Impressive ballet stars bring tale of sylph to life

Jane Keenan School of Dance perform romantic ballet 'La Sylphide' at the Maltings
Jane Keenan School of Dance perform romantic ballet 'La Sylphide' at the Maltings

La Sylphide was beautifully brought to life at the Maltings in Berwick on Sunday by the Jane Keenan School of Dance.

From the very smallest dancers to the impressive corps de ballet on pointe the performance was a whimsical tale of the sylph who stole the ring to stop a Scottish farmer marrying his love.

James dances in the forest (Daniel Clelland)

James dances in the forest (Daniel Clelland)

Fortunately it all turned out to be a dream and James woke up in his own kitchen to find that the wedding was able to go on as planned

A real strength of Jane’s choreography is the story telling and her dancers once again demonstrated their understanding of combining acting and dancing to relay to their audience the tale of the sylph.

The different groups of dancers of all ages took their places on stage like true professionals and with their stunning costumes - designed by Jacqueline Thompson and kilts loaned by Nancy Steele - and the backdrop in both the farmhouse kitchen and then in the forest, the whole performance was a feast for the eyes.

Playing the male lead, James the Scottish farmer, Daniel Clelland was peforming his final role with the ballet school and once again he set the standard for his dancing ability and interpretation of the story. After the summer he will take up a place at Northern Ballet, aiming to become a professional dancer.

Tanith Bain, who played Effie the bride to be, danced beautifully with Daniel, her lightness of step in some of the fast footwork particularly impressive.

Special mention must be made of Liberty Holloway and Phoebe Weddle who took on the role of the sylph at very short notice, when Anna Noonan was unable to perform as planned because of injury. Anna coached the two girls only a few days before the performance and their years of training as they rose to the challenge impressively, Liberty dancing the sylphin the first performance and Phoebe taking up the role for the second.

For a provincial ballet school with dancers from the age of four upwards to take on the classical ballets rather than produce a show of separate dances is quite a feat but one that Jane has perfected over the years, her dancers having performed Peter and the Wolf, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Coppelia, the Nutcracker and La Fille mal Guardee.

As well as strong choreography, and ability and commitment from the girls and boys themselves, a successful performance also requires support from parents and a whole backstage team worked tirelessly during rehearsals for La Sylphide as well as at the performances, making sure everything ran smoothly. So while the audience could just sit back and enjoy themselves, one can only imagine the hustle and bustle going on behind the scenes to make sure everyone got on stage and was in the right place at the right time.

The result was a delightful performance from all involved and a triumph 
once again for Jane who has been teaching ballet and producing beautiful performances from her dancers for 25 years.