The four-month rehearsal and performance experience is free of charge, which means there is no barrier to talent, so London Children’s Ballet dancers come from every economic, social and ethnic background, just united by their passion for ballet.
2022 sees London Children’s Ballet performing Anne of Green Gables, a new ballet with 51 young dancers aged from 9 to 16 years.
Lucy Maud Montgomery’s story tells the story of a lively, imaginative 11-year-old orphan who lives on Canada’s Prince Edward Island. Adopted by an elderly brother and sister, Anne gets herself into endless scrapes but eventually wins over the community with her fearless character and passionate nature.
LCB is a charity that aims to inspire children from all backgrounds through dance, and hopefully ‘planting the seed of a long-lasting passion that will enrich their lives’. Its Artistic Director Ruth Brill took over from Lucille Briance who founded in London Children’s Ballet in 1994 and retired after 25 years at the helm. Brill has gathered a team of emerging creative talents for Anne of Green Gables including the choreographer Jenna Lee, who trained at the Royal Ballet School and performed as a Soloist with ENB. She has choreographed twice for LCB (Snow White in 2015 and Little Lord Fauntleroy in 2016) as well as many theatre, TV and dance college productions.
Composer Gus Nicholson trained at King’s College London and the Royal Academy of Music – Anne of Green Gables is his first ballet score: “I am used to writing music that closely accompanies visuals, such as for a short film or animation, so the visual element in writing a ballet feels quite familiar.”
The production designer Elin Steele was a finalist in the Linbury Prize for Stage Design. She has worked on diverse projects such as Matthew Bourne’s Romeo & Juliet, Scottish Ballet’s Dextera and the Spice Girls Tour 2019.
London Children’s Ballet
Each year, LCB develops a favourite children’s story with an original scenario and this year it has been written by the company’s Creative Director, Zoe Vickerman. An emerging composer is commissioned to write a ‘full-evening’ score and a choreographer to set the ballet, choosing up-and-coming costume and set designers. The new work is performed over a week-long run at the West End’s Peacock Theatre.
There are 600 applicants each year and in November, 50 or so young dancers aged 9-14 (or boys 9-16) are chosen to form the company for the new production. The following four-month rehearsal and performance experience is free of charge, which means there is no barrier to talent, so LCB dancers come from every economic, social and ethnic background, just united by their passion for ballet. London Children’s Ballet fundraises year-round to ensure that it can offer its unique opportunity to young dancers regardless of their circumstances.
LCB does not only select children who are technically gifted but looks for children who have a special appeal that makes a dancer beautiful to watch regardless of whether or not they have a perfect ballet body.
Rehearsals are on Sunday afternoons from January to May, and there is an intensive period of daily rehearsals over the February half term and the Easter holidays. In total, the young dancers receive over 100 hours of free, specialist ballet tuition and performance experience.
Three times a year, 45 additional LCB touring company dancers perform in residential homes, hospices, day centres and Special Educational Needs schools with a 30-minute tailored performance, taking ballet out into the community and ensuring an enriching experience for all involved. LCB also runs thriving programmes in the community throughout the year, touching the lives of over 3,000 disadvantaged children and elderly people with workshops and inspirational performances.
LCB alumni include Anna Rose O’Sullivan, now Principal with the Royal Ballet (featured on the cover of The Little Princess, below); James Streeter, First Soloist with English National Ballet; and Charlotte Edmonds, now a choreographer.
London Children’s Ballet in numbers
- 19 choreographers and 10 composers have set their first full-length ballet for LCB
- 1,296 young dancers have received over 100 hours of free tuition and performed on stage with LCB
- 684 young dancers have performed as part of an LCB Touring Company
- 11,427 children from over 250 ballet schools have auditioned for LCB
- 34,240 disadvantaged children and isolated elderly people have seen an LCB production through our Ballet for £1 programme; for most this is their first experience of ballet
- 25% of all tickets to LCB performances are available to schools and charities for £1
- 342 outreach venues have hosted a performance by LCB touring company, bringing the joy of dance and music to hospices, special needs schools, hospitals, day centres and residential nursing homes
- LCB has created 15 original narrative ballet productions with new music and choreography
- 7,296 inner-city primary school children have participated in a free LCB ballet workshops
Anne of Green Gables
at The Peacock Theatre, London WC2 from 26-29 May 2022
Thursday 26 May at 7pm
Friday 27 May at 6.30 pm
Saturday 28 May at 1.30 pm and 5.30 pm
Sunday 29 May at 12.30 pm and 4.30 pm
Ticket prices from £15 – £55
Box Office: www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/london-childrens-ballet-anne-of-green-gables/
All Anne of Green Gables photography by ASH
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.