Introducing children to ballet in Aylesbury

Bucks Free Press: Introducing children to ballet in Aylesbury Introducing children to ballet in Aylesbury

BALLET isn't just for adults, as a touring company hopes to prove with their own version of Coppélia. Aimed at ages three plus the set is colourful, the costumes sumptuous and the story is squeezed into two 30 minute acts.

Associate director, George Williamson, spoke about how he made a classical ballet accessible for children.

English National Ballet and English National Ballet School present the third in their My First Ballet series with Coppélia, the comic tale of an eccentric toymaker and his mechanical doll, based on Ronald Hynd’s original production. It is coming to Aylesbury this month.

George, 23, has worked on the concept and direction for the ballet and the choreography, after Ronald Hynd.

He said: "It is my dream job. I don't dance any more. I just choreograph and this is a really good thing for me to work on."

The show is performed by students of the English National Ballet School, of which George is a graduate.

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George said: "We basically always find a classical ballet which is well known or one that is a typical fairytale story.

"Then we look to cut it from three acts to two acts, making each act 30 minutes. There is an interval of 20 minutes."

He said they need to make sure there are not large chunks of dance, so children don't lose focus.

He said: "It is quite hard. We just make sure there is still the element of the classical ballet there.

"We keep the costumes the same. We have changed sets. We try to make it a little bit more colourful."

Children aged three and above can get their first taste of classical ballet, but there is also still plenty for parents to enjoy.

George said: "Last year we managed to sell over 50,000 tickets. For us, that is incredible. It means as a touring company we are adding a massive amount of new people seeing our work around the country.

"Also the younger people and people who have never seen ballet before. It is a great thing and introduces them to it on their level, rather than going to a grown up ballet."

English National Ballet was awarded a £114,520 grant from the Leverhulme Trust in 2013. The grant was awarded to support two years of the series and English National Ballet are delighted to announce that the funding will also support My First Ballet: Coppélia, helping to develop the dancers of the future and enable students to gain vital skills by working with a professional company.

George said: "It is really good for them- for the dancers from ENB school- as it is a project between the company and the school.

"It is the opportunity for them to get professional experience before they go out and join companies around the world."

He started at the school when he was 16 after dancing since the age of four. He retried from dancing three years ago to concentrate on choreography.

He said: "I just wanted to do choreography from very early on. I could have sort of stopped dancing and tried to be a choreographer.

"I wasn't quite there when I left school. After a year of dancing I had a wonderful opportunity to be able to stop and do what I wanted to do."

My First Ballet: Coppélia is at the Waterside Theatre Aylesbury on May 17 at 11am, 2pm and 5pm and May 18 at 11am and 3pm. Tickets: £26, £21, £11 (Child £21, £16, £9) from 0844 8717607 or go to www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury.

For more leisure stories including what's on, more interviews and food reviews click here

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