The Royal Ballet School


In the season of end-of-year vocational school performances, one always anticipates the Royal Ballet School’s showing with high expectations. This year we were certainly not disappointed: we saw some beautiful work from students, choreographers, coaches and producers, and I for one came out feeling elated and full of hope for the future.

La Valse, one of Frederick Ashton’s most beautiful ballets, is an example of exquisite taste; costumes, set, Ravel’s masterly, exquisite music come together with the Ashtonian choreographic genius to create a feast for the senses. Superbly rehearsed by Anita Young and Valeri Hristov, the young dancers put heart and soul into their work, clearly relishing the chance to perform on the Opera House’s main stage. Among the six featured dancers I noticed Miyu Kawamoto and Bomin Kim, both imbuing their lyrical dancing and secure pointe work with charisma. 

Petal Miller Ashmole gets a huge thumbs-up for her piece Bottega, made with sensitivity and ingenuity for the White Lodge Years 10 and 11. Starting off with five very talented young men warming up on stage to a voiceover from a young girl expressing her mixed feelings on graduation, it builds to a lovely showcase for the larger group, costumed in black and white. I have often written about the need to showcase youngsters in an appropriate fashion, and Miller Ashmole hits that particular nail on the head with great charm. There was an outstanding performance here from Ella Newton, a ballerina in the making.

Scottish Dances looked far better than it had previously in the Linbury; the combination of the grander setting and the extra rehearsal time made it look absolutely appropriate and professional. I admired the dynamic attack and lyricism of Xinyue Zhao, and Liam Boswell impressed with his fine dancing and excellent partnering. Kele Roberson again danced his self-choreographed Start Again solo; definitely one to watch

STUDENT CONTRACTS 2019

Damen Axtens Birmingham Royal Ballet

Madison Bailey The Royal Ballet Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Programme

Matthew Bates Junior Ballett Zürich

Liam Boswell The Royal Ballet Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Programme

Tobias De Gromoboy Staatsballett: Bayerische Staatsoper II

Raphael Duval Ballet de l’Opéra National de Bordeaux

Brayden Gallucci The Royal Ballet Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Programme

Leo Hepler Dutch National Ballet Junior Company

Miyu Kawamoto Teatrul de Balet Sibiu

Sarah Keaveney Royal Swedish Ballet

Matthew Keller The Norwegian National Ballet 2

Bomin Kim The Royal Ballet Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Programme

Davi Ramos  Dutch National Ballet Junior Company

Johnny Randall* CATS the Musical

Simon Regourd Norwegian National Ballet 2

Kele Roberson Nederlands Dans Theater 2

Freya Wilkinson Staatsballett: Bayerische Staatsoper II

Ellie Young* CATS the Musical

Ginevra Zambon The Royal Ballet Aud Jebsen Young Dancers Programme

Xinyue Zhao National Ballet of China

*Also offered classical ballet company contracts


Alastair Marriott’s Simple Symphony stood the test of repeat viewing with aplomb, as did Ashley Page’s Untied, Undone, with several outstanding performances from the young men, especially the very promising Eric Pinto Cata. Johnny Randall again showed his potential in an extract from Mats Ek’s Swan Lake.

Goya Montero’s Pulse is an object lesson in the art of moving massed bodies around the stage; clever patterns and waves of movement were interesting to watch and meticulously rehearsed by Valeri Hristov and Paul Lewis.

On to the Grand Pas from Paquita, which should only ever be staged with a truly competent corps of dancers and excellent principals. Plaudits to Tania Fairbairn, whose White Lodgers looked much better on the main stage than they had in the Linbury. It’s a challenge, but Fairbairn’s meticulous attention to detail paid off. Among the Upper School soloists, Bomin Kim was neat and stylish, Lauren Hunter showed very nice controlled turns in arabesque and attitude and danced with charm, and Daichi Ikarashi showed off his virtuoso technique, although I still wished for more plié. In the leading roles, Davi Ramos showed top-class partnering skills and a highly attractive stage presence, and Hanna Park, a future ballerina, demonstrated a secure technique and an elegant style.

Congratulations go to all those working behind the scenes, as this performance was clearly staged with dedication and love. The orchestra under Tim Murray also did a fine job. One small suggestion: in my view, there’s a debate to be had about teaching full articulation in the feet. This has nothing to do with pretty insteps but everything to do with technique in jumps and polished finishing of lines. 

Amanda Jennings

Originally published in Dance Europe no. 242, Aug/Sept 2019