Following in Nureyev’s footsteps

Masterclass for advanced dancers, on stage at the London Coliseum
26 July 2013

English National Ballet is extremely generous in the number of activities and opportunities on offer, to experience first hand both the production and Company life. The Professional class on-stage is addressed to advanced dancers offering them the rare occasion of taking class led by a professional dancer right where all the magic happens: directly on the Coliseum stage. Between the pillars of the Raymonda set and the Charlatan’s theatre box of Petrushka this is an unusual peek into such a production as A Tribute to Rudolf Nureyev.

Entering as the artists do from the stage-door, a Coliseum staff member escorts us through the maze of backstage corridors, stairs and several turns to finally arrive onto the open space of the stage. One would not image it, but the stage is vast, as profound as the auditorium seating. We can see the beautiful decoration of the Coliseum ceiling right over the orchestra pit. Downstage are a few barres that are already full of eager young dancers. ENB Youth Co are also joining in with the class today: the female dancers in back leotards, pink tights and perfect buns, the males in white t-shirts and black tights. Still excited from yesterday – they have been performing with the main company in Petrushka – they are waiting for a special Raymonda sequence in the centre.

Leading the class is Lead Principal Elena Glurdjidze accompanied by Company pianist Chris Swithinbank at the piano. Elena clearly demonstrates every exercise, making corrections and giving suggestions on how to perform sequences – the dancers execute the movements as precisely as they can. Between a tendu and a pirouette, Elena has us execute a short Hungarian inspired sequence from Raymonda. The participants eyes shine at this opportunity with a glimmer of their future aspirations to be on stage; thousand of eyes watching as they perform a challenging solo.

By Katja Vaghi