Jessica De Souza Lewis, final year dance student from Tring, Hertfordshire, is performing with the renowned dance company Ballet Central on their welcome return to touring this spring. Jessica’s forthcoming performance in Newbury at the Corn Exchange as part of the Spring Festival on 19 May is one of 11 venues on the tour across England, including shows in Birmingham, Guildford, Newbury, Cambridge, London and more. The company presents a new cast of exceptional dancers performing a mixture of original pieces from distinguished choreographers and a restaging of an existing contemporary work.
Jessica, aged 21, attended Tring Park School for the Performing Arts and Young Dancers Academy. She is now in the final year of a three-year BA (Hons) Professional Dance & Performance degree at the Central School of Ballet in London. Central is a world-leading centre for professional dance training providing graduates with opportunities for employment in the world’s foremost dance companies and international musical theatre productions. Students join the touring company Ballet Central to gain professional performance experience and the opportunity to work with leading choreographers leading up to graduation in July.
Jessica said: ‘I have been inspired by working with choreographer Mthuthuzeli November because I find his movement style fascinating and so different from anything I have done before. His musicality is clear and unique and the music he has composed is powerful, making his piece a joy to dance. The movement is influenced by his African roots which is of special interest to me as my family are from South Africa. It has been good to feel the strong sense of culture that he brings to his choreography.’
Jessica continued: ‘When I graduate in July, I would like to join a classical ballet company, working on classics and more modern dance works. I would like more opportunities to perform on tour and to work as a team, learning from the dancers around me, and from other choreographers and teachers. I want to continue to grow as a dancer and artist, and as a person.’
Under the artistic direction of Artist-in-Residence Mikaela Polley and Artistic Director Kate Coyne, Ballet Central will present three new pieces this year created on Central’s dancers. Mikaela Polley’s new piece Unbound involves the entire company, created as a celebration of the dynamism of the ensemble bringing classical ballet and contemporary dance together. New choreography from the dance industry influencer Ashley Page, Twice Removed, is to music by the composer John Adams. Ballet Black’s Mthuthuzeli November, also a former dancer on the Ballet Central tour, has created a new piece Sunset in Cape Town that demonstrates his distinctive choreographic voice. Cathy Marston’s piece Moving, Still is being restaged especially for this year’s Ballet Central tour.
Mikaela Polley, Artist-in-Residence said: ‘The experience of working with renowned choreographers in the creative process is invaluable for student dancers. They learn to absorb, understand, and interpret the story of each piece and the choreographers’ different ways of working. This accelerates their growth as future professionals and helps to prepare for the transition into company life when they graduate in July.’
Kate Coyne, Central’s Artistic Director said: ‘Joining Ballet Central and the experience of performing on tour distinguishes our dancers and supports their future employability in the dance industry. Performing is the ultimate goal for professional dance students so the chance to bring all their training to a peak in front of a live audience fulfils ambitions and stimulates new learning. Audiences benefit from seeing new talent and vibrant choreography in theatres across England.’
The annual Ballet Central tour offers audiences across the country the chance to see the company’s young and dynamic dancers showcase choreography from current industry professionals alongside newly commissioned work and refreshed classics from the world’s top choreographers. Performing a range of repertoire on tour over several months to ticket-buying audiences is an enriching experience for the students, enhancing their skills and development, making them particularly employable.
Recent Central students are currently employed with Scottish Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet, Rambert, Ballet Black, Phantom of the Opera (West End & Worldwide), Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, Milwaukee Ballet – USA, Singapore Dance Theatre, Sarasota Ballet – USA, K-Ballet – Japan, New English Ballet Theatre.
Ballet Central 2022 Tour Dates
- 16 May Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadlers Wells
- 19 May Corn Exchange, Newbury Spring Festival
- 9 June The Crescent, Birmingham
- 11 June Bridport Arts Centre
- 18 June Chipping Norton Theatre
- 24 June Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford
- 8 July ADC Theatre, Cambridge
- 13,14 July Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music