Sophie Pulford, final year student at Central School of Ballet and now back at home in Hull during lockdown, has participated in an online choreographic project with 27 fellow dancers from around the world, now released as a 3 min film on YouTube: Centrally Connected Performs .
Aged 19, Sophie should be on a five month tour performing in venues across England with the touring company Ballet Central but had to return home to Hull as schools and higher education organisations temporarily closed following the Covid-19 epidemic.
The online choreographic project is realised in a film called Centrally Connected Performs created to allow final year dance students the chance to demonstrate their skills in lieu of the Ballet Central touring experience. Each student was given the challenge of choreographing and performing a solo to a specially created piece of music by Central’s composer-in-residence Philip Feeney.
Centrally Connected Performs is part of Central’s remote learning, teaching and training initiative established to ensure continuity for dance students participating in the school’s BA and MA programmes even though its studios in Herbal Hill in London are currently closed.
Sophie will complete her degree this July at Central despite the lockdown. Selected from hundreds of candidates, Sophie was one of a few to secure a coveted place on Central’s three year BA (Hons) degree in Professional Dance and Performance, accredited by the University of Kent and affiliated with the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama.
Sophie said: “Despite the struggles the last few months have caused, having the Centrally Connected project has been a great outlet for us all. Even though we are all apart across the globe, the sense of community and support for one another during this time has been stronger than ever. There has been a real sense of family. The choreographic project has also been such a great opportunity for us to be more creative in this time, encouraging us to rethink how we can use our home environments and new workspaces.”
Artistic Director Christopher Marney, who is leading the project, explains further: “We have created Centrally Connected Performs to allow students to create their own choreography to Philip’s innovative music. The result is a unique collaboration and showcase of leading dance talent. Students have interpreted the music through classical ballet, contemporary dance and other dance genres that they learn in their training.”
Christopher continues: “The Ballet Central tour is the flagship training and performance element of Central’s undergraduate degree programme. The opportunity to join Ballet Central and train with industry leading choreographers and perform a diverse repertoire to ticket-buying audiences is the pinnacle of the student experience. It’s one of the reasons we have such a high level of graduate employment.”
The Ballet Central 2020 Tour was just two weeks away from its opening night in London when the UK Government directive to stay at home came into force. The five month annual tour was scheduled to perform in 13 venues across England featuring an audience-pleasing repertoire. The company’s exciting performance composed of technical excellence, theatricality and drama was choreographed by international dance industry influencers, with stunning costumes enhanced by powerful music.
Ballet Central performed eight sell-out shows of The Nutcracker at the ADC Theatre in Cambridge in December 2019, the third year that the company’s version of the Christmas classic brought joy to regional audiences.