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BWW Review: EMERGING DANCER 2020, English National Ballet HQ

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The company's first live performance since lockdown and the opener to their newly curated Digital Season

BWW Review: EMERGING DANCER 2020, English National Ballet HQBWW Review: EMERGING DANCER 2020, English National Ballet HQEnglish National Ballet's Emerging Dancer marks the company's first live performance since lockdown and the opener to their newly curated Digital Season as a response to the current COVID-19 restrictions.

The annual award sees six dancers from the most junior rank of the company perform a classical pas de deux in three pairs, and historically a contemporary solo, although this year saw three duets featuring original choreography (presumably for bubbling/distancing reasons).

2020 is the 11th annual iteration of the competition, which has seen a host of stars act as compere in the past, and this year was no exception with former Strictly Come Dancing winner Ore Oduba doing an admirable job and injecting some genuine enthusiasm and warmth to the proceedings.

Two awards were up for grabs on this finely produced evening at ENB's vast new HQ at London City Island: the People's Choice Award, voted for by the public via phone/text, and the main title of Emerging Dancer voted for by a panel of esteemed judges, including Edward Watson and Natalia Osipova.

Eventual winner of the main prize, Ivana Bueno, performed a confident pas de deux with partner William Yamada to Petipa's The Talisman. Bueno had an incredibly striking stage presence, dancing as if she had a wealth of experience in this Principal role. Her sharp articulation of the steps and pulling off of the final fouettes with ease and a smile made for impressive viewing.

Perhaps the most dazzling partnership of the classical segment was from petite Brazilian Carolyne Galvao and partner Miguel Angel Maidana. She with her neat, bright but controlled dancing and Maidana with virtuoso jumps in the thrilling pas de deux from Diana and Actaeon was a memorable contribution to the evening.

Getting proceedings started was eventual winner of the People's Choice Award, Victor Prigent, and partner Emily Suzuki with their pas de deux from Petipa's Satanella. Technically challenging, the pair coped admirably, with Suzuki displaying an elegant, regal quality in the piece although perhaps it was not as appealing a showstopper as the other two choices. Prigent had more opportunity to shine in the contemporary section, in which he sensitively fulfilled the role of tender partner to a troubled woman in Stina Quagebuer's Hollow.

The remaining two contemporary numbers saw polarised approaches. There was the spiky staccato of Mthuthuzeli November's FULL-OUT, an intense toe-to-toe stand-off between Bueno and Yamada. Bueno continued to impress in the intricate choreography demonstrating great sharpness and line, dancing the piece in her pointe shoes. Much more fluid and ambiguous was the piece devised by Lead Principal Jeffrey Ciro for Galvao and Maidana, Both of Two.

A further undoubted highlight was a duo of party pieces from last year's prizewinners. Talented Artist Rhys Antoni Yeomans arguably stole the show with Mañana Iguana. It was a charismatic performance with bags of personality, humour and musicality. Meanwhile, Emerging Dancer 2019 winner Julia Conway (since promoted to Junior Soloist) tackled the challenging solo from Esmerelda with style.

Another wonderful component of the evening was seeing the English National Ballet Philharmonic back in action. All distanced and masked-up in a separate room, it wasn't quite back to normality, but as Sutherland said in his interview with Oduba, "every ballet should have live music". Hopefully they can soon be seen together on the same stage.

Emerging Dancing 2020 is available to view online at for £5 until 29 September.

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From This Author Vikki Jane Vile