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100. English National Ballet

Updated: Apr 12, 2019

When I was little I took dance lessons. I couldn't get enough of it, adamant that I needed to do it in all its various forms to be an actor someday. My poor mum spent many a draughty weekend stood at a competition or show in a field or car park somewhere in central Bedfordshire watching her daughter massacre the beautiful art of ballet.


I tried. But I was flat-footed and awkward and the odds were against me. I watched as my classmates developed into elegant young dancers, decided it was time to call it a day and got a Saturday job.

So ballet, well most dancing to be honest, is now something I consider a spectator sport. Something to watch the professionals or drunk people do. So when my friend reached out to the English National Ballet on my behalf I was excited to see if they'd respond. if you're going to see ballet for the first time then who better to see than them.

To my great excitement they offered me two tickets for 'She Persisted', a programme of three performances choreographed by women about women.


[Choreographed by Anabelle Lopez Ochoa]

This tells the story of Frida Kahlo's life and was my favourite. Why? Because it had the right balance for me of colour (a big surprise, the pink haired girl likes colour!) and light and shade, with wit and sadness muddled in.

The choreographer showed the characters of the people portrayed so cleverly and so sympathetically, it's amazing that they were only dancing, I came away feeling like I had seen a play. The music during certain points was incredible, dramatic soaring vocals in a Spanish-style.


[Choreographed by Stina Quagebeur]

The second piece was choreographed from within the troupe and interpreted the story of 'A Doll's House' by Henrik Ibsen focusing mainly on the character of Nora.

I love the fact that the English National Ballet surface talent this way, pulling on the strengths of people already within the company and encouraging them to flourish.

This piece was beautiful, perhaps more subtle than the one before but nevertheless still powerful. I really loved how they shaped their bodies to show emotions like anger.


[Choreographed by Pina Bausch]

The third piece started with intrigue for me. A crew pulled four large containers onto the stage and tipped dirt out of them onto the floor. My immediate thought was 'how the heck are they going to clear that all up later?' We then watched as they raked it out neatly and with such order that I thought THAT might be the dance.

The piece itself was mesmerising, the dancers at times moving completely in unison, their bodies angular and broken looking, contorting into shapes I have never seen people move into before.

As my first adult ballet experience I don't think I could have topped this. Three such distinct pieces performed by incredibly talented people and created by women. That's something special.

Buy tickets here.

Photos: English National Ballet


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