Ballet dancers impress with whimsical tale
La Sylphide was beautifully brought to life at The Maltings on Sunday by the Jane Keenan School of Dance.
From the very smallest dancers to the impressive corps de ballet on pointe, the performance was a whimsical tale of the sylph who stole the ring to stop a Scottish farmer marrying his love.
Fortunately it all turned out to be a dream and James woke up in his own kitchen to find that the wedding was able to go on as planned.
A real strength of Jane’s choreography is the story-telling and her dancers once again demonstrated their understanding of combining acting and dancing to relay the tale to their audience.
The different groups of dancers took their places on stage like true professionals and with their stunning costumes – designed by Jacqueline Thompson and kilts loaned by Nancy Steele – and the backdrop in both the farmhouse kitchen and then in the forest, the whole performance was a feast for the eyes.
Playing the male lead –James the Scottish farmer – Daniel Clelland was peforming his final role with the ballet school and once again he set the standard with his dancing ability and interpretation of the story. He is taking a place at Northern Ballet, aiming to become a professional dancer.
Tanith Bain, who played Effie the bride-to-be, danced beautifully with Daniel, her lightness of step in some of the fast footwork impressive.
Special mention must be made of Liberty Holloway and Phoebe Weddle who took on the role of the sylph at very short notice, when Anna Noonan was unable to perform because of injury. Anna coached the two girls for only a few days and they rose to the challenge impressively, Liberty dancing the sylph in the first performance and Phoebe taking up the role for the second.
For a provincial ballet school with dancers from the age of four upwards to take on the classical ballets rather than produce a show of separate dances is quite a feat but one that Jane has perfected over the years.
As well as strong choreography, ability and commitment from the cast, a successful show also requires support from parents and a whole backstage team worked tirelessly to make sure everything ran smoothly. The result was a triumph once again for Jane, who has been producing beautiful performances from her dancers for 25 years.