Review: London Children's Ballet - A Little Princess at Peacock Theatre

Performance: 19 - 21 April 2012
Reviewed by Cristina de Lucas - Tuesday 24 April 2012

London Children's Ballet 'A Little Princess' 2012

London Children’s Ballet has been offering first opportunities to young artists since 1994. Many dancers, composers, designers and choreographers owe their first professional experience to its productions. In its visit to the West End this April, it is offering a new version of one of the oldest pieces in its repertory: A Little Princess. Based on the original story by Frances Hodgson Burnett, it tells the Cinderella-like story of Sara Crewe. Left in a boarding school by her wealthy father, the plot illustrates the changing fortunes of her life there. By exploiting many well-known devices in a classical ballet such as a big-hearted heroine, a villainous headmistress, and an uplifting happy ending, the ballet provides the artists involved with a rare chance to explore the possibilities of a full-length narrative ballet.

Tim Hammond wrote the original score of the ballet in 1995, just after his graduation, and re-orchestrated it for its revival in 2004. An easy-listening piece, it helps to develop the events on the plot, precisely indicating the changes in the atmosphere or in the characters’ moods. In the programme Hammond gratefully remembers this composition as the spark for his subsequent career.

The choreography by Royal Ballet soloist Samantha Raine skilfully extracts the most from her young dancers. She is especially brilliant in the group dances and the humorous steps for the animals that occasionally populate the stage. The ballet class at the heart of Act I and the scene in Sara’s attic bedroom in Act II are particularly well-crafted, lively and funny.

In this performance (Friday 20 April), Ella Vickerman (aged 13), danced the leading role with increasing assurance, as the nerves that were visible on her initial steps had vanished after the interval. Saskia Gregson-Williams (aged 14), offered moments of elegant dancing in her role of the downtrodden young servant Becky. Jessica Turner ( aged just 9), won the audience with her sparkling interpretation of a Monkey. The rest of the cast danced with an enthusiasm and a passion that isn’t always so evident – even in adult ensembles.

www.londonchildrensballet.com

Cristina de Lucas took part in English National Ballet’s Dance is the Word programme earlier this year.

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