English Youth Ballet’s Isabella Kibble

Introducing 16 year old Isabella Kibble, dancer with the English Youth Ballet

English Youth Ballet provides young dancers with a unique opportunity to rehearse and perform alongside professional dancers and Isabella Kribble is one such young dancer to be part of this wonderful youth company.  Last month she performed in English Youth Ballet’s Giselle (you can read our review here) and she shares her experience to inspire other young dancers from across the UK and around the world.

Dreaming of becoming a ballerina

Like many young students, Isabella typically started taking ballet classes at three years and then other styles for four, dreaming of becoming a ballerina from the very first moment her mum took her to a local dance school for her first lesson, “I’ve always loved ballet because it’s fun and I just wanted to dance all the time.”  At 16 Isabella dances almost every day for 2-3 hours after school and 4-5 hours on Saturdays at her local school, Bird College Junior School.

Joining English Youth Ballet

Joining English Youth Ballet (EYB) at the age of 10, she performed in four productions until she was 12, when she made the decision to take time out to concentrate on ballet exams and her school work.  This year is Isabella’s fifth performance with EYB,“I’m 16 years old now and I really wanted to do another production and it’s been so different to when I was younger.  I feel as you get older EYB work you even harder, and it has really improved my performance and technique.” 

EYB has a cast from as young as 8 to 18 and they pride themselves on being a professional youth ballet company, Isabella explains, “when you’re older EYB expect you to be almost on a professional level as you’re dancing quite closely alongside the professionals. They inspire you to work even harder and they expect you to behave like a professional and set an example for the younger dancers. You learn a lot and learn to be a professional at a relatively young age.”

Isabella in 5th_sml

Dancing alongside professionals

Seeing professional dancers up close really opens the eyes of the younger dancers,“it’s so inspiring to see how amazing they are”, says Isabella, “seeing how amazing their technique is, and also to watch their performance because a lot of time in normal classes you learn the technique and you don’t really perform, but when you see the professionals you see how they transform from the class to the stage. I see how they carry themselves on stage and how they adopt the characters, and you learn from them.”

Emma and Isabella on stage

Isabella Kibble with professional ballet dancer Emma Lister

Auditioning with English Youth Ballet

Each year EYB holds auditions across the country to form a cast of over 100 dancers, this gives dancers of all ages a glimpse at the future, “you have to audition every time for every production, because every production is different and EYB are always looking for new characters, depending on the production.”  

The young dancers are certainly put through paces during the audition process, “you go on a stage and they demonstrate a dance that you have to learn and then present it on stage. This is good because EYB choose people not just on technique but on performance as well as they can tell if the dancers are going to be able to perform when they actually are on stage.”

Auditioning is an essential part of a dancers life and it’s a good experience from a young age, “it is a really good opportunity to experience another audition in preparation for auditions for dance college, and what it would be like in a real job because you would have to audition.  Luckily I really enjoy the audition process, although it probably sounds weird that I do enjoy it!” explains Isabella.

Inspiring the next generation

Just as the young dancers are inspired by the professionals, the tiny 8 year olds look up to dancers like Isabella, and we asked her what advice she would pass on to them, she says “I’ve been taught that no matter how small your part, always conduct yourself in the way that your character would and act in a professional way, no matter how young you are, because people like people that can act like a professional.” And when on stage, Isabella suggests, “even though you may think that no one is looking at you on stage, there are a lot of people in the audience and there will be one person that is looking at you; and keep working as hard as you can because that’s how you improve.” Very wise words from such a young dancer.

Emma and Isabella at#3823CA

Isabella Kibble with professional ballet dancer Emma Lister

A few of my favourite things

After 6 years with the company Isabella’s favourite role is her most recent in Giselle, “I’ve been lucky to play two very contrasting parts in Giselle. Another favourite role was the mouse king in the Nutcracker – it was so fun and lovely to dance.” 

4 Friends in 5th

Isabella 4th on right in Giselle

Isabella is inspired by prima ballerinas Daria Klimentová and Marianne Bennett.  Looking towards the future she dreams of dancing with The Royal Ballet, but interestingly she also has her sights set on Matthew Bourne’s company New Adventures, “I really like Matthew Bourne because I love contemporary ballet as well, and I’ve seen so many Matthew Bourne pieces and I think that maybe hopefully, if I train hard, I would like to perform with his company.”

Preferred pointe shoes

And finally, a question a lot of younger dancers want to know is what type of pointe shoes Isabella wears, “Gaynor Minden because I feel like they’re fitted to my foot shape and they make my feet look nice.”

Isabella is a fine example of a young dancer seeking out ways to improve her performance and technique, to learn from older and talented professionals and gain experience with auditioning, all in preparation for the future.  

English Youth Ballet is to be commended for their work and vision, making young dancers dreams, even for a short time, come true.

English Youth Ballet tours the UK and auditions throughout the country, read their website for more information for your local area.

Images: Isabella Kibble, Emma Lister, English Youth Ballet

by Savannah Saunders