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The beauty of ballet

Jo Ann Vassallo attended the Olivia Dow School of Ballet annual show and realised the show went on despite the death of the school's founder

As the curtains slowly opened, four of the elder students were at the place at the barres. The scene was simple and classical, practically a ballet studio; the costumes were plain and elegant. The first thing that came to mind was how students like Martina Zammit and Jessica Farrugia together with the rest of the clan matured. They are precise, strong and do their work at the barre well. Technique is still there but cleaner. The queens of last year's show are young women ready for another performance because as their much loved John Baldacchino, late husband of Olivia Dow, insisted, the show must go on.

The first part of the performance was wholly dedicated to classical ballet, a journey through the life of a ballerina, possibly learning the Legat way with Ms Dow. The backdrop remained the same throughout but what Ms Dow cleverly did was intertwine a mix of age groups into a medley of classical excerpts from Minkus's Paquita and Don Quixote, a variety of Tchaikovsky ballets together with other classics which gave an insight into what a ballerina goes through from the age of three to her early 20s.

The costumes were all kept simple but a ballerina's era or age group was designated by a tutu of specific colour. So, three-year-olds wore pink in contrast to elder students wearing all the other colours of the rainbow. The students danced in coordination, some groups more than others, but the most enjoyable parts were the seniors who have enough skill to sell. Ms Zammit stood out in particular with strong clean lines and impeccable points. She was appropriate in all her parts, was light on her feet and graceful. Marianna Dogum also stood out especially in her solo part when she wore her yellow tutu.

Through the Barres - part one, was a feast of classical Russian ballet; a showcase of the work in a ballerina's life. The young students gained sympathy for their efforts despite a very tender age. As the students got older the technique became obvious so Ms Dow succeeded in the stepwise approach to a ballet show which is ideal especially for a school show.

After the break the party started. This part of the show was dedicated to the application of technical ballet in a musical or themed show. Dressed as pirates, gypsy ladies and nomads throughout, music from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, was used to create an adaptation to modern dance. Ms Zammit was leading her colleagues the whole time. She was partnered by guest artist Seamus Kelly Vella Aloisio who accompanied her neatly. She was definitely the star of the show as her poise and charm never faltered. The backdrop was "gypsy-eque" with all the necessary pirate props.

The medley was very original and the choreography was creative. The girls danced with fishing nets, ribbons, barrels (which came to life thanks to a well-hidden ballerina inside each one) and students dressed as rats.

The surprise was when musicians George Curmi and Uri joined in with their violin and accordion respectively. The young Miriana Curmi also sang the gypsy lady song which got the audience clapping and joining in. Many of the choreographies in part two were demanding because of the fast rhythms combined with technical moves.

The atmosphere never changes at Olivia Dow's school regardless of the loss of its founder. The show really kept going thanks to the courage and professionalism of these performers.


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