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Michelle_Richer

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Well hopefully not too long ....looks like another celebratory drink coming up!!

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Tonight’s celebratory drink is in the airport on the way back from the RAD Coppelia workshop in Elmhurst. 

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Hello folks, 

 

This thread is approaching 80 pages - would you like to start a new one for general discussion by adult dancers? Or are you happy to carry on with this one. 

 

Kind regards, Anna C

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I believe that’s been done before but it fell by the wayside. 

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Hi Coleman

I’m glad you managed to make Elmhurst, I hope you enjoyed the Coppelia workshop.

 

I was with RAD Adult Associates for a couple of years just before the Rep workshops were introduced on the same day.

 

I must confess when I first started with them I thoroughly enjoyed it, attitudes seemed very different, for my first term I only signed up for Improver 2 and body conditioning, however I was asked it I would also like to sign up for Improvers 1 and I could do absolute beginners free, as this would help give the small number of absolute beginners in the class other dancers to follow. There were about 6 of us that did that to help out. Lunch time was a bit of a social gathering as we all met in the common room with the teachers; it was also used for changing as most of us had leotards under our day clothes.  As I made a full day of it I used to ask if I could use the studios for my own practice, and that became a regular thing for me and lasted for about a year.

 

The second year things became much different, the common room became out of bounds, we had to take food and drink into the studio at lunchtime, something I positively hated doing, it just didn’t seam right. I ask again about using the studios for my own practice, I didn’t get the positive and helpful response I was expecting, basically they didn’t want to know, although they didn’t forbid it. We had one teacher that started to introduce short pieces of rep into the Improvers 2 session which was the last class of the day , that was really enjoyable.

 

I was really delighted when RAD had combined an afternoon of rep with a morning for the Adult Associates, needless to say I signed up for a full term of both. Firstly I enquired what particular piece we would be dancing, that wasn’t forthcoming and I really do hate going in blind without making an informed decision. As it was I was overtaken by circumstances as I sustained a nasty leg injury which stopped me dancing for 4 to 5 months. I persisted for a while in trying to get advance info on what was to be taught but nothing significant was ever fourth coming, so in the end I dropped Elmhurst completely, but never the less I do miss it.

 

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I don't think they know until the attendance list stabilises. My wife did one where the rep being taught changed because the one boy they had booked dropped out. I suspect I'm not as picky about what rep I do as you are so it doesn't really bother me. Though I'm in not hurry for another stint in the Lilac Fairy's attendants.

 

The workshop was good, but I fear that the Czardas that we did will turn up on my work-out playlist and I'll end up having flashbacks. 

 

I think they're fairly constrained in how they use the facilities there. We generally end up eating in the seating area in reception these days. I got there early and was doing a bit of tai chi in the (empty) foyer to warm up a bit and shake out the flight stiffness and I'm pretty sure I overheard a slightly anxious conversation along the lines of "we can ask him to stop if you like" when a member of the school staff came by. (He was entirely unconcerned, and I don't think had said anything to them.)  

Edited by Colman
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Hi Coleman

For my mind-set it would seam logical to plan for mixed participants, and if there is no guys present do a little more with the girls pieces, as inevitably they tend to be simplified to meat the short time schedule, that really isn’t rocket science.

I guess I was spoilt in my early RAD rep workshops as we did get some advance notice. I do remember my very first one with RAD held in Cambridge where we did “Dance of the Knights” from Romeo and Juliet. For me the sequence from a video of dance seamed almost impossible to remember, then one day I had this idea of creating a diagram showing the path of the sequence with notation of the movement. Hey- presto, I found I could hold that picture in my head. When it came to the workshop, this piece required both male and female dancers, some of the girls had to dance the male parts, I quickly took my place as the lead girl on the right ( as in the two column of girls coming down the stairs) , wow I really enjoyed that, but was a little disappointed as we only danced part of it.
We also did Juliet’s solo which we may not have had advanced warning off.
The one remark I remember my RAD teacher saying, “I know we will see you again”, she was right, as at one time I would virtually hoover up any rep workshops going, I guess as time when on I just got more selective.

 

I guess to a large extent I’ve move away from rep workshops to using a one-to-one rep coach twice a week and working towards finally presenting my work at Ballet West in Scotland once a year. This will be my fifth year, ordinarily I would have at least two PDD’s and 5 or 6 solo’s, however this year has been really difficult as I incurred a leg injury which meant I hadn’t really worked on anything since my last visit to Ballet West last August until after Christmas, and then for the first two or three month I was very guarded as to what I put my body through, and of course there was the other complication of extending my own studio which was also very time consuming. See studio picture internal and external.

1321904312_NewTotal3.jpg.41773dcdfd3f49c4e20f436a583ba2ed.jpg

I see you mentioned “The Lilac Fairy” I’m taking that variation from the prologue up to Ballet West this year, that certainly wasn’t planned. This came about at the Alive Ballet Company had set a date for a Ballet Boot Camp and my job was find a suitable studio for it, I did try the Royal Opera House but the studios were extremely expensive , finally I settled on Sadlers Wells which were really nice studios at a fraction of the cost. Whist I didn’t intend to do this boot-camp I guess curiosity got the better of me and I contacted our guest teacher. She was extremely helpful in telling me the pieces we would be dancing. The Lilac Fairy was one of them, at the time I didn’t realist there are at least two completely different versions. When I met her on the day, I realised I had actually met her before, in fact I had a photo of us together when she ran an ENB Swan Lake Master Class. Fortunately the version taught (Russian) was the same as I had familiarity with, although what we were taught was simplified in places and had the opening port de bra removed, it gave me a head start. At least when I got back to my rep coach, the simplification was removed, I also managed to find music that would allow the opening port de bra as this was normally done prior to the orchestra starting, my version is loosely based on Paris Opera Ballet’s version with a little of my own, I really fell in love with the piece.

 

But things don’t always go to plan, Last year I did both the Black Swan PDD and Solo, This year I wanted to include an alternative Black Swan solo, but I held it until last to allow my right leg to sufficiently recover. It has a 3 step promenade followed by a couple of fouettes all repeating 3 times without the gesturing leg touching the ground. At first it didn’t look too difficult, whist I had some success on the way, I simply didn’t have enough stamina to consistently complete this section, that coupled with breaks by my rep coach and also my occasional break to complete my studio meant in some instances I appeared to be going backwards. 

 

To make matters worse, months of work I had put in with The Nutcracker PDD with Adrian came to a halt when Adrian appeared to hurt his arm. This was a pirouette sequence of 5 single singles where I don’t actually stop between them , and Adrian then  swaps his arm , the Right which was in fifth with finger down for my support, goes low, with Left which was pushing my left hand around for momentum, goes high, I go through a turn into a dip, It was on the arm swap he hurt himself. We stopped and called a halt to it until it was checked out. Fortunately the same week a specialist surgeon was calling at Adrian medical centre and Adrian was able to see him, An ultra scan was done on both shoulders and there is tears in both, so Nutcracker is out for this year.

According to Adrian is shoulder is ok providing he doesn’t take his arms through 5th, so we are gently taking him through the PDD with the Entrance of Odette combining part of the Lakeside scene, so far so good. However with the alternative Black Swan solo problems, I’ve had to shelve that for this year and switch to the Bluebird female solo, that has worked out really well.

 

Just coming back to your Flashbacks, I’ve  had an number of those from pieces I’ve danced on stage but I have one in particular that really haunts me, it’s the Opening of Act 4 of Swan Lake , perhaps as it is a particularly long piece and it was broken up into three pieces, but not taught in sequence. This was done at a LAB intensive at The Royal Ballet School in Covent Garden, that music is not only haunting its almost spiritual in the feeling I experience, it really is strangely beautiful.

 

Edited by Michelle_Richer

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Well, I've been going through a dip in form. So much so I had to drop out of Nina Thilas-Mohs' class and got screamed at by David Kierce. Not sure what else to make of that except that I've also been working unusually hard in the gym and I think I'm just perma-knackered.

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Probably just body overload!! Take a mini break and no doubt you will be fine again soon.

Best wishes

Linda 

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It seams I’m in the wars again, since the studio is now completed and fully operational, well at least I’m not hiring studios for my own practice anymore and so some of our attention has turned to my garden and house. That said its just as injurious as ballet, it was something as simple as trying to break willow tree braches to let sufficient light in for newly planted water irises to grow. I guess the willow branch once it was down was a bit too big to break by hand, except for this ballerina. I bent it over to break it, and force my whole body weight behind it, it wouldn’t go at first but then it snapped with an exploding crack and I slammed into the river edge concrete path. My first though was to try and stop myself rolling into the river, then for a moment just lay there mentally checking everything and thinking here we go again more debilitating injuries. Gradually I got up but very shaken at least I could move but I realise I felt badly bruised down my left side and my little toe on that side hurt like hell but I didn’t think I had broken it.

At first I couldn’t wear shoes, the compression on that swollen toe was too painful, it was socks on the carpet at home.

The next day was Body conditioning followed by ballet class, although I was able to drive without too much discomfort in shoes, it was painful to walk, at least body conditioning most of us do that in socks or bare feet, that was fine until one of the exercise we do on our side, and of course we repeat it on both sides, on the left it was unbearable and I cheated it (which I told my teacher), by lifting my body above the affected area, ballet wasn’t too bad other than releve’s on the left foot which really effected the little toe.

 

When I finally got home I checked myself in the wardrobe mirror, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, my thigh from just above the knee at the side , to my bum was absolutely black with a massive brews, there was some brewsing on the little toe but it was very swollen, however I did manage all my classes that week. It has taken just over two weeks to loose the browses, although the little toes is still somewhat swollen. However another issue may have shown up this Sunday.

 

Sunday is now the day that Adrian and I practice our PDD for our visit to Ballet West, we are now working on an extract of the Lakeside scene and Entrance of Odette from Act2 of Swan Lake. Adrian seams to have made a good job of his walk on as Prince Siegfried, finding his crossbow and gesturing with it until he sees the flock of swans, then we follow  the standard choreography into the entrance of Odette, that was fine but unpolished until we got to where Odette does a sequence of 4 soutenu/ swan arm burree’s whilst Siegfried is trying to put his arm around her ( 3 times), As Siegfried piece is quite fast, Adrian bless him couldn’t get around quick enough, so I broke it down to three simple steps and a ¾ turn. As I was demonstrating it too him I stretched my left leg and something went in my left knee, it was extremely painful, I stopped and rested for a while, but I could still feel a presence in my knee, we resumed and it happened again, this time I was getting rather worried as this has never happened before.

 

As we had done that piece to death, I thought it would be useful to make a start on the mime scene and feed it too him in quite small doses, I remember carrying it on beyond where I had taught it to Adrian , to where the “Wicket magician has made me into a swan”, on SWAN I step back with the right leg , left leg in deep fondu with the left extended back strait and pointed, I could barely get down with the left leg on Sunday (yesterday). However I tried that after my body conditioning class today and it was no problem and pain free, it just leaves a bit of a question mark of uncertainty.  

 

My only concern now is I have a Pointework workshop booked for Sunday, I just hope things hold up for that, fingers crossed.

 

 

 

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About a month ago I attended a pointe workshop following a nasty swollen little toe type injury, I never thought I would make it, however I had to do it on demi with my soft ballet slippers. I tried to put my old pointe shoes on a couple of days before but there was no way as the pain was excruciating, a day before the workshop I did manage to at least get them on but it was still extremely painful and as Ballet West was coming up, the last thing I wanted to do was wreck all the work we had put in to our rep for that.

 

Pointe work for me somehow seems to be fated, last Autumn I had booked and paid for a ballet and pointe work course held by our ballet company “Alive” at the Royal Ballet School, sadly I missed that too through injury.  Although this time it was classified as a workshop, its likely to be repeated on a periodic basis providing there are sufficient numbers to make it worthwhile, I did ask that the next one be after I return back from Ballet West .

 

I was hoping as each of my regular classes and coaching sessions closed for the summer break, I would get a good run of rep practice before Ballet West in a couple of weeks time, however the recent hot weather has rendered my studio unusable after about 9.30am as the inside temperature approaches 30 degrees C, some days by mid day its been around 45 degrees. For the next two weeks I’m back to hiring my local hall, otherwise we are likely to be less polished this year than previously.

 

Once back we have to invest in air conditioning for the studio as we have tried the simple things like opening the doors and windows and using our large wind generator fan. We have already looked at the feasibility of where to install a split air conditioning unit. There is only one place, that is to lower the mirror attached to the house wall to floor level, that will create sufficient room above it for the internal air conditioning unit and access for the pipe work to the external compressor unit.

 

At least it will also provided heating for the cold winter temperatures too.

 

I never dreamt I would be doing all this for ballet when I started, but I guess its all a learning process. 

 

 

 

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The practice run up to this year’s session at Ballet West to say the least has been tough going, mainly due to the lack of studio time in my own studio. This summers abnormally hot weather for around the last month has meant, even at 7am the studio temperature was around 20 ºC  at that its very comfortable, by 9am its usually around 25ºC still ok but just starting to be uncomfortable, by 9.30 to 10am its hitting 30ºC, it then for me at least become too uncomfortable to concentrate. After about mid day temperatures inside the studio have been around 45 ºC and normally the temperature has held above 30ºC until after about 9pm at night.

 

Well as it is, we have run out of practice time as Adrian and I are travelling up to Scotland tomorrow (Saturday), staying overnight at Dumbarton, then on up to Oban on Sunday for a 9am start at Ballet West Monday morning.

 

Adrian bless him has done really well in spite of him protesting he’s not a ballet dancer and I expect too much of him, however I was quite impressed at our last session when we did Swan Lakes  ending of the Lakeside scene into the Entrance of Odette incorporating the mime scene.

 

Up to this point Adrian had always had the video running on the big scene to prompt with his timing etc, however he popped out to the loo and I had switch it for the sound track only with some minor editing. I was expecting moans about not having the video to follow, but he took all his stride after the third practice run he went all the way through, further more I had changed the very end by adding a couple of pieces of additional mime.

 

I’m quietly confident now things will be fine by our presentation day (Thursday) when we perform all our piece in costume. So it’s up to Scotland with 4 different tutu, a bunch of fans for Don Q as I have broken 3 already, and Adrian of course with his Crossbow.  

 

Once we get back it down to installing air conditioning ASAP, unfortunately this isn’t something we can do by ourselves

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Have a good visit to Taynuilt.   

My regards to Gillian, Tony, Jonathan et al.    

 

Toi toi toi for Ballet West's performances in Malaysia.

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Must say Michelle you ve done a brilliant job with your studio!! It's a little fantastic space! with a really good floor etc.

I had great fun in Michelle's studio when visiting the other week pretending to be Isadora Duncan!!

The way it is set up with the big tv screen for accessing videos etc and great soundtrack it's very inspiring to work on something and try to improve it! 

Luckily when I was there the weather changed and could spend all morning in the studio without any problems!! Just right at 21 degrees!

But a bit of a coincidence on CBSS course at Pineapple this week ....one of the teachers opened the barre work with THAT Brahms Waltz 

( The first one in the series of five dances created by Ashton for the Royal Ballet to celebrate Isadora).

i saw that Osipova is also rehearsing a new Isadora piece in America ....would love to see that!!

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Another wonderful week at Ballet West this year again making it the 5th for me (well only  4 days this year) , however it had its ups and downs.

The journey this year was extremely tiring especially the first leg up to Dumbarton where we stayed Saturday night. This year we didn’t have our own car, its in for repair, we had a smaller courtesy car with restricted  leg room for Adrian’s long legs.  Adrian is a 6ft 3 guy and needs a lot of room for comfort so consequently we had too keep stopping for breaks to allow him to have a walk around and stretch his legs. For me it just seamed to take forever to get to our destination.

 

Sunday was a much nicer day with a relatively short second leg to Oban, we arrived at the hotel full of eager anticipation for the following morning at Ballet West.  We have stayed at the hotel before so we knew the morning drill, breakfast at 8 usually we are on the road by 8.30 for Ballet West at just before 9.00am , at least we have been in previous years. This year there seamed to be a lot more people for breakfast, it had gone 8.30 before our order was taken, we text Gillian at Ballet West  to say we would be late, that really annoyed me, so we ceased to have breakfast at the hotel for the rest of the week. About a mile or two just outside Oban we found a petrol station that provided cooked breakfast rolls while you wait and hot drinks too, so we used them instead, at least we were at Ballet West the rest of the week on time.

 

Day 1 was my first two solo’s, the easy ones I thought, the first Sleeping beauty’s Blue Bird female solo, I had a full A4 sheet of corrections. For corrections we both get together and I document them as its not always possible to implement each and everyone at normal music tempo, first you have to break that old memory, I find it better to run the music slower at about 80% of its normal rate to allow a little additional thinking time to override that old memory and burn in the new one. Many can be done strait away, but there is always one that resists.

 

The second solo was Sleeping Beauty’s  Lilac Fairy from the prologue. Fewer corrections from this one but it was just as challenging. Firstly I guess I don’t help my self by insisting it has the full opening port de bras which is mostly done before the commencement of the orchestra. Where I just cheat it a bit, by trying to fit the port de bras into the short preamble missing timing on count 1 but being back on time by count 2, in other words a bit of a compromise. I did find some music used by one of the Vaganova dancers that was a little slower, but it just felt too slow for the main phases. The most challenging piece in this variation is the pirouettes following the attitude to arabesque steps into brush down tendu wit the gesturing leg.

At my coaches studio in Lincolnshire which uses a slippy wood floor, these are no problem. In my own studio where there is a significant amount of grip, these pirouettes for me seam very inconsistent. The floor slippyness at Ballet West  seams to be between the two. When I first arrived at Ballet West I did sneakily try one of these pirouettes and it worked first time, but when repeating it in the solo it just seamed to be getting worse, I guess I was just getting tired.

 

Day 2 only one solo for this day as this had been quite a tricky piece to dance particularly the retire passé section of 3 sets of 8 counts with different fan arm head positions. This was a piece our teacher Gillian liked and said it suited me, but I guess it was the one that got the most amount of preparation put into it. My choreography for this piece was inspired from two completely different dancers, the first has beautiful port de bras with the fan, the second was lively with intricate port de bras positions through the retire passes, the music was taken initially from the first. However the week before Ballet West I became uneasy about inappropriate noises in the music, firstly after the pull-up into Spanish pose for want of a better word on count two, there is an abrupt sound of the fan being flicked open, the music is not dissimilar to a harp being strummed slowing, for me after pull-up I simply let the fan fall open in sympathy with the musical strum, that fitted beautifully. Later there is a small pause followed by a short abrupt strum where it is appropriate for the dancer to flick the fan open, however on the sound track the dancer flicks it open before the music which is really off putting Grrr.   In the end I found some clean music free of fan and pointe shoe noise, it had similar tempo but it was sadly 16 counts short, so I had to adapt the ending. The only really tricky piece in this variation at Ballet West, was remembering to limit the travel of the retire passes otherwise I was inclined to run out of space travelling backwards; the distance available in studio 2 was about 6.5metres.

 

Tuesday evening I also attended Ballet West’s Adult Fitness Class, in previous years Gillian has run this class, but now a Senior Adult Ballet West student  called ( I think) Ragu (sorry if its incorrect). There were only two others in the class, a young Ballet West student, I think she would be around 20, and a middle aged lady. I was warned this class was not like Gillian’s, they were right.

 

I can’t remember all that we did but the intensity against the high number of reps. What I can remember at the barre, we did a rise in first and pulled the feet further together, then we went into progressive plies whilst remaining in pull-up, we must have gone through 5 or 6 different levels in the plie, it wasn’t just going through them, each level was held for a sustained period of time, it could have been 10 seconds or so, I certainly felt it in the inner thighs. In the centre we stood balanced on one leg, and made small movements on the other to the side, the number of reps exceeded 100, we also tried to do this on releve of the supporting leg, but I think we all failed miserably after a few reps.

Another one was laying on our side, with the top leg turn over with its foot on the floor. Every thing below the hip is off the floor, that leg is made to move up and down in small movements for over 100 reps, before going on to the other leg.    

 

Day 3 Swan Lake Lakeside scene and Entrance of Odette PDD including the Mime scene.

Although Gillian knew of the mime scene she was no longer familiar with the gestures, so Adrian and I added commentary in as we danced through them. It commenced with our entry of Siegfried , I edit the music to capture something that reflected a happy walk, as this was supposed to be Siegfried’s birthday, Adrian started from the up-stage right corner and walked to the up-stage left corner, as it was a happy piece I had his left hand on his hip and the right wafting about in sympathy with his walk (leg position), however Gillian didn’t think it looked regal enough and suggested a change which Adrian liked so we implemented it. When he finally sees his crossbow in the centre of stage, he briskly walks over to too it and round behind it. Initially I had him checking to see if anyone was watching looking left and transferring his weight to the left leg whist brushing his right arm out as you would do with a breath, then repeating it on the other side. Gillian thought we were trying to be too balletic and suggested making it more natural , this too was changed to a skulking squat peering out to see if anyone was looking, probably not very regal but I must confess it would have conveyed more to the audience about what was going on.

Siegfried pick up the bow, feels its weight, looks at it both sides then takes 2 steps forward and pretend to aim it skywards. Lowers it, turns to stage left corner with bow low follows the skyline with his eyes ( for Adrian the top of the studio mirrors) until facing centre ( Audience ) then raises his right arm to follow the imaginary swans he has seen, then we follow largely the choreography of the Royal Ballet including my entrance.

 

There was only one piece I found naggingly difficult and that was recognising in the music where to step out in alarm as Siegfried crept up behind me which followed his mime for “YOU,  FLY-A-WAY,  NO”, Although I was seldom off time there, I was never comfortable with it as it’s a really poor signature.

The piece that follows is Odette soutenu and swan arm burees repeated 4 times, Adrian has always found it difficult to get round me in the short time of this phase and has often been blocking my travel during practice. As it’s highly repetitive he has often forgotten to peel off on the 4th soutenu as my facing with swan arms are different on this one.

 

Although the majority of the choreography is inspired by the Royal Ballet, the ending is quite different after Odette’s pleading with Von Rothbart both followed with a soutenu, mine follows that with a retire passé of the left leg to the front whilst hands palm down  crossing around first position, then on the loud blast from the orchestra the arms move out firmly gesturing a very strongly “NO”,. Siegfried from his aiming position lets go of the bow with his left hand , turns CW to face away from me, head down looking very dejected because I wont allow him to shoot Von Rothbart, his left arm droops out at no more than 45 degrees. I run over to it and perch on his arm with my left leg extended in attitude, he turn his head towards me and our arms extend out to 90 degrees, I let go of his arm with my extended arm but I still hold the extension and shake my head slowly reinforcing the “NO”, then the long note appears from the Orchestra indicating the beginning of Odette’s walk off, Siegfried follows shortly after.

 

Although we had borrowed some of the ending from another company, it was to quite different music at the end. The fit we had achieved with the Royal Ballet music was remarkable, I just loved it.

At the end of day 3 Adrian was starting to complain about growing pain in his shoulders due to existing tears and said, he would only be dancing it once on his performance on day 4.

 

Day 4 All pieces were danced in costume and videoed as we usually do at the end of our intensive training. As Adrian was videoing my solo’s, we forgot to record the first Swan Lake run through. Adrian bless him agreed to give it one more shot for the recording by Gillian this time.

 

At the weekend Adrian and I went through the videos, I certainly wasn’t very happy with mine, they could have been far better. However I must pay tribute to Adrian I was really impressed with his performance of Swan Lake particularly his piece dancing with me on the 4 soutenu Swan arm buree section, the timing, and leg / arm positions were the best I had seen from him. As a thank you that weekend I took Adrian to Liverpool as he is an ardent supporter of Liverpool Football Club, apart from buying his birthday present as I had agreed too, I bought him a Liver Bird trophy with an LFC inscription on it as a special thank you for all his efforts and of course my nagging to make progress, very well done Adrian.

 

Lessons learnt, we must make more use of more video recording for analysis and self correction, so I guess its more new toys for our studio, eg high speed digital camera and also a wide angled camera to allow operatorless recording. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Currently on The Place's third intensive week with ENB. Had two very good days and a less good one; we were told we're ready to show our Repertoire 1 piece from Aszure Barton's FANTASTIC BEINGS by the end of class yesterday, but today I managed to wipe out and fall on my backside in technique class for the first time ever. I've crashed in improv before but never in ballet class.

 

(Crash inquiry: it helps to have done a la seconde turns more recently than a year ago. Off balance far enough, bum went straight down.)

 

On the other hand I think I'm falling in love with temps lévé arabesque.

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Better day; morning class was a struggle but came out with working piqué/coupé/jété. Rep 1 was only OK but we pushed forward with Rep 2....on this one you get to do the "tube poster" passé rélevé balance with opposite arms so I'm totally here for that.

 

I am enjoying the not-totally-classical turns, too.

 

Natalie Karpf is also as good as people say on here; maybe the intro class I should have taken when I started? Lots of ultra specific floor barre-y smarts. Might have resolved the mystery of why my right foot flexes when I jump out of 5th or 1st.

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So we finished it. I don't feel anywhere near as battered as I usually do after intensive week; not sure if this is progress, if I didn't push hard enough, or if I'm going to be unable to get out of a chair on Monday, which has happened. Alternatively, I didn't do as much floorwork.

 

We showed two pieces from Rep 1, one from Rep 2. The first in R1 really went well to the extent that even my partner thinks it was good and she is my most unforgiving critic. The second, not so much...I missed a step I hit in every other pass (wot?) although I did get the jump and the tube poster bit and in general the whole thing was a bit slack.

 

R2 was cracking except for the final transition to the floor where you pull a wind-up turn (like you're allowed to?) and deliberately fall out of it at the end so you can crawl backwards really fast to the wings. Before that, though, there are four different turns in quick succession including a piqué en dehors, an attitude turn, an en dedans from 2nd, and a wind-up from 4th...oh, and a relévé balance in parallel wagging your leg around and a bunch of other stuff so I was pretty pleased with that.

 

//Namedropper section: Senri Kou from ENB led R1, Pedro Lapetra R2, Begona Cao showed up for R2 showing, I spotted Richard Alston outside the front of the studio but it wasn't my business to bother him was it? Also some celebrity stan said Osipova was up in studio six rehearsing but I had class so I didn't go gawping and selfie hunting.//

 

Other stuff: I just now this morning realised why the rep class barre always included a rond jété - there's one in the R2 variation but everyone did it slow in centre even though we kicked on barre and now I miss that fragment of lost time every pass so much. Also I think I'd be insufferable if I felt like this regularly.

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It's great to push yourself quite hard every so often ( just not every week Hee hee) it's surprising what you can do sometimes.

i just did a great week on the Chelsea Ballet Summer school and on the last day did three classes ( including some Rep from Coppelia) which is what I would normally do in one week!!

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Oh, and I took class again today.

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If you remember this:

I'm back. Much better, apparently.

 

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Last week was the first week back after the summer break or in my case a couple of weeks break after our week at Ballet West ( most classes but not all).

 

It has been a good start as I have started my next piece for Ballet West for the summer of 2019, Le Corsaire’s scene containing the three Odalisques. I will be dancing the entire eight and a half minutes of choreography which consists of several solo’s duets and pas de trios which is normally shared between 3 dancers. Not only are some of the movements quite challenging, but the stamina I need to carry this off will be quite demanding too.

 

Four years ago I created a solo for one of my visits to Ballet West based on the first couple of minutes of choreography from the three Odalisques. One observation my teacher made was, the beginning was boring as nothing was happening over the long introduction, but that’s how it is in the ballet. Then we introduced a walk round then chassis into prep with the music and almost immediately followed into the active rep. With that in mind I have included Adrian as the Slave Master who through a fairly elaborate introduction, introduces me to our imaginary sheik, I guess what we have done is more akin to introducing Medora with the removal of her veil. At the moment it works extremely well with the music, but I guess it will still get a tweak or two before we regard it as finished. Just need to find Adrian a suitable Arabian costume now. The piece is likely to be a little longer as Adrian intervenes with introductions and reverence endings where possible, this has been particularly useful for Adrian as I have grounded him from actively dancing until after his shoulder tear operation. I’m must confess, I’m  really exited by this piece.

 

The other significant thing that has happened this week as for the moment I’m injury free, I have started pointe work, or at least strengthening for pointe. Although this had been on the cards for some time, but something always got in the way, usually injuries as I have what one might call a self inflicted hazardous life style, still climbing roofs and trees. One of the recommendation from this years session at Ballet West “I should try Freed pointe shoes” as opposed to my old Bloch Serenades which I used for a short period some years ago. Needless to say I have been and had various pointe shoes tried during fitting and they finally selected Freed too.

Thursday morning my one-to-one coaching session is now been focused on pointe prep, I have come away with a daily work to list of pre-pointe exercises, however my coach has rained in the number of reps I was expecting to do. Sunday the 16th  I will be attending The Alive Ballet Companies Pointe Worksop at The Place, however its likely I may still be on demi, although it would be nice to at least make a start on the barre work, but I’m in no hurry, as I really need to follow this though this time.

 

Although The Alive Ballet Company is not doing a Christmas performance this year as we are on an extended break until January 2019 when we get our Artistic Director back. I am starting rehearsal with BBT next Sunday, who have been asked to showcase as part of the London Performance Company’s Christmas show, really looking forward to it. I guess from January I will be performing with both companies.

 

Although my studio has become a place I can start to do ballet in now the excessive hot weather has gone. I have finally placed the order this week for Air Conditioning to be installed around end of October/ beginning of November. The electrics have been left to me. Unfortunately my qualified electrician friend is still convalescing after a back operation, so I will be left with the donkey work of digging trenches for the armoured cable and boring holes through walls, which is no problem after the studio build, anyway it helps keep my street cred of my catch phase alive “I’m a ballerina and can do anything “

 

 

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Well just watch you don't get a shoulder injury too Michelle with all that digging!!

See you next week.

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It seams ages since I last posted on this forum, its not that I’ve lost interest in ballet, I seam to have very little time now ballet has been stretched to 7 days a week, also what little time I have has been spent moving furniture and things around to accommodate Adrian and his possessions into my home. Although it was really nice but hard work with the major move this Friday, at least we had his son helping us. I guess I also learnt a new skill too and Adrian reminded me of my favourite catch phase “I’m a ballerina and could do anything”, I had to drive the Luton removal van we had hired and had to do quite a lot of reversing in narrow openings, something I wasn’t accustomed to.

 

I’m really sad that the Alive Ballet Company to which I was a dancer is unlikely to be reformed in the near future. Initially due to falling dancer numbers it was necessary to move out of the Danceworks largest studio in Central London to something more affordable, unfortunately some of our dancers were not happy to travel outside Central London for rehearsal even though a couple of years before we were based at CBAT near Holloway Road tube station. We did have the opportunity to keep rehearsals going with a sustainable studio at Finsbury Park, but that support and commitment from some of our dancers just wasn’t there, so it failed.

 

It seamed such a shame when most of us had leant quite a lot of chorography for our next show from Act 1 of Giselle, Act 2 from Swan lake and a Neo-classical piece too, which all went to down the drain.

As it was, everything was contained in the one day (Tuesdays) for me, Hair appointment at 9am, 10.30- 11.30am pre-rehearsal run thru at my local hall (before my studio), leave home for London 2pm, and return home just before 1am Wednesday morning, also with the time I was travelling by train in both direction, seats were always available, so I could do additional ballet study / documentation during the journey.

 

Now I’m with BBT, hair and pre-rehearsal takes place on Saturdays, rehearsal takes place on Sundays, but there are a couple of major drawbacks, firstly the trains are busy in both directions and often there is no seat. Also once I arrive in London at Kings Cross station, it still takes me another hour to get to the BBO studio’s at Battersea Reach, I just wish those Alive Ballet Company dancers who were reluctant to travel outside of Central London had this level of commitment.

 

Rehearsals at BBT are brilliant but quite fast moving, so far we have done the Pas de Trios from Raymonda and most of the Pas de Trios from La Bayadere, when everyone is there we have 4 guys in the company and at least 2 girls per guy, so an awful lot of partnering. The Christmas show with BBT is not now taking place but will go into the summer show some time in June. I ask if I could perform my Le Corsaire piece I have for Ballet West in the BBT show and our Artistic Director said yes, whoopee. Our Artistic Director is Sander Bloomhaert an ex Royal Ballet first soloist and a really nice guy and fantastic teacher. After rehearsal on Sunday evenings there is a stretch and tone class with some quite extreme partner stretching, just love it. However on Sunday we did a progressive splits type of stretch with our legs akimbo up the wall, where our teach went round to each of us in turn and adjusted the opening position by another half an inch or so, I think I counted about 4 iterations, before he closed our position. Although I have done this before I could feel it in the hamstring of my left leg, it didn’t hurt as such but a dull presents of something especially when moving into certain positions.

 

On the journey I was just a bit worried it might develop further as I had a UKA ballet exam the following morning. Although the exam wasn’t important to me, it arose as a couple of dancers from one of my local classes ask if they could sit some form of ballet exam, I guess the class would be rated as improver level. The reason I started to attend it in the first place was I used their studios at one time several times a week for my own practice and of course they let me run my rep group “Glen Ballet” there. That was about 18 months ago, and as a thank you I always attended their adult ballet class. I guess there was no way I could retain my street cred as a dancer if I didn’t take the exam with those of my class, however in reality for me it was quite different. Initially there were 6 other girls taking the exam as a group but 2 dropped. The four remaining did the exam together as a group; I guess they took confidence from each other. I did it on my own, but that was my preference, it also allowed me to approach my teacher about allowing me to change bits of her choreography, she was happy with that providing I kept the key movement for that grade, and of course she see me dance the finished version before she gave me her final ok.

 

I also ask her if I could perform it in a tutu as it had to be formal ballet wear, she oked that too, however one of our girls ask me if it sparkled because of the restrictions of wearing jewellery, that cast dought in my mind so I took 2 tutu’s on the day. My first choice was my Blue bird highly decorated professional tutu, the second another professional tutu by Just Ballet in White but quite plain other than some black decoration around the outer circumference of the skirt.

 

I think on the day most were probably in shock at me turning up in my Bluebird tutu, but for me it was just another performance. I was first to go in to see the examiner, I think she was just a little bit shocked too, but in a nice way. She said “Gosh just look at you”, “give us a twirl then” , I did a pirouette into a full down curtsy. She was really nice, but my favourite bit of the exam was the reverence which of course carries no marks, again I did my own thing as I really didn’t like the set piece, but that  was very much last minute, so I looked on you tube for inspiration but didn’t really find anything that stood out. Finally I remember a beautiful reverence from David Howard’s “Ballet Class for Beginners DVD”, but the music contained David’s commentary. I found a lovely piece of music from one of Craig Wingrove CD’s (Variation IV La Neige from The Seasons), however the music lasted a little longer that David Howard’s example which allowed me to do a Rond de Jambe into an elegant full down curtsy and on the rise open right arm acknowledging my examiner and then opening my left arm to my teacher, just loved it.

 

I even got to use the same version of Reverence at a different class the next day, this was at the Silver Swans at Bourne-to-Dance, in Bourne in Lincolnshire. This was another ballet school that I hired the studio for a couple of hours a week and then attended their ballet class as a little thank you. I stopped attending that school when I had my injury in the summer of 2017, so I contacted the school about going back about a month ago. Sadly adult ballet and adult tap has for this year been replace by exam classes for youngster, however I was offered Silver Swans, at first I was a bit reluctant to go as it really isn’t my thing, however its turned out to be quite fun. Needless to say I am a bit of a miss fit there as I am the only on in proper ballet gear and also an active ballet dancer. The class itself is quite large around 17 or 18. At the end of class this week we did a sort of basic reverence with two at a time coming down the centre of the room. The music sounded like the opening of Swan Lake Act2, it ran out before the last two ladies did there reverence, after they went I just couldn’t help myself, I just had to do my version, I started it off as the classes set piece, when I got to the from our teacher knew I was up to mischief and said “go for it girl”, I did my version of the reverence this time ending in open arm, my teacher opened her arms too and I got a wonderful applause from our Silver Swans, that was a lovely end to class that day.

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Phew, I’m really glad Half term is finally over and I can get back into some form of normality and actually know what day it is. Although it wasn’t organised that way, it was really useful for moving Adrian in, however on the down side I lost the studio for all practical purposes until today (Friday). Another downside of the move was, a beautiful base containing 3 ballerina figurines got accidentally damaged, one of them lost its head. Unfortunately we don’t know exactly when so its head was never found, sadly it was something I really treasured.

 

At least last Sunday the normal weekly schedule was restored with BBT rehearsal in London, however initially over half of the dancers were absent, so we couldn’t properly rehears the PDT we had be learning, especially as we had no guy’s. Instead we learnt a new solo, The first Shades variation from La Bayadere, not ever so difficult, but very fast.

 

Later that evening two of our guys arrive back from the Ballet Retreat, so we also ran through the Bayadere PDT and the PDT from Raymonda to keep it fresh in our bodies.  The icing on the cake for me was our stretch class which some of us attend after rehearsal, we did the partner assisted leg raises devant. This consists of your partner supporting your leg at 90 degree while you try and push down as hard and consistently as you can (contracting your muscles) this last for several seconds, then your partner list your foot as far as its comfortable for you, while you try and keep both the extended and supporting leg strait.  We repeat this procedure 3 times trying to take it progressively higher, my partner was lifting my leg for the third time and my teacher Sander came along and ask me if that was my good leg, to which I replied “yes”, he looked at my partner and said, I think Michelle could go a little high, and Sander helped my partner to get another inch. I’m really not sure what happened next, as the leg felt relaxed but strait, I took hold of the leg and pulled it even further in, it must have been another couple of inches. I have never ever had it that close to my face before. The right leg is another story its range devant isn’t quite so good and to be fair Im quite protective of it since my injury over a year ago. The right leg extended derrier and partner stretched in a similar fashion is seriously restricted in comparison to the left, also I can feel the numbness left after the injury in the side of my lower calf. The only thing that shows up in dance class after the injury to my right leg, is a developpe devant, especially if its done slowly, it ok until near to 90 degrees then it cramps and the thigh muscle appears to swell into a solid lump, I showed this to my local rep coach who is also one of my body conditioning teachers, she was a little shocked as not only could she feel it by touch, bit it was quite noticeable to the eye, and needless to say when its like that it hurts like hell. She offered to make arrangements to see a sports physio that she uses, but I have used similar physios before and I’m never really sure that their experience is appropriate. As its been well over a year now, its unlikely that this will fix itself naturally, for that reason I have now made an appointment with Liz Atha a chartered physiotherapist  that runs the specialist dance, sports and spinal clinic based within the new home of Northern Ballet in Leeds City Centre. Hopefully I should get some meaningful advise from her.

 

Although most things was back to normal this week, my Monday classes were still on half term break which included my one-to-one Le Corsaire rep, so we switched that to Thursday instead of strengthening for pointe. I guess next week it time to play catch-up. At least the studio is back, the electricians have been in today, Air Conditioning is being installed on the 16th so everything is good to go, only a large mirror to take down and reinstall slightly lower when the Air-Con is in place.

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Renato Paroni de Castro is BAAACK from his heart operation.

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Last Sunday’s BBT rehearsal and its stretch class that follows, I had a couple of very pleasant surprises for me. Firstly during rehearsal the guys were learning a piece from La Sylphides, I and some of the other girls were marking it at the back of the studio, to my surprise it had a couple of Cabriole’s derriere in it using both leg combinations. The last class I did those in must be at least 5years ago, possibly 6, on the odd occasion I have attempted them very unsuccessfully, but last Sunday night they just fell into place, which is really lucky for me as I know I will need these for the second part of the Le Corsaire Odalisques piece which contains three solo’s and the ending Pas de Trios. I just need to consolidate these now.

 

The second surprise was the front splits exercise in the stretch class. This consisted of standing with the legs in fourth open and squeezing a ball as hard as we could between our legs for approximately half a minute, then going down into front splits, for a similar period of time, this sequence was repeated 3 times. I did these three iterations with my right leg in front first, by the third iteration there was less than 2 inches between me and the floor, that is the lowest I have ever been by along way. However when I repeated the three iterations with my left leg in front, the gap was a little disappointing at about 4 inches.

 

I tried to repeat this in my own studio, first the ball was different, it was one of Adrian’s old footballs, the surface was circled and hard, it seamed to stick into my thigh and was very uncomfortable, when I went down into front splits with the right leg in front, I was about 9 inches off the floor. I think the essential difference was, I wasn’t properly warmed up, as on Sunday the sweat was literally poring off me as the class is quite energetic. At least it has given me some insight as to what is possible.

 

Unfortunately my home studio is temporarily out of action as we have had to take a large mirror down from what was the house wall and disconnect the main supply that ran round it, to make way for the installation of the Air Conditioning next Friday (16th) whoopee. That should be the last of the big spends on the studio.

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Finally last Friday I got the Air Conditioning installed, however returning the studio back to normal did take a little longer than anticipated with repositioning the mirror that had to be removed and fitting new uPVC cladding etc. However although it was unplanned I did get an additional day in the Sunday which is normally our ballet rehearsal in London, but it had unexpectedly been cancelled late last week, so that helped enormously. Now the studio is the warmest room in the house and a delight to use. Now I can do some real catching up of rep which seams to have slipped in recent months.

 

The real downside for me of loosing Sunday in London, is our stretch class that follows rehearsal, the previous week we did partner assisted extension to seconde, even in my injured leg the extension looked quite good. However I almost pushed it too far with my left (good leg), although it wasn’t a 180, it wasn’t that far off until something gave a little “eek” at the back of my knee, and my partner let go. I tried a few developpe’s immediately afterwards as my teacher was somewhat concerned that I may have injured it, but it was fine.  For the moment I’m being just a little bit gentle with that leg as it’s a little bit stiff and not all studio’s this time of year are particularly warm. At least with our London stretch class the sweat is usually pouring off us before we attempt such things, I just love it as it extends ones horizon of what is possible.

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