Eric Snyeder in Rentaro Nakaaki’s Cha Cha and Tiara © Laurent Liotardo

Emerging Dancer 2022

Emerging Dancer has become a fixture in the English National Ballet calendar which we all look forward to – a chance to see just how much talent there is in the corps de ballet. Nominated by their own colleagues, it never ceases to surprise and delight me just how capable each company member is.  Hosted by Jordan Lee, presented in the Holloway Production Studio at ENB’s London City Island headquarters with a small invited audience and hopefully a very large online audience, the evening opened with the 6 participants paired up for their classical pas de deux. Each couple was mentored by dancers in the company which is another great opportunity for fellow members. Ashley Coupal and Noam Durand were coached by Sarah Kundi and Francesco Gabriele Frola for Coppélia, Chloe Keneally and Eric Snyder had Shiori Kase and James Streeter for The Sleeping Beauty and Angela Wood and Matthew Astley worked with Erina Takahashi and Junor Souza for Paquita. All three pas de deux were extremely accomplished, but Keneally and Snyder had the edge. She is a ballerina in the making, possessing a formidable technique, exquisite port de bras and a fragility that bodes well for her future. Snyder too has everything necessary to become a top dancer including excellent partnering skills.  Coupal and Durand gave a charming account of the Coppélia third act pas de deux, both giving exceptional renditions of their solos.

Angela Wood © Laurent Liotardo
Noam Durand © Laurent Liotardo

Angela Wood and Matthew Astley prompted a few questions.  Astley has already had ten years professional experience, five as a demi-soloist in Ballet du Capitole from where he joined ENB in 2017. I have always picked him out in the corps de ballet. Angela Wood joined ENB in 2010 where she has remained steadfastly an artist. The couple performed one of the most challenging pas de deux in the classical repertoire and did so with panache. I think they’ve proved a point. Given the right opportunities to shine, they will rise to the challenge. One has to remember that as corps de ballet members, they are not required to do grand pas de deux, so this was a huge step up for all three couples in terms of strength, stamina, technical confidence and in presentation.

Matthew Astley © Laurent Liotardo
Ashley Coupal © Laurent Liotardo

In the contemporary choreography section Coupal and Durand performed NEFES by British-Turkish choreographer Ceyda Tanc. Very much embracing her heritage, Tanc gave them different challenges, if not entirely startling then at least aesthetically pleasing. Interesting too that she collaborated with company dancer and composer Fabian Reimair who’s written a very atmospheric score (orchestrated by Gavin Sutherland). Rentaro Nakaaki’s Cha Cha and Tiara was the most successful of the new works, delightfully delivered by Keneally and Snyder, showing comedic flair. And finally Wood and Astley performed Hamish Longley’s Interlude on the Jubilee Line. Longley only graduated last year, so I think this opportunity will have been very welcome for him. It gave the dancers a chance to show a more lighthearted side to their personalities, though it was by no means easy technically.

Chloe Keneally © Laurent Liotardo

During the interval, English National Ballet Philharmonic gave a performance of Arthur Sullivan’s The Yeoman of the Guard (Overture), conducted and arranged by Timothy Henty, followed by 2020’s winner, Ivana Bueno and 2020’s People’s Choice winner, Victor Prigent, performing Le Corsaire pas de deux. Both clearly deserved their previous wins performing to an extraordinarily high level.

Finalists and Judge ED 2022 © ASH

At the close, judges Tamara Rojo, Dana Fouras, Céline Gittens, Kamara Gray, Sir Alistair Spalding and Joseph Toonga, chose Eric Snyder as the winner of the Emerging Dancer 2022. He obviously wasn’t expecting to win and gave a most endearing thank you speech. Emilia Cadorin was the recipient of the Corps de Ballet Award and Precious Adams won the People’s Choice Award. The most heartwarming aspect of this annual event is the support and camaraderie each individual company member shows for their peers. The respect is tangible and it has always been like that as far back as I can remember (a number of decades!). I’m already looking forward to next year’s Emerging Dancer.

Deborah Weiss