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About Terpsichore

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  • Birthday 14/02/1949

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    In addition to ballet I am interested in books, arts, public affairs, economics, science and technology and cricket.

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  1. I watch a lot of ballet, I attend adult ballet classes in Manchester and Leeds every week. I even run a small amateur ballet company. I had been looking forward to Kenneth Tindall's Geisha (which by all accounts is a triumph) and the revival of David Dawson's Swan Lake (my favourite production) for months as well as lots of other shows. I am desolate that I may miss those shows and inconsolable that in view of my age I may never grab a barre again.. Nevertheless. If that is part of the price that I and other members of the public have to pay for the greater good then so be it. If it flattens demand for NHS services, saves lives or otherwise contributes to overcoming the disease then it is a price well worth paying Plagues don't last forever. Rather than lament what we are about to lose it is important is to look after our artists, companies and theatres and plan for the time when the emergency is over.
  2. When the pandemic passes we will need the arts more than ever to help us recover from the worries, restrictions on movements, business failures, loss of jobs, illnesses and in many cases bereavements that are likely to occur over the next few weeks or months. It will in many ways be worse than the recovery from the second world war because ballet companies and other performers regularly toured barracks, naval bases, airfields and factories. Those who attended Sadlers Wells' first performance of The Sleeping Beauty in 1946 tell us that it was very special. Many drew analogies with Aurora's awakening after years of misery. It will be like that but perhaps more so when we can return to theatres in droves. If we want the arts to raise our spirits it is therefore incumbent on us to make sure that they survive. That won't be easy because companies will have been relying on ticket sales. There may be some extra money through the national Arts Councils but I really would not bank on that. The whole of British industry will need help particularly the airline, hospitality and tourist industries. And there will be a depleted tax base from which to raise the revenues to help them. So I think we the theatre going public have to be a bit generous. We should renew our subs or join groups like the Friends of Covent Garden and the like. We should buy their merchandise. Wherever possible make donations or remember them in our wills. We must not focus entirely on the big national and regional companies. It is just as important to keep our local ballet schools and teachers afloat for they train the next generation of artists.
  3. I have been looking forward to Danza Acosta and Northern Ballet's Geisha for months but I am wondering whether it is responsible to see them right now. As of 09:00 this morning there were 1,140 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the UK. That does not seem a lot given the size of our population. However the statistic is more worrying when it is considered that only 37.746 tests have been carried out, the daily rate of increase in the number of confirmed cases is accelerating and the virus can be passed before symptoms come to light. The Chief Scientific Adviser estimated on Thursday that there could be between 5,000 and 10.000 undiagnosed cases each of whom can spread the infection. Also, that estimate was given on Thursday and it was only an estimate. The fact is that there is no way of quantifying the risk. It may be trivial or it may not. The fact that one of our health ministers, the wife of the Canadian PM, prominent sportsmen and film actors have contracted it suggest to me that the risk is more than negligible. Another factor to consider is that that most patients who have contracted the disease have made a full and rapid recovery but that's looking across the population as a whole. Persons in my age group who catch the bug carry a much bigger risk of complications and indeed death. Even if one is not concerned for ones own safety one has to consider the risk of spreading the infection to third parties some of whom will be vulnerable. Yesterday I had to weigh up similar considerations when deciding whether to postpone sine die a long planned and much anticipated workshop on the Snowflakes scene from Act I of The Nutcracker which was to take place today. I decided to postpone as a result of which I took a £600 hit as I had to pay the instructor, studio and other incidental expenses. The consideration that was decisive for me is that many of our members of our company have young families and the possibly remote prospect of motherless children was unbearable. The considerations would be different if it were only my health and welfare to consider but of course it is not.
  4. Ir occurred to me that Diaghilev's Ballets Russes lived through the Spanish flu epidemic so I googled "Diaghilev's Ballets russes and the Spanish flu pandemic" to see what if anything might show up. To my great surprise Google referred me to this gobbet in Sjeng Scheijen's "DiaghilevL A Life" at page 336: "Spain was in a flu epidemic (the first wave of what would become known as the Spanish fly) which felled some of the dancers and kept audiences at home." On a different but related subject, I am sorry to see that the Dutch National Ballet announced a closure until the end of the month today. I hope we can keep our theatres, companies and artists afloat as well as safe during this difficult time. PS There is a slightly longer reference in Judith Mackrell's "Bloomsbury Ballerina". The company visited Spain in 1918 performing to reduced audiences at the Liceo in Barcelona and finding Madrid a ghost town with half the city sick and the other half in the countryside. Several dancers fell ill but while none of them died they felt under siege,
  5. As some of you may know, I run a small, amateur ballet company in the North of England. A friend in a leading company who holds a Russian passport but lives elsewhere has very kindly offered us a masterclass in Manchester. She will only be here for a day or two. If any subscriber to this website has ever done anything like this before could he or she advise: What paperwork needs to be done, How expensive will it be to process the dancer's application; and How long will it take?
  6. Thanks very much. Darlex. Marge's performance was a shortcut to a very special part of my youth. I took my first ballet lessons when I was an undergraduate and I developed a love and appreciation of dance that has never diminished. It was while I was at St Andrews that I read with pride in Dance and Dancers about a new company called Northern Dance Theatre which had performed three short ballets at the university theatre in my birthplace. on 26 Nov 1969. One of those dancers was Terence Etheridge who created the first ballet for Powerhouse Ballet, an amateur company that I founded in the North of England just under 2 years ago.
  7. While I enjoyed the whole show, my personal highlights were Five Rückert Songs danced by Marge Hendrick and A Simple Man with Jeremy Kerridge as the painter and his mother. The reason why the first of those works was a personal highlight is that Western Theatre Ballet moved to Glasgow in my second year at St Andrews. John Steer who later chaired the company was our Professor of Fine Arts. He had got to know them at Bristol and he may well have been instrumental in their move to Glasgow. He introduced me and other members of the St Andrews Dance Society to their director Peter Darrell and the dancers. They toured Scotland quite a lot in those days and we watched them whenever they came anywhere near St Andrews. On the day the 15 Feb 1971 the day the UK adopted decimal currency they actually performed in our Buchanan Theatre. To see Marge Hendrick dance a work that Darrell had created for Elaine McDonald who was one of my favourite ballerinas many decades later brought tears to my eyes. Scottish Theatre Ballet was the first company that I got to know and love and Scottish Ballet still has a special place in my affection. Northern Ballet, like Scottish Ballet, traced its roots to Bristol and Christopher Hampson who followed David Nixon at the start of the show reminded the audience of the two companies' shared heritage. The reason why A Simple Man is special is that it was the first work by Northern Ballet that I ever saw. Christopher Gable and Moira Shearer were in the leading roles and it was the last time I ever saw them. I saw the show shortly after I had accepted a tenancy at a good set of Chancery chambers in Manchester. I was born in Manchester though I had attended school in London, university in Scotland and graduate school in Los Angeles and was happy to come home but my late spouse was a Londoner and had serious misgivings about living in the North. We were both keen regular ballet goers and feared that remoteness from the House and the Wells would be unbearable. There was of course the Halle and Nick Hytner's Royal Exchange but that hardly made up for it. Watching Lynne's brilliant choreography performed by two of our favourite artists reassured us that there was a dance company in Manchester that was every bit as good in ballet as the Halle was in music and the Royal Exchange in plays. I have followed and supported all three institutions ever since.
  8. Just a couple of thoughts about Coppelia. It is said that drill lyrics encourage street crime. Well in this ballet the local toughs (what we might have called Teddy boys in my youth) rough up an old geezer on his way to the pub. Franz climbs a ladder to break into his workshop. Swanilda and the ladettes enter the workshop using Dr Coppelius's key. When they are discovered they set off the robots and Swanilda tears out pages from one of his text books to me. At the very least it is elder abuse if not assault and battery or even ABH, burglary, criminal damage .............. What's the difference between that and drill? Also, whenever I watch Franz flirting with Coppelia I think of the Turing test and human robotic intervention. This is really a ballet for our times in more senses than one don't you think..
  9. I should be surprised if I was the only one to have caught the English National Ballet while it was in Liverpool at the end of November but, as I can't find any other reviews or mentions on this website, I thought I would just say a few words before The Nutcracker opens in London later this week. I attended the evening performance at the Empire on 30 Nov 2019. This was Wayne Eagling's version of "The Nutcracker" that I had seen before in :London. I enjoyed it a lot though not perhaps as much as Peter Wright's for the Birmingham Royal Ballet or Peter Darrell's for Scottish Ballet but I prefer it to Wright's for the London Royal Ballet and David Nixon's for Northern. I like Farmer's designs which seem a little different from Toer van Schayk's for HNB. In this version Clara becomes the Sugar Plum Fairy. She was danced appealingly by Shiori Kase. Brooklyn Mack was her prince, Junor Souza the Nutcracker, Fabian Reimair and James Streeter was the Mouse King. All the divertissements were performed well but if I had to single out any particular artist for commendation it would be Precious Adams who led the snowflakes and flowers with grace, This was not the first time I had attended a show at the Liverpool Empire. As on previous occasions the audience were demonstrative in their appreciation. For that reason alone it was good yo watch that ballet in their company.
  10. We had a lot of Balanchine on Tuesday but no Ballet Imperial, However, I believe it is part of the "Best of Balanchine" programme for which I am thinking of returning.(see https://www.operaballet.nl/en/ballet/2019-2020/show/best-balanchine-iii)
  11. As in previous years I attended the opening night gala of the Dutch National Ballet on Tuesday night at the Music Theatre in Amsterdam. The gala is not just a ballet performance. It is also a party. Unlimited wine, beer, soft drinks and nibbles are included in the ticket price. They are on offer from the moment the theatre opens until well after midnight It is a very grand occasion with the gentlemen in dinner jackets and in at least one case shoes that resembled Delft china and the ladies in the most gorgeous evening attire. The gala which takes place during the first few days of September follows a pattern. The evening opens with a Grand Défilé, a march of the whole company to the polonaise from the Sleeping Beauty starting with the youngest students at the National Ballet Academy and finishing with the principals. The women sre in dazzling white classical tutus and the men in dashing tunics. Next, Ted Brandsen, the director, makes a speech which in previous years has been delivered partly in English. There then follows extracts from the current repertoire or works staged specially for the occasion. There is always a work by Hans van Manen, usually works by Rudi van Dantzig and Toer van Schayk and often ballets by the company's resident choreographers such as David Dawson, Jianjo Arques or Ernst Meisner. Also at the gala, the Alexandra Radius prize is presented by the great ballerina herself to the dancer of the year, This year's gala seemed to be shorter than previous years' with only 6 pieces all but one of which had some connection with George Balanchine. Guest artists Xander Parish and Maria Khoreva danced the Diamonds pas de deux from Balanchine's Jewels which was my favourite of the evening. Other works included a pas de deux for Conrad and Medora from which had been created by Balanchine's teacher for his students , van Manen's Trois Gnossiennes, and Balanchine's Symphony in Three Movements and Who Cares? Edo Wijnen won this year's Radius prize. A video of his work over the year shows that he was a very worthy winner. The party was excellent, especially after the dancers joined the audience in the celebrations. The company's press officer, Richard Heideman, has sent me some lovely photos of the evening which he has licensed me to post to my blog. Unfortunately he has not licensed me to upload them anywhere else. Over the next week or so I plan to exhibit them all. I start today with a glorious photo of Xander Parish and Maria Khoreva.
  12. Just a quick update! We danced in our first public performance at the Dancehouse Theatre in Manchester on 4 May as guests of KNT at its 10th anniversary gala. Our ballet "Aria" was choreographed by the well known choreographer and teacher, Terry Etheridge. We celebrated our first anniversary on 26 May 26 May with a great company class at Yorkshire Dance in Leeds with Jane Tucker of Northern Ballet and David Plumpton on the piano. David played for us again at the Dancehouse studios with Karen Sant as our guest ballet mistress on 29 June which turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year. It was also one of our happiest classes ever. Tomorrow, Annemarie Donoghue of Northern Ballet will put us through our paces at the Dance Studio Leeds between 13:30 and 15:00. Alena Panasenka, one of the top pianists at Northern Ballet, will play for us. We are now rehearsing our second piece which has been created to "Morning Mood" from Grieg's Peer Gynt by the Dutch choreographer and teacher, Yvonne Charlton. Our ballet mistress for this work is Fiona Noonan and her next rehearsal will take place at Huddersfield Leisure Centre on Saturday 3 Aug 2019 between 11:30 and 13:30. Yvonne will return to the UK on 21 and 22 Sept to give us another intensive workshop on this piece at the Dancehouse and we have engaged David to play for her again. We plan to dance "Morning" in Leeds on 12 Oct. We welcome anybody who wants to work with us of any age, ability, body shape or experience. We hold talks , workshops and visits as well as classes and performances. If anyone wan ts to take part in tomorrow's company class, contact us through our website at www.powerhouseballet.co.uk .
  13. Well Done Ireland! Although I have to support the land of my birth and heritage I am delighted that Ireland has been admitted to the top table of test playing nations and that it appeared to have command of the match several times. I am sure cricket will grow from strength to strength in the Emerald Isle and I shall cheer for Ireland against anyone but Englnd. https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/jul/26/england-beat-ireland-lords-test-match-cricket
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