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About Michelle_Richer

  • Birthday March 26

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  • Location:
    Spalding, South Lincolnshire, England
  • Interests
    Social Dancing and Ballet

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  1. It seems things are on the move. Our Scottish school have confirmed they will take us providing they have the Scottish governmental approval. However after talking with Adrian about this years intensive and its associated cost, we have finally agreed to postpone this years event, as we are really not ready, and roll it into next year combining with next years plan too. Normally by this time of year, we will have learnt all our pieces of rep and will have spent the last month or so polishing them for performance. One useful thing that did come out. Previously Adrian had expressed a wish to retire from Ballet, but I had persuaded him to do both this year and next (2021). As we have had to cancel this year, he has said he is happy to continue for as long as he can as it keeps him fit, whoopee that I wasn’t expecting. As we had made the final decision to postpone our Scottish school last Monday, it eased thing off just a little bit, so I arranged an Arabesque Zoom Master-class run by Enavant Ballet , in my eagerness to book it, I didn’t realise it was to take place the same day. I booked the class at 17.21; it was due to start at 18.00. It wasn’t until I checked my email later that I see my Zoom joining instructions, oh poo, I messed up that one, I assumed it on the following day. Hair Had my first hair appointment last Tuesday morning (Colour and re-bun), I had to wait outside the salon on the street until my stylist fetched me in, which was understandable. I had remembered reading the salons email update about wearing masks, so I put one on whilst waiting outside. Once in I could see two other ladies in my half of the salon, having there hair done, neither were wearing masks. I couldn’t see any other ladies due to a wall partition, but they now only have 7 stylists working at a time. The Stylist wore PPE in the form of face shield, glove and plastic apron; I also had a plastic apron covering me. The sinks for washing hair all had floor to ceiling plastic screens. Reception too had a large plastic shield on the counter between the customer and the receptionist. It felt so much nicer having someone else doing my hair. I queried the wearing of masks at reception just before I left and was told, they prefer customers to wear masks but it’s not mandatory, just advisory. For me that really didn’t make sense, and sends out the wrong message. Eating Out Last Saturday when pubs and restaurants were allowed to open their doors to the general public to dine in. Adrian and I booked in at a pub belonging to one of the large chains. As we had to book on-line our track and trace details had been captured. We were greeted by a man on the door wearing a mask (face covering), who greeted us and showed us the sanitizer for our hands and a box of printouts, copies of the menu, a single A4 sheet printed both sides. Basically one for each person and then thrown away after we had finished with them. After being shown to our table we were told to order the meal and drinks at the bar, shock horror, but it wasn’t like that. The bar had two designated points for customers, the first for ordering which had a screen, the second was a collection point for drinks. However what wasn’t so good, the floor makings for socially distanced cues, crossed the main walkway in, so social distancing often went out the window. The waitresses that brought our food out to us, were not wearing any PPE, not even a plastic face visor, when they lent over to put our plates on the table, they were well short of a meter separation on most occasions. Once finished with our plates and cutlery we had to take them ourselves to a designated table, there were two such tables in our area. The place had been well set out in terms of social distancing between tables, and while we were there it was only about two thirds full. Although there was clear markings for the in and exit route, there was no control or monitoring of people of numbers of people using the toilets. Dance Studios I see finally we have news of dance studios opening, as I’ve had emails from several Dance Schools indicating September, although I don’t think the actual guidance documentation is ready yet. However I have heard of one or two that’s targeting August. I guess the next question is, is it financially viable with smaller class sizes and what order of magnitude is likely to be the price increase for dancers. What will the class structure look like compared to what we are used too. What will be the split between on-line classes and in-Studio.
  2. Hi LinMM I've been seeing my Sports Physio every other week since the middle of May.
  3. Hi Peony The studios at the school in Scotland will be full if they have clearance in September, I usually book our studio during their summer break for the second week in August, that is an annual commitment for me and Adrian and has been for quite a few years. LinMM I agree gyms wont be opening on the 4th of July, but we may get a better idea of when that’s likely to be. I'm also seeing quite a few on-line intensives planned now for August, suggesting it may be later than the 15th in England and substantially later in Scotland. As for the journey, its by car with an over night stop just North of Glasgow as the journey is around 425miles to Oban, although this time we have booked in at a little country hotel just outside, we know it well as Adrian and I often dine there. As for leaving the hotel booking to the last minute , that simply isn’t practical as it a highly sort after tourist area, in any case I usually book with a small premium, so that I can cancel virtually up to the day of travel. My take on this was based on the fact that tourism and hospitality contribute significant to Scotland's income, therefore I was expecting significant relaxing of the restrictions by the end of July, in time for the school and industrial holiday season. 2dancersmum Trying to maintain the continuity of our session in Scotland since Covid has been a long shot , we originally booked it around Christmas time. I understand what you are saying about the current travel restrictions, this is what’s in the Scottish Governments COVID 19 Route Map: Phase 2 - Indicative Dates Travel distance restriction relaxed - 3 July Self-catering accommodation and second homes (without shared facilities) permitted - 3 July Outdoor hospitality (subject to physical distancing rules and public health advice) - 6 July Phase 3 - Indicative Dates People can meet in extended groups outdoors (with physical distancing) - 10 July Households can meet indoors with up to a maximum of two other households (with physical distancing) - 10 July Organised outdoor contact sports can resume for children and young people (subject to guidance) - 13 July All dental practices begin to see registered patients for non-aerosol routine care. Work will begin to return aerosol generating procedures to practice safely - 13 July Increasing capacity within community optometry practices for emergency and essential eye care - 13 July Non-essential shops inside shopping centres can re-open (following guidance and with physical distancing) - 13 July All holiday accommodation permitted (following relevant guidance) - 15 July Indoor hospitality (subject to physical distancing rules and public health advice) - 15 July Hairdressers and barbers - with enhanced hygiene measures - 15 July Museums, galleries, cinemas, monuments, libraries - with physical distancing and other measures (e.g. ticketing in advance) - 15 July All childcare providers can open subject to individual provider arrangements - 15 July Phase 3 - Advice on dates at 9 July Review (unlikely to be before 23 July) It seam quite likely I will have to postpone Scotland until next year, but I will wait until after the 4th to make that final decision. If so next year is going to be tough as I will be rolling 2 years into one, as it will be Adrian’s last year as my PDD partner.
  4. I can’t help but feel things are slipping away for our week of one-to-one intensive in Scotland working on our own rep. Although my local rep coach emailed me on the morning before the last Government Briefing, to say she was ok to cover my coaching against the day and times I asked for as soon as gyms had the ok. Needless to say the Government Briefing on the 23rd was a bombshell, gym were to remain closed until further notice. That has huge implications especially for my ballet school in Scotland as they are somewhat behind England in lifting restrictions. On further investigation it has been suggested that England could at the earliest lift restriction on the 15th of July for gyms. Scotland has also mentioned that they would not consider lifting restrictions on gyms until after the 23rd. One of the booking we were leaving late this year due to the virus was our overnight stay just north of Glasgow, a Travel Lodge at Dumbarton. I checked its availability this week for our August date. Needless to say it’s closed and not available for booking. Some travel Lodges are available in and around Glasgow but not many. This got me thinking as to how safe is our hotel booking whilst at our Scottish Ballet School, especially as only about half of our local pubs and hotels are planning to open on the 4th under the new English rules. As a result I tried to look at availability for our Scottish hotel for the months of July August and September, but only found it would accept booking in late September. Making the decision to abort this years preparation for Adrian’s and my Scottish intensive is going to be a painful one, especially as Adrian said in the early part of this year he wanted to retire from Ballet, I persuaded him to at least give me two more years, this year and next, as I already have that rep planned. Also I really don’t want to throw away the preparation we have already done. But when push come to shove with the degree of uncertainty present I do need to decide when to stop, for me it will be immediately after this next weekend. Firstly I’m hoping it comes clear immediately after the 4th, when gym lockdown restrictions are to be lifted in England. The next Scottish Briefing is due to take place on the 2nd of July, hopefully some concrete news of opening of gyms over there, otherwise my Scottish school, irrespective of their intentions will not be able to open for me. Finally I will need to confirm with my hotel, that they will be open and covid secure for guests during the week of our booking. If it still looks feasible, then I will need to talk to my local coach as she is on hold until the 4th and we can sort out the options. If I have to abort things this year, then for next I will wrap this year and next years rep into the one year, which will be extremely demanding on the body and not without risk, so fitness preparation will also be essential. I guess not everything is doom and gloom, in just over a week; I have a hair appointment, whoopee. Adrian is also over the moon as his team Liverpool Football Club became Champions of the Premier League this week. He went to book a hotel for us near Liverpool to go into Liverpool to watch their last game of the season on a Large Scene display either in a pub or park over there to soak up the atmosphere, but after seeing the crowds that gathered the other night in Liverpool in celebration with little or no regard for social distancing, Adrian cancelled our booking. Instead we have arranged to travel up to Leeds and watch the match at Adrian’s daughters; she too is an ardent Liverpool supporter. I must keep him happy to keep him dancing.
  5. Still no news from my Scottish School or my local rep coach. Like LinMM mentioned, I too have seen adverts offering one to one and small groups on site ballet teaching. Although not UK, I have also seen Russian Master Ballet Camp at Alicante, Spain are holding an on site intensive from 5 to 26th July 2020 for a limited number of students. There was a short clip in the news about a Gym opening up with social distancing etc in place, I got the impression it was already operational but I may be wrong, perhaps they may be waiting for the 4th of July . Another bulleting is to be issued tomorrow (Tuesday 23/6) with more details on lifting of restrictions. I think Wednesday would be a good day to explore the options with my local rep coach and I guess the 5th of July for my August booking at the Scottish school, that is as late as I can leave thing before postponing until next year.
  6. Hi Peony I note your comment that I'm definitely allowed to have someone in my house if they are working for me. Well my studio is part of my house although you don’t need to go through it to get access, however you do need to go through the house for the loo. The studio does have its own outside door. I guess for the solo’s I’m covering we could actually maintain the 2m separation, the studio is big enough, and of course I’m not adverse to wearing masks during rep practice. As it is, I haven’t heard anything from our School in Scotland or my local rep coach, I guess we are all waiting cautiously for clarification, but I must plough on until July and then take a view, if I don’t have a rep coach if to go it alone or not. If at any time Scotland decide they cannot accommodate us on our original August booking, then the whole thing will be postponed until next year, and Adrian and I start focusing on a PDD to perform for Christmas. I guess for the moment even our hotel that we booked around Christmas time, wont be able to guarantee that we will be allowed to stay there, although as it would normally be during there peak season of August, I think the risks are quite low.
  7. As there is some visibility of the lockdown going to ease, I’ve started to think about the feasibility of salvaging mine and Adrian annual visit to our ballet training establishment in Scotland. Especially as we have both suspended rep practice for the last couple of months, if it feasible in the present climate we really do need to restart now, otherwise we simply will not be ready. In the last few days I’ve contacted our Scottish training school, my request is still under consideration as they didn’t intend opening until the beginning of term in September. I have also contacted my local rep coach with a view to restating coaching beginning July, with whatever PPE/ social distancing is required, this will not be on-line. I’m still waiting to here confirmation from both parties. Although I suspended the rep for a while I continued with my Cecchetti studies and my on-line one-to-one with my Cecchetti ballet teacher. I must say the Advanced 2 Syllabus is not easy, especially the turns, they are quite unusual to me. It seams that it long ago that I had pirouettes that started on 2 feet and ended on two feet, what a luxury. Most of the enchainment with turns, you either tart on one foot (typically arabesque) and land on two, or you launch from two feet and end on one, with the gesturing leg at retire, ready to open out and extend. Just recently I have had one enchainment where I launch from one foot (arabesque) in a type of en dedand pirouette which is actually a reverse which ends with arms in a demi-seconde and the gesturing leg at high extension to seconde (from my training video the extension must be to at least 160 degrees). I manage just a little over 90, but I do cheat a little to hold the extension by just resting the leg a little on top of my extended arm . I think my biggest problem associated with turns, is balance and transfer of weight when it come to an end, especially those pirouettes which end in retire, that in itself is fine and stable, it’s when I start to open out from retire into arabesques or some other movement I start to get the wobbles Grrr, really annoying. I really like the way this on-line class has come together with my teacher, by setting me home work for me to study and present, and then she can analyse and correct it where necessary, and of course I check the corrections, as our main reference is a book called the Manual which I find very ambiguous, when the description for an enchainment is given in the Syllabus Specification, it uses modern language and current ballet terms, whilst the Manual is extremely verbal in terms of detailed geometric movements, which ones brain goes into overload. I try and just use it as a reference after the event for conformation, rather than try and learn from it initially. If I run short of time for our one-to-one in Scotland I guess I will have to suspend my Cecchetti for a month or so until I get back. I’m not sure what’s happening with the Enavant Ballet rep workshops that were suspended, I’m sure I will find out from Karis at one of my zoom classes.
  8. One of the things that appear to be evolving is my on-line Cecchetti one-to-one class. It started out as unset work to help with my Advanced 2, but for some reason our other student (a ballet teacher in her own right) didn’t start the on-line classes when our regular classed ceased. As time went on my teacher added more and more of the syllabus work but mainly from the barre at first with a little from the centre, especially if it doesn’t travel too far. Recently it’s changed again, rather than me being taught, my teacher sets my homework for me to present to her the following week. Last week was my first presentation. I had 3 different enchainments from the Adage section of the Syllabus, whist it seamed strait forward enough, but it really wasn’t. The first piece we has just touched on before, but never completed it before the lockdown. My reference to the enchainment came from a book commonly referred to as “The Manual” with its associated page number; the same reference is given in the Syllabus. I checked the manual ref against the Australian training video of this enchainment for correlation, they seem to agree, and I learnt it. However when my teacher played the old Advanced 2 music for this enchainment, we ran out half way through. It only used half the routine, but isn’t qualified in any of the documentation. Second Enchainment, a piece that I had never been taught before, a tricky piece for balance, and some minor disagreements over the interpretation of the spec as I’m swayed somewhat by the Australian video interpretation. Third enchainment, this was to be an easier piece although quite long, as I had danced it quite along time ago, but needless to say I could remember most of it. As I was dancing though it, my teacher said, this isn’t according to the manual, I said this is what you taught us before the lockdown. So she decided we would try and mark it through from the manual, for me there was a lot missing and we were running short of time, so I suggested we both take it away and study it. This particular piece is covered separately in the syllabus (which was what I was dancing too) however it did state (Original version p166). I now have a dilemma as to which standard to follow, the old 2003 Syllabus which we also have the music too, which is different from the manual, or the 2019 Syllabus which only refers to the manual, but there is no music or video for this standard yet, I guess I’m just going to have to learn both. I must say, I prefer working on homework prior to working on it with my teacher, this really works for me, it just a pity we don’t have a properly released standard for Cecchetti Advanced 2.
  9. Hi Alison Brilliant, receiving live streams worked first time, many thanks x
  10. Hi Alison Many thanks for posting webfoot’s link, I will try this later in the week as I’ve had real problems with receiving live Instagram streams on a new Win 10 Laptop. It will be interesting if I can access my cameras on Instagram Direct Messenger too. I ended up using a different system completely for the occasional on-line class I’ve done with Sander, I like his style especially as he was one of my old teachers.
  11. One day very soon I will have an on-line studio that works consistently and properly. As trying to get everything working the way I wanted has been a real challenge especially as there has been very little access for advice with the Lockdown. For the most part I have access to 6 cameras for Face book, Face book Messenger, Skype and Zoom. At least with Skype and Zoom selection of camera and sound source takes place before one establishes contact. With the main system although I can watch a live ballet class with Instagram, I cannot access the camera even on Instagram Messenger, only audio. Initially all the tests have been carried out with Adrian my partner, although we have mostly been using the same wireless router. One issue that isn’t resolved, When I establish a link with Adrian with Face book messenger via Chrome in Windows 10, I can select both the camera and sound sources. However when I establish a link with my Cecchetti Teacher, the selection option is not present. As it was last week, it had retained the previous settings from my contact with Adrian. But each time I close that contact, a message window comes up indicating, some settings may be lost, in the past the setting have been lost. I’ve been working on line with my Cecchetti teacher for several weeks now both on a one-to-on basis for ballet and also her body conditioning class with a small group that follows. The audio quality has always been very poor. A few weeks ago she noticed during the body conditioning class that my image froze, and according to her the sound was much better. My only conclusion was it was due to echo and feedback as I was using my camera’s internal mic which was close to the speaker, and also the home studio is quite large at 30sq metres and not acoustically dampened with large curtains and soft furnishings. My first thoughts was use a wireless boom mic which is in close proximity to the mouth, whilst that worked reasonably well, it was still sensitive enough when monitored to pic up from the speaker. Also the wireless mic and its tiny transmitter is not overly obtrusive when wearing normal ballet attire. The first week we used the wireless mic, things didn’t appear to be much better, so I had to eliminate audio from the speaker, fortunately I had an old pair of Bluetooth headphones, I was able to access them from the laptop of my control centre, whoopee it worked and no stray audio present at my mic input. My large cumbersome headphones is not something one would wear for ballet class, especially in the centre, they are far too obtrusive. I decided to buy some Bluetooth tiny ear buds that have what looks like little stalks on them about an inch long, they are the sort of thing seen on TV reporters during interview. For me they work well in terms of the audio, however during movement in ballet they were inclined to fall out. Finally I utilised a small Bluetooth receiver and some stethoscope styled headphones, they were very secure and not too obtrusive, the receiver is a bit more of a problem, whilst its not overly big, its too big to fit in my bra, its about 3inches x 1.5inches but quite thin. I managed to find a small black canvas binocular case that fits on to a belt. Using a black belt around my waist I managed to position the receiver round the back, and cover the belt and receiver with my usual black chiffon ballet skirt; however the cable running up my back is visible. My teacher reported good audio from me when we commenced our one-to-one class, although as usual I had difficulty understanding my teacher unless she was close to her camera and similar difficulty with the music too. When the group joined us for the Body Conditioning class, all the usual pop and squeaks reappeared, so I guess there is still feedback present in there system. I will suggest at next body conditioning class that everyone other than our teacher mutes their mic’s, and only enable them if they need to reply. Instagram: This one has been a real problem for me, with two issues first and most importantly being able to receive live streaming and especially as I’m using a Windows 10 operating system with my new laptop. However I noted from phone and Android TV boxes that the Instagram app from Google play store supported this. I loaded Bluestacks on to the laptop, and yes with Instagram app I could receive live streaming, however The Instagram direct messenger could not enable my camera, although all security setting we set to enable, that remains a mystery. At least I could do the occasional class with Sander Blommaert, one of my old ballet teachers. After spending a lot of time trying to enable the camera for this one, I decided to run with a separate solution for Instagram, and run with one of the latest Android TV boxes as I has some success with them. One was purchased , however the results were not so good, although I could receive live streaming, the width of the picture filled the screen as did one of our old boxes, which meant the height was equivalent to about 3 pictures on Sanders live stream, also Instagram messenger would not allow me to enable the camera. Oh poo it was useless, I had gone backwards. At least I knew one of our old Android TV boxes did sort of work with Instagram and the Camera too when checked out in my office. One further investigation I went down the route of checking the speed of the internet connections both in my office and the studio as they are on separate lines and routers too. Needless to say there was quite a difference between the two at least the studio was substantial faster as it uses Adrian’s BT line and Router for his BT Sport and other live streaming. Revelation: Although much of the Ballet class live streaming I’ve seen on Instagram doesn’t require the camera to be enabled and just by chance as I have two large TV screens in my studio, I had one attached to the laptop and the other to the good Android TV box. I ran up Instagram with the same class on both, the results were incredible even though there was about 5 seconds time difference between them, but that was just me starting them. The Android TV box that cost about £43, gave a clear shape video, unlike the laptop which cost about £1200, as there was some small pixilation particularly on movements, however photograph on peoples stories were clear and sharp. Both TV’s in the system were 4K UHD, my conclusion is that the BlueStacks Emulator in the laptop provides another level of processing which slows the screen down just a little bit. If I hadn’t run the two systems side by side I don’t think I would have noticed, I would just have accepted that instagram was just a bit blurry. As I wanted to preserve the laptop camera system as I designed it (6 Cameras), it was necessary to buy a cheap USB HD webcam for the Instagram Android TV box, one was ordered. Guess what it didn’t work, however the spec said it was compatible with Win 7 and above. I checked it out with the Laptop, it worked fine so it was substituted with a Logitech and both systems now work. Now at least the studio equipment is usable, but getting it there has heavily impacted on my ballet time: Studio Roof: About a year ago I had someone come down from the company that supplied the large conservatory that forms my studio, as a number of roofing panels had slipped down an inch or two that caused small leaks, on investigation I found little plastic spacers that secured end caps to the spars between the panels to have broken. At the time I had suggested to the suppliers that this was possibly a design floor, as the glass roofing panels were too big and heavy for the plastic (uPVC) spacer to hold them, I ask if they had anything more substantial. When their engineer came down, he pushed all the glass panels back into position, I assumed he had fitted new spacers and then resealed them with lots of silicon adhesive and said they wont move again. I was happy with the outcome but did not check it. Last weekend I noticed one side of the roof was starting to go green, it’s near a tree, so just needed cleaning. However once I took a closer look from the ladder, most of the end caps were only just hanging on and many of the roofing panels were starting to slip again. When removing the end caps it looks very suspiciously as if the broken spacers were never replaced and he was relying purely on the silicon adhesive to hold them. For me this is very much a botched job against a design floor due to up-scaling a design intended for smaller structures. As I need to get this fixed ASAP for me there is only one solution, to do it myself. Unfortunately for me it’s quite a time consuming job, its around about a day per side mainly because of access issues. I have already done two of the sides by replacing the plastic ones with 3mm aluminium ones incorporating a return to strengthen them, otherwise I would have to go to stainless steel and have them made. I have a further side to do which is quite strait forward, then an extremely difficult one to get access too, which butts up to the house wall. I will take advice from the supplier on that one, especially the load baring capability of the roof panels to support me. For me this is not about arguing whose responsibility it is for the problem, but getting it done once and permanently, as I know one day as I get older I won’t be able to do these things for myself. Cost of Electricity: I had a shock the other day when I looked at my Electricity account and fount it was a lot further in debit to what I had anticipated. Especially as I had planned to use our hot tub with a splits bar to assist stretching in splits after a good cardio session. During the winter the hot tub is most definitely off, but our house night storage heaters are on, by this time of year we are usually either break even or have a small surplus in the Electricity provider account and certainly not what I see. I was also aware that the studio air condition would add to our costs but I was suspicious that they were wrong. I read our dual rate meter last Sunday which give 4 displays, all 8’s which is basically a lamp test of all segment, “1” for rate 1, “2” for rate 2 and “t” for total. I checked out on the internet which rate corresponded to the full day rate, mostly it was rate 2, but not always, and rate 2 was the Economy 7 night rate. When I printed out my history of my monthly readings, it seamed as if the day and night rates had become reversed when the meter was changed in January. When I read the meter Adrian logged the number of both readings down, we then went into the house and switched on the shower 10Kw and also our emersion heater 3Kw and waited half an hour, it was rate 2 which had changed. One of the things I noticed on the youtube examples, most meters either have a sticky label to denote which rate is which or its etched into the plastic case, ours has neither. I’ve emailed the electricity provider to correct this or at least send someone down and verify it themselves. Future: Unfortunately with all these distractions, I’ve had very little time to set up a new weekly schedule of on-line classes other than my Cecchetti, although I have when time has permitted jumped into the odd freebee for a while. Sadly to some extend I have got behind with my rep as its uncertain when the Workshops I had planned will take place or if Adrian and my one-to-one week intensive in Scotland will still take place this year. The prim minister’s speech of Sunday and Monday gives little away to help predict the future; I guess I’m going to have to wait for the next review before checking with our ballet school in Scotland. If Scotland is definitely off I am very tempted but also extremely scared of taking up an opportunity to attend the “Maestro Cecchetti Diploma Course” via Zoom from the National Ballet Institute for the Arts · Edgewater, MD, United States. It’s a five day course from 3pm to 7.30pm UK time starting on the 22nd of June. Whilst many on this forum would say I’m way out of my depth, my sensible introvert side would have to agree with them, and I would be extremely concerned that I would find it so difficult and embarrassing that I would drop out after day one and have wasted $250. One the other hand my extrovert side would see this as huge ego trip to have the opportunity to do such a high standard course on-line, that most probably wouldn’t be available in the future without travelling to the US and of course would be much more expensive. If I had the courage to stay the distance and complete the course even though I hadn’t done particularly well, providing I could take something positive away from it, I think I would still see it as quite an achievement and certainly will have taken me way out of my comfort zone. On the bright side, with the lock down, my garden has never been so beautiful as it is this year.
  12. Grrrr another 2 weeks spent wrestling with my new on-line system, firstly with no in-store sales advice on choice and capability of equipment available, only on-line sales, so this was chosen on technical spec which resulted in me selecting a gaming laptop for it high speed video processing capability, plus it has 3 USB3 ports, a Thunderbolt 3 port which technically is another high speed IO port similar to USB but should be capable of HDMI input / output, and a conventional HDMI output port. The operating system is Windows 10. Also with no technical support available afterwards from the suppliers, again due to the pandemic. My initial requirement was to install all the apps associated with on-line classes eg Facebook Messenger, Skype, Zoom, Instagram and IGTV. The most important for me was Facebook Messenger, that was available from the Microsoft store, but Facebook wasn’t. Skype and Zoom were. As some of the Messenger permissions are held in Facebook, I decided to download the Google Chrome browser, that let me set tabs for both Facebook and Messenger as well as the BalletCoforum. However the only version of Instagram that supported live streams was the Android Instagram app from the Google Play Store. As my laptop was running under Windows 10, I required an Android emulator, the Blue-Stacks Android emulator was highly recommended on the net, so it was downloaded, which also contained the Google Play Store, whoopee I thought, at least now I had all the on-line programs available. Initially I needed to get the new system on-line for my one-to-one Cecchetti session with my teacher on Facebook Messenger. I had tried this out previously with my partner Adrian using his table, all seamed to be well although we only had 3 cameras in the system at that time, the one in the laptop and 2 Logitek HD webcams via a USB hub. We found we could swap between the webcams and all appeared to be well. When I came to do my first Cecchetti class with the new system, I missed my teachers first call, so I tried calling back, the camera wouldn’t connect and it said I had to enable the mic. I couldn’t find what was wrong, then my teacher called again and I connected, but this time with the wrong camera and I couldn’t change it. I ask her to wait and we would run the session on the laptops internal camera, she called me back and we carried on the rest of the session including her body conditioning class that followed. That was sole destroying as I thought we had tested Messenger out, I said to Adrian we get the whole system together, I needed his help to go through combination of Instigating calls, reconnecting and joining for every combination of app and camera switching too. However I needed to get the tracking camera with an HDMI output working with the system first. I left messages with HP the manufacturers of the laptop as how I was to use the Thunderbolt 3 port as an HDMI input, but no response from them. Techical support was not available from Curries/PC world either. I spent quite a lot of time investigating this port, but I couldn’t find an example of it being used other than as an HDMI output. So it was down to plan B, converting HDMI to USB, there are a number of gaming capture cards, but the downside of many is the delay introduced. One of the most popular is an Elgado but it is around £120 (ouch), I checked these on Amazon and various other sites, they were all out of stock until I found another which wasn’t quite so expensive but the review were good, and it was in stock at Amazon. When it arrived, at least “it did what it said on the tin”, it worked fist time and so did the three cameras attached to it via an HDMI switch Whoopee, that then gave me access to 6 camera in my system. With a full system I began testing with Adrian, I constantly kept getting the message that the Microphone wasn’t enabled, although one of the laptop system tests showed it was. When I drilled down into the help, it suggested there may be a permissions issue with auxiliary interfaces. In sheer frustration I un-plugged all USB input except for the mouse, so only its internal camera was available, the system worked. I added in the HDMI/USB tie up with the words, interface with the tracking camera and rebooted, again it worked, I then removed the mouse and attached each of the two Logitek webcams to the remaining two USB ports, again the system worked. It seam there is an issue with using a USB hub with the two Logiteck webcams. All though everything that uses the Windows 10 operating system directly, appears to work, there is a quirk. They all start up with same camera and sound source, which is not the one required, however once connected both camera and sound sources can be set and will remain until that chat session is closed. If one reconnects without closing, the settings are preserved, if one closes the session in messenger, but does not close messenger itself, the setting are lost, but it is usable. There is a dialog message to say some setting will be lost as you close that chat session. I have face book, messenger and Instagram Android apps available to run under the Blue-Stacks emulator. Firstly whilst I am able to use video on messenger and facebook, I cannot change the cameras, Instagram, if I use Instagram direct messenger, whilst it works on the mic, the camera symbol has a line through it when I start a conversation, again I the properties for that app suggest it has permission for both the camera and mic. However I am able to see the on-line streaming classes of teachers like Sander Blommaert, infact I did his class last Tuesday before all the issues were resolved, the only issue I had, the sound and video were not synced together, so the movements he was performing didn’t tie up with the words, at first I thought he was anticipating the next movement, but then I see his lips and words were not together, it was the first time I had noticed that, I checked this again later that night with a Q and A session from Canada, they were in sync, I left the laptop running on that session and checked it 20minutes later, they were still in sync, so the streaming appears to be working normally. This next week I really want to get back to Ballet and Body conditioning, I think my first priority is to include Cecchetti Advanced 2 centre work, initially I will cherry pic the enchainements from the syllabus, and thoroughly check out my tracking camera in following my movements as there are a few issues with it. Firstly the dancer has to wear what looks like a large wrist watch sensor, with what looks like a mans large black leather wrist strap, its really ugly and definitely not very balletic, I tried popping it in my bra, but at extreme angles of it range (+/-90), the camera turned its back on me, if I held the sensor in my hand it was fine. Another quirk it doesn’t like me to get closer that 1m to the camera. As I intend to chose the centre work, I will be providing the music too, I’m hoping the combined results and music and voice through my mixing desk is somewhat clearer that my teachers laptop speaker into he microphone. I’m hoping by the end of next week I have established a new schedule to sample other classes from around the world. I still have the lighting software to finish, and with a few minor changes, I will be able to select one of three cameras, well that’s the theory. This will consist of a simple text file once triggered to start will select up to 4 different coloured flood light, and one of three cameras, either together or independently, set by time intervals in the file. For me its just adds another dimension of creativity added to my rep.
  13. This is the beginning of week three of the Corona virus lockdown and I guess to some extent a new era in ballet classes. I guess my comments relates to 2 currently running threads, “Online classes live streamed for dancers” and “Home studio”. For the past two weeks I’ve been participating in both Ballet and Body Conditioning classes with my Cecchetti teacher. The ballet class is unset one-to-one rather than our normal Advanced 2 Syllabus and the Body conditioning is roughly based on PBT which is a small group class. These classes have been carried out using Facebook messenger, my first observation is the audio quality especially the music is quite poor due to room echo, I have also seen this on a number of other on-line classes too. Although in most cases the quality of the video is quite good, due to the size of the room and proximity of the phone/ tablet/laptop camera often you can only see half of the teacher, I know my own teacher often has to move her device to show the feet clearly. I know in some instances in our body conditioning class when we are doing floor work some of our students have forgotten to move there camera devices and they have been totally unseen. For me this is not a problem with a relatively large studio, certainly with barre work, for most centre work although there is sufficient room, its always a compromise with the cameras viewing angle, at least with mine its able to track me across the studio, but obviously if I’m close to the camera then the observer will not see my feet. When I designed the studio on-line working was never a consideration, just the opposite, the internet was banned from the computers in that room, as progressive upgrades of operating systems tend to slow thing down as well as possible computer virus threats. I have a laptop with Vista on it, that I bought second hand many years ago (7 or 8), as far as I’m aware its never been on the internet, its still going strong for displaying videos and music for my private rep sessions. In a bid to retain the independence of my PC’s to the internet, I tried using some Android Streaming boxes that my partner Adrian had discarded. Whist they do work, they don’t work particularly well. The first system we tried out messenger, zoom, and instagram by working back to back with Adrian’s tablet and phone, messenger and zoom appeared to be ok, instagram would not allow me to use my camera to stream with Adrian, when I tried to receive streaming classes from one of my old teacher’s Sander Blommaert, it would only show it for a few seconds before it fall over. I tried a second Android box, although it didn’t fall over on instagram, the picture filled the width of the screen, which meant that there was a very excessive overshoot on the top and bottom of that picture, I couldn’t find any setting to correct this. Finally I tried Adrian only other Andriod box, a third one and perhaps the most modern, hey presto it appeared to work on instagram successfully, I left it running for a while on Sander’s class and I did a little bit of his barre, however it did break up now and again but it was sort of usable. This was all on the same day as my second week of Cecchetti ballet class, thinking all was well, I had an invitation to contact my old rep teacher who is starting fitness classes on-line using Skype, I called her using Skype, that was a disaster, it did work reliably with that box so we transferred to messenger, that was grossly over-scanned, with only 20 minute to go before I was due to start my Cecchetti class, the boxes had to be switched back quickly. Although I managed to make the class successfully, later we confirmed Skype does in fact work on that first box. Issues I have, my own audio quality is going to suffer severely from echo and my distance from the internal camera mic. The camera I’m using is a Logitech HD webcam via USB, strapped to the top of a Sony HDR-CX450 which was recommended for the tracking camera system, but it’s not a webcam. Also the Android box has no separate mic input, although we did check if we could drive it via Bluetooth but that wasn’t successful. Although the Sony Camcorder has excellent quality of HD video output, its only available from the cameras HDMI port, also that port is not clean, it contains various captions, but I think they can be removed but that isn’t 100%certain, but I was able to download a very detailed manual for that series of camcorder at the weekend, but it does look promising. On the good side the camera does have provision for an external mic. Due to the limitations of the Android box I’ve decided to go for an HP gaming laptop that has provision with appropriate inputs capable of taking HDMI and with multiple USB3 port too, and of course an HDMI output for driving my large monitor. I’m just waiting for the possibility of an Easter price drop from Currys before placing the order. One thing I found particularly useful during my first week of on-line classes, I had a separate large screen monitor attached to the HDMI output of the Camcorder as well as the Webcam to the Android box, that gave me a much better view of the scene I was putting out. I have now decided to incorporate that into my on-line system via an HDMI splitter prior to the gaming laptop, that will be fed intern from a 3 port HDMI switch from two other cameras, one of those covering the whole of the studio floor. As for the sound system, I’ve added 7 channel mini mixer console to allow mixing of voice from a wireless mic to the pure audio from my music system, thus removing the vast majority of studio echo, as the mic is positioned very close to the mouth. As the mic transmitter is light weight and tiny, it can be concealed in a similar way to my tracking camera beacon, in my bra. Although I can’t improve my teachers on-line audio, I may well suggest I play the music for her through my system as there is a good chance I will have that music. This past two weeks as seamed a bit like a technology break from Ballet, however at least my one-to-one Cecchetti unset ballet and conditioning classes has carried on, as my ballet with Adrian, although we have scaled down his PDD practice until its clear if we are still able to do Scotland this year, for me my singing is getting betting in singing his steps against the music at the barre, he’s really beginning to enjoy some of the basic PBT as its strength building is starting to pay off little by little. Last week I did restart my pointework on alternate days as I really don’t want that to slip. Although I’ve still quite a lot to do to finish my on-line system, I do at least want to get an on-line schedule sorted apart from my Cecchetti teacher, Sander Blommaert’s daily class is likely to feature in that quite strongly, I also need to have a good look at Tamara Rojo’s ENB classes as I did download the first week of her classes, one is just spoilt for choice.
  14. I have just picked this up from Sander Blommaert Ex Royal Ballet Soloist and now Vocational Teacher at Elmhurst who is stating daily on-line ballet classes on Intagram from Monday 23rd of March. Sander is a brilliant teacher, I used to belong to his BBT performing group until he moved to Elmhurst. This is what he had to say on Instagram: I can also announce that I will be going live on my instagram every morning at 11 AM UK time starting next Monday with me teaching Ballet Classes that you can follow at home. I will also be giving you some exercises that you can do at home and I will give you pointers on things to work on during the exercises so that you can continue to develop your ballet technique in this current situation. * It is absolutely free! I am doing this because I know a lot of dancers won’t be able to join ballet classes for a while and as a vocational ballet teacher, I want to help all of you! I want to give back to the art form that has given me so much my whole life! Stay safe, and see you daily at the barre at 11 AM from next Monday! * @sanderblommaert
  15. Pointe shoes Following on from my previous post, I managed to partially break in the larger width shoe for my right foot with the usual combination of bending and using my right foot with gel pads but was still quite uncomfortable, it least it was broken in, in the right places before mixing the Perfect Fit pointe moulding compound. As there didn’t seam quite enough compound supplied for my original Bloch Serenades, I thought I would use 1.5 times for the larger width shoe as I had enough spare for two shoes and making sure my sensitive little toe was generously covered. I checked things just before the moulding material had fully gone off, it was thin on the big toe and gappy on the toe next to it, so needless to say I used the remainder to cover those. Whilst the fit is fine the results are a bit indeterminate as I can still sense the discomfort in the right little toe which seams to increase with usage like chafing although it’s now well protected. Although on the surface it seams much better only time will, so I’m being very cautious in the way I proceed, for the time being Im doing about an hours warm-up with a combination of resistance band exercise on one foot with a foot stretcher on the other for a period of 15 minutes on each, each foot always starts with the resistance band first. After that is about 10 to 15 mins rising en pointe at the barre, parallel is no problem , but first is where I still experience the presence of discomfort. When I first start its virtually absent, and increases with repetition. With limiting the time to between 10 and 15 mins means its most probably manageable and will allow me to pick things up and carry on the next day. The plan was to do a session on Mondays and Tuesdays, recover on Wednesdays as I had two evening classes, then do a session on Thurs and Friday, at least I would carry on strengthening and possibly toughen that right little toe, the other foot is absolutely fine. Cecchetti Two really nice classes this week and both one-to-one as our other dancer was on holiday. Some of the centre work now is becoming extremely fast and challenging but good fun. I’ve even met the pirouettes from a full plie as our friend Kate_N described in one of her posts on this thread, however I have never met one of these in a solo before. In our enchainement the requirement is to do just over a double turn from 5th with gesturing leg in front from facing down-stage left corner and ending facing the audience, however we have only been doing a single which of course is no problem, however we are not allowed to put the gesturing leg down, it must remain in front and as we stop to face the audience it must unfold via a developpe to extend out in front to do a rond de jambe en l’air, that the tricky bit as the movement is continuous, but love it. We have started to look at quite a fast piece called The Diamond Step, I can find any ballet dictionary reference to why its called that, I wonder if any of my learned friends on this forum can shed some light on that. After chatting with the ISTD shop it appears only the Advance 2 Exam Specification document is available, although they have changed it title to “Advanced 2 Technical Specifications Vocational Graded Examination in Dance Revised 2019, although I've only skimmed through it, the exercises look exactly the same as the old 2003 document although they were supposed to be releasing a new music CD in January which is still not available. Although my Cecchetti teacher had intended to carry on with our Body Conditioning and my two ballet classes this next week, I think now its quite unlikely as I’ve seen an email to mums of the children’s classes she teaches and they have stopped this week end. All my other classes have also ceased as have my .immediate workshops, at least I have my studio to continue my rep and body conditioning in. For the moment my two physio’s are still running . On-Line Ballet Classes As yet I haven’t experienced them as I keep the internet well away from computer with in the studio, both from the threat of viruses and of unwanted upgrades slowing the system down. However I really am curious as to the merit of these strategies, so its relatively easy for me to link in sound and video from a different computer with internet access for conferencing to do this, must give it a try.
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