On a wet February weekend Natalie van de Braam’s ballet academy at Farlington School transported an enthralled audience to a wonderful world of escapist fantasy.
A series of beautifully choreographed scenes set to a variety of musical styles presented a dazzling spectacle of colour, movement and balletic skill. The younger members of the troupe were enchanting as woodland fairies, bees, ladybirds and flowers; and were also very funny as cooks wielding their wooden spoons.
Some of the older girls showed great control and charm in their various guises as butterflies, woodland creatures, mice and delightful picnic girls; whilst yet another group exhibited their versatility by enacting mystical water creatures and then creating a hilarious caterpillar. This sense of humour was apparent throughout, not least in the Mad Hatter’s tea party and the following croquet match, complete with pink flamingo.
The older girls invested the much-loved characters with great individuality: Amy Marsh and Leah Constantine were totally winning sisters; Ciara Berkeley, an imperious Queen of Hearts; Rebecca Briggs, an ever-grinning Cheshire Cat; Tara Williams, a zany Mad Hatter; and Orla Ridpath, a very amusing White Rabbit.
The spectacular costumes were of professional quality. This phrase sums up Natalie van de Braam’s inventive and original production: a ballet professional in quality whilst retaining all the charm and enthusiasm of its very talented young performers.
Review by David Thomas. Picture contributed.