Gala platform for ballet and contemporary dance is set for February dates at Lanterns Studio Theatre
“Our story continues” is the strapline for the latest evening of dance to come to Lanterns Studio Theatre on the Isle Of Dogs.
Building on three editions at the east London venue, which took place between September and November last year, Ballet Nights is set to return for a fourth iteration over two nights on February 23 and 24, 2024.
Having already set a predecent for drawing some of the best dancers in the world to the Island, the latest programme continues in similar vein with performers from the English National Ballet and Studio Wayne McGregor on the bill.
But perhaps chief among the attractions will be Yasmine Naghdi and Reece Clarke, both pincipal dancers at The Royal Ballet.
The pair will perform twice on each of the gala-style evenings, presenting Spring Waters Pas De Deux to cap off a packed first half and Balcony Pas De Deux from Romeo And Juliet to round off the evening.
“It’s the format that makes the Ballet Nights concept special,” said Jamiel Devernay-Laurence, the shows’ artistic director and producer.
“For audiences who are unfamiliar with dance, it’s a really good way to get a taste of the very best things that are going on right now.
“For artists like Yasmine and Reece – who both dance together a lot at The Royal Ballet – to be coming to Docklands is a big deal.
“Audiences can expect many virtuosic lifts, throws and catches in their first performance before they take on the memorable and iconic choreography of Sir Kenneth MacMillan in the second.
“We listen to our audiences and with feedback that they wanted to see more of our headliners, I wanted to experiment with a snappy performance at the end of act one before the big piece at the end the night.
“There is nothing more meaningful and romantic than the Balcony Pas De Deux – it’s exactly what people are ready for.”
Audiences will see a total of 12 performances, split into two halves over a period of two hours on each of the two forthcoming nights at Lanterns.
These include two new works performed by resident pianist Viktor Erik Emanuel, who will also join Felicity Chadwick for 324a, set to music by JS Bach.
“She was a new discovery in our September show,” said Jamiel.
“Here she returns for people to really experience what she can do, dancing the choreography of Joshua Junker from The Royal Ballet.”
The shows at Lanterns differ significantly from most other presentations of ballet.
Audiences sit on a level with the dancers and performances take place right in front of the spectators.
Ballet Nights’ programmes feature classical styles alongside contemporary pieces offering ticket holders the chance to experience a wide range of movement and music on a single evening.
But the brand goes beyond the physical performances.
“For many startups in dance and other genres of the arts, there’s often a launch, but for things to continue in perpetuity is rarer,” said Jamiel.
“I want audiences to get used to the idea of Ballet Nights both as a series of performances, but also as a platform.
“We have various digital productions so people can see behind-the-scenes and get to know the artists via our podcasts.
“Ballet Nights doesn’t go away after the performances have taken place – it continues celebrating the artists.
“That happens before the show and also at our legendary after-party experiences where we meet the dancers and discuss what they do and how they do it.
“We also want to be launching new traditions as the premiere ballet event in this area.
“One of those, which is on the next programme, will be the mystery act, dancing in a style unlike any of the other performers on the night.
“We are quite a versatile platform in that in a full show audiences will see world class stars, modern masterpieces, legacy classics, new voices and new discoveries.
“To meet the demand for longer versions of pieces from emerging voices, we will be launching our very first Spotlight Shows on April 26 and 27, which will feature duo Pett – Clausen-Knight.
“They will be performing in the February show too, so that is a chance for audiences to see more of them.”
The fourth edition is also set to have a contemporary offering from choreographer and dancer Jordan James Bridge as well as a debut performance from new duo Cydney Watson and Liam Woodvine, brought together by Jamiel under his creative umbrella.
“That’s a brand new launch, birthed at Lanterns Studio Theatre through one of our professional development programmes,” he said.
“They were identified individually and we’ve had some fantastic results putting them together, so they will be making their world debut as a duo here.
“Jordan is a real audience favourite, judging by the standing ovations and it’s really fantastic to have him back again.
“He’s so capable and talented and it’s a real honour to have him performing at Ballet Nights.
“Then we have Chloe Keneally, who hasn’t had far to come, from English National Ballet at London City Island.
“She’ll be our tutu ballerina, providing us with two pieces – Etoile Variation from Paquita and Aurora from act three of Sleeping Beauty.
“Ballet Nights is starting to become a piece of the fabric of what Canary Wharf has as a dance offer.
“With some of the world’s best dancers appearing, loyal audience members are now making the journey for the second or third time.
“But what I’m most keen on is that residents nearby come and give the show a go.
“This is a one-of-a-kind format that doesn’t yet exist anywhere else in the world and it’s right here on the Island.”
- Doors open for Ballet Nights at 6.15pm, with performances running from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. Tickets start at £60.
Find out more about Ballet Nights here
- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via email@example.com