The best kind of garden party!
An assortment of different shaped leaves weathered and scattered by the breeze, glistened proudly against the large metal arches in front of Kensington Palace this weekend.
Behind these beautiful golden gates on Saturday 7 July, preparations were getting underway for Morris and Maypole, the next of a series of community projects produced and delivered by English National Ballet, the West London Hub for Big Dance 2012.
I eagerly observed as a large group of school students walked through the contours of the park to the early meeting point, all buzzing with excitement for the day ahead. Joining them a smaller group of 8 teenagers flicked through their phones and looked a little bit sleepier than their younger companions. Briefing and toilet breaks complete the days events got underway; spirits un-dampened by the untimely down pour of rain that meant contingency plans needed to be put in place and sadly the Maypole had to come inside.
I was delighted to spend the day with the Morris dancers, some of whom were specially selected by their class teachers to participate. Skilfully and patiently rehearsed in a humid studio in Markova house, choreographer Simon Rice worked hard at getting the three sections of dance ready for the afternoon performance at 5pm.
The traditional theme of Morris had been reworked with no bells or handkerchiefs insight; instead five of the dancers from Feltham Community College were costumed in loose-fitting blue tunics with sleeves that flicked and waved. Encircling each other like water emptying from a basin, the five female dancers swung their arms over their heads, turning in a clockwise direction before dispersing in stag leaps off stage.
The second part performed by the youth dance group Elevate Academy, gave Morris a funky edge and displayed the dancers skill as street dancers popping and locking their torso’s, costumed in checked shirts and bandanas. This Morris crew used their batons with flair, pivoting at each strike and later performed a dance off, each dancing a short solo before coming together making a ‘Y’ shape in the air with their arms and beating the floor, an audible cue for the next section.
Lined up in patriotic colours of red, white and blue and with Minnie mouse style union jack headbands carefully pinned to their heads, a larger group of young dancers from Greenshaw and Carshalton High Schools moved stage left creating vertical lines that split in two. Together this bunch skipped, step-ball-changed and strutted enthusiastically, cheered by onlookers who had gathered within Kensington Palace Gardens to enjoy the belated Jubilee celebration.
A wet summer’s day it may have been, but I am sure the positive experience of being part of Big Dance 2012 will surpass the memory of soggy clothes and hopefully inspire some to keep dancing. The young dancers involved in this project behaved like true professionals throughout the day and together created a modern twist on an old British favourite.
Filed under: Ballet, Big Dance, Dance | Leave a Comment
Tags: ballet, Big Dance, cultural olympiad, Dance GB, Diamond Jubilee, english ballet, london, London 2012 Festival, london ballet, olympics, performance