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Michelle_Richer

Simply Adult Ballet: the progress of one adult dancer who took up ballet later in life

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Since visiting to my Physio at Northern Ballet I managed to get a referral from my GP back to see the same Orthopaedic surgeon that organised my MRI scan. The appointment arrived in the post soon after, only to be followed a few days later with over 20 duplicates of a cancellation and rebooking of another Orthopaedic specialist on the same date.

 

That has now taken place and that person has concurred with my physio’s assessment and has also said he can not offer a clinical solution to the rupture of the muscle as it has been too long since the injury. Initially he checked my strength pushing the leg forward and back but its height was far less than 45 degrees and he thought that was OK. I then demonstrated the bunching of the muscle with a slow sustained lift at not much more than 45degrees, the muscle bunching into a solid lump soon occurred and even when I dropped the leg, it took a second or too to subside and still considerable painful.

 

I have ask for an ultra scan to be done and he has agreed, he has also suggested I ask the ultra scan people to scan it during the severe cramping. I now have a date for that too in early February as it couldn’t be done on the day. I will also be asking for the images of the ultra scan to help define properly  the best course of action in strengthening what’s left with my Physio at Northern Ballet.

 

As it is my physio gave me a set of exercises to help with strengthening, I have combined them with various other exercises which include strengthening for pointe, which is really where the observation was first made by my teacher( the differences between the two legs) . As time has gone on we have taken a more holistic approach by incorporating some of exercises learnt from Ballet West last year and my also stretch class with Sander Blommaert. Although its only part way done, its being documented, set to music and ultimately each exercise will illustrate the muscle groups being targeted. At the moment this program take around 2 hours to complete, but its more likely to be nearer  3 by the time we are finished, so I’m not likely to run it for more than 3 times a week. For the moment I’m doing this in conjunction with one of my teachers but ultimately with the help of my Physio at Northern Ballet too.

 

 

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Was nice to see the mirrors open for Barbara Peters on The Greatest Dancer this weekend - our household was definitely willing her on!

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Well it is lovely to see an 80 year old dancing in this way .....have seen other videos of her dancing....however odd for her to be on this show ....slightly incongruous with the title of the show ...The Greatest Dancer! 

Are there categories according to age on this show then? 

There is a £50,000 prize for winning this!! Though I suppose at 80 ...if she were to win ....she could set up some Grant for a young person needing the money for training etc.

Im not watching the show any more as it all seems a bit of a farce....who is it aimed at? Some very unlikely people got through in the first week so decided the show is at best badly named at worse a bit of old rubbish! 

Not that Barbara Peters was rubbish of course but what is she doing in this show? 

 

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This coming Thursday (7th Feb) is the day for my ultrasound scan to confirm / or not the detached muscle above my right knee. The exercises given to me by my Physio in Northern Ballet certainly seam the help with strengthening, I can now developpe with the right leg to almost 90 degree and hold it for a good many counts.

 

However something appears to have bitten me in the bum. Recently I’ve started to learn Juliet’s solo for a rep workshop I’m doing with Sarah Lamb, most of it was going fine until I came across a turn which is repeated 3 times, the correct name of the turn I’m really not sure of. It appears to be a Grand Rond de jame en l’air en dehors en turnant, although many artists performing this piece tend to take the gesturing leg through an ellipse in terms of height. Although I can just about get the height initially in devant, but with the detached muscle in rotation I can’t sustain it and the movement looks awful. After struggling for quite a while, I had the bright idea of launching the Rond from just in front of second in an ellipse and then taking round to the back.  I know it a bit of a cheat but it gives me some additional height above 90 degrees and a nice shape.

 

Wow I thought that will get me by, however on the next day (Friday) I was starting to get pain in the right leg around the knee. Saturday was worse and Sunday today not much better. Too be fair I have had this before about 4 years ago when I was doing a piece from Le Corsair which had Fouette’s in it, that needed a trip to the physio too, and it turns out I was overturning (going too far round with the gesturing leg before whipping it in to retire). The down side of that was it took along time to clear up.

 

Monday I have a 2 hour rep session on this piece as I’m at the Ultra Scan department on Thursday which is normally my second session. I will check out with my teacher other options as it may be possible to treat it a bit like a grand pirouette and rotate the body during the turn, rather than afterwards.

 

I just hope this incident doesn’t mask the detached muscle in the scan due to possible additional swelling.

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17 hours ago, Michelle_Richer said:

Grand Rond de jame en l’air en dehors en turnant,

 

Bloody hell. On intensive week last year we did the grand rond en l'air in every barre, which was handy as it was in one of the rep pieces, but turning with it sounds challenging. Not as much as turning *against* it would be, but enough.

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I have to say I don't understand the step Michelle is talking about .....she will have to show me next week.

I can only envisage a sort of ronde de Jambe en l'air turning coming round into an attitude to finish off the turn ....if it's turning that is 

or I suppose just extending into arabesque so that you finish with an arabesque turning ....but it would be only possible to do it once in my view not a repeat step as say fouetté turns are......you would not be able to bring the arabesque leg through quickly enough to start the next ronde de Jambe en l'air if it was repeated.

Are you talking about Italian fouettés Michelle? 

Edited by LinMM

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Can do a renverse with grand round de jambe movement but you’re probably right with Italian fouetté!

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I think I need to see a demonstration to see exactly what Michelle means!

It could be she is describing a combination of steps/ moves which appear to be like one movement. 

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Thank you Lily_883 you are absolutely right, furthermore that is the Youtube clip we were give to base our rep on, but as always I tend to base mine on a number, as there are few aspects of this that are not quite as nice as they may have been.

 

 

Thank goodness today the right knee seems much better and after a 2 hour stint on this, so far tonight there are no ill effects.

 

Originally the combination was gallop upstage with the right leg in front, step left in front and renversé to face the audience, then grand rond the right leg front to back creating an ellipse with height with its crest just after a la seconde, left arm would follow the leg by bringing it up through first , through 5th  on the crest in a sort of circular port de bra (see the clip), on landing the gesturing leg derriere, then another renversé to face upstage for next gallop.

 

Today’s version for me which I guess has just developed by feel rather than design although we did try a couple of ideas. The rond starts with the gesturing foot on the ground but slightly over-crossed with the supporting leg, the action of the opposite arm and for want of a better word flinging the leg up to the crest of the ellipse give it some additional acceleration to achieve a respectable height. Then turning like a pirouette on the fall, thus removing the need for the renversé to orientate the body upstage for next gallop. With this I had no ill effects on the knee thank goodness and the who movement doesn't look unattractive.

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Just to share with you all i was invited to dance in the USA at the Ballet Beyond Borders competition, as a late 30's adult it was something of a special opportunity but I still took a little convincing.

We landed at 23:58 on Thursday & got to the hotel at 01:30 ish, at about 04:30 I was awake (curse you jetlag!) & at 10am I was ferried to the studio to begin to learn the 10 minute dance the choreographer had been working on since May last year, the next 4 days were spent dancing 3-4 hours a day with about an hour & a half dedicated to learning the dance, luckily I was able to pick it up quite quickly, Monday was a rest day then Tuesday was stage walk through, we had a full grand concert piano on stage we had to check our positioning with.

Wed-Fri the competitions started so I made the most of the classes, it was rather amazing to be in class with professional dancers from Boston Ballet, Washington Ballet & Ballet BC to name a few, I was a bit intimidated going into the senior / professional class even more so when Charla Genn (who I'd taken class with in the previous week) told me I wouldn't be able to do all that was coming but to just sit out what I couldn't & listen / learn when I sat, it was good advice, I did well at the barre but about 3 or 4 movements into the centre things started to get very advanced so I swallowed my pride & sat out rather than trying to force it & ending up injured.

 

There's so much I could ramble on about but I'll save you the details, At the gala when we were getting ready there was none of the emotion I felt the first time I performed on stage I was just super focused on doing the best I could & not screwing up, the dance went well & we got an amazing applause which was so very kind, I was awkwardly waiting for the curtain to close but got waved up from the wings to take a second bow.

It took a long time to process all the emotions, we flew back the day after the performance which wasn't the cleverest idea but once home there were plenty of tears & I have so many amazing memories I'll treasure. I may be invited to another in LA later in the year where I intend to dance Gamzatti & this dance again.

gala3small.jpg.fc7c7eb9eae593eaab2a35ab96011c01.jpgeveryonesmall.jpg.db5da912cf47c58762185c264115e3dc.jpg

 

Edited by sophie_rebecca
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Hello Sophie-Rebecca, thanks for sharing this with us.  How absolutely fantastic for you!

 

Please feel free to ramble on, I have loved reading about this.

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Thanks for the clip of Ferri dancing Lily 883.

Not sure what to call that movement at around 38-40 in .......not a true renverse ....a sort of grande ronde de Jambe en L'air into pas de bourree travelling backwards so no arabesque or attitude turn following the ronde. 

 

That looks like a truely amazing experience Sophie Rebecca!! I've not heard of Ballet Beyond Borders before.

When you say it was a competition were you taking part in that .....or dancing as an additional act in the gala show these comps  often have? Was it an Anglo American thing or world wide competitors.  Wonderful achievement anyway. 

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This is a renverse ...there is a lot of instruction and advice etc in this video but at several points she does a nice renverse ....the body has to curve around into attitude for this move! So Ferri not really doing that in the Juliet dance! 

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It’s more like a demi- rond isn’t it as it doesn’t look like she goes to the back at all, and no beautiful back movement that you get in a renverse. Perhaps it doesn’t have a name, it’s just a piece of choreography!

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5 hours ago, LinMM said:

That looks like a truely amazing experience Sophie Rebecca!! I've not heard of Ballet Beyond Borders before.

When you say it was a competition were you taking part in that .....or dancing as an additional act in the gala show these comps  often have? Was it an Anglo American thing or world wide competitors.  Wonderful achievement anyway. 

 

It really was! yes it's a 3 day competition topped off with a Gala, in the morning of the gala there's lots of talks on a diverse range of subjects like a dance highlighting the missing & murdered native american women & human trafficking pandemic in north america to diversity in dance then there's a gala made up of guest artists (I think that was technically me but feels weird to be referred to as an artist!) & the best of the competition dancers, there were dancers from Italy, Romania, Israel, USA, Brazil, Portugal, China, Korea & that's just the ones I can remember, I was the only Brit there sadly but it meant I got to carry the union jack onto stage at the end which was cool 😀

I've said they need an adult ex pro & amateur category for next year 😉

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I went to the Ultrasound department on Thursday and met the lady that was going to do the test, she said she needed to get at my knee, I said no problem I have my leotard on and went to remove my shoes, she said quite abruptly you don’t need to take those off just take your jeans down. I also informed her that my orthopaedic surgeon said the scan should be done after my leg had been lifted to highlight the muscle swelling/ irruption.  She said I know what to do I have the orthopaedic surgeon instructions, which she waved in front of me, the only thing I thought I saw was a grade 5 rupture, but looking at the grades of  muscle ruptures / tears there are only 3 grades which I found out later:

 

Grade 1: Mild damage to individual muscle fibers (less than 5% of fibers) that causes minimal loss of strength and motion. These injuries generally take about 2-3 weeks to improve.

 

Grade 2: More extensive damage with more muscle fibers involved. However, the muscle is not completely ruptured. These injuries present with significant loss of strength and motion. These injuries may require 2-3 months before a complete return to athletics.

 

Grade 3: Complete rupture of a muscle or tendon. These can present with a palpable defect in the muscle or tendon. However, swelling in the area may make this difficult to appreciate. These injuries sometimes require surgery to reattach the damaged muscle and tendon.

 

So I guess my interpretation from the brief glance at her guidance must have been incorrect.

 

However there was a test that was carried out by my orthopaedic surgeon is a muscle strength test which he used by asking me to push my leg against the resistance of this hand and then also pull back on to it. This has a scale of 0 to 5 for muscle activation:

 

That was the point at which I indicated that particular test didn’t illustrate the problem I had and that’s where I showed my orthopaedic surgeon the irruption of the muscle swelling with extension.

 

 

The Ultrasound lady ask me to sit on the side of this examination bed with my jeans around my ankles and my shoes still on, she started to run the ultra scan sensor over my upper leg, then she ask me to raise it. I felt really stupid as I had to raise both feet, again I tried to take my shoes off, but she insisted they stay on. With the leg only just raise there was slight bunching of the muscle, I really didn’t think it had done the test justice but she said she could see the tear, it was on the top quad muscle the “Rectus Femoris”, from her manor I was beginning to think it was treatable, but when I tried to probe into what she had found she clammed up and said her report would be submitted to my orthopaedic surgeon. I then ask her if I could have a copy of the report together with images of the scan.   She asked why did I need it and what was it for, it seamed as if she didn’t want me to have it, but I insisted, she then went see someone about it, I guess to take advice.

 

When she returned I was told there would be a form to fill in and I would need to go to the reception at X-Ray and they would sort it out for me.

 

Even that wasn’t strait forward, but it’s now on its way

 

Sophie

Very well done on your performance in America, you certainly have come along way. I’m so envious of your adventure. I also love your choice for the next one “Gamzatti”, that a gorgeous piece I took that up to Ballet West about 3 years ago.

 

Sadly I missed an opportunity to dance in a Gala that would really have loved too, It was to be at the end of a course run by teachers of the Vaganova Academy and also some of Vaganova model students, initially this was to be held by Pro Viva La Dance Ballet Academy in  Mikkeli Finland. I waited ages for them to confirm the date as we had previously met their Artistic Director in Saint Petersburg at an International Dance Council event were our company “The Alive Ballet Company” performed extracts from the ballet Don Quixote at their Gala. Unfortunately when the date came through it was the week immediately after our summer show in London, so that was a non-starter. The Pro Viva La Dance Ballet Academy had a later course, this time in Saint Petersburg, unfortunately that got cancelled. Beyond that we lost too many dancers to fund a similar trip, but I still keep in contact with that Academy as I also do by remaining a member of the International Dance Council CID-UNESCO. I know they have events in the USA but I think they are only in Florida.

 

 

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The plot thickens; originally both my orthopaedic surgeon and my physio suggested too much time had passed since the injury for any clinical solution. Basically I had resigned myself to that providing the diagnosis was accurate, hence my insistence of the Ultra-scan to confirm the diagnosis.

 

I now have the report and Ultra-scan images too

 

The essential part of the report said: “Scanned over the anterior right thigh with leg both relaxed and extended reveals a small area of scar tissue measuring approximately 5mm by 11mm within the anterior medial aspect of the rectus femoralis muscle. On dynamic scan the muscle moves as a whole.

I note the injury was 18months ago, appearances suggest a healing partial tear of the rectus femoralis muscle.

 

Although I was unhappy with the way the scan with an extended leg took place, as far as I was concerned the matter was closed. However today I have a further appointment with the Orthopaedic surgeon on the 4th March which is totally unexpected.

 

I guess if nothing else he can try and explain why full leg extension wasn’t used which produces the irrupted swelling, which takes time to recover when relaxed.

 

 

Juliet’s Variation

 

I’ve come across quite a challenging little turns piece that spans 1.08 to 1.19, however I am using a slightly more elegant clip to the one posted by Lily_883, its basically a gallop into a step over (for pivoting foot), for a one and a half turn en dehors pirouette where the arms are taken to fifth, but the end of the turn ends with the gesturing led extended en l air and the arms open to high “V” (palms down). My issue is controlling the stop without a sort of juddering finish which I guess is a little too much power to dissipate during breaking through the floor, needless to say too little and you simple don’t complete the turn.  Any advice would be most welcome, as this piece is virtually done and is most likely to be incorporated in the rep I take up to Ballet West in the summer.

 

This Saturday Adrian and I will be visiting Ballet West at there performance of Nutcracker in Edinburgh, at the same time we should get this years date set for our intensive week with them during the summer.

 

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A couple of weeks ago I managed to visit my physio at Northern Ballet, I think she was a little shocked at the way I had beefed her exercises up a bit, consequently I have come away with twice as many exercise routines as I started. While at Northern Ballet I also managed to take a class in, but unfortunately the train arrived too late for me to make the morning workshop (Victoria) on Leeds Grand Theatre stage.

 

I have also increased my local body conditioning classes plus our Sunday BBT toning class after rehearsal is also back. Hopefully partner stretching will soon follow and my splits improvement.

 

We are doing a couple of performances with BBT at the BBO studio on Saturday 1st June at 14:00 and 16:00, so not many weeks left, which means we shall still be doing a rehearsal on Easter Sunday, with a lot of rep to catch up on from September last year, some of which we haven’t danced for a very long time. One of the drawbacks of two new teachers I guess, but never the less we have to catch up.

 

Initially I ask if I could perform some of my own solo’s which I will need to show my artistic director, there is an opportunity on the 7th April but I certainly will not be ready as my intention was to perform 4 solo’s. Apart from playing catch-up as I was away in Liverpool last weekend, my other focus at the moment is on prep for Juliet’s Solo Workshop on the 13-14 April with Sarah Lamb.

 

It feels like rep is coming out my ears as I am still going through rep for Ballet West in August and organising costumes and props for both myself and Adrian. The only real difficulty I have is acquiring a replica “Lute” for Paris(Adrian) from Romeo and Juliet, I guess if push comes to shove we will have to make one.

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Following on from my last post the week running up to Sunday the 7th April was extremely hectic as I had intended to focus mainly the Juliet solo in preparation fort the workshop with Sarah Lamb on the 13th and 14th, however I was told I needed to demonstrate my Le Corsaire solo on the 7th, it was a must. After Mondays one-to-one rep session which was split between Le Corsaire and Juliet, it was clear Le Corsaire still needed work, Thursdays rep session was extended to 2 hours and dedicated to Le Corsaire and I still wasn’t totally comfortable with.

 

I danced it on the 7th at BBT, I guess as a bit of an audition and its been accepted for inclusion in the show, although it still needs some polishing running up to the show. From the rep we have learnt during rehearsal this has been split between the dancer and finally each of the dancers we asked if there was anything else they wanted to offer for the show. I added Odette’s solo from Act 2 of Swan Lake and The Russian Dance for older Russian versions of Swan Lake, I offered to dance these at our next rehearsal after Easter.

 

Later that week the cast list came out and my 2 additional solo’s were not on it, my first thought was they had been rejected. The week up to the workshop was mostly dedicated to Juliet’s solo.

 

During the meet and greet with my Artistic Director at the Workshop I took the opportunity of asking about my 2 additional solo’s, he thought I understood they were ok providing I demonstrated them on the 28th as previously arranged and the cast list wasn’t actually cast in stone as I thought.

 

Odette’s solo I guess is most familiar of the two to me as I only danced it as a treat to the local Silver Swans on the week they broke up for Easter, it went down so well some of the Swans have asked me to bring and dance more of the solo’s I’ve been working on, and by agreement with the teacher it is to be one a month.

 

The Russian Dance I'm a lot less familiar with, I think its been around 3 to 4 years since I last danced it and the muscle memory really has gone out of my body. So needless to say I have a heavy focus on relearning this one for the 28th.

 

The BBT Repertoire workshop on Juliet’s solo turned out to be a really fabulous workshops one of the best I have ever attended. Firstly  the advance information included the daily schedule and a youtube link as an example of the solo, but of course the choreography does differ between companies, as this did, but only in a few not too significant details, but challenging never the less.

It allowed those that wanted too, to become familiar with the main structure of the choreography prior to the workshop, for me that worked particularly well as it gave me the confidence on the final day at our sharing performance to dance this solo alone.

Although we were told we were to perform this solo in groups of no more than three at a time, I danced it on my own; furthermore I went first and loved it. But at the same time I can’t say it was easy.

 

Although we all got lots of help and personal correction from Sarah Lamb during the teaching/rehearsal phase, when it came down to our performances Sarah only focussed on the positives with complements which was brilliant for those that didn't do quite so well.

 

For me I got told off before I started (in a nice way of course). I started just left of centre stage, mainly because the rep travelled initially to the left, but Sarah indicated I should be at the up-stage left corner as all other solo’s start there. Firstly I knew that wasn’t true but was the most common starting point, also it would not allow me to travel left. I mentioned I had to have room to travel to the left. So Sarah came out and danced the first phrase in front of me, however she started about ¾ to stage left and about 2/3 upstage. My rational for starting close to centre stage, its necessary in small studios like my own and that of my local rep coach to have suffient room to travel to stage left for that choreography. I then took Sarah suggested prep point and proceeded to dance through the solo, but could help but to give Sarah a large flamboyant full down curtsy after my performance.

 

The final icing on the cake came when we all got a certificate for the workshop presented by Sarah and our photo’s taken with her.

 

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I can report Renato Paroni has finally done it and led the last Thursday class before starting his new gig. I think I managed to take all the various last classes, but this was apparently the one. He will still be leading Tuesday nights at Central School.

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I see Sarah Lamb is involved with another rep workshop this Sunday at The Place, hosted by The London Performance Company, Sarah is teaching and coaching Cinderella solo Act 2. Unfortunately for me Sunday is rehearsal at BBT and we have only 2 rehearsals left before out summer show.

I would have really liked to have done this one, as some years ago I attended a RAD rep workshop that was originally down to teach this solo, but on the day they changed it to something that was said to be more fun. That wasn’t why I was there.

 

BBT are also hosting a rep workshop on the 24th and 25th of August  with  guest teacher Royal Ballet first soloist Tierney Heap who will be teaching and coaching the Queen of the Willis variation from Giselle. Sadly I will miss that one too as it the week after I return back from Ballet West, so no time to prep for it.

 

Now with only 2 rehearsals left before the show, things feel they are getting a lot more serious,  I have removed any unwanted clutter from the mirrors in my own studio and finally have the camera system working that give full floor coverage. One aspect that I never planned or foreseen was using my local Silver Swans as my Audience for serious dress rehearsal runs, I am now down to performing a solo in costume every other week, during the break between their ballet and tap class, I guess for me it does make me work that bit harder not only in front of the Silver Swans but their teacher too, at least I am performing in-front of friends, so it wouldn’t be all the world if it went a bit pair-shaped. Their applause is always very welcome. Another advantage is there studio is much larger than that of my own and better replicate the environment I will be performing in on Show day, also occasionally I will have to still consider hiring studio space for those pieces that travel a lot, in fact I’m having to hire the large GoDance studio in Sleaford this Monday for one of the solos I’m performing on show-day.

 

 

 

 

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Last Sunday was a full dress rehearsal for both our summer shows on Saturday the 1st of June. No corrections as such for my solo’s for the last two weeks, however one of the costume change time between a corps piece I’m dancing and my second solo in our second show is a bit tight, but I now have a helper in place to assist with that one.

 

I think for me my first solo is the one I find most challenging in terms energy and stamina required. It’s the first three and a half minutes of  Odalisque PDT from Le Corsaire danced as a solo, which I have recast for Medora, rather than one of the Odalisque. The piece has quite a high content of grand allegro particularly towards the end.

 

Although I have enough stamina to complete the piece, I do have to hold back earlier on some earlier movements to conserve energy that really annoys me. Very close to the beginning there is a series of temps leve's, I really do want to “give them more welly” so to speak, similarly with a phrase that contains a couple of pas de chats, I really would like to make them much bigger, but that will deplete my energy for later on. There is also a couple of crossings from stage left to stage right and back again that contain a grand jete through second in both directions, again I would like them higher and flatter.

The real killer is the last section which commences with three grand jete/ arabesque combinations; inside that end piece is also an entrechat-changement- entrechat followed by a  temps leve out and a temps leve back and then the entrechat-changement- entrechat is repeated.

 

If I attempt to dance the solo through twice in quick succession then the second set of entrechat-changement- entrechat is where I run out of steam. I mentioned this issue to my local rep coach and she suggested going on to porridge for breakfast as it releases energy more slowly, she is an active marathon runner as swears by it. If anyone else has any useful tips in extending stamina for grand allegro, I would be most grateful.

 

In an effort to help improve elevation for the entrechat’s and build strength I decided to do a large sustainable repetition of changements 3 times a day, using an 8 x 8 count music twice through for 128 jumps, which gave me a daily total close on 400, I ran that for about a week without too much trouble , I guess curiosity got the better of me and I went for a double in one go for around 250 changement, that was really hard and I had to give up with only two or three short. The next day I could feel a presents in my left knee, I wasn’t sure if it was down to overuse of something in  that solo, so needless to say for the time being I have ceased them and for this remaining week and just doing a maintenance run of all my show pieces  a couple of times a day with a real push on Thursday when I hire the large studio at GoDance in Sleaford again.

 

Although the Le Corsaire solo is quite tiring I do recover quite quickly and in reality there are several pieces danced by other dancers before my next Corps piece and it’s at a far more leisurely pace.

 

After the show my full focus is on Ballet West, I then have to add to the Odalisque the 3 solo’s and the end section where all three dancers would normally come together, making me a fourth solo. The initial intention was to add all this together which would extend out to close on 10minutes, I can only try it and see, but its not all the world if I extend the breaks between the solos or alter the order as I am taking a total of 10 pieces up to Ballet West this year

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It seams an age has passed since our BBT show even thought is only a month ago. It also seams quite a wrench from the regular rehearsal routine every Sunday and the associated preps on Fridays and Saturdays too. Initially I though it would be great to get the weekends back to spend and enjoy with my Adrian, but in reality I couldn’t help keep looking at the time on Sundays and thinking where I would have been at that time if I were at rehearsal that day, it felt as if I was something was missing.

 

Sadly as our Founder and Artistic Director has taken up full time teaching at Elmhurst, so will no longer be running the BBT performance group. For me this break feels like the end of an era although my period with BBT a little less than a year.

 

My focus now is on Ballet West and the 11 pieces of rep we will be taking up in August, the remainder of the year will be focused on body condition and strengthening for pointe and no Christmas performance to get ready for.

 

However there has been a strange turn of events, the free weekends have partially disappeared as Adrian prefers to do his rehearsal with me for Ballet West on Saturday mornings when he is fresh, rather than after work on Fridays, at least we still have Sundays free.

In a away it has worked out for the better, as it difficult to keep so many pieces of rep in current body memory, to that end it leave me free for Wednesdays and Fridays for full run-throughs of those pieces that are considered finished, as a contingency I can always do full run-throughs of the pieces Adrian is in, rather than just focus only his part.

Another event that has developed in an unforeseen way is with the Silver Swans I attend, originally our teacher choreographed a short piece for our group based on the opening music of Swan Lake, it was developed slowly over a few weeks, but sadly not everyone was on board as it was suggested to be our showcase video for our patrol, I also asked our teacher if she would like me to dance Odette’s solo from act2 as part of it, and her response was would you, but as time went on the momentum diminished with not every one on board to be videos. However in the mean time some of the ladies suggested I bring some of my performance pieces in and dance them during the 15 minute interval between the ballet and tap classes, I mentioned this to our teacher and she was very supportive as this would demonstrate where exercises in ballet class leads, at the time I suggested I would dance a solo for them each month. For me it was a captive audience that gave me just a bit more motivation to get things polished a little more, however I have been taken over by events, instead of me having a captive audience I feel more like a captive dancer as I’m now performing between the classes every other week, and even on my weeks off I’m often asked if I have something for them that week.

About 3 weeks ago I had one of the ladies assisted me with the Fairy of the Crystal Fountain variation from Sleeping Beauty, she was the queen. I had taken a crown and a royal cloak in for her as her costume, I also taught her the gestures I wanted her to carry out during my dance, she did them beautifully and took the final bow with me to our captive audience, she was really chuffed, it was a delight to see. I know I have won a few more over but unfortunately I don’t have time to adapt anything until I’m back from Ballet West next term. Last week we had a man join us Swans, sadly he wasn’t a seasoned dancer, however it was my week to dance Juliet’s solo from Act 1 which excludes the short partnering section at the end, however just by chance he stood and watched at down stage left corner, which was where Romeo would normally stand with his lute, and of course made to flirt with him as Juliet does in that piece, just loved it.

 

However there is now a fly in the ointment, A week ago I started a new body conditioning class using Swiss balls, is broadly similar to PBT but very basic, when I initially enquired I ask if they did Adult ballet, the answer was yes but she had only one dancer, she seamed quite concerned and hoped that wouldn’t put me off. The class is on the same day and time as the Silver Swans, but as there is only one dancer I wondered if it were possible for the time of this new class to be moved.

 

I attended the fitness class, there were only 4 or 5 off us, I then ask about the ballet, was her dancer one of the ladies at the fitness class. No was the answer, so I asked the name of this dancer in case I knew them. It was my very first ballet teacher and the ballet class was for Advance 2 Cecchetti. I must say that put me on my guard somewhat. I did attend there ballet class and thoroughly  enjoyed it, ok many of the terms were unfamiliar and the barre was a bit unusual, in any case I was placed between them as I always had someone to follow, we did about 45 minutes of barre and a similar time in the centre. I mentioned the fact my classes clashed, but sadly commitments of teacher and our other dancer wouldn’t allow them to move it, that meant I couldn’t really continue it, our teacher said I would be welcome any time. To be fair they really couldn’t have been nicer, which leave me between a rock and a hard place as I really would like to continue that class and also the relationship I have built up with the teachers and the lovely ladies of the Silver Swans. A real quandary.

 

For the moment my focus has to stay on Ballet West, at least we have nearly all the costumes and props covered, the lute for Romeo (Adrian) was a bit of a problem so it has been substituted for a Mandolin, Adrian’s Slave-master costume for Le Corsaire is being collected on Friday as we had a successful fitting 2 weeks ago and all seamed well.

 

One piece of exiting news from my Artistic Director of the Alive Ballet Company , She is organising our sister contemporary company to perform in the Adelaide Fringe 2020. She is also to form a local ballet company in Australia and when she does she will be offering our old classical group of dancers the opportunity to perform out there, I’m really looking forward to that but I guess it will probably 2021 before that happens.

 

 

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That's a long way to go to perform Michelle!! Better start saving now!! Combine it with a round Australia trip!! 

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On ‎03‎/‎07‎/‎2019 at 20:34, LinMM said:

That's a long way to go to perform Michelle!! Better start saving now!! Combine it with a round Australia trip!! 

 

Well I wasn’t thinking of doing a one way trip and yes I will need to save as I would like to take Adrian along with me, he is not so keen on going so I will have to pay, but who knows my ballet fan club may come along too, that is my brother and his other half as they both travel out to Australia once or twice a year, she has some close relative out there. I'm not sure but I think they are located somewhere near Adelaide, so who knows, but fingers crossed. I know they both came to see me with LAB when we performed Le Corsaire and also when we performed “Paquita” with Alive.

 

Did you managed to book the two workshops with ENB at the Coliseum, I’m in both, just watching out for the one at Milton Keynes to come on sale, which is also Le Corsaire.

 

Alive are also trying to arrange a classical workshop in London, this time for September, I did offer to help arrange it but haven’t had a reply yet, but I will keep you posted.

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Yes booked both the ENB workshops. I hope the Alive Workshop is towards the end of September .....the first half of the month looks like I'm more or less constantly on the move all over the place ...up North out East and down South west ....literally!! 

The ENB by the way have just sent out a survey on what classes people may be interested in doing when they ( finally) move to City Island  so it does look like they will eventually be continuing with similar classes to Markova House....one of the questions was would you be interested in drop in classes which would be great if you can do that regularly as often I can only attend some London classes fortnightly depending on the day etc.

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Hi Linmm

 

I haven’t heard any more from Alive.

 

I also complete the ENB questionnaire, I guess it all depends on the number of classes and the spaces taken. When I first joined them most classes were over subscribed so were limited to something 27 dancers a class. Most class members were existing student as they got the advantage of priority booking before it was released to the general public, then you had to book for the whole term. There was the odd class that had space, which eventually was made available for drop in.

I know in the past there were some existing dancers that were late in there bookings, loosing their place as there were also dancers moving up from a lower grade.

 

Normally I wouldn’t be interested in drop in, but when I’m clear with prep for Ballet West, I wouldn’t mind doing the odd class at ENB to satisfy my curiosity in the new building.

Otherwise I really don’t want to take anything extra on this side of Christmas, I have already said yes to starting part time so to speak with Cecchetti Advanced 2, although I have no intention of following the exam root. I’ve only 2 weeks left with the Silver Swans before they break up, I’m performing the Odalisques 2nd solo for them on their last week, after that I have a continuous run on Cecchetti, as that teacher is not stopping .  In the new term I’m alternating each week between the Swans and Cecchetti and see how it goes.

I’m just waiting to hear from the Cecchetti Facilities secretary at the ISTD as I couldn’t find a Cecchetti Advanced 2 DVD although my teacher said it existed, the ISTD shop do stock the Cecchetti Advanced 1.

 

If I haven’t found a place in an Amateur performing company in the New Year then it’s quite likely I will go back to ENB, but it will again be 2 sessions in the same evening providing it’s a weekday evening.

 

I had another reminder about how crowded and unreliable the weekend train service is yesterday. I went down to London to see Lisa’s LPC  perform. The first train had to pick up additional passengers due to a cancellation before my station, so it was both full and late. I caught the next train which had a minor delay but was almost full, but this time I did manage to get a seat. To make the day even worse my car was playing up on the way home and had to go into the local garage today, so consequently I lost today’s rep session on La Bayadere Shade Cabriole solo. Apart from all that I really enjoyed Sundays LPC performance.

 

 

 

 

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Less than 3 weeks to go before our week of one-to-one intensive at Ballet West, this year we are covering as much in a day as Adrian and I did all week last year, it really is going to be challenging (11 pieces).

 

Following on from my car problems in the previous post, which meant I lost one of the last three sessions with my rep coach, where I already planned in 2 sessions for the La Bayadere Shades Cabriole solo, with the Monday session missing I really couldn’t let the schedule slip so I had to go it alone by looking a several youtube clips of the solo and sorting out the options from the slight differences in the variation.

 

At least I was able to make a start rather than go in cold for my reps session on the following Thursday. Fortunately I was able to book a double session for that day. As it turned out with the prep I had already done I didn’t need to spend any more than an hour with my rep coach. I must say I really enjoyed dancing that piece as both the cabrioles and the gallops that preceded them had a real sense of lightness and elevation, I was flying.

The second hour was spent on relearning the Shades first solo, as I had previously learnt it at BBT just before Christmas. Although I had an exceptional teacher at that time I did go through a number of clips to establish the differences and the mix I wanted to incorporate in my own version. My rep coach and I continued with this on the following Monday , her last day with me. Although we have technically finished the sequence, I still have to tidy up the musicality/ timing of the grand jete / pirouette section.

 

Once home Monday afternoon it was time to run through the Le Corsaire Odalisques 2nd Solo as I would be dancing this for the Silver Swans the following day. Shock horror when I went through it, I couldn’t do the hopping arabesque backwards using the left leg as the supporting leg, the foot just fell flat as if there was a real absence of strength, the right foot was fine I could hop backwards on the ball of that foot all day. Oh poo I guess I had over done it with the shades cabrioles as the feet must have taken a hammering whilst I was learning that piece on my own.

That really worried me as it was the Silver Swans last class before the summer break, I even got up at 5.30am to run through the solo after a quick barre warm-up, but the back hops was far from perfect but marginally better. Thank goodness on the day after ballet class they didn’t let me down. It always is quite a challenge to dance a solo in there studio without any form of rehearsal, it is literally go and dance, of course that’s what they expect now.

 

I'm not sure how things will unfold with the Silver Swans next tern as I will only be attending them every other week, the weeks between will be my Cecchetti Advanced 2 class. The dilemma is, shall I dance a solo for the Swans every week I am there, or shall I make it every other week that I am there. In reality I still have quite a lot of familiar material that  I can switch on.

 

A really nice surprise today , the other dancer at my Cecchetti class was on holiday, so I got a really nice one-to-one session. My new teacher is really nice but quite strict over technique. This class is running through the summer holidays so I should get a good run at it with the exception of my week away at Ballet West.

 

Just to let everyone know ENB are taking bookings for both taster classes and regular classes in there new building in Docklands, I've booked the Wednesday (2nd Oct) tasters for Intermediate and Advanced but I wont be taking up the classes this side of Christmas, as I want to concentrate on body conditioning and pointe work once Ballet West has been completed. In the New Year it all depends if I'm with another Amateur Performance Company as that's where my true passion is.

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