Dancing Queen in Quarantine

With us all going through something very scary right now, I wanted to spread some positively about what us artists are doing while we can’t work

Never would I have thought I’d be writing a post about this. With the world on lockdown due to the quickly spreading Coronavirus, it has been one of the strangest and scariest times any of us have experienced and it doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.

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❝The entertainment and theatre industry is taking a huge hit❞

It is causing us all to go through our own difficult times and creating a worrisome atmosphere of what is to come and the possible effects it will have on us all. We have all been advised to say indoors and avoid contact with others, not to mention the unfortunate people that are having to actually deal with the illness and lives being turned upside down because of it.

The entertainment and theatre industry is taking a huge hit, with performances being cancelled for weeks due to the crowds and dancers all over the world not being able to work for the foreseeable future.

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Training and exercising in the living room while under quourentine

As a dancer myself, who is writing to share my dance experiences and seeing as we are all at home needing to find our own source of entertainment to fill the days, I wanted to share with you, if you can find the time, what I and fellow dancers are doing to get through this time and to come out the other side as healthy as possible.

❝Something pretty amazing is happening within the dance community❞

It was at the end of last week when we were informed that our theatre in Salzburg would be closing for at least two weeks due to the virus. It was not long after that the government announced the city itself would be going into shutdown; taking the necessary precautions to keep us all as safe and healthy as possible.

And just like that, we could not work any more. We were not allowed to train in the studio or even be in the theatre. All shows were cancelled and the only option was to go home, leaving the dancers deflated and heavy-hearted. You may know that as a group, dancers are not the kind of people to give up and go home, we are constantly striving to keep the shows going so this was a situation where we literally didn’t know what to do with ourselves. And with is happening all over the world we are all now at home trying to find solutions to be able to stay in shape and motivated, not knowing when we can be back on stage working. It’s not like we can do home office…. or is it.

Something pretty amazing is happening within the dance community; something unique and could only have happened in a situation like this. Teachers and dancers are offering live video classes from their studios and homes for other dancers to take part and be able to feel like they can train and not be alone while doing it. Giving us all the motivation and discipline we might lack when home alone.

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Doing class the only way I can… at home following a teacher online

I find it amazing that we have all come together to help each other stay fit and entertained. We are all in the same boat so why not join together and do something we all love and are eager to keep up with. I think it is bringing a lot of joy to whoever takes part and is a great way to connect with people.

This whole experience is surreal but it can be a time we use wisely by doing the things we can never find the time to do, or trying out something new, like an online ballet class. I am a person who loves being at home so, for now, I am filling my days with things I love and getting in touch with people I love. I want to focus on some studying and maybe also try out a few online classes.

I am also trying to put life into perspective. Now that we have all been forced into a state of isolation I hope we realise how much we have and should want to treasure the little joys in life more. Right now we all wish life would go back to normal, wish we could get back to work. And yeah, maybe work is not too bad after all. Maybe we shouldn’t complain too much about the silly things while we have them.

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Looking forward to being back in the studio and everything being back to normal with the world (Working on the ‘Romeo & Juliet’ pas de deux with Flavio Salamanka, coached by director/choreographer Reginaldo Oliveria)

We should also be kind and helpful in these times. Share and spread love in any way you can and don’t let the fear and the unknown create greed and loneliness. Do as us dancers are trying to do, share the things you love and keep each other smiling and dancing.

Stay safe and healthy,

Harriet

Tanzen in Tokyo

Sharing with you my amazing time in Tokyo during summer

If you’ve already read my previous post “Living In a World Such as this is like Dancing on a Live Volcano” you will know why I recently ended up on a quick trip to Japan to perform at a small gala very last minute. This spontaneous trip became part of my very short summer vacation and was another chance to perform some pieces I never thought I would again.

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Post pas de deux pic, with my ‘Romeo’ Zhile Xu

I spent the week rehearsing and performing with old colleagues while managing to combine the days spending some much needed holiday time with my other half, who came along for the week.

❝It is quite amazing what you can make possible when you have no other choice❞

We arrived at our hotel after a very very long journey just in time for a quick dinner and hopefully an early night. But upon arriving I received my costumes and pre-ordered pointe shoes, which I needed to prepare for the next morning’s rehearsal. So while my husband slept soundly (possibly the only good night sleep he got the whole trip due to jetlag) I lay in bed till 12:30 sewing these emergency pointe shoes until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.

The next morning I was sewing the whole way to the rehearsal studio, during the warm-up class and literally moments before I had to put them on and dance in them. I quickly broke them in, gave them a quick hammering and they were on my feet for the rehearsal. Never before have I managed to dance in such new shoes, not to mention without elastics and on a very slippy, hard floor. But it surprised me how manageable it was. It is quite amazing what you can make possible when you have no other choice.

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Rehearsing Rachmaninov by Jonathan dos Santos with Timoteo Mock

My working hours were not too long so my husband and I were able to seize each day and explore the great city of Tokyo. We spent our time wandering the fascinating streets of busy Shibuya and Shimbashi, enjoying the view from Tokyo Bay, tasting the intriguing food and even joining the locals at one of their beloved baseball matches. This was definitely one of our highlights, along with the Teamlab Borderless museum where we became children again, mesmerised by the three-dimensional world created there. This is a definite must-see when in Tokyo, guys.

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Uli & I among the beautiful artwork within the Teamlab Borderless museum

Not forgetting that I was actually here to perform, and once we were in the theatre we had full days of dress rehearsals in the afternoon and shows early evening. We had quite a hard time adjusting to the very hard stage and I was feeling especially anxious for the performance after our first run-through. But we all grit our teeth, wanting to enjoy performing here as much as possible, and we did.

❝Being positive is what it should all be about❞

For myself, the second evening performance when I danced the Romeo & Juliet balcony pas de deux and all together we finished the evening off with Rachmaninov, was particularly memorable. The dancers and audience were lovely and after the final evening, there were many pictures with excited students and family members of the dancers. I felt very honoured to be there.

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Happy ladies at the end of the week (Momoka Kikuchi, Carolin Steitz & Moeka Katsuki)

Even though I had my doubts about going at first, I am so lucky to have had this opportunity. I helped a lot of people by going, I performed for a new grateful audience, I had a wonderful time with my husband and friends, and I once again danced pieces that mean a lot to me. It was all so positive in the end and being positive is what it should all be about.

Thank you to everyone who made this possible and so memorable. It really made my summer.

With love,

Harriet

Ask Me Anything

Sharing a video answering ten questions about me and my ballerina life for an ‘Ask Me Anything’

The life of a Ballerina can be quite an interesting one and very different to any other lifestyle there is. As I love sharing with you what I get up to through my blog and social media, I wanted to do an ‘Ask Me Anything’ to answer some of the many questions people are often wondering about us dancers.

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Performing one of my favourite roles ‘Juliet’ with Juliano Tuscano as my ‘Romeo’ (Photo: Admill Kuyler)

I got a great response through Instagram and some amazing questions, so much so I think I may have to turn this video into a series of videos to give as many answers as possible.

Thank you to everyone who asked me something, I loved answering them and it is also a great way to inspire me on things I should write about for the future. If anyone out there has a question for a ballerina please write to me and ask, I would be honoured to answer. 

Hope you enjoy the video and keep your eyes open for more.

With love,

Harriet

The End of My Karlsruhe Era

A week to go of the season here in Karlsruhe and I want to look back all I have gone through here and share with you all what is to come

As the end of our ballet season in Karlsruhe is approaching fast, the time for big changes is also on the horizon, and with this post, I want to share with you the next step I am planning to take in my career and personal life.

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On stage performing as Anastasia in ‘Sleeping Beauty – The Last Daughter of the Czar’
a ballet by Youri Vámos

This season will actually be my last with the Staatsballett Karlsruhe and I will be eagerly joining the Salzburg Landestheater Ballet Ensemble at the beginning of August. A company I have had my eye on for a while and a place I hope will bring many different and exciting opportunities my way.

❝Karlsruhe Ballet has been my home for nine seasons, giving me more than I ever thought I would have❞

Continue reading “The End of My Karlsruhe Era”

Inspiration All Around Us

Where do you find your inspiration? I find my inspiration in you

We all need a little inspiration in life and we all find it in different places. It can come from the simplest of things, like a sunny morning helping you get out of bed or a good song brightening your mood. Inspiration can be found almost anywhere and I think one of the strongest inspirations we have out there can be each other. Humans inspiring humans.

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Performing La Sylphide from the inspirational Peter Schaufuss

I wanted to touch on this topic because recently I have received a few messages and responses to my dancing and what I am writing about on here that have been so encouraging for me. Messages from people who I haven’t even met, and yet they kindly took the time to let me know that from watching me dance or reading my blog they have thoroughly enjoyed it and been inspired by it. Continue reading “Inspiration All Around Us”

The Spinning World of Dance

Dance can take people half way across the world to share their talents with new colleagues and audiences, giving us the chance to connect with people we would never know other wise

The world is a small place. But the dance world is even smaller. And you wouldn’t believe how international every school or company is around the world. I have had friends from everywhere and there is a huge chance that they know people I have met in school or in other companies. And there is even a bigger chance they are from a different country and are now living in a different country to that due to dance.

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Faces from all over the world together on one stage

In my experience alone – I have shared a room with a Norwegian girl and became friends with a bunch of Australians during my school time. When I started working I joined the company with an American, Israeli and Austrian. I created life long friendships with a Korean, French and a Belgian. I have shared a dressing room with a Spaniard, Czech, and many Japanese girls. I have partnered Brazilians, Chinese, Armenians and Italians. I have worked with teachers and choreographers from too many places to remember and the list goes on of international friends, co-workers and associates I have met because of my chosen profession.

❝We are able to form very close bonds to people we would never have met if it weren’t for dance

Continue reading “The Spinning World of Dance”

Grabbing on to that Second Chance

Sometimes life gives you a second chance, even in ballet, and it’s always what you do with those moments that counts. So when my second chance to dance a huge role came around I really wanted it to mean something

Second chances. Moments we wish we could redo. Turn the clocks back and try again. Another opportunity to improve on experiences or approach them at a different age to see how we would handle it now. Who doesn’t want a second chance at moments in their life? And as a dancer I can tell you, it is often a wish of mine to have the chance to perform a role once more for these exact reasons.

Little did I know it wasn’t quite the end of that chapter

In my previous post, ‘Never Say Never’, I wrote about my fortunate moments of getting second chances and what I gained from them, but I think having Christopher Wheeldon’s ‘Swanlake’ come back into my life this season is possibly the biggest chance for me to see what has changed after six years of professional performing.

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Performing as Odette with Zhike Xu as Prince Siegfried (Photo: Jochen Klenk)

Continue reading “Grabbing on to that Second Chance”

Never Say Never

Just when you think a ballet is behind you, they have a tendency to come back and teach you something new

I have often been proved wrong when thinking I was dancing something for the last time. Just when you think the curtain has gone down on a particular role or piece it ends up finding its way back to you. And more often than not, it’s the ones you were glad to say goodbye to.

❝It seemed like an impossible thing for me to ever dance & I never imagined I would have the opportunity to give it a go❞

Recently this seems to be happening a lot to me and it is proving to not be such a bad thing after all. For this post, I want to share two particular pieces that have found their way back to me and dedicate another to the recent return of our Swanlake and my upcoming shows of Odette/Odile, which I think definitely needs its own mention.

So for now, I take you back to the end of last season when we performed Kenneth McMillan’s ‘Concerto’ in our yearly gala here in Karlsruhe. ‘Concerto’ is a one-act ballet in three movements choreographed in 1966 for the Berliner Ballett and was staged for the Royal Ballet Touring Company in 1967. Our company had to learn it in just two weeks with Julie Lincoln teaching and staging the piece. This ballet was not completely new to me as I performed ‘Concerto’ while at The Royal Ballet School for my graduating performance in 2010. I was part of the third movement assemble, and now, 8 years later, I was cast for the third movement Solo Girl.

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Backstage of the Royal Opera House at the age of 18 during ‘Concerto’ rehearsals

I was delighted, albeit a little nervous to be chosen to dance this role as I remember admiring the girl who performed it at school. At that time it seemed like an impossible thing for me to ever dance and I never imagined I would have the opportunity to give it a go. At that age and time in my life, dancing such a solo was the scariest thing I could imagine. Continue reading “Never Say Never”

WORLD BALLET DAY 2018

🌸🌸HAPPY WORLD BALLET DAY🌸🌸
I hope everyone enjoys dancing around in their tutus and tiaras or even socks and sweats – joining together to celebrate one of the most beautiful and special art forms there is.
Stay tuned all day with companies around the world streaming life from the studio and stage:
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Performing as the Sylph in Peter Schaufuss’s La Sylphide

With love,

Harriet

The Dressing Room of a Ballerina

Oh to be a fly on a ballerina’s dressing room wall. A space just for us amongst our tutus and friend

The theatre becomes a dancer’s second home, a place where we spend at least 50% or more of our daily waking hours. We work there, we eat there, we shower, dress and sleep there. Our friends are usually with us and its the place we do what we love most, dance.

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My first year at the Hammond School with my fellow dancers at our end of year production – Ruth Bailey, Risa Nakagawa, Anna Haresnape, Katrina Budzynski

It’s because of all these reasons that it becomes a very important building for us, and one of the most important rooms in this building is our dressing rooms.

This is where the beauty of ballet meets the ugly on a daily bases

When I was younger and performed once or twice a year in a theatre the dressing rooms were already one of the best parts and when I was part of a dance school, I remember it being so exciting to get our dressing rooms, all the girls together just like the professionals – we were just so grown up. And I was probably deep down even more excited when I first joined a professional company and found my own permanent spot in the dressing room. I had made it. Continue reading “The Dressing Room of a Ballerina”