Since Dame Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin founded what is now English National Ballet in 1950, the Company has always been committed to achieving the highest musical as well as dancing standards. From the very beginning, the Orchestra of English National Ballet has played an important part in creating the magic which is a vital part of every live performance.
The dancers and the musicians do not usually see each other until the dress rehearsal, instead rehearsing separately. However, the conductor will attend as many of the dancers’ rehearsals as possible so they know the tempi at which the ballet should be played. This is not an easy task – each Principal dancer will want his or her solo at a specific speed whilst every other divertissement must be at a consistent tempo so the other dancers know what to expect. The music also guides much of the drama of the productions, and the Orchestra has a very keen theatrical sense which provides the perfect pace for any scene. The Orchestra is accompanying silent soloists so they are reliant on the conductor’s beat to synchronise the different aspects of a production. As a result the musicianship and musicality of both dancers and orchestra are allowed to shine in every performance.
The Orchestra is made up of many of the country’s top musicians, and boasts considerable experience in all forms of music-making.
Recent notable events have included galas at both the London Coliseum and Royal Opera House, accompanying visiting ballet companies, appearances in concert (including the Bath and City of London Festivals) and, most recently, providing the music for the Royal Academy of Dance’s children’s ballet syllabus grades. They also play a significant part in the Learning Department’s school visits and workshops, taking a taste of the music of ballet to tomorrow’s audience.