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REVIEW: 2023 Modern Ballet Graduation Performances (RCS, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland)

Updated: Feb 10

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow

15 June 2023


RCS Royal Conservatoire of Scotland BA Modern Ballet Dance Graduation Showcase 2022. Photo credit: Andy Ross

Each year around this time, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland BA Modern Ballet programme present their annual showcase. This is a wide-ranging and diverse programme of ballet and contemporary dance, and includes students from all three undergrad year groups as well as from the Post-Graduate Diploma.

The annual performance is delivered in partnership with Scottish Ballet and usually involves a number of guest choreographers too. It is an opportunity for the public and industry alike to watch the talent from all year groups perform and for the graduating students to showcase their talent as they step into their professional careers.

The 2023 ballet show begins with an excerpt from classical ballet, The Sleeping Beauty. All 3 year groups dance in the opening number which is impeccably staged and brilliantly choreographed by Kerry Livingstone, Fabrice Maufrais and Louise Ross. All of the dancers are exquisitely presented, as you would expect, and there is so much movement, so many formations and beautiful lines - it's absolutely gorgeous and a spectacular way to start the show.

I had intended to select a few of my favourite dances from the night and to focus on them in this review. But all of them were my favourite! I adored every single one. (I feel like Buddy the Elf... Dancing is my favourite!)

Alongside the fabulous dancing, I do need to highlight the impressive staging and lighting from the production / technical teams.

In the scene named 'Ache' a gauze screen was lowered to cover the front stage with stars and even shooting stars projected onto it. With a rolling outerspace scene on the backdrop behind the dancers, I was awestruck. I was transported to another world - or was it meant to be an asteroid? - either way, it was magnificent and I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. It all worked perfectly with the music 'Numb' by Andy Stott. I cannot wait to see the pro photographer's shots from this one.

Act I closing was a delightful 'Too Darn Hot' by Cole Porter from 'Kiss me Kate'. I know that these dance pieces are selected months in advance and so I must say, someone has a sixth sense! There could not have been a more fitting number for this week and this heatwave weather. Choreographed by Rowan MacGregor, I found this to have West Side Story vibes. Scorching hot, intense and powerful, it was great to see so many male (or male identifying) dancers front and centre.

Act II was also end-to-end genius full of innovative choreography and stunning staging:

Paramour by choreographer Mabel Blair won the 2022 Student Choreographic competition and I can see why. The dancers were so expressive in this piece; It's wonderfully creative. I also loved the inclusion of Andante Con Moto - Strings in E-flat minor by Nicholas Britell in the score. It took me a moment to place the tune but it's the theme from Succession!

The final number of the evening was 'Swarm' by Diana Loosmore. A stunning piece that illustrated the talents of the year 3 graduating ballet students but also again, of the technical and production students with the lighting and staging. The costumes for the whole show are stunning but I particularly loved the dark, edgy designs used in this dance.

The Finale was understated but perfect. Now that may be an odd thing to point out, but I have sat through hundreds of dance shows in my time where the finale is often an after thought, and as a result, a mess. Not here, even the finale is perfectly choreographed in this show and I loved that some dancers changed back into earlier costumes allowing the audience to easily identify which group performed which numbers. Nicely done!

I'm normally a fan of classical over contemporary dance - sometimes the music and quirk of contemporary pieces can get a bit much for me and just give me a headache - but tonight I can honestly say that I loved every single piece of dance, every piece of music, and the innovation and inventiveness was at just the right level of brilliance without spilling over into weird.

I always say that the BA Modern Ballet Annual Showcase is one of my favourite nights of the year and this years production may just be the best one yet. An easy 5 stars from me. Magnificent!


Thank you to RCS for inviting me and thank you to the staff and students of the BA Modern Ballet programme for a fantastic evening. And lastly, thank you to the Operations teams at RCS: Sitting in the New Athenaeum Theatre was a surprisingly cool and comfortable experience. Hurrah for modern air-conditioning. Please may I move in?



The 2023 Modern Ballet showcase plays at The New Athenaeum Theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow from Thursday 15th - Saturday 17th June. I highly recommend you get along to this show if you can.


🌟 A review of the 2023 BA Modern Ballet Graduation Performances at RCS, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow, June 2023. (Dance, Theatre) 🌟

🎟️ Disclaimer: *I was invited to review this show by The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. I received a ticket in exchange for my Instagram content and blog review. Whether I am gifted a ticket or not has absolutely no impact on my reviews or star ratings!

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Lisa in the theatre, Scottish theatre and dance review blog.

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