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"Stage Door" is a new service to keep ballet goers in touch with their favourite artists and artists in touch with their fans during these miserable times.

Every Sunday after lunch during this lockdown (and possibly beyond if theatres remain dark for a while) I shall interview a dancer, choreographer, composer, designer, critic or some other interesting individual over Zoom.  I shall talk for 15 to 20 minutes and then throw the meeting over to the audience who can put questions to the guest through the chat facility.  To begin we shall start with small audiences but as we get a bit more experience we may move to live streaming over YouTube or Facebook. That's if the lockdown goes on for that long.

We are starting with Gavin McCaig of Northern Ballet this Sunday.   I interviewed him in 2014 shortly after he joined the company and he has come a long way since then.  He has performed impressively in some important roles and has tried his hand successfully at choreography and teaching.   Above all he is a very nice chap indeed.   Next Sunday I have lined up Maria Chugai of the Dutch National Ballet who is the best Myrtha I have seen in many years of ballet going.  The week after that I have the world famous accompanist David Plumpton.

Now as I am still on a learning curve with this Zoom malarkey, I don't have the brass neck to charge anybody anything.  But as the arts and arts education need some help right now I am inviting donations of £5 or more to a good cause of the guest's choice.  Gavin has nominated the Academy of Northern Ballet of which I am a mature (if not to say over ripe) student.  I couldn't be more pleased with his choice.  I can't give you a link to an online donation page but I am sure someone will take a payment  over the dog and bone if you call  0113 220 8000, or email academy@northernballet.com. 

Now I know there is a rule against linking to other websites but I won't make a habit of it and I have already had a word with one of the moderators.  If you want to attend any of these talks you have to sign on through Eventbrite because Zoom being Zoom we want to know who is coming.   This the link to the signup page for Gavin's talk.   Every user of the BalletcoForum website who attends any of the talks will be most welcome.

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Excellent initiative, thank you, Terpsichore, and best of luck with it.  Two things strike me, based on my limited experience of Zoom:

 

- if the timing doesn't turn out to be appropriate for someone (I'm thinking I might get interrupted by family phone calls on a Sunday afternoon, for instance), can some sort of access to the video be made available afterwards to those who have signed up in advance?

 

- is there any option via Eventbrite (I think there may be, but have never used it) to send in questions for the interviewee, again if you don't expect to be able to "attend" in person?

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PS: I think this is sufficiently "dancey" that I'm going to move it to the Information forum.

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Thanks for moving this topic to the "Dance News and Information" forum of the website.  The topic should be more visible here.

I hope to record the talk and post it to YouTube for viewers who have unforeseen distractions as and when I get more experience. I am told it is easy to live stream to Facebook and YouTube and when I have a bit more  time I will work out how to do that.

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We entertained our first guest, Gavin McCaig of Northern Ballet. Despite a few technical glitches including one serious one that caused me to lose most of the recording I think it went OK. Of course, it is not for me to say. Janet McNulty was in the audience and if it was a complete nonsense I am sure she would have told me.  Up to now, the feedback has been quite favourable.

I had originally intended to edit the recording and post it to YouTube but that is no longer possible.  As I had not taken any notes I wrote an account from memory which I posted to my blog.  Gavin made one correction.   The state in which he danced as a guest artist earlier this year was Montana and not Colorado.  Otherwise, he was quite happy with it.   Anyone who wants to read it will find it under the title Gavin McCaig in Conversation with his Friends.

I am about to advertise my next talk which is with Maria Chugai of the Dutch National Ballet.   She is really lovely.  Not only is she a brilliant dancer - the best Myrtha I have seen in over half a century of theatre going and I as I see about 50 shows a year I have seen a lot of Giselles  - she is also very kind.   She gave Powerhouse Ballet a memorable online class on 21 April which I shall mention in the "Doing Dance" section of this website.   She trained at the Vaganova and danced the lead role in The Nutcracker (a version which combined Clara - known as "Marie" or "Masha" with Sugar Plum) in the Mariinsky Theatre at age 17, one year before she graduated.   It was the subject of a special TV programme on the English language service of a Russian TV channel.

This will be a very interesting conversation and I invite all users of this website to watch it.   In fact I may stream it to the "Stage Door" Facebook page.

One of the objects of the exercise is to raise a bit of money for ballet companies and ballet education.   I found a donate button for Northern Ballet Academy on Facebook and started the ball rolling.   

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Terpsichore, this is a brilliant initiative.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the talk with the always articulate and entertaining Gavin McCaig.  It was "meeting" people too.  I'm looking forward to the talks over the coming weeks.  I can recommend the experience to everyone!

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I'm afraid I forgot all about it 😞 Sorry, Terpsichore.

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Thank you Janet and Alison.   

It was good to see you on Sunday, Janet.  I am glad that we shall see you again.   Alison it will be lovely to see you too whenever you can come

We shall welcome Maria Chugai at 15:00 on Sunday 10 May.   Her talk will be particularly interesting because she can talk about the training at one of the world's top ballet schools as well as her work at he Dutch National Ballet which is a company for which I have a very high regard.   She is also a graduate student on the Vaganova's ballet masters and mistresses course and I am eager to learn what that is all about.   Even though I say so myself, an interview with such an interesting guest is something of a coup for "Stage Door".

I am anxious not to tread on the toes of the London Ballet Circle or the Ballet Association which has always interviewed guests.   If we continue to run the service after the end of lockdown, it will be for an audience that cannot easily travel to London for their events.    Like the Circle we hope to raise some funds for companies, ballet schools and other good causes which will need some help from the public for along time to come.

i have worked out what went wrong with the recording and I will take steps to make sure that we do a better job next time.

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We now have a website for the "Stage Door as well as a Facebook page and we should get a twiiter account soon,.

We have two particularly interesting guests coming up this week and next.   Maria Chugai of the Dutch National Ballet this Sunday at 3pm and David Plumpton the week after.

I should have some more names tomorrow.

Maria will also give us another class which I shall live stream on Facebook page for those who don't make the 15 places on Zoom. 

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Well that was a very entertaining hour and 20 minutes this afternoon.  Maria Chugai of Dutch National Ballet was a total delight - I could have listened to her all day.

 

Thanks for organising Terpsichore.

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On 10/05/2020 at 17:03, Jan McNulty said:

Well that was a very entertaining hour and 20 minutes this afternoon.  Maria Chugai of Dutch National Ballet was a total delight - I could have listened to her all day.

 

Thanks for organising Terpsichore.


Thank you so much for attending our last Zoom meeting, Janet.   I am so glad you enjoyed our conversation

Maria was a delightful guest.  I learned a lot about the training programme at the Vaganova Academy and the contrasting cultures of the two great ballet companies with which she has worked.   It is also interesting to get a dancer's perspective on choreographers.   In that regard I do hope she gets a chance to dance in a Macmillan ballet, particularly Manon.

Maria has approved my report of the conversation and I have posted it to the "Stage Door" website.   All subsequent reports and intimations will be posted there.

Our guest this Sunday at 15:00 will be the world famous pianist, David Plumpton.   All regular users of and visitors to the BalletcoForum website will be welcome to hear him and ask him questions if they so wish.

Similarly, while we give first dibs to Powerhouse Ballet dancers we usually have one or two places free at the virtual barre of our online company classes for guests.   This Saturday our teacher will be Jane Tucker of Northern Ballet.

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As some of you know we had a spot of bother with Zoom last week when we tried to interview David Plumpton.   In the end I hand to abort the conversation,

Our guest this week is Shannon Lilly at 15:00 today . She was a principal at the San Francisco Ballet and later danced with Northern Ballet Theatre and Le Ballet du Rhin.  She was also a contestant on Britain's got Talent many years later.

You should be aware that we have a backup plan in case Zoom plays up as it did last week.   If I can't start the meeting by 15:05 I shall transfer it to Google Meet.   To do that I must send everyone in the audience  an email with joining instructions.   If you have not already signed up for this talk you can do so here.

 

Next week we welcome Sarah Kundi of English National Ballet.   Sarah is one of my very favourite dancers.

David Plumpton will be our guest on 7 June.

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The talk with Shannon Lilly was fantastic!!  Thanks for organising.

 

I'm looking forward to Sarah Kundi next week.

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Thanks for coming.

We have had three interesting guests.

I have met Sarah twice:  once in Manchester with DonQFan and Gita after La Sylphide and the other time at the Albert Hall when she literally stole the show as the stepmother in Wheeldon's Cinderella but I have seen many other performances but this remains one of my favourites,

 

 

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I have posted my interview with Shannon Lilly to the Stage Door website,

This week at 3pm we welcome Sarah Kundi of ENB.

Any users of the BalletcoForum website who wish to attend will be welcome,    They need only register with Eventbrite.  There is no charge but we invite donations to ENB

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We have just finished a delightful conversation with Sarah Kundi of English National Ballet.

Many thanks to everyone who helped me to stage the event and also to everyone who attended.

I shall post a report of the conversation on the Stage Door website shortly.

Next week we welcome the distinguished accompanist David Plumpton.   

We shall be continuing these Zoom meetings until the London Ballet Circle and Ballet Association can hold their usual meetings.   Every ballet goer is welcome to those events so long as they register in advance.

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It’s well worth popping along to the Stage Door.  The talks so far have been excellent.  It was really interesting listening to Sarah yesterday afternoon.

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Well we've just had a brilliant talk from David Plumpton who plays for ballet classes and rehearsals and who issues CDs of music for ballet class.  These Sunday sessions are absolutely terrific - I've enjoyed all of them and look forward to more to come.

 

Thanks for organising Terpsichore.

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We enjoyed another excellent talk this morning from Lachlan Monaghan of Birmingham Royal Ballet.

 

All the talks so far have been excellent.  I'm so glad that Terpischore has organised them.

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Sorry it wasn't mentioned here Alison.

 

This coming Sunday the guest will be Damian Johnson, ex-Ballet Black.  I've just registered and can't wait!  We are back to the usual time of 15:00.

 

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/damian-johnson-at-the-stage-door-tickets-109659727196?fbclid=IwAR19yLaC8NIA6khDRrMynWdAGNCsAyPJwR9GO1g8MzdxfEtUDnONO5y_i1g

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2 hours ago, Jan McNulty said:

Sorry it wasn't mentioned here Alison.

 

This coming Sunday the guest will be Damian Johnson, ex-Ballet Black.  I've just registered and can't wait!  We are back to the usual time of 15:00.

 

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/damian-johnson-at-the-stage-door-tickets-109659727196?fbclid=IwAR19yLaC8NIA6khDRrMynWdAGNCsAyPJwR9GO1g8MzdxfEtUDnONO5y_i1g

 

Thanks for mentioning Damian's visit Janet  

Principal ballerina Bethany Kingsley-Garner of Scottish Ballet will be my guest on Sunday 28 June.

Do try to come if you can. Dancers like to know that we still love and remember them.    

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Good afternoon all

Our guest tomorrow is Damian Johnson who danced with Ballet Black for over 10 years.

I was devastated when he returned to the USA and much as I love and continue to support Ballet Black it has somehow not been the same since he left.

It is therefore something of a coup to persuade him to talk to us tomorrow.

If any user of this website wants to join us at 3 pm tomorrow he or she will be very welcome.   The Stage Door is open to every member of the public anywhere in the world and is not restricted to Northerners.  .

To give users some idea of what happens here is my report of David Plumpton's visit on 7 June..

If you want to talk to Damian Johnson tomorrow, here is the link to the Eventbrite registration page.

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Since we started "The Stage Door" on 7 May 2020  we have interviewed 6 guests.  You will find links to reports of their interviews here.

We are looking forward to meeting Damian Johnson and Bethany Kingsley-Garner next Sunday at 3 pm.

We have promoted the following charities or good causes for our guests.
 

Our Borealian attempt to keep up the morale of the nation's ballet goers and dancers during lockdown. 

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Unfortunately, after I had registered for Eventbrite,  I ended up with 5 different emails about accessing the interview this afternoon and most led to dead ends even though I am signed into Zoom.

By the time I got the correct connection, all I had on my screen was "please wait, the event host will let you in soon". I waited in vain - understandably because the host was busy by then.

Better luck next time, I guess.

 

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I am so sorry Capyybara.  We had a lot of technical problems today.

We would have loved to have seen you.  We do have a recording though the sound quality is appalling.  I shall use it as an aide memoire for the report.
 

Despite the technical difficulties the talk went off well.  A large part of the credit for the success of the day belongs to Janet who took over the interview when I was inaudible. 

It was great to see Damian again.  He looked really well.  A very jovial and entertaining guest.

We hope to welcome Bethany Kingsley-Garner of Scottish Ballet next Sunday.  You and every other user of the BalletcoForum website will be most welcome.

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Thanks Terpsichore!  Damien was the star of the event despite the issues with Zoom.

 

Zoom seems to be very variable in its quality of offering - I had issues attending a BRB Friends' event on Friday afternoon - in the end I had to uninstall and reinstall the software!

 

Let's hope this coming Sunday's talk with Bethany K-G runs more smoothly.

 

As ever, thanks for organising the talks Terpsichore.

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I am glad to announce that Gary Avis has accepted our invitation to be our first quest at "The Stage Door" after our summer break,   His visit will take place towards the end of September.   

We try to interview a guest from a different company each week.   So far we have interviewed guests from Ballet Cymru, Northern Ballet, the Dutch National Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, English National Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Ballet Black.   This Sunday we welcome Bethany Kingsley-Garner of Scottish Ballet.

I hope to have a great line up of artists to announce shortly.

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