Monthly Archives: May 2013

Danses sans frontières

While I was in Tallinn last weekend I stumbled across a performing arts degree show – three choreographers demonstrating their wares for friends, family, tutors and punters like me (albeit not many from the UK, I’d guess).
It was intriguing to see some examples of ‘student choreography’ – a change for me, since in my work I’m privileged to have the opportunity to see dancing at the very highest level, crafted by seasoned professionals who’ve worked their way up the ranks.
It all starts somewhere though…just maybe in a performance room in a university in Estonia, one of the smallest countries in the world (pop. 1.2m).
There were three performances, of varying quality and interest if I’m honest (the droopiness of my travel mate’s eyelids acting as one measure of this) but all quite fun in their own way.
One thing I really clocked that evening was the importance of choreographing the WHOLE piece; you don’t look at a painting and observe the brush strokes individually, you look at the effect of the whole work. In the same way you don’t just look at individual elements of dance in assessing its overall success, you look at the impact of the whole thing.
The whole is more than the sum of the parts.
How to put this diplomatically? I think that some of the choreography students hadn’t taken that on board, particularly in the case of one piece that was overlong to the point of self-indulgence. (Eyelid measure: completely shut for a sustained period.)
But it’s easy to be critical, particularly from a standpoint of almost complete ignorance, so I should say that actually they all did a good job – can’t be easy putting yourself on show like that for 10, 15, 30 minutes.
Hästi tehtud, one and all.

Sky’s the limit

Sky’s the limit

I mentioned that Sky TV filmed us last week – here’s the proof!

Dispatches from Estonia

It’s been a busy two weeks in ballet land.

I wasn’t able to be at last week’s lesson because I was up in Scotland at a planning trip for this year’s Genee International Ballet Competition in Glasgow. Whilst I was there we managed to fit in a visit to Scottish Ballet, who are performing something called Highland Fling at the Theatre Royal (the same theatre we’ll use for the Genee Final in September).

Highland Fling is Matthew Bourne’s Celtic spin on La Sylphide, which for the uninitiated is one of the works firmly in the classical ballet canon. It tells the tale of a man whose heart is captured by a nymph…only in Bourne’s version the cast all wear kilts and ‘Scottishness’ is writ large throughout.

Superstar choreographer (do we have an equivalent word for “starchitect”?) Bourne is known for his contemporary take on the classics, and this one bears lots of his signature moves, all dressed up in tartan this time round.

It was fun and perhaps it would have been even more so if I’d understood the cultural references a little better (which the Glaswegian audience clearly did). The first scene featured drunken ladies and gents on their relative hen and stag dos…since I’m writing this en route to Tallinn for a long weekend, I’m expecting to see more of the same in the next couple of days – only played out with a whole lot fewer pirouettes and grands jeters.

This week my lesson was somewhat different to usual…we had Sky TV along for the ride. They were filming for a spot on Sky Sports News talking about dance as a path to fitness. For once I wasn’t the only boy in town – there was a younger, fitter, more dashing guy in class, so if you happen across the footage of the lesson you can pretend he’s me.

Things worked out such that I had to temporarily defect from my normal lesson in order to be there for the Sky stuff. This meant a different teacher and a more advanced lesson…which had me flailing all over the place trying to keep up.

Message to self: must practice more.