Jane Winkworth

Not strictly ballet! January 04th 2012

Not Strictly Ballet!

This week saw me once again at the ballet, this time it was as a VIP guest for the English National Ballet’s second-time-round presentation of Derek Deane’s Strictly Gershwin. Last summer the company performed this strangely gleeful “ballet” at The Albert Hall and the reviews were mixed. This time, back on home ground, safe on the stage of the delicious, ice- creamy coloured and beautifully restored Coliseum Theatre, the English National Ballet almost took a back seat at this burlesque all American “revue” show by Derek Deane. The music was sublime and the orchestra were brilliant - but this was not strictly ballet!

More than 100 dancers, guest dancers and singers combined with a full jazz orchestra plus a couple of Bruce Forsyth type “tappers” created a very polished, Strictly Come Dancing super gleeful, quite jolly and uplifting evening dedicated to the music of George and Ira Gershwin - but it was not for me. That same afternoon, we had taken a party of Starlight teenagers to the final working dress rehearsal. My amazing assistant Zenouska arrived back at my office afterwards with a glum expression on her face “how was it”? I asked.  “Well Daria and Vadim are dancing tonight….” was all she said - this did not bode well at all!

The theatre was absolutely packed - it was a full house. I arrived with my great friend Alastair and we fought our way to the American Bar for champagne and a gossip with the “luvvies”. The ballet is my true, one and only passion in life - I just simply adore it.



The first half of Strictly Gershwin was glitzy and ritzy! Set on Broadway with all the songs we expected including the magical, ‘Someone to Watch over Me’. The dancing was polished, perfect and exquisite. The second half was Gershwin in Hollywood - The tutus in Rhapsody in Blue were completely beautiful and have inspired me to design a collection of shoes for French Sole using midnight blue velvets with silver trimmings. The dancers sparkled, glittered and shimmered as they swayed and shimmied - it was wonderful!  The two “Bruce Forsyth” type tappers clicked away to relentless applause from an audience who were clearly there for the music of Gershwin and not for the magnificent dancing of the English National Ballet. At long last the exquisite strains of the music from ‘Summertime’ slowed the pace right down and there at last, was the most magical pairing of Daria Klimentova and Vadim Muntagirov. These two magnificent dancers performed a pas de deux to such complete perfection that I was almost reduced to tears, gentle, sensual and with the lightest of lifts.

Good luck though to the English National Ballet for putting this show on, because it has a huge “feel good” factor and will definitely draw large audiences which the ENB badly need. Afterwards, we drove back to Chelsea and around Sloane Square for a last look at the Christmas lights, hanging as a million brightly lit stars in the trees before they are taken down tomorrow. Goodbye Christmas 2011 – it had been a lovely evening.

Categories: Ballet, My Week

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Charities Jane supports:

The Royal ballet school English National Ballet Starlight ACCA The Royal Marsden Havens Hospice