Due to the impact of COVID-19, Elmhurst Ballet School, the vocational school in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet, will move its popular annual summer school to an online offer this year with its Back to Dance Masterclassesrunning between 26th and 28th August 2020.
The late summer, three-day intensive of 60-minute masterclasses will be delivered by Elmhurst teachers and Birmingham Royal Ballet dancers and accompanied by Elmhurst pianists.
Presented online from Elmhurst’s dance studios in Edgbaston, Birmingham, teachers and pianists will adhere to social distancing guidelines to deliver two virtual timetables designed for 10-13 and 14-19 age groups.
The ‘Back to Dance’ initiative, close to the start of a new academic year, aims to help young dancers maintain or pick up on their training, especially as many students think about returning to full-time courses and education in September. Although recent updates to Government guidelines allow dance studios to reopen from 25th July, Elmhurst will remain closed to large groups until it is fully equipped and prepared to safely welcome back its staff and 200 UK and international students for the autumn term.
The online programme in August, a window into Elmhurst’s world and its high quality training, will include masterclasses delivered by Elmhurst ballet teachers: Andrea Tredinnick, a former First Soloist with Birmingham Royal Ballet; Laëtitia Lo Sardo, a past winner of the prestigious Prix de Lausanne international ballet competition and First Soloist with Birmingham Royal Ballet; Lei Zhao, a former First Soloist with Birmingham Royal Ballet, and Sander Blommaert, a former dancer with The Royal Ballet who recently delivered 100 free classes in 100 days during lockdown and fundraised for the school and the NHS. Also passing on his dance expertise and experience during the virtual summer school is Robert Parker, a former Principal dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet and now Artistic Director of Elmhurst.
Leading on the contemporary dance masterclasses will be Angela Towler, a former dancer and rehearsal director with Rambert, and Sandrine Monin, a choreographer and former dancer with Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz and Phoenix Dance Theatre. Also bringing a wealth of teaching and performance experience to participants’ home screens are Jenny MacNamara and Sarah-Jayne Blackwell who will teach jazz dance masterclasses.
Elmhurst Ballet School has enjoyed a close association with Birmingham Royal Ballet since the school relocated from London to Birmingham in 2004. BRB Principal dancers Samara Downs, Céline Gittens and Brandon Lawrence will teach masterclasses over the course of the three days, and ‘Life in a Ballet Company’ Q&A sessions with the dancers and Assistant Director Marion Tait will enlighten the online students about a professional career with a world renowned ballet organisation.