Dance is the Word: the reviews are in!

Once again, English National Ballet’s dance writing course, Dance is the Word, has been a great success. The cohort of fifteen writers, guided by The Times dance and theatre critic Donald Hutera and The Ballet Bag, flexed their newly developed dance journalism muscles as they reviewed Emerging Dancer on 19 May 2014, at the Lyceum Theatre.

Here’s a snapshot of what they thought:

“Fresh from performing in English National Ballet’s searing tribute to First World War courage Lest We Forget, six of their junior artists were plunged into a very different challenge.  They starred in the company’s Emerging Dancer competition, now in its fifth year.” – Claire Cohen


“The offering from Senri Kou and Vitor Menezes of La Sylphide was beautifully and serenely danced by both. Kou was especially lyrical and intensely watchable with her charming smile.” – Vikki Vile


Vitor Menezes and Senri Kou did indeed show what they could do in the exquisitely-danced pas de deux from August Bournonville’sLa Sylphide: Kou with her hall-mark melting grace and delicate phrasing;  Menezes  with  power and elegance, and attentive partnering.” – Michael Wimbs


“As soon as we saw [Madison] Keesler and [Joan Sebastian] Zamora enter linking arms, they personified the knowing intimacy of a couple in love.” – Emily Beck


“Through [Alison] McWhinney’s sharp alignment and the alpha presence of [Junor] Souza supporting his ballerina, they carved a sphere around themselves, sculpting the trust necessary for a striking performance.” – Josie Phelps


“It was as if they [McWhinney and Souza] had landed on the Lyceum stage for a night on the town and we happened to her there watching!” – Laura Paddison


Souza’s too-cool-for-school verve is the perfect complement to McWhinney’s sharp technique.” – Lara Hayward


Menezes was pulsating with the music of Pérez Prado - The King of the Mambo – in every movement, twist and lift. The whole house was transported into a Latin swing.” – Aline Jewell


“Frothiness was countered with intensity as bare-chested Zamora boldly portrayed Petit’s bridegroom’s descent into madness in his L’Arlésienne solo.” – Georgina Butler  


Liam Scarlett choreographed Keesler’s dramatic solo, which capitalised on her theatricality and exquisite port de bras, her wrists and fingers pulsing like jellyfish.” – Samantha Whitaker


“Opening in silence and mixing moments both still and stormy, Variations on a Theme showcased Keesler’s strength of dramatic expression, creating an intriguing character in a whirl of a red dress.” – Jessica Kranish


“A self-confessed ‘big fan of jumps and turning’, Souza’s performance is fast-paced and energetic, powerful and macho. He owns the stage with jaw-dropping leaps.” – Danny Hewitt


Junor Souza walked away with both the Emerging Dancer and People’s Choice Awards, which was also revealed on the night. It’s obvious why; Souza possesses all the aesthetics and athletics of an ideal male dancer.” – Veronica Ouyang


“Last year’s winner, Nancy Osbaldeston showed off some of her own choreography. She began silhouetted against the backdrop, arms twisting and turning into all sorts of positions and ended with an impressive tour de force that leapfrogged spectacularly around the stage.” – Zara Handley


“There were many memorable highlights: Senri Kou’s radiant presence (her smile easily visible in the back stalls) and mesmerising rendition of Nocturnes; Vitor Menezes’sMambo Suite that he clearly enjoyed as much as the audience; Madison Keesler and Joan Sebastian Zamora’s charming, playful Flower Festival; Laurent Liotardo’s insightful mini-videos, and assured performances by 2013 winners Nancy Osbaldeston and Laurretta Summerscales.” – Maggy Pigott

Selecting the best reviews to post in full was a difficult decision as all fifteen reviews were fantastic, and we would like to thank all of the writers for their enthusiasm.

In the end, we just couldn’t decide and in the spirit of this year’s Emerging Dancer we congratulate joint winners:  Jessica Kranish and Lara Hayward.

To read their full reviews click below:
EmergingDancer Review by Jessica Kranish
Emerging Dancer 2014 Review by Lara Hayward