Cinderella in Hollywood, English Youth Ballet REVIEW: 'Surprisingly flawless and professional'

As a company devoted to inspiring the next generation of young dancers, English Youth Ballet offered a surprisingly flawless and professional performance for theatre-goers in Portsmouth.

Sunday, 8th December 2019, 4:15 pm
Updated Sunday, 8th December 2019, 4:15 pm
English Youth Ballet production of "Cinderella in Hollywood"
English Youth Ballet production of "Cinderella in Hollywood"

In the perfect setting of the sumptuous surroundings of Kings Theatre at Southsea, around 100 of the finest eight to 18-year-old local dancers lived their dream of sharing the spotlight with a cast of professional ballet dancers.

The concept, founded by former dancer with The Royal Ballet Janet Lewis MBE when she created EYB more than 20 years ago, is the perfect mix of professional international dancers performing at the highest level while mentoring amateur youngsters.

Their combined passion shone through as they created a magical world with the glitz and glamour of Hollywood in the 1950s.

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Inspired by film star Grace Kelly’s meeting of Prince Rainier of Monaco (whom she later married) at a press party – as well as the more modern-day story of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – this was a very different take on Cinderella. The sheer romance of dances choreographed to classic songs of the era lulled the audience back to a bygone age, while a lively performance in vibrant red flapper dresses changed up the tempo.

For a pre-Christmas performance, the panto-style interpretation of Cinderella’s ugly sisters by talented Principal Artist Steven Wheeler and Principal Teacher & Repetiteur Julianne Rice-Oxley added to the entertainment, while humour was also provided by a Keystone Cops style sequence by a young group of boy ballet dancers.

As Brazilian Principal Artist Samantha Camejo, who danced the lead role of Cinderella, explained: ‘The young dancers are treated just like the professionals. They discover what having a dance career might be like – both in the studio and on the stage. It is an amazing experience for them.’

If such a high standard can be reached by bringing together amateurs and professionals for just 11 days of rehearsals, then the result is as enjoyable for the audience as it is for the youngsters taking part. This colourful celebration of excellence left the audience wanting more . . . and Portsmouth looks forward to welcoming EYB back for the city’s next performance in 2021.

By Jane Waldron