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Discover or Re-discover Ballet
|‘Dance… a minimum of explanation, a minimum of storytelling and a maximum of sensation’ - Maurice Bejart.|
The origins of Ballet
The origins of ballet can be traced back to the Italian Renaissance and the dances staged for the Italian court in the 15th century, generally to entertain guests following the banquet at royal banquets.
Ballet made its way later into France, notably with the performance of the ‘Ballet Comique de la Reine’ in Paris in 1581. Subsequently growing rapidly in popularity it became a favoured form of entertainment for the aristocracy.
In 1661 the Royal Academy of Dance was founded by Louis XIV. Although not of itself successful it did mark the beginning of professional ballet. The various teaching establishments then began to establish the rules of classical dance, codifying its principal steps and positions.
The next major stage in ballet’s development took place in the 18th century with the appearance of ‘pointes’ and the romantic style.
The founding of the great national companies, performing both the classics and their own pieces, subsequently secured ballet’s place in the performing arts, and companies such as the Ballets Russes and the New York City ballet continue to thrive today.
The Great Stars
The great male and female dancers have always been stars in their day and beyond. Some names have faded over time but some, such as Anna Pavlova, the Russian dancer born in 1882 who created the swan in ‘Swan Lake’, remain legendary. Other names, such as Isadora Duncan, Margot Fonteyn, Rudolph Nouriev, Nyjinski Vaslav, Mikhail Nikolaievitch Barychnikov, and Sylvie Guillem, look well-placed to survive the test of time. All have moved and deeply touched their audiences with their sublime talent, their relentless hard work and their devotion to their art. As Barychnikov has once said :’The essence of all art is to feel pleasure by giving pleasure’.
Rigour & Discipline
Ballet has always attracted youngsters who dream of becoming star dancers, whether another Billy Elliot or another Sylvie Guillem. The dream lives on, although the life of a dancer off stage is often a harder reality.
To achieve the subtlety and beauty of this supreme art, which is at the same time tyrannical and complex in its demands, requires rigour and discipline. Practice, exercise and more practice are essential pre-requisites to the ‘pirouette’, ‘plié’ and ‘jeté’.
A Source of Pleasure
Fortunately, ballet can also be a source of great pleasure and enjoyment, and a number of schools offer introductory courses. Through ballet, many generations of children have acquired better understandings of themselves, their bodies and of working with others.
Ballet builds muscle mass , like any of the more obviously physical sports, and makes the body more supple, like gymnastics. In reality, a long way from certain out-dated perceptions, ballet is a wonderful all-round activity for the young and not-so-young. People of any age can benefit from classical dance lessons.
France In London recommends three London ballet schools, each with their own charm and character…
Ballet Schools in London
La Sylvaine School of Dance and Wendy Bell Ballet School
La Sylvaine School of Dance was founded by Blandine Lamaison in London in 1979, 32 years after her mother, Jeanne Lamaison, founded the original school in Fontainebleau. The school started with Wednesday afternoon lessons for the children of the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle and subsequently expanded to other French schools as well as to local state schools in the borough of Kensington.
The primary aim of the school is to teach children how to extend their potential through the disciplines of dance and performance. Children are taught the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus and are regularly entered for examination when they are ready - with impressively high results. The very high standard of tuition has enabled several students to progress to vocational schools such as the Arts Educational School at Chiswick, Laines Theatre Art School and the Royal Academy of Dancing.
La Sylvaine and Wendy Bell School of Dance offer a variety of classes in many locations
• Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle
• Ecole Francaise Jacques Prevert - Hammersmith
• Bousfield School - South Bolton gardens
• The Chelsea Centre - Worlds End Place, King's Road
• Mission Hall and Sullivan Hall - Parson Green Lane, Fulham
Address: 26 Hardinge Road, London, NW10 3PJ
Tel: 0208 208 5007
London Russian Ballet School
London Russian Ballet School offers classes for all ages and abilities (for children aged 2½ years upwards). These classes are under the direction of Evgeny Goremykin, a former Principal of the Bolshoi Ballet and Director of the School.
All forms of activity are important, but ballet offers the rare combination of the mind and body working together. It is total relaxation because concentration is required, it is also an endless process which is why it is continuously rewarding. The physical benefits in terms of posture and flexibility are obvious but the additional benefits from the sense of well being, moving to music and challenging oneself cannot be underestimated.
The teachers have been trained in Russia or in Russian schools and have all performed on the Russian stage. This is not pretence at Russian ballet, it is an opportunity to learn from a method that is over 300 years old and still produces the most technically proficient and artistically expressive dancers.
The aim is that you have fun while improving your skills. Whatever your level there is always the chance to improve and find what they want out of yourself.
They are located in a beautiful Victorian building which belongs to the school with off street parking for twelve cars. The school has also two beautiful studios, with barres and mirrors. Ballet deserves the right environment for concentration, dedication and hard work.
Address: 42 Clapham Manor Street, London, SW4 6DZ
Tel:020 7498 0498
Ballet4Life prides itself for creating a friendly environment and welcomes everyone. For over eight years now, they have successfully offered classes all around London. Their teachers care about their students, get to know them by name, and always give them positive feedback. They also encourage students to work at a pace that is best suited to their needs and take into consideration their level of fitness as well as any physical impediment. Ballet4life offers a thorough and authentic ballet class but tries to make it also as enjoyable as possible. They also organise yearly outings to see professional dance performances with a view to reinforce what students have learned and experienced during classes.
They have seven locations:
1- Arts Ed, 14 Bath Road, London W4 1LY
2- Rambert, 94 Chiswick High Road, London W4 1SH
3- Chiswick Theatre Arts, 2 Belmont Road, London W4 5BQ
4- Arch 197, Prebend Gardens, London W6 0XT
5- OPEN-Arts Project- 4th Floor, 113 Uxbridge Road, London W5 5TL
6- Small World Dance Studio- Unit 11, Eurolink Centre, 49 Effra Road, London SW2 1BZ
7- Earthlife- Arch 2, Kew Bridge Arches, Richmond ,TW9 3AW
Tel: 07714 324 961