate steps choreographed by Nicky Linzie

The opening number, from Year 7, added more to the variety with jazz and Tangled Vine, with music by Phil Collins from Tarzan, the Broadway musical, which introduced tap and choreographer Sarah Moore managed to create a clever human chain, reminiscent of the caterpillar ride on a 1950’s fairground.

Contemporary dance saw Powers of Reasoning from Year 9 (Jenny MaNamara), Ask Yourself from Year 13 (Stéphen Delattre), Flight from Year 14 (alexander Whitley), with music from composers as diverse as Canadian Plastikman and American Bryce Dressner and Alex F.

It brought in electronic music, repetitive, hypnotic percussion, and, in Ask Yourself, pointe work to show the variety not only within dance but also music.

There was variety with a theme in Classical Inspiration which comprised of eight short pieces danced to music by composers Grieg, Dvorak, Khachaturian, Vivaldi and Gershwin along with Benjamin Britten’s gloriously rich and imperious Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, his  Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell.

Eight pieces danced by pupils from Years 7 to 11, opening with a summer scene to Dvorak’s Slavonic dances No 6, which could have been set on a beach, appropriate with the weather, moving on to the accelerating crescendo of  Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt.

summer 3

Classical form: Year 14 in Concerto Toccata by Brogan McKelvey 

Each piece different, each well executed with some complex well-timed movement in what were almost the ballet dancers equivalents of a pianist’s Chopin études.  A chance to display ability and refine technique.

It saw a range from classical to jazz with Gershwin, jazz being another genre of dance in the Elmhurst locker. The show opened with Tangled Vines with later Tempting Fate (Zak Nemorin) with music by Ricky Martin singing La Mordidita. Hip swaying Latin swing with Year 14 showing some great technique. None of them would look out of place, nor out of their depth in a professional musical chorus line

Swing (Sarah Moore) brought in a medley from the likes of Duke Ellington and Clarence Williams, with a theme and style that evoked the golden age of swing in the 1920s and 30s. We even had tap with canes, and tap is always impressive with a full chorus line, 21 in this case, in unison.

But the primary focus is ballet, the clue being in the name of the school, which saw not only the classical inspirations but also the waltz and march from Act 1 of Sir Peter Wright's Giselle, dances from Coppélia, Year 12 (Gloria Grigolato and Silvia Jimenez), and Concierto de Fuego, Year 14 (the late Errol Pickford and Leo Zhao), with music by Arturo Márquez which brought a solo performance from the supremely talented Reo Morikawa – remember the name, you will surely hear it again.

No dancer could be faulted but Reo was among that small band of pupils in the summer creations who stand out; the ones who make dance look elegant, easy and fun, an enjoyment which shows in their faces. Even dancing in unison, one of a group of excellent dancers, they still have that certain something that sets them apart, still seem to have more time than anyone else. 

Elmhurst aims to place 85 per cent of its leavers within six months and with standards this high it is easy to see why.

Roger Clarke



The destinations of this year’s graduates include:

In August, the athletic and dynamic Joseph Taylor joins Birmingham Royal Ballet as an Apprentice as the second recipient of the ‘Birmingham Royal Ballet and Elmhurst Ballet School Award for Excellence’. This annual award is made possible by a generous gift from an anonymous donor and funds one exceptional graduate from Elmhurst Ballet School to join Birmingham Royal Ballet on a one-year apprenticeship. Joseph follows in the footsteps of Jade Wallace, last Year’s awardee.

As an Elmhurst student, Joseph performed with Birmingham Royal Ballet in The Tempest, Cinderella and Aladdin and graduates from the school with the ‘Horton’s Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Elmhurst’ accolade.

Graduating a Year early from Elmhurst Ballet School is second Year Upper School student and Head Boy James Lovell. James will make his debut with New Adventures in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake 2018/19 tour as The Prince.

International offers for the Class of 2018 include: Orla Ruth Baxendale joins Ailey II, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s junior company in New York, as an Apprentice; Sarah Eddie joins the Ajkun Ballet Theatre in New York; Harvey Evans joins Sarasota Ballet in Florida; Brittany Green joins Vanemuine Ballet Theater in Estonia; Janice Felices and Lin Fujimoto join Romanian National Ballet; and Reo Morikawa joins Balet de Catalunya, Tokiko Sasao join Cinevox Theatre Ballet in Switzerland while Kianna Stephens pursues a career in commercial dance and joins P&O Cruises.

Georgia Smart and Ai Sa Vivian Mok join the Graduate Programme of Northern Ballet and Serina Faull joins Vienna Festival Ballet which is based in the UK.

Rebecca Hudson and Josef Jagger have been offered Elmhurst Ballet School Graduate Placements, a one year award allows graduating students to continue their training in kind and gain invaluable experience across all school departments including Artistic, Boarding, Development and Communications.  

Delightfully nimble dancer Yuzu Hikosaka returns to Japan to continue her dance training and Niamh Robinson heads to London to pursue a career in dance.

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