Culture Editor Vidhi Bhanushali reviews Mode, finding it to be a delightful and mesmerising first experience watching ballet

Written by Vidhi Bhanushali

Mode marks the 20th anniversary of Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham. On this special occasion, the Class of 2024, showcased their passion and thrill for ballet through this collaboration of dance and fashion.

The performers of EBC and fashion students from Birmingham City University’s School of Fashion and Textiles had indeed outdone themselves in putting together À la Mode, through their hard work, dedication and endless practice. This is truly reflected in their performances throughout the show.

Besides the flawless synchronisation and exquisite moves, I found the choreography striking. The asymmetric formations throughout the acts and the transitions between them caught my attention from the beginning. These well-crafted assemblies acted naturally to their respective elements of the act. Every performer was seen for their unique moves. This would have been impossible without the wonderful minds and visions of renowned choreographers like Wayne McGregor, Christopher Tendai, Cris Penfold, and many others.  There was grace, emotions, and a beautiful depiction of teamwork. It reflected the years and years of practice by these dancers and their choreographers. All these features were only enhanced by the wonderfully made costumes for each act, which acted like a cherry on top.

There was grace, emotions, and a beautiful depiction of teamwork.

La Bayadère, the opening routine, was simplistic with basic movements performed by the dancers. It appeared more elegant with the separate net sleeves tucked in the girls’ hair buns. This drew the audience’s attention to the beautiful hand movements in particular. To fill the interval between dances, the audience were shown informal interviews of the performers. They took the audience through the journey of creating, mastering and polishing every dance routine by showing a sneak peak of the training sessions. Every student at EBC shared an unwavering passion for ballet. They described how EBC was a second home to them and the friends they made were more like family. It was admirable to see young people from diverse backgrounds, promote inclusivity and have a shared interest that they were skilled at.

It was admirable to see young people from diverse backgrounds, promote inclusivity and have a shared interest that they were skilled at.

More than that, it was inspirational to find out about their outreach programs and interactions with primary school children, as they passed on their basic knowledge to them. A student mentioned how À la Mode was a full circle moment for her as she began her ballet journey being inspired from watching it as a child. Another expressed her excitement and joy for being selected as a final year student, to choreograph one performance as a part of Act 1, Geōmantìa. The fact that I personally resonated with was that these students pursued their passions and accomplished milestones with brave faces. This factor will definitely help them succeed in their future careers.

The finale routine, Fete Galante, was a splendid spectacle of 18th century court dances. It serves truly effective as the last performance since it delivers the essence of Mode. The unwritten message of this act as a whole is how dance and fashion reflect grace and fluidity in their partnership. It all comes down to how ballet as a dance form is only a means of communication, so fluid, that it can shape itself as literally anything, be it astrology signs as in Geōmantìa, or a ballroom dance as in Fête Galante.

This was my first time watching a ballet performance, and indeed was a delightful experience. I can say that after each routine, my awe and wonder for the team increased along with respect for them and their dedication.

Rating: 5/5

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