The Future of Powerhouse Ballet - Some Wisdom from Sussex

Brighton Pier
Author Eric Hossinger
Licence Creative Commons attribution 2.0 generic
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Linda Morris. one of the best informed and most instructive contributors to the Balletco Forum website, an accomplished dancer and a regular ballet goer has kindly offered on Facebook the following contribution to our discussions on the future of Powerhouse Ballet:

"I suppose it depends whether the Company is going for putting on productions eg adapted but proper ballets ...let's say for example Coppelia ....where people would need to audition for parts etc or whether you are just demonstrating extracts from Ballets perhaps at different levels of adaptation but with more group dancing (less soloist bits etc). But everyone just has a go as long as can cope with the level.....rather like the LAB model in London.

This second gives more opportunities to the dancers in the Company

I think but the first model may be more satisfying to an audience!! Perhaps a combi of the two may be good where you can do a whole Act extract from a ballet but with some other bits and pieces solos and group bits and even pieces choreographed by members of the Company or other collaborations if you can get them ...a bit more on the Chelsea Ballet model in London.

As an older amateur dancer I personally don't like it to get to exclusive with the same dancers getting all the main roles all the time or too ambitious ......so that professional guest artists have to be invited in to do the main roles etc. This then defeats the purpose of an Amateur Company in my view .....unless the professional guests are doing quite separate pas de deux or solos as a gesture for the Company as an additional bit of spice to the main programme etc!!"

Later she adds:

"Also there are some advantages of being set up as a charitable organisation. Chelsea Ballet for example has set bigger shows involving the whole Company but also does smaller shows with smaller groups of dancers going into hospitals and OAP homes etc."

In her comments, Linda mentioned two other amateur ballet companies that may have something to teach us.   One of those companies is Chelsea Ballet which has just celebrated its 50th anniversary.  That company stages full length classical ballets like Coppelia in central London auditoriums but it also has an impressive repertoire of its own.  It also dances shorter works in care homes and hospitals free of charge.  According to its history page:

"Thelma Litster, a former soloist with Ballet Rambert, was a dancer with a vision. She believed that ballet and performance should be open to everyone, not just the lucky few with the physique and good fortune to succeed in the professional world. It is this belief that still underpins the work of Chelsea Ballet, the group she founded in 1967. Sadly, Thelma died in May 2002 after a brave battle with cancer, but the legacy continues through her daughter, Louise Hudson, who runs the company today."

I like that story.

The other company Linda mentioned was London Amateur Ballet,

I shall try to get down to London to see and review their works and make contact with the managers of those companies.

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