How a Fairy Gets Her Wings: An Unexpected Chance to Fly

Working with the ballet legend Peter Schaufuss to recreate his La Sylphide.

With the premiere of Peter Schaufuss‘s La Sylphide at the end of the week, things are really coming together and getting exciting. We had a few dress rehearsals last week and I had the unexpected chance to dance the Sylphide.

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A beautiful painting like picture taken during a dress rehearsal (Photo: Flavio Salamanka)

Originally being the third cast for the main role and just coming back from injury, I was not expecting to be dancing it for a while. But things changed when Peter asked how I felt about giving it a go in the next day’s run through. I was feeling good and knew the role pretty well so why not. With this ballet, there is surprisingly no pas de deux choreography so it is very easy to mix up the casts. Peter told us he wanted to change the dancers around so we all had the chance to dance and he also had the chance to see us in each role.

After the run, they were happy enough to give me another chance to rehearse it again the next day on stage. This rehearsal also went well and it was beautiful to dance with the live orchestra, which always brings another depth to the piece. I was then surprised last Monday morning when Peter set the cast for the first dress rehearsal and I would dance the Sylph.

img_2317Not even having a costume or a good pair of point shoes it was all a bit of a scramble to get it together. But possible. I painted an old pair of shoes (as good as new), borrowed a costume and was good to go. The Sylph’s dress is beautiful: in the style of a romantic tutu, white in colour and decorated with flowers and jewels, with of course little wings so I can fly. All this really helped me feel the part of a fairy, and who doesn’t want to feel like a fairy?

The first time on stage with lights and costume is always a little nerve-wracking as it takes you from the comfortable feeling of ordinary everyday rehearsals to ‘show time’. It all becomes real. Having not had many rehearsals, I still needed to build up my stamina and work on the steps much more but this was a great opportunity to get a feel for it all.

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Warming up before the run through (Photo: Pablo Octavio)

Since then I have had amazing rehearsals with Schaufuss doing exactly what I wanted to do; working on the technicality of the steps and emotions of the character. He is so great to work with and his corrections and tips are unbelievable. He really helps in a way to make the dancer and his ballet look the best. I am so grateful to have had this time to work with and be inspired by the legend Peter is. I am trying to soak up all his advice so I can improve every rehearsal and become the Sylph he wants.

I have already taken so much from this whole experience and I am sure there is still a lot more to come till the premiere. Since we started the process of creating the ballet I always tried to pay attention to every detail Peter wanted with each role I was cast for, even if it was not directly for me I applied it to my work. I worked for myself making sure I knew every step, the correct musicality and how the choreographer wanted it done. It is so important to do this because even if you think your chance will never come, when it does you can grab it and prove yourself.

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Stage rehearsal dancing The Sylphide (photo: Pablo Octavio)

I appreciate every moment I have had in the studio with Peter and hope than when I do dance the Sylphide I can do it justice for him. The Sylph has a lovely playful and innocent personality so it is a joy to become her and with all the help from Peter, my ballet mistress and of course my friends, I feel myself dancing the role more naturally every day. The fact that Peter suggested I dyed my hair red really helps create the Scottish atmosphere of the ballet.img_2358-2

With love,

Harriet

 

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