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Everything posted by Kate_N

  1. Indeed! One expert teacher of beginners I take class from in London (the marvellous Hannah Frost) always says at the start of each class to the complete beginners that it will feel weird for quite a few weeks, but to give it time. And re male or female teachers: to be honest, at the beginner level, the sex of the teacher doesn't matter. Men and women learn the same steps in ballet - but because our bodies are biologically different, the same step danced by a man will look different when danced by a woman. Men generally (because of hormonal differences evident from puberty) have greater fast muscle strength, bigger lungs, and are taller and heavier; women generally have more flexibility, and a longer line. Women's hips, developing at puberty for potential pregnancy etc, are wider, so we tend not to turn in the way men do. But the principles of all the steps are the same - and the typical "men's steps" such as double tours or turns in second are taught to girls & women as well. There's a regular Men and Boy's class at Danceworks in London focussing on the big spectacular jumps men do, and how you prepare for & learn them, but I often see female dancers in there, getting extra tips on big jumps.
  2. This is REALLY normal. All dancers feel like this about the centre sometimes whatever level they're in. It always goes faster than the barre, and if you're a beginner just starting, or an improver stepping up to a higher level, or intermediate level dancer, doing an advanced class, the centre often seems faster and more confusing than the barre. Because it usually is - the barre is preparation for the centre. The centre is where we get to dance, and to move. I think it's extra hard if you only go once a week, or do classes in different studios with different teachers. My regular teacher tends to do the same combinations (with maybe slight variations) for about 6 weeks or so, so beginners can get the patterns & shapes into their bodies. A lot of centre practice is very similar to the barre, but without the barre - eg tendus, grande battements, preparation for pirouteets. But we need to be in the centre to move, and to jump. It sounds as though what you need is a regular fairly repetitive sort of class - a bit like a syllabus class - so you can get the basics. Generally, ballet is taught in a group, as most dancers work as part of groups in performances. And class is ultimately training for performing. Northern Ballet classes would be my pick - I attended a Beginners one in the evening in Leeds when I was in Leeds for work - it was taken by the Northern Ballet ballet master, and it was great - he managed to keep people like me happy with some technical directions (basic ballet is actually really hard if you're not a beginner!!) and explain the fundamentals of turn out etc to the absolute beginners - he had them all in one part of the studio, and really gave them good attention. (and Northern Ballet's Leeds studios are pretty easy from York by train or bus - former non-driving northerner speaking). But with ice-skating experience, I'd have thought you're already a little bit on the way from being an absolute beginner - I have a cousin who was a junior champion, and she did ballet class a few times a week to help with the figure skating. Good luck - and welcome!
  3. Oh Viv, I'm so sorry to read this. It's the bane of serious amateur adult ballet students' lives, isn't it? It really sounds as though your studio director doesn't want adult ballet students. Which is daft, because we are good representatives for our studios - I'm writing after having spent 12 hours yesterday volunteering as backstage gofer and dogsbody for my lovely local studio's big show. It was a total blast, and I had such a good day helping all the tinies, and reassuring the 10 year olds, and doing hair buns, and so on. Can you travel? I know that's harder in Australia, but if you're in the Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong line of travel, it's a bit easier. The other thing I've found is that there's sometimes a good ballet network that's not advertised. Maybe your lovely ballet teacher can help you find another studio or teacher, that's not obvious to you. You mention an open studio where you can take drop in classes. I'd persevere with that - it's what I'm accustomed to doing - and once you are a regular, teachers will start talking to you about your aims and your development. That takes time, though. But I remember doing lovely classes at Sydney Dance Co, and at the Seymour Centre with Lois Strike. There were teachers that responded to my enthusiasm to learn, and really taught me. A good teacher (I speak as a teacher in another discipline) always wants to keen eager students, who soak up the wisdom!
  4. Here's an article from the Australian Ballet website: Strength beats stretch
  5. If you look at footage of the AB (or indeed the RB) doing class on World Ballet Day, you'll see what they do. A nice excuse for some lovely YouTube watching. I seem to remember that one year (was it 2018 or 2017?) they had David McAllister commenting on the practice, and explaining the policy. But from what I see (and what I do), it's in parallel, facing the barre, with a very light touch (my teacher was enforcing the '3 fingers on the barre' rule in class the other day!)with careful attention to alignment of weight over the middle toes, and not allowing heels or ankles to sickle. Start by doing sets of 8 rises on both feet - build up to it - maybe two sets of 8 with a short rest in between each set? They're done quite slowly, but not too slowly (watch the 2018 RB class to see the problem when the pianist went too slowly). Then as you get stronger, do sets on one leg, alternating. That's much harder, but it's amazing how quickly you can build strength with such a simple exercise.
  6. Has anyone seen this Mumsnet thread? A friend sent it to me, as she's heard me rant about badly-behaved audience members. Warning: Mumsnet seems to have an ethos of pretty direct & <ahem> earthy language. But it's also very very funny - not least the person who starts the thread. I can't believe it's not a complete wind up. Because is anyone that combination of stupid, rude, and aggressive? https://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/am_i_being_unreasonable/3748621-singing-along-at-a-musical-to-cause-such-upset
  7. Why is giving a dancer a kiss after a coaching session wrong? It’s a huggy , kissy profession - we all do it. I haven’t seen the session in discussion, but I know from 50 years or so in rehearsal studios (drama rather than dance) that rehearsals range from being very boring for those watching, to electric. I still remember about 25 years ago watching a very famous director take something that seemed to have happened by accident, and setting it in the scene, to transform the ending of a play - it transformed the play. What coaching and rehearsals look like from the outside may be very different from what they feel like for the participants. Detailed, painstaking work in developing nuance and subtlety can be quite internally directed and not performative. If artists find it works for them, I wouldn’t presume to judge. When I work in the rehearsal room, I’m a facilitator not a performer. My job is to help performers find what they need. They’re the ones on stage who take the responsibility in the end!
  8. I've never done that class, but most Advanced classes at Danceworks are at professional level - full knowledge of steps, ability to pivck up combinations at speed, and in the centre ability to pick things up after a cursory mark. And then go again and again, and keep going. However, 1) this one says children from 13 are permitted 2) I often see people in classes that are a tad too difficult for them. I've done it myself, as I've wanted to step up a level. If this is your concern, I think the main thing is to stay at the back in the centre, always go in a 2nd or 3rd group, and try not to bump into anyone. Be really respectful of the more advanced dancers, and keep out of their way! I find it helps to explain to the teacher beforehand if I"m attempting a class a bit above my level. I know I'll be fine at the barre, and in adage & tendus and pirouettes at the centre. It's petit allegro where I wear the dunce's cap! I just focus on keeping out of people's way. Of course, if you're a comfortable Advanced level dancer, I apologise for teaching my grandmother how to suck eggs ... <grin>
  9. It's interesting the different experiences we all have. I've studied both Cecchetti & RAD syllabi (Elementary/ Intermediate/Advanced in the old scale) and I always found the Cecchetti work to be more "dancey." And in the class I did today at Steps on Broadway, the teacher specifically noted Cecchetti when talking to me about setting an adage in a 'neo-classical' style (she used to dance with NY City Ballet, I think).
  10. Amen to that! My undergrads tell me that they worked soooo hard and are exhausted. I respond that they need to work smart, not long, and that an hour's focused rehearsal time with a specific goal is far better than 12 hours of them all getting tired and crotchety with each other. One hour of focused work is exhausting - in the right way.
  11. Oh - that's sad - I remember he used to come to very occasionally to one of the classes I used to do at DanceXchange (I think when particular teachers were teaching class), and he was always really quiet & lovely, and took his place alongside all us amateur adults.
  12. I was watching on television, and in tears at that point. I do hope they release it in full, AND include the shots from back stage, when Ms Bussell collapsed in tears, and Monica Mason was there to hold her.
  13. Oh, it's a small world, @Thecatsmother - Mr Payne is a wonderful teacher - so patient and helpful. I remember him once in an Advanced class very patiently breaking down fouettes for me. I can do them to the right, but my fouettes to the left are appalling. He stood in front of me with his hands supporting mine, while I got my balance and the whip all sorted out. And his petit allegro was fiendish but lovely. I miss his classes ..
  14. Yes, @Peony that's the way I learned - I was lucky, my Cecchetti teacher was very experienced, danced professionally, then did her Cecchetti Diploma (higher than Adv 2, and really only suitable for those with professional training as far as I can see!) With her, it was almost bred in the bone as the tradition she'd trained in since she was 8. I did adult open (advanced level I think) classes at Birmingham DanceXchange for several years taught by the BRB soloist, Jonathan Payne, who is a lovely teacher, a great dancer and also a wonderful teacher of the Cecchetti style - similarly trained I think, from his childhood. As far as I can see and learn from those 2 teachers, it's about having a feel for the style and its nuances, as much as the strict adherence to a textbook.
  15. I've done most of the Cecchetti syllabus up to & including Advanced level (before it was split into all the different levels as now) and this is the way we were asked to do petit battements - it trains the wrapped foot. The [old] Advanced syllabus is very beautiful to dance, with a lovely mix of very simple stuff, and quite difficult stuff (anyone for a pirouette from fifth, starting with a grand plié? But really, ballet is ballet is ballet - a properly trained dancer should be able to do whatever the choreographer (or teacher) asks for - arms kept in first or bras bas for the warmup/earlier exercises at the barre for example - that's not just a Cecchetti thing - I've had teachers ask for it in other styles & in open classes. IT keeps you focussed and also keeps you thinking of controlling your body within its kinesphere. As for contacting the Cecchetti Society: as far as I know, they are mostly volunteers or very busy - and will probably respond best through a registered teacher member. It's a membership organisation at its foundation.
  16. I'm also in awe at other posters here who recognise all the dancers individually!
  17. I loved that section. I noticed that the Bolshoi coverage was less thrilling this year - they moved between Akimov's class (worth the wHOLE of WBD in my view!) to Allash's women's class. That was really interesting - seeing how quickly & professionally and efficiently the women principals worked to do a shortish class. I particularly loved their seemingly endless petit allegro combinations. But the Akimov class seemed quite thin ... Then I had to go to w*rk (thinking of Larkin's "Toad"). So catching up now while working on a chapter about the Romantic ballet ... It's research! Yes, really
  18. A slightly different topic: I'm watching the Australian Ballet on catch up and there's a dancer who looks like DAvid Hallberg - I know he's guest artist with them - is he there now? If it is him, he can turn like a top!
  19. I'm watching the Bolshoi live via the website, which takes you to YouTube. It's wonderful!
  20. I think sometimes it can be quite difficult to learn if the "click" as you say, isn't there. And young people can get quite emotionally invested in having this connection or "click." Maybe part of the learning, is learning how to work with & learn from all sorts of people, is quite important. But it's a tough lesson at 14! (I'm thinking out loud because I'm trying to find a "fix" for my own student, who's quite distressed by the adjustment they're going through! But actually, I'm not sure there's a fix - it's all about growing up ...)
  21. I don't know if this will help, but ... It is a pretty well-known (to teachers) phenomenon that changing schools will have this sort of response. I remember talking to young professional company dancers about their first jobs, and they all commented that they felt they worked less than in the final years of their full-time ballet training - theirs was an adjustment from the 8 hours of supervised TAUGHT work per day, 6 days a week, to the independent work of a company professional (company class, rehearsal, performance), where they had to take responsibility & initiative for extra coaching and sorting out & working on their own issues. Obviously, your DD is still in training, so can't be expected to have that level of independence, but - I was recently working with an student (18 years old) who is expressing similar kinds of distress about having worked so hard to get into my institution, but is now disappointed that they feel they're not working so hard or doing enough. They too, have come from a different country and culture. The student had equated 'stepping up' in terms of level of institution & education (ie from A Levels to degree) with doing more. I had to explain that it's not about doing more, it's about working differently, and with more breadth and depth. Which is more, but feels like less to the student at the moment. But it is a slow process, and will speed up, be sure of that! You might also want to try to have your daughter separate out her dissatisfaction with the training, from her exhaustion from the huge challenges of learning a new language and culture, living away from home, in enforced sociability with lots of non-family. All at the age of 14! It's a lot to take on. It's huge actually, and she must be extraordinarily dedicated & resilient to be managing. I'm sure you know - we all come to learn - that sometimes we project anxieties from the things we can't control (learning a new language etc) onto the things we can control - changing schools. Or we focus our general dissatisfaction on one thing that is not about us - ie the teaching. We think that if we change the one thing outside ourselves that we can change, then everything else will be fixed. But we still take ourselves with us. So I'd want to be sure with a child that it's actually not the training, but the whole framework within which the training is happening, if you see what I mean. I'm seeing this over & over at the moment as our first year students adjust to their new learning environment, together with their new living environment. And wouldn't moving to a German school have pretty much the same issues of language and culture? (I love speaking German, but it's a harder language to learn than French, in my experience ...) If you trust her teachers at her current school, you need to trust them. Of course, if you don't trust her teachers, then maybe a new school is what's needed.
  22. Oh yes, this times a thousand. No "face acting" pleeeeeeeease! But a lot of teachers work on this in class - even in my regular adult ballet class my teacher comments on the blank or staring or scared/tense faces. She encourages us to keep our faces and upper bodies soft and fluid and open - this lack of tension is the basis for expressiveness.
  23. Please, feel free- glad it was useful. And it's not "mine" I was taught it in my training and work ... so passing t on is part of the work.
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