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.

IMG_20190811_095443_952
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.

Screenshot_20190817-221122~2
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.

MVIMG_20190807_184118
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.

MVIMG_20190809_203128
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

“Living in a World Such as this is Like Dancing on a Live Volcano.”

An exciting and sudden opportunity came my way, just as I thought a quiet three week rest was what I needed

IMG_20190618_135828
Not often such a calm moment in the ballet world

There is never a dull moment, even during my lazy summer holidays. One week in and finally enjoying some days off with my family in London, looking forward to the next two weeks of summer, a phone call changed all my plans.

❝I had NO pointe shoes❞

Just as we were sitting down for a coffee my phone rang, flashing my previous employer’s name, Birgit Keil. ‘Mum Frau Keil is calling me’. Just seeing her name on my phone suggested something was going on and something was definitely about to happen.

IMG_20190727_232806
Weekend away in London with my family

Upon answering she told me all about the big dilemma she was in regarding a ballet gala in Japan and how desperate she was to find a dancer to replace someone who had suddenly dropped out at the last minute. Hence the call to me – trusty Harriet. Continue reading ““Living in a World Such as this is Like Dancing on a Live Volcano.””

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.

img_2698
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”

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.

Screen Shot 2019-01-18 at 13.58.05
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.

36868_454176020624_8209163_n
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”

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.

IMG_6373

❝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. Continue reading “Goals of the Dancer”

Can’t Keep Those Dancing Feet Still

Dancers literally never stop moving, whether at work or not, our feet find rhythm in silence. But apart from never sitting still, we are constantly trying to move in more ways than the obvious one. The best kind of dancers are forever trying to improve themselves and their work – never wanting their performances to stop developing and because of this, ballets themselves are steadily growing and changing each time they are performed.

13659054_10209995578627412_1965763731251200192_n copy
In ‘Anne Frank’ rehearsal with Andre Shatalin 📷: Admil Kulyer

Ballerinas are often never satisfied, and even though they may look perfect to their adoring audiences, there is always something they will have wanted to be better, even the best of them. But that is what makes them the best.

❝I am always hoping to do it better than the last time I did it❞

Continue reading “Can’t Keep Those Dancing Feet Still”

A Week at the Ballet

One week. Thirty-three dancers. Five productions. Here we go.

Ballet Week has arrived.

One of the hardest weeks of the season is upon us – Ballet Week, and there is no turning back now so we might as well go for it full force. During this time the company will perform every evening of the week a different ballet from this seasons repertoire, finishing with a ballet gala on the final night.

IMG_5618
Celebrations after a past Gala evening

It is always a tough week for the dancers but often a very rewarding one, especially once we have survived it. We have rehearsals in the mornings preparing for the next show or Gala pieces followed by a break in the afternoon to rest before that evenings show. It is a time we are pushed to our limits both physically and mentally. Throughout the week, we must judge when to push our bodies and when to hold back, in order to be fit enough to last another show. The change of styles and choreographies each day can be difficult, and to set the mind up for a new atmosphere and emotions every morning is challenging, not to mention finding the will to get out of bed after another late, energy filled night. Continue reading “A Week at the Ballet”

That Premiere Feeling

Ever wondered how dancers feel on an opening night of a production? Well you are about to find out…

Opening nights are always full of excitement for both the performers and audience, with a mixture of emotions flying through the theatre. When that curtain goes up the stage is filled with the productions highs or lows but today I wanted to share with you the emotions we dancers feel once the curtain comes down. The ones the audience never see.

IMG_6438
The whole company & choreographer after the successful premiere of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

A few weeks ago Staatsballett Karlsruhe had our third premiere of the season performing the colourful creation from Youri Vámos, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. With this piece being pure entertainment (not only for the public) it was another premiere I will remember always. Continue reading “That Premiere Feeling”

“For Never Was a Story of More Woe Than this of Juliet and Her Romeo.”

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.

IMG_6074
During rehearsal time, the Balcony pas de deux

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.

Continue reading ““For Never Was a Story of More Woe Than this of Juliet and Her Romeo.””