English National Ballet to hold international summer course in Toledo

The English National Ballet, seen here rehearsing
The English National Ballet, seen here rehearsing "Swan Lake," will hold its first international summer course in the Toledo area next year

Ballet Theatre of Toledo, the 6-year-old classical school and company in Holland, has just revealed a major coup that will provide an opportunity for local dancers and likely draw fine dancers to the Toledo area from around the country.

Founder Nigel Burgoine has arranged for the English National Ballet to hold its first international summer course in the Toledo area next year. The week-long course for dancers age 13 and up is set for July 22-27 at the BTT studios.

The London-based company announced its decision earlier this month.

"We are delighted to be collaborating with Nigel Burgoine and Ballet Theatre of Toledo for our first USA summer school," said Samira Saidi, director of dance at the English National Ballet School.

Potential students will audition by DVD and YouTube starting this month. Classes of 20 at three levels — from advanced to professional — will be held at the BTT studios, 1124 Corporate Ave. Burgoine says evening master classes also are in the works.

"The teachers that I am bringing with me are all former principal and soloist dancers with English National Ballet and The Royal Ballet," Saidi explained in an email.

"As well as offering technique classes, we will also be teaching pas de deux, pointe work/virtuosity, and repertoire."

The ENB, founded in 1950 by soloists from Europe's famed Ballets Russe, is one of four major dance companies in England.

Based in Kensington, London, it employs 65 dancers who perform a wide variety of classical styles in the Albert Hall, the Coliseum, and other venues. ENB has a symphony and a famed ballet school. Patron of the English National Ballet is Prince Andrew, Duke of York.

Building a professional dance career requires hard work at the studio and deep pockets at home, not just for local training and equipment, but to send budding soloists to famed companies for intense coaching and essential contacts.

Burgoine speaks for many local teachers when he says, "It has always been a goal of mine to help young dancers go forward and join a company, travel the world, and find dance roles in the highest quality productions."

A number of Toledo dancers from major local companies, including Toledo Ballet and Cassandra Ballet, have built careers this way. Some have returned to teach where they began.

Most dance companies also bring in guest teachers from bigger companies to help their students at a lower cost. But snagging the English National Ballet could be a game-changer for dancers who could not afford tuition, travel costs, and housing expenses.

"I will be teaching and coaching myself, but also looking at the dancers with a view for potential entry into our school," Saidi said. "We will also be good points of contact for professional dancers who might want information about ballet companies in the UK."

Burgoine said this new collaboration is special to him because he is a former soloist with the London Festival Ballet, which became the English National Ballet.

Plans were laid last spring in London, at a celebration for Dame Beryl Grey, a former ballerina associated with the English National Ballet. Burgoine met Saidi, also a former dancer with the company who had just been named director of the school.

"The best outcomes for this venture are that we are able to give the dancers a real taste of what we offer at English National Ballet School, sharing our knowledge and experience, and for the professional level, the experience of learning and working with teachers who have danced and trained in England, giving them an insight into the English training and heritage," Saidi said.

Burgoine has secured financial support for aspects of this program to enable more dancers to participate.

For audition information, send an email to the English National Ballet at enbs.usa@enbschool.org.uk. The Ballet Theatre of Toledo Website www.ballettheatreoftoledo.org. has complete application form and requirements for downloading.

Contact Sally Vallongo at: svallongo@theblade.com.