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 Post subject: Elmhurst School for Dance (Birmingham Royal Ballet)
PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:09 am 
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Elmhurst School for Dance searches for new Artistic Director

Elmhurst School for Dance, the associate school of Birmingham Royal Ballet, is searching for a new artistic director following Desmond Kelly's decision to step down from the role at the end of the Summer Term 2012.

Kelly is going to be a big loss. He has been at Elmhurst since 2008, during which time the School has grown and standards have undoubtedly improved significantly. He will, though, continue working with the school post 2012 in the capacity of Artistic Advisor.

Desmond Kelly said, "After leaving Birmingham Royal Ballet and coming to the school, it was always my intention to work hard at putting in place a structure for the future of dance training, to raise the standards and aspirations of students and to ensure that Elmhurst takes its place as one of the leading dance training establishments in Europe and beyond. I believe that we have now substantially raised the quality of dance training and therefore feel that I am able to step down from my current role and concentrate on a variety of other projects, particularly the staging of many of the great classics, at home and overseas. I am delighted that I will continue my association with the school in the role of Artistic Advisor, working alongside the current management team, under the leadership of Principal Jessica Ward, and of course my successor.”

A review of this year's Elmhurst annual performance will appear here around July 11.


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 Post subject: Re: Elmhurst School for Dance (Birmingham Royal Ballet)
PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 7:18 am 
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Diverse Diversions I
Elmhurst School for Dance
Elmhurst School Theatre, Birmingham; July 9, 2011

David Mead


The undoubted highlight of the annual performances at Elmhurst School for Dance, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s associate school, the undoubted highlight were some sparkling performances of John Cranko’s Gilbert and Sullivan inspired “Pineapple Poll”. I freely admit that this rather silly story about flower-seller Poll, her lover Jasper, sailors, their wives and girlfriends, who along with Poll all hanker after the handsome Captain Belaye, and some odd goings-on about H.M.S. Hot Cross Bun, has never been one of my favourite ballets, but the final year students brought a freshness and vitality to the work that is rarely seen. They truly brought it alive.

The whole cast were excellent. Jenna Carroll was sunny in the title role, showing a nice sense of fun along with some neat footwork. Star of the show though was Orazio Di Bella, who was nicely superior and full of himself as Captain Belaye. You could understand why. He was quite a heartthrob, and it was easy to see why all the girls started swooning the minute he appeared. His dancing was pretty good too, with some excellent, quick footwork and impressive beats. And then there was the delightfully daffy pairing of Sophie Rance as Mrs Dimple (for once a teenager playing an older person actually worked rather well) and Lauren McCarron as her daughter Blanche.

The first half of the show featured dancers from right across the School. Most of the pieces were choreographed by the School’s teachers, although the best choreography by far came from David Bintley. His “Four Scottish Dances” from “Flowers in the Forest” played nicely to the students’ talents and sense of fun. With everyone in kilted splendour, Olivia Holland and Lawrence Massie showed a nice sense of feeling for each other in the pas de deux, while Benjamin Roones and Orazio Di Bella were near perfect as the drunkards trying to pick up Scottish lassies Jenna Carroll and Abigail Prudames.

One of the features of the past two or three years at Elmhurst is how much the standard of dancing, and especially partnering, has improved amongst the boys. They look so much stronger these days, which in turn helps the technique. And that, plus opportunities for all the older dancers to dance occasionally with BRB must help their confidence too. It’s just a shame that the size of the School’s theatre and its licence conditions mean these shows cannot be opened up to a wider audience. And amazingly Birmingham does not have a suitable mid-scale theatre that could be used instead.

The only contemporary influenced work on show was Dennie Wilson’s “Mange-esque” danced by the year 11 students (16 year olds). The most interesting section featured arachnid-like movements that emphasised the limbs and the articulation in the elbows and knees, the spidery feeling being added to by the combination of red pointe shoes with largely black leotards and tights.

Elsewhere, the first years got to dance in Denise Lewin’s “Tanie Dzieciecy”, while Errol Pickford’s “Libertango” drew on boys from across the upper years, although the choreography and the dancing rather rounded out all the sharp edginess inherent in Piazolla’s wonderful music. Another all male piece was Lee Robinson’s “The Sailors”, this time danced by the boys in years 8 and 9. As in everything else he was in, Joseph Ngwana-Aumeer was most impressive, his face lighting up the stage. And boy can he jump and turn!

Aspirations was a pleasant and very feminine piece for the year 6.2 and 6.3 girls, while “Cirque de la Danse” was a sort of combination work to Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite No.2 in which seven choreographers had a hand, including BRB dancers Kit Holder and Dusty Button. The best section by far was that to the “Danse Macabre”, in which Ririka Oishi shone. Finally a special mention for “Crafted”, a most appropriate title for what was indeed a well crafted piece by year 6.1 student Shuan Mendum that made intelligent use of the music and included some nice patterning. You wouldn’t have realised it was a student piece unless told.

Elmhurst artistic director Desmond Kelly will be leaving the School at the end of the 2011-12 academic year, although he will continue to act as an artistic adviser. Under his stewardship standards have improved immensely. Best of all is the focus on the English style; which is just as it should be.


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 Post subject: Re: Elmhurst School for Dance (Birmingham Royal Ballet)
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:48 am 
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Robert Parker has been named artistic director of the Elmhurst School for Dance. Ismene Brown interviews him for The Arts Desk.

The Arts Desk


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 Post subject: Re: Elmhurst School for Dance (Birmingham Royal Ballet)
PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:59 am 
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A few comments from the official press release...

Jessica Ward, Principal of Elmhurst School for Dance said:

‘I am delighted to announce the appointment of Robert Parker to the role of Artistic Director. It will be a privilege for the students and staff to have the opportunity to work with such a celebrated dancer. During this transitional period for Elmhurst, stability and consistency remain my number one priority and I fully believe the school has never been better equipped to manage a smooth handover in artistic leadership following in the footsteps of Desmond Kelly. I am delighted that Mr Kelly will remain in close contact with the school as an Artistic Advisor’

David Bintley, Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet and an Artistic Advisor to Elmhurst said:

‘With his experience, knowledge and history of working with Birmingham Royal Ballet, I am delighted that Robert has agreed to accept the position of Elmhurst's Artistic Director from September 2012. I believe Robert’s outstanding dance experience, youth, energy, imagination and charisma are just what are needed to take what is already an established and successful school, to the next level at this crucial time in its history. I look forward to working with him to deliver first class dance training to the next generation of dance artists’

Robert Parker, new Artistic Director from September 2012 said:

‘I am thrilled to be Elmhurst's Artistic Director effective from September 2012 and I look forward to new and exciting challenges ahead. Under the artistic direction of Desmond Kelly, Elmhurst has gone from strength to strength and I hope to build upon his outstanding contribution to nurture and produce some of the finest classical and contemporary dancers in the world. After a rewarding eighteen year career with Birmingham Royal Ballet, my aim is to utilise my experience and passion for dance to train a future generation of dancers and prepare them for the realities of a professional career. Based on my close working relationship with David Bintley, I plan to strengthen the school's association with Birmingham Royal Ballet, providing students with a direct link to the company and the wider dance world. I am very much looking forward to working with Jessica Ward and the dedicated Elmhurst staff and students to further the aims of the school’

Born in Hull, Parker trained at The Royal Ballet School and joined Birmingham Royal Ballet in 1994. He received early acclaim when he danced the Second Seminarian in Carmina burana at the Royal Opera House in 1996. Promoted to Principal in 1999, his charismatic stage presence and energy have led to the creation of a number of roles on him, including Hamlet in The Shakespeare Suite, Arthur and Mordred in Arthur, the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, the lead in Kim Brandstrup's Pulcinella and the title role in Cyrano. He has also excelled in such varied repertory as the Young Man in The Two Pigeons, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, the Hoofer in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, and Twyla Tharp's In the Upper Room.

Parker has recently completed the Birmingham Royal Ballet and University of Birmingham dancers’ degree programme and will graduate in December 2011 as a Master of Philosophy in Education Studies (Dance).


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