Terry Hyde first contacted me after noticing my Twitter page and all my posts on dance and being a professional ballerina. He then told me about his past career in dance and what he does now to support dancers and their mental health.
He asked if I would like to be a part of his blog and write a guest article sharing some of my experiences in the dance world up until now and particularly a difficult time I went through when it was hard to keep going.
It didn’t take me long to decide which issue I would write about, especially as Terry mentioned aiming the thoughts to dance students, and now we have finally got the article up and running. I talk about losing all my confidence at school and finding happiness in other places outside of dance. Here is a link to the article.
”My weight was a problem for the ballet school but not for me”
Harriet Mills, Principal with Staatdballet Karlsruhe, talks about how she survived the toxic regime and weight issues during her ballet training
Whilst you’re there have a read and look around on Terry’s website. The issues he is confronting are very difficult and dancers, like everyone, need as much support throughout their schooling, careers and post-careers and I thank Terry for letting me be a part of it.
After last night I just had to share with you all the wonderful experience I had during my premiere of ‘Romeo & Juliet’. I don’t know if I will be able to put it into words how much the evening meant to me or how many emotions I was feeling but I am for sure going to try.
There were moments when Juliano Toscano and I thought our chance to perform as Romeo and Juliet wouldn’t come – our fate was for some reason not written in the stars and as more and more performances were crossed off and our names still not appearing to dance the next one, we felt the opportunity slipping away from us. Then suddenly with just two weeks notice (an insanely short amount of time to prepare for such a big ballet), our director gave us the date and we were moving, full steam ahead.
We worked so hard in the studio, with the guiding hands and eyes of our ballet mistress, often having eleven hour days in the theatre, not only preparing for this but learning another new ballet alongside it. However, despite the long hours and other responsibilities, it never really felt like work. We were both so eager to do it, pushing any doubt out of our minds that we couldn’t. We found ourselves supporting each other endlessly, which was a welcomed surprise as we hadn’t danced so much together previously. The chemistry found between us when learning the choreography at the beginning of the season with all the other casts was still there. Along with that, each day the technical aspects improved as well as us both slowly finding ways of developing the characters.
One of my favourite aspects of dance has always been pas de deux. From a classical grand pas de deux to modern creations, I just so fond of sharing the work, technicality and especially the emotions of a dance partnership. I have been lucky enough to have had some fantastic partners over the years and I have loved working with these young men and performing together.
❝What does actually make a good partnership in dance? What can make it or break it?❞
As a student, during my time at The Hammond School, we studied simple pas de deux and I took a liking to it straight away, but it was not until I joined The Royal Ballet Upper School, where we had pas de deux class two-three times a week, that I really started to enjoy it. It began a little shakily but after a few weeks I was randomly partnered with a classmate called Ashley Whittle and not only did we immediately click and work well together, but we had so much fun. This must have come across to our teachers as for almost two and a half years we were always dancing together. Pas de deux became my favourite class of the week and it was the first time I felt 100% trust and confidence in my partner, and I think he felt the same.
First of all, a Happy New Year to everyone reading and I hope we are all off to a good start in 2018.
As it is a new year I am sure we have all welcomed in new experiences and challenges, as well as said goodbye to and learnt from old ones. This has actually become the topic of this blog post and although sounding like quite a sad one, you know I am forever finding the positive in all my endeavours.
❝Never have I been involved in such a ballet that carried so much meaning and responsibility due to the history and story it told❞
Last month Badisches Staatstheatre Karlsruhe sadly said goodbye to two of our ballets for the season 2017/2018. This commonly happens as companies need to make room for new productions each season and in our theatre ballets are often only with us for two-three seasons at a time. An out with the old in with the new kind of thing. Although I wouldn’t like to think of ballets as old, more renewed or revived in the next company who puts them on. Continue reading “Saying Goodbye to a Ballet”→
I often hear artists being portrayed as very emotional people but I ask myself if we are actually more exaggerated and eccentric when it comes to feelings than the average person? Yes, we care a lot about what we do for a living and we are asked daily to bring all sorts of emotions to the surface, but I wouldn’t say we are more sensitive than non-dancers, it just depends on the person and their own personality. I think we are all emotional when we want to be.
❝I can also bring my own feelings and experiences onto the stage with me to help develop a character❞
Dance is a way of expressing emotion so I think it’s quite normal if once in a while we subconsciously, or maybe even consciously, take those feelings out of the studio and into our daily lives, and vice versa. As for me, I love to get emotional and really into a role. The stage is a place where I am put into many different situations I wouldn’t encounter in my normal life and I can also bring my own experiences onto the stage with me to help develop a character.
As the applause subsides and silence falls throughout the auditorium, there’s chance for one last breath in the wings. Then the smile is adjusted and the walk to centre stage begins. The moments before performing a solo can be very nerve-wracking ones. Time is up. It is only you and the music, and all eyes are on you. You can’t practice that pirouette one last time, you can’t work on your stamina anymore. All that work is done. It’s go time.
❝With my confidence hitting rock bottom at times, even stepping on stage was terrifying❞
When I remember back to the very first solo I performed in my first year as a professional dancer all I recall are the nerves. I was part of the Pas de Trois in Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake and my little solo was the biggest thing I had done so far in my career. It was my first chance to dance alone on stage, and it was scary.
During my younger education, I danced plenty of ballet, tap and jazz solos as a schoolgirl as part of our school productions, but back then it was no big deal. Being young and innocent made it all amazing good fun. ‘Bring it on’. But when I joined The Royal Ballet School things changed a lot and nerves grew inside me. There, I was never the ‘chosen one’ and with my confidence hitting rock bottom at times, even stepping on stage was terrifying. Being part of a group was just enough for me to handle. I had little stage experience and wanted to avoid any spotlight as much as I could. Continue reading “Everything is Possible if You’ve Got Enough Nerve”→
You may all know from my post ‘A Chance to Return to The Hammond School’, that during May I spent a week in England at my childhood dance school, The Hammond, as I had been invited to take part in the school’s 100-year anniversary production of Sir Peter Wright’s ‘Giselle’. My years as a student there were so wonderful I couldn’t wait to return to where it all began. And of course, it was even more memorable than I could have imagined.
Arriving at the school, I had butterflies in my stomach. It was so strange to be back. How the school has changed in ten years I have been away, with its own in-house theatre and brand new studios replacing the portacabins I danced in. However, once my dance colleague, Flavio Salamanka and I found our way into the theatre and spotted my old ballet teacher, Miss Jane Elliott, working with her pupils, the familiar, friendly atmosphere I remembered was still ‘in the air’. Being introduced to her pupils as ‘my Harriet’, Jane had me feeling like I never left. Continue reading “My Unforgettable Debut as Giselle”→
My summer holiday is never complete without some dancing, and over the past two days, I have had the pleasure of spreading and sharing the dancing joy with the students of Moorland Ballet Academy Summer School.
Moorland is a privet school in Lancashire with an Elite Football Program and a Classical Ballet Academy. The ballet academy was founded by two wonderful past teachers of mine Lynsey and Simon Kidd, who both taught and guided me during my student years. Knowing personally what good teachers they are, I was honored to hear from them and be invited to join them during the summer course.
Even though I only spent two days at the school, I truly enjoyed teaching the summer students – a mixture of full-time students at the school and young dancers from outside, some coming from as far as Japan, and already saw improvement in that short space of time. I had the pleasure of teaching a great bunch of 11-13 year olds and an older group of 14-18 year olds. Both classes worked so hard for me so thank you for that girls and boys.
I am sure all of the above come to mind, and it is true, we ballerinas can be all those things, (I try to convince myself I am a princess every day) but in this post, I want to focus on the ballerina and her flexibility.
Flexibility is a very useful and often needed attribute of a dancer but I would not say it is always the most important. Yes, some days, if not all, I would give my right arm to be more flexible but as I have gotten older and (hopefully) wiser, not only have I decided my right arm is a part of me I would not want to lose, I have also come to realise I can be ok the way I am.