Review: Dance Proms at the Royal Albert Hall

Performance: 13 November
Reviewed by Celia Moran - Wednesday 16 November 2011

Srishti, Nina Rajarani Dance School

As one of London’s most prestigious venues, The Royal Albert Hall hosts many world renowned acts – who it could be argued, wouldn’t have reached such a pinnacle in their career had it not been for a solid training foundation, or the support of an encouraging teacher. The IDTA, ISTD and RAD wanted to pay homage to dance teachers and their students from all styles by embarking on a nationwide search for some of Britain’s most talented dance schools to perform at the first ever Dance Proms. This youth dance celebration drew on a range of technology in the lead up to the performance; companies benefited from top tips from industry professionals and virtual tours of the space via a Digital Green Room. Finally, on 13th November, over 450 young dancers trod these legendary boards and (possibly spurred on by guest acts such as Strictly stars Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova, and Royal Ballet (Prinicipal Dancers) looked more than at home doing so.

In true cross-genre form, the first half showcased: tap, ballroom, bharatanatyam, showgirls, ballet, contemporary, street, song and dance and even Mexican folk dancing. One of the pieces, Drum Crazy, by Anthony Clifford Studios used revolving drum kits to elevate the sounds of their intricate taps. Whether propositioning the other dancer with a drum rhythm, or simultaneously working their drums and feet, the two male tappers -come -musicians took on a debonair, Fred Astaire persona. However, all cast members managed to pay tribute to the old school tap era, whilst also putting their own modern twist on this dance style. Offering the first ballroom piece of the evening, Dancewarehouse presented their very slick and suave Shout and Feel It which was as professionally executed as Darren Bennett’s and Lilia Kopylova’s dreamy Latin American dance to Memory from Cats.

The second half of the show was equally diverse, featuring street cheer, rock and roll, Irish and African, as well as a dazzling performance from Royal Ballet Principal dancers, Marianela Nunez and Thiago Soares. Also showing off their ballet prowess was Centre Point with Carmen Suite. Sharp flicks of red fans were combined with impressive jumps and leaps to create this Hispanic style piece which was flawlessly performed. However, the responsibility of closing the show fell on the Company Performing Arts’ shoulders with Children of Africa. They definitely delivered with this audience rousing piece which was inspired by African dance. Fast paced ensemble sections were particularly impressive due to the high energy and precision exhibited by the dancers; no easy feat considering the athletically demanding and angular nature of the choreography.

The atmosphere throughout the evening was unlike that of a ‘usual’ dance performance, and it really reached a climax during the finale when all dancers made their way back onstage and performed together. The sense of camaraderie and genuine enjoyment for what they were doing struck me (and from the standing ovation, I gather all audience members) as the most poignant pat of the evening. Dance Proms succeeded in providing young people with not only an amazing performance opportunity, but a chance to learn about the endless dance styles they could be a part of, and I hope it continues to achieve this for years to come.

View the Dance Proms Photo Gallery and Video Gallery to find out more about Dance Proms 2011.

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