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London Russian Ballet School

London Russian Ballet School in Clapham (south west London) was founded in 2004 by Evgeny Goremykin (a former principal of the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow) and Harriet Pickering. The school is unique: it is the only school in the UK to offer world-class training in the Russian Ballet technique and also the Russian Ballet workout (incorporating ballet movements with Pilates). The school currently has 150 children, around 35 vocational students and 200 active adult amateur dancers.

I had the pleasure of talking to Evgeny Goremykin to find out more about the school and their forthcoming performance, An Evening of Ballet, at New Wimbledon Theatre.

We started at the beginning, in Moscow, where Evgeny grew up. He told me: ‘My passion for ballet began when I was 10 years old, in the school Nativity play: someone told me I should dance. At the age of 10 I took myself to the Bolshoi Ballet School, took the exam and enrolled without telling my parents. These were some of the happiest days of my life and from the moment I entered the school I never looked back. I was fortunate to have great teachers who taught me everything I know both in the school and at the theatre. I am deeply grateful to these wonderful people who made me who I am as a dancer. I danced in the Bolshoi Theatre for over twenty years where I was a principal.’

I wondered about the differences between Russian and English ballet and asked Evgeny to explain. He was happy to do so: ‘The Russian system makes great, beautiful and powerful dancers. The most famous names in ballet are Russian and this is not co incidence. The Russian schools have been in existence for several hundred years, the English schools are relatively new. I do think that makes a difference in terms not just of style but of knowledge and training.

‘Before I came to England I did not think of any difference between the English and Russian Ballet. I had always been a great admirer of the Royal Ballet. Of course, there are great English dancers whom I admire but I think the way I was taught was very rigorous and demanding. Ballet and theatre, our art, were in our blood. We were taught not to think of ourselves but our souls and what we could give the audience with our knowledge and technique. This was a result of huge hard work and an effort to be glamorous for our audience not ourselves. We were also encouraged to be widely read and cultured. When we dance a classical role, our teachers were part of a chain that stretched back to the imperial theatre where the ballets were created. I think this is an incredible thing.’

If you are interested in pursuing a career in ballet, you might want to heed Evgeny’s advice which he willingly passed on to me: ‘If you want a career in ballet the most important thing is to love it. This is vital. And also to have a good brain and to think. I have seen many young dancers with wonderful facility fail either because they do not try or because they think that is enough. Ballet is an art and some of the greatest dancers are those who have had to work the hardest to achieve. If you are prepared to make the effort and work it is a large part of the battle, but you need great teachers, so choose your school carefully.’

The show itself promises to be amazing. Memories, a neo classical ballet featuring the piano music of Frederic Chopin played by the award winning Sergei Basukinsky, will open the programme. Along with contemporary pieces, the dancers will perform Marius Petipa’s traditional ballet, Esmeralda, brought to us by Anatoly Sidorov, Honoured Artist of Russia and student of Pushkin. Choreography is by the award winning Russian Choreographer and Principal of the Mariinsky Theatre, Yury Smekalov, dance is accompanied by the London Soloists Philharmonia and the costumes are made in Russia by professional theatrical costumiers.

This will be the first time the school has performed at the New Wimbledon Theatre. I asked Evgeny for three words to describe the venue. ‘Large, beautiful and exciting,’ was his response.

For a glimpse of large beautiful and exciting beauty and art, go and see the London Russian Ballet School’s debut performance at New Wimbledon Theatre An Evening of Ballet.

An Evening of Ballet, New Wimbledon Theatre, 23 July, 7.30pm.

London Russian Ballet School