26 November 2020
November is always an exciting time for dancers in full-time dance training at KS Dance vocational college and this year was no different. Kate Simmons, Director and Principal of KS Dance, along with her team prepared what was an incredibly successful COVID-19 secure event, hosting the prestigious Cyril Beaumont Scholarship 2020, which is so generously supported by the Cecchetti Trust. In total 13 girls and 5 Boys competed for the scholarship.
All of those in attendance followed social distancing and further precautionary measures set in place, ensuring the safety and well-being of all throughout.
We were thrilled that Romany Pajdak, Soloist Dancer of The Royal Ballet Company, joined us in the studio to adjudicate, along with former Principal Dancer of The Royal Ballet Company, and Patron of KS Dance, Brenda Last OBE, who joined us via Zoom. David Lloyd, Patron, friend and long-time supporter of the college also watched the two ballet classes via Zoom. Faculty members of the college included Simon Horrill, Sharon Johnston and Rupert Wiltshire.
The ballet historian, author and critic Cyril Beaumont, was a good friend to Maestro Enrico Cecchetti and it was through the influence of Cyril Beaumont that the Cecchetti Society was founded in 1922, to preserve and promote the Maestro Enrico Cecchetti’s work.
The Cyril Beaumont Scholarship is one of the highlights of the year at KS. This year the dancers were put through their paces by the ever-inspiring Gillian Hurst, Senior Examiner and Committee Member of the Cecchetti Classical Ballet Faculty, holder of the Enrico Cecchetti Diploma and Fellow of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, who taught a very challenging, yet wonderfully choreographed ballet class. Gillian delivered her ‘free’ class with a well-balanced mixture of eloquence, grace, light humour and encouragement to all of the dancers, asking them “to meet their musician in the middle.” The talented and admirable pianist John Taggart accompanied Gillian in playing for class. The true heartfelt passion for music in John’s playing, enabled the dancers to bring their own energy and performance levels to new heights. By using his musical crescendos, varying tempos and different rhythms the dancers were challenged to execute every highlight of the choreography, from adage and pirouettes to the intricate and fiery footwork combinations set for petti allegro and batterie.
From the moment class began with its barre work through to the centre work, allegro, grand allegro, pointe work and virtuosity, it was evident that the choreographed enchaînments required a strong sense of musicality, performance and expression from the dancers throughout. Ms Pajdak requested grand allegro one at a time, to “allow the dancers to really exhibit themselves in the exceptionally large studio space they find themselves in.” After being cooped-up for months during the earlier lockdown, the dancers were only too delighted to steal the limelight and enjoy the moment. Blustery bourrées travelled across the room to the magical music from the snow scene of The Nutcracker, along with many other delightful pointe work exercises. Concluding for the girls, a series of double posé turns from the corner, to the delight of Ms Last, as she shared with the dancers, “the importance of ‘doubles’ en pointe when auditioning.” With great execution, the boys willingly presented a ‘virtuoso extraordinaire’ consisting of the double tours exercise from the Cecchetti diploma syllabus, with an updated ending courtesy of Connor Spiers, showcasing what can only be described as a ‘flying allen key’ to the untrained eye, or as it is known in our industry, a 540 created by Tetsuya Kumakawa after observing the Chinese martial art, Kung Fu.
Ms Last congratulated all of the dancers on their “determination to dance and continue on, during these difficult and unprecedented times.”
The Cyril Beaumont Scholarship 2020 results are:
Winner – Benjamin Newman
Runner Up – Gracie Collins
Musicality Award – Ally Lawson
Most Promising Boy – Oisín Middleton
Commendations were awarded to Eleanor Breheny, Kate Reaney, Hannah Gerard and Katie Maddox.
With many thanks to the Cecchetti Trust for supporting the art of classical ballet, in particular the Cecchetti method of training.
Sharon Johnston FISTD and holder of the Enrico Cecchetti Diploma