Goodbye My Friend

I wanted to show my appreciation for this great person by dedicating this post to him and his work. Including a short interview about him, his past and his future. Flavio Salamanka, you will be missed.

Last Sunday we danced our final performance of the season which is always an exciting evening – another year completed, another year survived. However this year, not only was it a great one, it was also a very sad show for Karlsruhe StaatsBallett, as it was the last ever performance of our Kammertänzer Flavio Salamanka, a dancer who has been with the company since the beginning and who I have had the chance to dance many roles with and learn so much from.

Flavio dancing Petrucchio in Taming of the Shrew (Photo: Jochen Klenk)

We have had the pleasure of watching Flavio in numerous classical leads such as Swan Lake and Nutcracker to the more modern lead roles in A Midsummers Night’s Dream and Rusalka. Flavio has done it all. And he has done us proud. He has been such a big part of the company and many members of the public have followed his career over the 14 years he has danced here. Continue reading “Goodbye My Friend”

Who Knows, This Week May Just Be Your Greatest One Yet

A rollercoaster of a week that ended up fulfilling so many of my dancing dreams

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you think nothing exciting could possibly happen and then you’re catapulted into a string of days filled with mayhem and excitement? Well, a few weeks ago I found myself in a very unexpected situation which turned out to be one of my most treasured experiences as a professional dancer. Honestly, you never know what each week will bring.

IMG_3281 (1).jpg
In rehearsal for my first time dancing Anne Frank

Two weeks before our mid-season break my timetable was quite easy with not too many rehearsals. We had a performance of ‘Anne Frank’ on Sunday so I was preparing for my usual role as Anne’s Mother. However, the girl who was cast for Anne was off sick and as the days ticked by the question was being asked what will happen if she can’t dance.

It was never planned to change the casts in this ballet and therefore the second casts are not prepared. This is obviously quite a risky decision in case situations like this come about – a principal dancer unable to dance, with no one to jump in if required. Unfortunately, the show could not go on and this would be a disappointment not only for the ballet company but especially for the Theatre, and the audience due to attend.

So as Friday came with rehearsals planned, all of us, including the choreographer Reginaldo Oliviera, a dancer in the company, were still uncertain if we would perform. Trying to find a ‘plan B’ Reginaldo quietly approached me and asked if I would be able to learn the role of Anne for Sunday. Without hesitation, I said yes. Of course I said yes. How amazing would it be to dance such an enjoyable yet meaningful role? The yes came from my heart before my head had time to register the insanely short time scale I would have to learn a whole ballet, having not been previously cast for the role at all. That realisation didn’t come till later. Continue reading “Who Knows, This Week May Just Be Your Greatest One Yet”

The Shining Light of the Stage

The spot lights are bright. Be brighter

As a performer, my main goal in life is to shine. Well, that’s what I’m supposed to do. It is what we are all told or tell ourselves whenever we are about to enter the spotlights of the stage. Isn’t it? Be the brightest star.

But actually, it’s not always that easy.

18865261-close-up-of-old-english-dictionary-page-with-word-shine

Doubting thoughts like to creep up on me causing me to question what I am about to do, question what I have worked on for weeks. And even though I should know I am ready for my shining moment I don’t always feel ready. I question if I have rehearsed enough- did I spend enough time in the studio? Nerves build inside me throughout the day of the performance and I am sure I am not alone in experiencing pre-show anxieties. It is these feelings that can dull our light on stage and prevent that bubbly feeling of dancing. Continue reading “The Shining Light of the Stage”

‘Tis the Season to be Dancing

Six years of dancing The Nutcracker and still learning

How is it already the second week of December? My advent calendar is slowly emptying, snow has already fallen, Christmas markets are buzzing like always, and as the days tick towards the 25th (24th here in Germany), the music of the much-loved ballet ‘The Nutcracker’ is filling theatres all over the world and Karlsruhe is no exception. Tis’ the season to be jolly and what better way to get in the festive mood than dressing up as a snowflake and jumping out of giant presents.

We have been dancing Youri Vámos’s ‘The Nutcracker – A Christmas Story’ since the first year I joined the company. The storyline combines the original Nutcracker with Charles Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’. It was actually the first premier I experienced back in 2010. I had just graduated from the Royal Ballet School, and after performing my last Grand Defile with the school and a night celebrating with fellow classmates for the last time, I flew to Karlsruhe to spend a week with the company while they started learning the ballet.

41149_10150242347370442_675313_n
The Royal Ballet Grand Defile in 2010, the day my classmates & I graduated from the Upper School (I am in red, 5th from the front)

Continue reading “‘Tis the Season to be Dancing”

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.

img_2340
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. Continue reading “How a Fairy Gets Her Wings: An Unexpected Chance to Fly”

Perform With Your Heart, Not Your Feet

Deep in my imagination with butterflies in my belly

As a dancer, there are so many perks to my job it is hard not to love it. I am able to do something I am so passionate about that also encourages me to constantly develop and learn. So considering all these positive aspects of a life as a dancer I wouldn’t want to choose the most important, but at the end of the day, the main goal in this profession is to put on a show. Everything I do, from training and rehearsing to eating well and taking care of my body, is all for that. I love many elements of my work but performing has to be the best part of the job.

websizedprozessb_premiere-090
Dancing Fräulein Bürstner in Davide Bombana’s ‘Der Prozess’ (Photo: Admil Kuyler)

Just the fact that after all your hard work there is an audience applauding for you. Who wouldn’t want that? It is truly a great feeling. And for me, it is not the only part that brings me the joy. With every performance I have done, and mainly when dancing principal roles, I marvel at the thought of having taken people to a different world, if only for a couple of hours. From their ordinary lives, they are transported into a place filled with beautiful music and beautiful movement; all the hardship or struggles of life can be forgotten about. And being on stage takes me to that same place with them. This is what makes it so much fun. I can take myself to another world where I really become the character I am dancing. Continue reading “Perform With Your Heart, Not Your Feet”

Anne Frank

Telling the Diary of Anne Frank Through Dance

big46598
Anne Frank  1929-1945

Tonight will be this season’s first performance of our ballet creation ‘Anne Frank‘. And it will be a pleasure to bring it back to life. Since premiering last season, ‘Anne Frank’ has been a great success which means a lot to the company because it was created by one of our very own dancers, Reginaldo Oliveira. I have briefly mentioned this creation before and as I am sure you can tell from the name it is a piece with so much meaning and history.

Originally from Brazil, Oliveira moved to Germany to join Karlsruhe Staatsballett 10 years ago and discovered his talent for choreography while working within the company. He has had the chance to create many pieces with the dancers here but ‘Anne Frank’ was his first full-length ballet.

When I first heard we would be creating the story of this little girl’s diary from the Second World War I was very intrigued. I had a feeling Reginaldo would find a new interesting way to tell such a tragic tale. I have heard similar comments asked by the public, wondering how someone would portray such horrific history with ballet. But after experiencing the ‘holding onto the happiness while heading towards darkness’ opening scenes and the ‘hear a pin drop’ silence during the concentration camp second act, their questions were all answered. Continue reading “Anne Frank”

Ballerinas in Bangkok

We did it! And what a great time we had. After one week in Bangkok, I can honestly say I have made memories to last a lifetime. From performing for special audiences to sharing evenings with influential people, and experiencing it all with friends and colleagues, it has been fantastic.

IMG_2075.jpg
Before a performance, The Nutcracker-A Christmas Carol

After arriving safely and settling into the beautiful Dusit Thani Hotel, we had the day to relax before work started. We spent our free time, usually the early hours of the morning exploring the streets of Bangkok. We hunted through markets, admiring rooftop views, relaxed with massages, munched on enticing street food, dined at upmarket restaurants, and even found a Thai/German Bistro we just had to try. Sharing smiles with friendly and helpful locals and each meal even tastier than the next, we were never disappointed.

 

img_1876
First evening meal at a local restaurant North-West (with Sujung & Larissa)

We performed Youri Vámos’s ‘The Nutcracker – A Christmas Carol’ at the Thailand Cultural Centre, with its large stage and hard working team of technicians, it was great to be back. In this production, there is also a chance for young local dancers to perform with us and I had a great time with a group of bright and polite girls all from Thailand except one from the USA. They all spoke excellent English and wore big smiles all day. The American girl, and her mother, actually knew me through a teacher I had when I was young. The ballet world really is small. The girls were so lovely, and we shared many giggles; I think they had a fun time with us too. Continue reading “Ballerinas in Bangkok”