Visitors to Elmhurst play a vital role in the development of our staff and students. Guests last term included artists from the ballet, contemporary and jazz dance worlds, and football too!
In January, continuing our series of Birmingham Royal Ballet enrichment activities, Year 11 students worked with the company’s recently promoted to Principal Yaoqian Shang and First Artist Gus Payne. The BRB dancers taught excerpts from the modern ballet Radio and Juliet, choreographed by Edward Clug and set to the music of Radiohead. This was followed by a question-and-answer session on dancing with the UK's premiere touring ballet company.
February was a busy time with visitors starting with Year 8 students receiving a workshop with Regan Hutsell. Regan has enjoyed a varied dance career from performing with The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall in New York to dancing with the Houston Contemporary Dance Company. Regan delivered a lesson on how to apply professional make-up for the stage followed by a question-and-answer session on life as a professional dancer.
West End performer, choreographer and film-maker Zak Nemorin came into school to choreograph a jazz piece for the graduate students in preparation for the Elmhurst Ballet Company Immerse performances next month. Zak is a long-standing friend of Elmhurst and regularly visits the school to choreograph and deliver jazz assessment workshops for the Upper School.
Also in February, Sir Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker performed to packed houses at Birmingham Hippodrome. Included in the cast are five Elmhurst alumni: Gabriella De Souza; James Lovell; Enrique Ngbogota; Isaac Bowry; and Alistair Beattie. They are all thriving in the New Adventures company and we were extremely grateful and happy that they found the time to return to their training ground to meet with current students. So inspiring for all involved!
In March we welcomed former BRB Principal Chi Cao to the school to work with students. Chi also starred in the feature film Mao’s Last Dancer - if you haven’t seen it, it is definitely worth a watch! Lucas Vaillefond delivered workshops to Years 12, 13 and the soon-to-be graduates of EBC. Lucas is an internationally renowned contemporary dance teacher and choreographer and has taught in many dance schools and conservatoires around the world.
Guests also visit Elmhurst from outside the dance world. In March, football and dance collided in an exchange of innovative teaching ideas. Pete Sturgess, National Lead Coach of the Football Association, Kevin Shoemake, Chief Executive of the Birmingham Football Association, and Holly Murdoch, General Manager of the Football Association’s St George’s Park continued a dialogue between the school and Association about training methodologies and the similarities around working with young elite athletes and dancers. Some students enjoyed an impromptu coaching session with Pete and they are keen for him to return. Watch the space as the dialogue continues!
Also in March, Elmhurst Ballet Company members benefitted from digital Media and PR training facilitated by Amar and Mandeep Sraan from the Birmingham based Make it Reel film production company. This is an
important addition to final year training as more and more dance companies turn to film to promote their work.
April saw international choreographer Jenna Lee observing classes and delivering workshops for Years 7, 8 and 9 students – all in preparation for Jenna’s summer show creation.
Elmhurst Ballet Company worked collaboratively with Louis McMiller from Studio Wayne McGregor. Students have relished in the process of being confronted with Wayne McGregor’s idiosyncratic choreography and difficult time signatures and musical phrasing. Antoine Vereecken, Director of Licensing and Legacy and Deputy Rehearsal Director at Studio Wayne McGregor visited the school to see the piece and was impressed by the way the students had thrown themselves into the challenging choreography. Our partnership with the London based company is an incredible asset for the students and school and we continue to look at more ways to work with Wayne and his award-winning company.