The pandemic has closed theatres, museums and cinemas but it has also given the world of classical ballet an opportunity to reach out, according to Viviana Durante, Artistic Director of the English National Ballet School.
Durante, former principal at the Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, collaborated with Kensington and Chelsea Council to create a ballet tutorial, available on the council’s YouTube channel.
The dance video received £2000 in funding from the council, as part of their one-year Culture Plan.
Durante said: “It is physical obviously what we do, but it is an art form. The inner expression comes out with gestures. We speak with our physical movements. It is quite different to just doing exercises.
“Due to today’s uncertainty, sometimes you don’t know how to say what you really want to say, but within the silence of dance movement you can express yourself more, with your deeper inner feelings.
“We hope to make people feel safe and comfortable in trying classical ballet. We want to make them feel happy by moving with music, as much as we can at this moment in time.”
The challenges posed by coronavirus restrictions pushed the world of classical ballet to acquire new skills, such as filming ballet, which Durante said adds to the art form.
She added: “It has made us better people all together, it’s made really think of what is important and value what we have and what we do to reach out to our neighbours.
“We have a wonderful staff at English National Ballet School and we kept students going with amazing focus and optimism, they have really stood up to the challenge. I get emotional when I think about it.”
Durante started dancing at seven years old, in a small garage in the middle of nowhere in Rome, and saw her first ballet, Sleeping Beauty, when she was ten, at Teatro Dell’Opera.
She said: “It’s not a job. The person becomes the dancer. It’s not a job that you do, it is something that you live. It just took me like that.”
Councillor Emma Will, Lead Member of Culture for Kensington and Chelsea said: “We know access to culture is more important than ever right now, both as a respite from the pandemic and as a source of stimulation when so many normal activities are curtailed.
“With that in mind, we created this participatory project as part of our one-year Culture Plan. This ballet tutorial pulls together one of our most impressive local schools and talent into a fun and challenging experience for all of our residents to enjoy.”
You can also read about a new art sculpture in Kensington about the dangers of digital data here.