Fancy Nancy Dancey – she’s a winner!
There was an interesting change of format this year for the English National Ballet’s hugely entertaining Emerging Dancer 2013 competition. Instead of performing two solos the six finalists were first paired up to perform a pas de deux from Don Quixote, Giselle or Swan Lake. Though this meant a big improvement as a spectacle and gave the dancers plenty of time to get into their dancing, the sheer length of the choreography rather overshadowed the whipcrackle solos that followed. The pas de deux roles also tended to favour the female dancers as they got all the best moves – the guys even had to present their ballerinas at the end of their number without taking any applause themselves.
In the end judges Darcey Bussell, Tommy Franzén, Luke Jennings, Jude Kelly and Tamara Rojo quite rightly decided it was Nancy Osbaldeston who just about nicked the award; she was expressive and flighty as Kitri and breezed through John Neumeier’s Bach Suite No:2 with movement of great charm and eloquence. Mind you, it was probably lucky for her that Yonah Acosta wasn’t entered this year – he was the reigning champion and performed a celebratory pas de deux from Petipa’s Diana & Acteon with Shiori Kase (the 2011 winner) and brought the house down with his staggering jumps and increasingly measured bravura.
However, the best news for artistic director Tamara Rojo was that the competition was so closely fought. The six finalists, Osbaldeston, Ken Saruhashi, Nathan Young, Alison McWhinney, Guilherme Menezes and Lauretta Summerscales all presented hugely assured performances, particularly Summercales who curtsied away clutching the People’s Choice Award. English National Ballet’s growing strength-in-depth points the way to a promising looking summer season and good times way beyond that.