Monthly Archives: February 2013

Write-up of Great Gatsby preview

Write-up of Great Gatsby preview

Some great pictures here of last night’s Northern Ballet preview that I attended – inspiring, non?


Inspiration trumps perspiration

I didn’t strap on the black wonders tonight…I went instead to watch other boys and girls strut their stuff in a special preview of Northern Ballet’s upcoming production of The Great Gatsby.
Here are some of the reasons the director gave for choosing members of his cast:
  • “unbelievable articulation of his body”
  • “you just can’t miss him”
  • “unique way of moving”
  • “masculinity and presence”
  • “a spark on stage”
  • “you have to look at him”
Honestly, it felt like looking into a talking mirror!
The dancing was thrilling, the music engaging (written by Richard Rodney Bennett, who you may remember scored Four Weddings and a Funeral) and – even performed against the blank canvas of a rehearsal studio – the decadent feel of the Roaring Twenties filled the room.
Afterwards, the director talked us through his process for turning a book renowned for its evocative words into an art form that is, of course, completely wordLESS.
The key, he said, was assembling the right cast, comprised of dancers who are able to inhabit a character completely, to bring that character to life through only movement and physicality, and to thrive on a challenging music score.
Put that cast to work on a choreographical interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famously precise and beautiful words, and you can tell the story through dance with nary a word spoken.
Fascinating, and inspiring.
But next week it’s back to gazelle class.

White men can’t jump

At least this one can’t, as lesson two has revealed. Can’t YET, I should say.

For the time being I seem to have an issue getting my leg to go in the direction I want it to. When I jump it wants to go backwards, not forwards and under my body as per the instructions.

I’m discovering – as no doubt many have done before me – that ballet ruthlessly exposes the little quirks that each of our bodies exhibits after 21 years* of daily wear and tear. It’s a mental, as well as a physical, challenge to change the habits of a lifetime.

By way of inspiration I went to see the new production of Chorus Line in the West End on Monday. It focuses on the backstory of a group of singer-dancers, and is set in the audition room as they are whittled down from 20 at the start to just eight at the end.

How those boys get their legs to do what they do I simply cannot fathom. YET. Watch this space.

* this may be an exaggeration

Schoolboy error

I should, of course, have used “Called to the barre” as my last post, forgive me.

Now that I’m in receipt of “The Foundations Of Classical Ballet Technique” – pictured below – it won’t happen again.

I promise, Dame Margot.

PS – I have foot ache.


Called to the bar

floor-mounted-double-ballet-bar-500x263There are 26 bones, 33 joints and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the human foot. I suspect I’ll be able to identify them all by pain in a couple of days…my feet have taken a battering: yes, dear reader, I’ve had my first ballet lesson.

I’ve missed four weeks’ worth of classes so there’s quite a learning curve, but the A level French comes in handy – French is the lingua franca of classical ballet. Merveilleux!

I enjoyed myself, and part of the challenge I think I’ll relish most is learning to strike a balance between the technical skills and the artistry that add up to great dance. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…much of the time I felt like a graceless gazelle leaping (stumbling) across the studio…it’s early days yet.

In the mean time, if the pain hasn’t subsided by Saturday, it might be a case of calling in on a very different type of bar.

Tutu be or not tutu be?

So the deed is done: the health and safety form signed, the fees paid and the loins girded.

After 4 days of intensive induction to the world of the Royal Academy of Dance (as interim Director of Marketing and Communications,) I feel cautiously confident in all but one area: the actual subject matter of dance itself, and particularly classical ballet.

I don’t come from a dance background (unless rock and roll classes at university count) and I’ve traditionally got my cultural kicks through music and travel and architecture rather than dance.

No matter how much we talk about transferable skills, that’s still a bit of a gap. And it’s one that needs to be filled.

I joked about this on my first day: maybe I should take up a ballet class, I quipped. Maybe you should, came the reply. I joked about it again the following day, only this time it was to the Artistic Director, who instantly summoned the head honcho of training bookings. Suddenly the joke was on me, or at least it will be once I turn up for class number one.

But seriously, I’m looking forward to it – I can’t think of a better way to learn about dance. Just don’t ask me to wear a tutu.