yr 12 invitation

Elmhurst Year 12 in The Invitation. Pictures: Magda Hoffman


Elmhurst Ballet School

The last end of year show at Elmhurst turned out to be more an end of decade affair in the different world we enjoyed in 2019, the most recent contender to become the good old days.

Ironically it was called Awakenings and came just before the world went into the fearful hibernation of Covid and lockdowns.

The Summer Show was impossible in 2020 and 2021’s planned, rehearsed and ready show was cruelly abandoned after a Covid outbreak.

So, the Gala evening was a return to a sort of normality, although a few mask wearing patrons perhaps showed the normality of the past is now a foreign land we will never visit again.

For the students the end of year shows are a chance to strut their stuff and strut the stuff of Britain’s oldest ballet school, which celebrates its centenary next year.

Ballet is Elmhurst’s focus, but as well as a rounded academic education - this is a school after all - Elmhurst aims to provide a rounded dance education, so along with the classical and exacting discipline of ballet is mixed in contemporary dance, jazz, flamenco, tap and any other dance style that can be taught.


Youngsters from Year 7 in Unity and Grace


This year’s series of concerts came under the banner of Ascent and included dances we had seen earlier in Immerse, the bill danced by the school’s innovative Elmhurst Ballet Company, set up as a sort of halfway house for graduate year students between the sheltered life in school and the cut and thrust world of professional dance.

Thus, we had graduate student Olivia Chang-Clarke showing her choreography skills with Tetris, based on the Tetris Theme by Trifantasy Trio, in turn based on the Russian folk song Korobeiniki, (Peddlers) which achieved legendary status as the electronic music for Nintendo’s version of Tetris on the 1989 Gameboy.

Another ballet company piece was Majisimo, with music from Jules Massenet's opera and subsequent opera Le Cid, the tale of legendary Spanish hero El Cid, and choreographed by Cuba’s George Garcia, This is a Spanish themed danced with confident professionalism from four couples danced by Satsuki Ueda, Leah Allen, Alyssa Holliday-Smith, Lara Tessier, Mackenzie Jacob, Shea Linley, Zack Pye, and Year 13 Student William Davolls. The dance was accompanied by pianist Yen Lee.

A third company piece was excerpts from Atomos choreographed by Company Wayne McGragor set to music written for the piece by American duo, A Winged Victory for The Sullen.

This is a dance of singles, duos, trios and groups, bodies intertwining, bending shapes and forms with singles, duos, trios, groups bending around each other, sometimes a clash, sometimes creating a single entity all created by Leah Allen, Olivia Chang-Clarke, Alyssa Holliday-Smith, Lara Tessier Mackenzie Jacob, Shea Linley, Zack Pye, Isabel Falcus, Alice Higginbottom and Holly Slater.

Year 13 students also appeared in Concerto jn D Minor from celebrated choreographer Morgann Runacre-Temple based on Vivaldi’s work with an added modern sound in a contemporary ensemble piece.


Year 11 students in the more classical ballet style of The Celebration

Year 11 students returned to the core discipline of ballet with Celebration Waltz choreographed by Elmhurst ballet teachers Lee Robinson and Gloria Grigolato and set to music from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, a discipline embraced by the entire cast in the Grand Défilé as the stage filled for the final curtain set to the Polonaise from the same Tchaikovsky opera.

We had opened with a huge cast of year 13 students in Hear My Voice choreographed by New Zealand born Corey Baker to the soulful singing of California born Celeste who grew up in Saltdean next door to Brighton. Celeste, incidentally, spent a year training in ballet at a performing arts college at the age of 10, where she was offered a scholarship. In another life she could have been dancing to someone's else's song.

The youngsters of Year 9  gave us Let the Rhythm do the Talking choreographed by head of contemporary jazz Jenny MacNamara set to Truth Don Die by Femi Kuti awash with Latin rhythms, with more contemporary dance from Year 12 with The Invitation choreographed by Elmhurst contemporary teacher Sandrine Monin set to the hypnotic Saint-Saëns by Mooryc.

Ballet again with Unity and Grace from Years 7-9 choreographed by Jenna Lee and set to music from Alexander Glazunov 1898 classical ballet Raymonda.

Year 10 moved us on almost 120 years with Confident, based on the song of the same name by Demi Lovato with choreography from the school’s jazz teacher Sarah-Jayne Blackwell, which brought in a tap routine, a dance genre which has had a huge resurgence over the past decade or so.

The range of dance was there for all to see, all executed with a delightful enthusiasm and no mean talent by pupils who have been waiting for two years to show us what they can do, and they did it in some style.

Roger Clarke



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