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”

Goals of the Dancer

Setting your own personal goals to get you from one company goal to the next

Each season ballet companies have the exciting chance to work towards and bring to life premieres. Whether that’s a world premiere of a new creation or the first time that particular company performs a ballet, they are always a huge highlight of the year.

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❝The goal that has been the main focus within the whole ballet company is reached❞

The process involves resident or guest choreographers/teachers coming to the theatre and working with the dancers – creating or teaching the steps and staging the whole production. Weeks if not months are spent putting the piece together and it will be the main focus of the company the majority of that time. Other performances are often performed during the preparation time but there will be much happening behind the scenes for the premiere.

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Working towards our La Sylphide premiere in 2016 with the choreographer Peter Schaufuss

The hype leading up to opening night is very exciting. After weeks of studio time, we finally start having stage run-throughs and orchestra rehearsals, then costumes are added, with lights and sets filling the stage, bringing everything together. The dancers get comfortable with the new space and atmosphere during a week of dress rehearsals and corrections. The days quickly tick by and we find ourselves on opening night.

The moment is here. The curtain goes up.

And then… it’s all over. Everything you have worked for is behind you. The goal that has been the main focus within the whole ballet company is reached. The focus must now shift and it is always a strange time. To come back to the barre after a premiere is often a little difficult. So you have to find the next goal to work towards.

Which can be much easier said than done. The excitement that has gotten you into work for the past few weeks is now gone. The quiet ‘after’ the storm. And although I think a little ‘calm’ is good, if not needed, especially if the body has been under a lot of stress, it can become mundane and I think this feeling should not last too long.

I have noticed throughout my years of working, it always helped me to have something to aim towards. Whether that is at work or not, having goals help me get out of bed in the morning and focus my mind to keep pushing to improve.

❝I have passions outside of dance and finding achievement in those areas of my life still gives me a boost❞

In the studio, this can be working towards a new role, but we can’t always count on being given this option, so I like to set personal goals in the studio or within roles I am already dancing. Working on steps you know can be improved in class or focusing on an upcoming performance and finding new ways to develop there. Nothing is lost and then you can take that improvement into the next goal you set.

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Teaching has become a new passion of mine (Working at KNT Danceworks in Manchester)

However, recently I am enjoying finding goals outside of dance (but possibly still connected). Putting my energy into other things has given me energy for work too. Learning I have passions outside of dance and finding achievement in those areas of my life still gives me a boost.

Keep it interesting. It is never good to be too focused on one thing. Dancers can tend to get wrapped up in our world but breaking out of it can help it grow and develop something that can always be improved. Keep reaching for new goals, it always feels so good when they are reached and will keep the post-premiere lul at bay.

With love,

Harriet

 

Main picture: Jochen Klenk

 

Saying Goodbye to a Ballet

Ballets that come and go throughout a dancers career should leave something behind they can cherish

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❞

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Happily dancing as the Sylph in La Sylphide (Photo: Pablo Octávio)

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”

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

Sisters Dancing Through Childhood

From the moment we could walk we chose to dance instead

A few weekends ago I was lucky enough to have my sister visit me for a few days so I thought it was the perfect time for me to introduce her to my story. Having known me for all my life and me being her much-awaited baby sister, and her my exemplary big sister, we are definitely two peas in a pod.

Growing up together Rebecca and I were very happy, busy girls. After school, our evenings were full of many hobbies and activities. You name it we did it. At the age of three, I joined my sister for ballet, tap, and jazz classes every Saturday with Lynn McCheyne. It was actually not something I loved at first, only doing it because my sister did, so we never imagined that chubby little Harriet would become a professional ballerina.

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Continue reading “Sisters Dancing Through Childhood”

Bangkok’s 18th International Festival

As you may have seen on my calendar, the company is heading on a trip. We will be travelling all the way to Bangkok, Thailand for a week and performing the beloved ballet ‘The Nutcracker’ at the Bangkok’s 18th International Festival of Dance and Music. We will be dancing Youri Vámos’s ‘Nutcracker – A Christmas Carol’, a ballet we premiered the first year I joined the company. It was actually the first premier I experienced as a professional dancer back in 2010.

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My first season at Karlsruhe Staatballett 2010 (bottom right: a fallen snowflake). The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol – Youri Vámos (Photo: J. Klenk)

Going on tour with the company is always very exciting. Since joining, I have travelled to Korea, Switzerland and Bangkok, loving my time performing in different places. Dancing somewhere new has such a different feeling to being comfortable at our home theatre. New dressing rooms, training on stage, different backstage crew. But it is a great chance to have fresh experiences and the performances always bring me something new.

As I will only be performing a small role, Frau Cratchit, I will use this chance to work alone and get my foot back to its healthy self. And even though I will be taking a step back I will still be packing all the things a ballerina needs on tour. Continue reading “Bangkok’s 18th International Festival”