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About Dance*is*life

  • Birthday August 15

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    My family, ballet, theatre and musical theatre, music, books,films etc etc.

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  1. I think it all depends very much on the school and the demands of the students. I am always rather surprised to see one hour ballet classes even at RAD headquarters in London, but I gather this is the norm in the UK. On the other hand, the UK has the excellent associate schemes and of course vocational schools for the serious students.
  2. It's not just all on the boys either - the girls have to coordinate their moves to help the boys. There's a lot of timing and coordination to be developed. And trust! I wish there were more pas de deux courses for those who don't normally have the opportunity. Most pre vocational students hardly get to see a boy let alone start partnering!
  3. Some of my students have joined Laetitia's workshops on Zoom and they adore them! She is very clever at adapting the rep pieces for smaller spaces and explains really well. Having taught on Zoom for 6 months I know how difficult it can be. We are now back in the studio, but I was happy to give them permission to miss my class, so that they could participate in her last workshop on Zoom! They glow when they talk about her workshops! Wish I weren't too old and decrepit to join these adult classes!
  4. Not a mother of a dancer, but a grandmother now, who has spent her life from age 3 1/2 until today within the ballet or dancing world. I will always be grateful to my late parents for supporting me all the way through training, a performing career and teaching. I wouldn't change anything in my life even though I never became the second Margot Fonteyn that my family predicted for me!!! Sticking at dance training - especially in today's world gives a child so much -the strength of character and work ethic it builds, will stay with them for life whatever happens. People often say that they envy me for working in a field that I love so much and which at the end of the day has filled my life with beauty and given me great satisfaction. Yes your children are missing out on certain things, but that's their decision. This epidemic has shown us that for those who are not totally dedicated a glimpse into another life without every spare moment being spent dancing may push them to give up - our school has lost quite a few pupils because of this. Therefore if your child truly wants to continue down this path, your support is a blessing for them, even if in the end they choose a different career or a different career chooses them!
  5. I have seen both versions and enjoyed both very much. The students danced beautifully and if you didn't know and hadn't seen the original cast, you probably wouldn't have noticed anything different, but I had, so yes obviously the professional dancers were better. It's a really lovely version, beautiful choreography and very enjoyable to watch. Loved Clara and Fritz in both versions. Preferred the Sugar Plum Fairy in the first cast.
  6. I personally think that the top vocational schools probably wouldn't accept someone who was only Intermediate level. However there are some excellent vocational schools around who probably would. You are doing a fair number of weekly hours of dancing - that's a good start! I would definitely recommend getting the Intermediate exam at least before applying. Good luck to you - I hope your determination pays off!
  7. Look, we don't know what happens inside the studio. We went into lockdown in March for 2 months just as my students were about to have exams. We worked for a month or so to get them back into shape and I was expecting really good marks for some of my Intermediates. One group got better marks than I'd expected - high Merits, but the better group got less than I had expected. Two got low Distinctions and the others lowish Merits. I did some digging and discovered that the air conditioning had gone cuckoo and the flooring was affected - it turned slippery. In their demi pointe shoes, they found it very difficult to control their technique. It very often happens also that nerves get the better of them. This is why I impress upon all my students that the actual marks are not always an indication of a dancer's worth. The process of training for an exam advances your technique and that stays with you whatever the exam result.
  8. Boys are all about growth spurts and very often one part will grow before another and the muscles can't keep up! I would say that many boys at 10 or 11 are not all that flexible, but it may well come later. There's nothing much he can do, except to keep on working on his flexibility and hope for the best!
  9. Thank you - do I have to contact her by email to register students?
  10. I agree that this clip is extremely moving, but I was not surprised by it. I think many people haven't understood that her "dancing" is not actually her poor vanished mind miraculously working again, but dancers will instantly kmow that it's her muscle memory responding to the music. It often happens to me that I forget a dance that I haven't taught for some years, but as soon as I hear the music my body remembers it correctly. I think musicians have the same thing - I recently saw a film of a 94 year old pianist with Altsheimers playing Beethoven from "memory".
  11. I absolutely adored Sambé and O''Sullivan in the Fille pdd and so was a little disappointed that their Tchaikovsky pdd didn't quite live up to my expectations. Perhaps it was because the studio rehearsal of it by Muntagirov and Nuněz had been so exciting and brilliant, but I just had the odd feeling that it didn't suit them as much as Fille did. Her solo didn't seem quite fast enough to make me gasp at her footwork and as someone mentioned the leap into his arms seemed to be fumbled. They are both gorgeous dancers, so it seems a bit mean to quibble over the fact that it wasn't as absolutely stunning as I imagined it would be! But there you are.......?.
  12. I think these live streamed performances are wonderful and probably the best thing to come out of this awful period as far as I'm concerned (well also the fact that not being able to teach during the first lockdown enabled me to have two cataract operations on my eyes!). I am just praying that they will actually continue live streaming from time to time, even when the world has returned to "normal" whatever the new normal will turn out to be. There are so many fans around the world, who would dearly love to continue enjoying this wonderful company's performances and it could be an added source of income for them. I only ever get to London in the summer for long enough to attend a performance and that's when the RB are away or on holiday. Funnily enough for me the highlight was Scherzo! I adored it and was bowled over when I learned that the dancers were all young corps members - that says a great deal about the standard of the company, I think. Those young male dancers were particularly amazing and they must have really enjoyed being challenged like that. I have become a great fan of Sambé and think he has a great future ahead being a Principal at only 26! I loved Corsaire - Nuñez and Muntagirov are amazing in whatever they do. And Naghdi was brilliant as usual. I also really love Francesca Howard, but agree that in Swan Lake she didn't move me as much as the Odette in the first gala did. All in all a fantastic treat and I shall enjoy watching it again! And again.........
  13. Do you have any idea how much the classes will cost? I'm not on Twitter!
  14. It's been an interesting experience teaching by zoom after about 40 years spent teaching normally! First of all there are students who don't manage to pick up the steps easily and I have been forced to find multiple ways of getting through to them. I've danced with my back to them and facing them but mirroring their movements. I've talked them through it, sent them videos of the exercises to learn - you name it I've tried it! Some of them are stuck in their bedrooms, squashed between the bed and the wardrobe, with an internet that keeps dropping or freezing the picture. And then I have those who have flourished and advanced, strengthened technically, learnt their syllabus exercises, have been allotted the living room space when it's lesson time and have given me and them great joy! I have even had one nearly 12 year old whom I've always looked on as a rather weak student, gain confidence on Zoom and improve significantly with the extra attention she's been getting! It's definitely not ideal - many of the older students are suffering from Zoom burn-out after hours of daily school lessons, but it's been a life saver and has kept the students connected to their teachers and friends and continuing learning. As far as free online classes are concerned, some have been wonderful and a few of my more advanced students have really benefited from trying them out. I agree that there is now an overabundance of them and it is becoming very difficult to weed out the ones worth doing. I think the hype over masterclasses with famous teachers is all very well IF the student is at the right level and IF she has the right conditions at home. For my students who are dancing on hard tiled floors in cramped apartments, there is a limit to what they can do. I'm concerned that in today's financial climate, parents may be paying out money for classes, which they can ill afford, in the hope of helping their dancing children but are not really benefiting them. On the other hand, teachers are struggling the world over and desperately need to be earning, so it's a sad situation all round.
  15. That's brilliant that Pas de Quatre can go with her pupils to get pointe shoes fitted. Saves such a lot of hassle. I can't go with my students, as I live in a different town, but I expect them to come and show me the shoes before they sew the ribbons on. If I disagree with the shoe fitters choice, I won't hesitate to say so and send the child back with my suggestions. Sometimes a width change or half a size less or more can make all the difference. Choice is very limited here, but we do our best! The parents are surprisingly patient with my demands and never object to going back to the suppliers to change shoes. This year we were very lucky, as I normally tell my new class of Intermediate Foundation students to wait until October to buy their pointe shoes, but something made me send them off to get them at the beginning of the school year. That meant that when we were put into lockdown again mid September, all the students had already bought pointe shoes. Somehow I have managed to teach them how to tie their shoes and get up on pointe correctly using Zoom! I'm quite proud of myself actually!
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