A Chance to Return to The Hammond School

Heading back to England to take part in my first dance school’s 100 Year Anniversary performances

Over the last few weeks my days have been filled with preparations for something I am very honoured to be working towards and can’t believe it has arrived so quickly.

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Back in 2007 during my last year at The Hammond School

It was back in February when I got an email from an unforgettable teacher I had while training at The Hammond School, the wonderful Mrs Elliott. This delight of a women being someone who took me through my final years at the school,before transferring to the Royal Ballet Schooland gave me so much joy in the studio as a student asked if I would return to the school for their 100 Year Anniversary performances to dance the lead role in Peter Wright’s ‘Giselle’.

Being a role I have not yet had the opportunity to dance I was very excited to confirm with my directer, Birgit Keil that it would be possible for me to travel to England in May and take part in the production. It was a little concerning that I would have to learn the whole ballet on top of the usual work schedule, as it would be something I would do in my free time, but seeing as I was informed early enough I was sure I would manage the work load.

Giselle rehearsal

Continue reading “A Chance to Return to The Hammond School”

Getting to the ‘Pointe’

Firstly, I must apologies for my recent absence from the blog but I took the time to put together a video I want to share with you in this post about the ballerinas tool – the pointe shoe.

Just like in Cinderella’s tale each ballerina has their perfectly fitting pair of pointe shoes. And even though a prince may not place the slipper onto our foot, for a ballerina it sure feels that way when we find our perfect pair of pointe shoes to perform happily ever after in.

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Pointe shoes are our tools and I don’t think it is always known by the public how crucial it is for them to be perfect for each dancer and how essential it is to have comfortable, well-fitting and well-made pointe shoes, not only to dance at our best but to prevent injuries caused by ill-fitting shoes. Dancers spend their whole careers looking for the perfect shoe and having so many makes of pointe shoes out there, with each one having a catalogue of different styles to choose from it can be a long and difficult process to find the right style and maker for you.

Throughout my years of dancing, I have used about 6 or 7 different makes of shoes after starting pointe work at the age of 11. I joined The Royal Ballet School wearing Bloch (if I pointe shoe diagramcan remember correctly) and during my time there I tried shoes from Suffolk, Bob Martin and the Freed of London company – where I had customised pairs that I continued to wear into my first year as a professional dancer. Customised shoes are wonderful as you can cater the shoe to your own foot and personal requirements, e.g. the hardness or length of the schank, the vamp depth, the height of the heel, etc. It really can be a luxury to have this option but not always possible or necessary and as I said before all makes have a variety of different styles with large and small differences between each.

The cost of the shoes can also vary from around 50 – 100€, an expenditure that can build up as the shoes don’t last forever. Unfortunately, as a student, the cost falls usually onto your own lap, or more accurately the lap of the dancer’s helpful parents, and I remember always trying to find ways to lengthen the life of my pointe shoes using ‘special’ glue to keep them sturdy.

Continue reading “Getting to the ‘Pointe’”

Who Knows This Week May Just Be Your Greatest One Yet

A rollercoaster of a week that ended up fulfilling so many of my dancing dreams

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you think nothing exciting could possibly happen and then you’re catapulted into a string of days filled with mayhem and excitement? Well, a few weeks ago I found myself in a very unexpected situation which turned out to be one of my most treasured experiences as a professional dancer. Honestly, you never know what each week will bring.

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In rehearsal for my first time dancing Anne Frank

Two weeks before our mid-season break my timetable was quite easy with not too many rehearsals. We had a performance of ‘Anne Frank’ on Sunday so I was preparing for my usual role as Anne’s Mother. However, the girl who was cast for Anne was off sick and as the days ticked by the question was being asked what will happen if she can’t dance.

It was never planned to change the casts in this ballet and therefore the second casts are not prepared. This is obviously quite a risky decision in case situations like this come about – a principal dancer unable to dance, with no one to jump in if required. Unfortunately, the show could not go on and this would be a disappointment not only for the ballet company but especially for the Theatre, and the audience due to attend.

So as Friday came with rehearsals planned, all of us, including the choreographer Reginaldo Oliviera, a dancer in the company, were still uncertain if we would perform. Trying to find a ‘plan B’ Reginaldo quietly approached me and asked if I would be able to learn the role of Anne for Sunday. Without hesitation, I said yes. Of course I said yes. How amazing would it be to dance such an enjoyable yet meaningful role? The yes came from my heart before my head had time to register the insanely short time scale I would have to learn a whole ballet, having not been previously cast for the role at all. That realisation didn’t come till later. Continue reading “Who Knows This Week May Just Be Your Greatest One Yet”

A Bali of Life

Holiday time

Everybody needs a holiday, and dancers are no different. It is always something we look forward to, and I mean really look forward to. It’s a time when our bodies and minds can take a well-earned break and recuperate. We can let go and relax. We can forget about work, about dance for a week or two. And I have to tell you, it feels good.img_1573

It is so important that we give our bodies time to rest. We work them so much and push past pains that could be bothering us for a long time so a mid-season break could be just what we need to recover from our tough timetable. It is also quite refreshing to have some time away from the studio. Being inside the same four walls is not good for anyone, and the studio is a place dancers have to love. It is a place for hard work and creation, and for that to happen we don’t want to be climbing the walls but rather filling the place with our passion. Having time away can remind us how good it can be to come back.

Continue reading “A Bali of Life”

The Shining Light of the Stage

The spot lights are bright. Be brighter

As a performer, my main goal in life is to shine. Well, that is what I am supposed to do. It is what we are all told or tell ourselves whenever we are about to enter the spotlights of the stage. Isn’t it? Be the brightest star.

But actually, it is not always that easy.

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Other thoughts like to creep up on me causing me to doubt and question what I am about to do, question what I have worked on for weeks. And even though I should know I am ready for my shining moment I don’t always feel ready. I question if I have rehearsed enough- did I spend enough time in the studio? The nerves build inside me throughout the day of the performance and I am sure I am not alone in experiencing pre-show anxieties. It is these feelings that can dull our light on stage and prevent that bubbly feeling of dancing. Continue reading “The Shining Light of the Stage”

The 3 Days 3 Quotes Challenge

Day III

The final day of my ‘3 Days 3 Quotes Challenge’ is here. I hope at least one quote I choose during this challenge was inspirational to someone out there. I had a lot of fun taking part and found it a great way to start the new year, encouraging me to think positive and to stay focused.

My quotes for Day III:

❝No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.❞

-Samuel Beckett

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Dancing Kate in Taming of the Shrew (Photo: Admill Kuyler)

❝Life is a journey, and if you fall in love with the journey, you will be in love forever❞

-Peter Hagerty

❝If you stumble make it part of your dance❞

-Unknown author Continue reading “The 3 Days 3 Quotes Challenge”

The 3 Days 3 Quote Challenge

Day II

Here are my quotes for Day II of the ‘3 Days 3 Quote Challenge’

❝Keep Going. Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.❞

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Stage rehearsal of La Sylphide (Photo: Pablo Octavio)

 – Roy T.Bennett

❝Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.❞

― John Wooden Continue reading “The 3 Days 3 Quote Challenge”

The 3 Days 3 Quote Challenge

Day 1

Firstly, I must thank Maysa Rose and hitherandyond for my nominations to take part in the ‘3 Days 3 Quote Challenge’. It is my first challenge as a blogger and I thought it would be a great way for A Ballet of Life to start 2017. Through my blog and dance experiences, I always want to encourage and motivate people to find the positive side of situations so the quotes I have chosen will involve the same messages.

Here are the challenge rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
  2. Post three quotes each day for three days
  3. Nominate three bloggers per day
  4. Inform the nominees

And here are my quotes for Day I:

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Dancing The Sylph in La Sylphide (Photo: Pablo Octávio)

❝You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.❞

-Merce Cunningham Continue reading “The 3 Days 3 Quote Challenge”

A Leap into the New Year

A fond farewell to 2016 with a lot of anticipation for what will come next for this ballerina

Another year passed and a new one begins. Happy New Year everyone!

I hope you all left 2016 feeling content with what last year brought you and leapt into 2017 excited for all the possibilities you can bring to the new year ahead.

I learnt a lot in 2016. Being filled with moments of happiness and times of sadness, it was definitely a year of change and growth, which is what every year should involve. I did not only grow one year older (ouch) but I believe my heart grew larger for the wonderful people I hold close and my brain grew wiser due to tough situations and learning how to handle them correctly. You only learn through experience.

It was a year full of dance, like most of my years are. I was promoted to principle and danced my first premiere in the leading role, both being things I never thought possible. 2016 also came with my first injury and unfortunately that will be something I will have to bring with me into the new year: bones take a long time to heal. May 2017 be the year of healthy bones.

I will happily be carrying my blog with me into the new age. Being something I was very sceptical of at first but now am so deep into the joy of sharing my little life with anyone interested, I am more than thrilled to introduce A Ballet of Life to 2017. I hope it can grow and expand even more in the year to come.

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Dancing Kate in Taming of the Shrew (Photo: Admill Kuyler)

A new year is full of potential and will no doubt bring each of us new challenges – offering very different yet very exciting things on the horizon. I want to once again dance my way through the year and am very interested to see what that brings me. I aim to allow all the things I learnt in the year just passed to influence what happens to me in the year at present. I step into January 1st with my point shoes at the ready, all wide-eyed and full of anticipation for what ballet will bring me in 2017.

May your year be full of the things you love most and be brightened by some form of beautiful art too.

With love,

Harriet

Header photograph by Jochen Klenk