My Unforgettable Debut as Giselle

Finally I am sharing my wonderful time returning to The Hammond School to be a part of their 100 year anniversary production of Giselle

You may all know from my post ‘A Chance to Return to The Hammond School’, that during May I spent a week in England at my childhood dance school, The Hammond, as I had been invited to take part in the school’s 100-year anniversary production of Sir Peter Wright’s ‘Giselle’. My years as a student there were so wonderful I couldn’t wait to return to where it all began. And of course, it was even more memorable than I could have imagined.

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First day back at school with Flavio (in my original Hammond uniform)

Arriving to the school, I had butterflies in my stomach. It was so strange to be back. How the school has changed in ten years I have been away, with its own in-house theatre and brand new studios replacing the portacabins I danced in. However, once my dance colleague, Flavio Salamanka and I found our way into the theatre and spotted my old ballet teacher, Miss Jane Elliott, working with her pupils, the familiar, friendly atmosphere I remembered was still ‘in the air’. Being introducted to her pupils as ‘my Harriet’, Jane had me feeling like I never left.

After a warm welcome, we got straight to work with the students; throughout the week I really enjoyed dancing with everyone, and getting to know them individually.  Flavio & I were able to help some students with their solos and roles, and I offered the same advice to the Corps de Ballet that I had been given, years before. I think they really appreciated us helping and seemed eager to hear any tips we could share.

II Act rehearsal of Giselle

Not only did I get to meet the students of the school, but a great part of my week included reuniting with past teachers and matrons, whom I had not seen since leaving.  None of them had changed, and their reaction to my return was so welcoming – who knew teachers could be so nice. Continue reading “My Unforgettable Debut as Giselle”

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”

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

Anne Frank

Telling the Diary of Anne Frank Through Dance

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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.

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Family & friends celebrating Anne’s Birthday while her father & Miep discuss plans to go into hiding (Photo: Jochen Klenk)

I have the honour of taking on the role of Edith Frank, Anne’s mother. A modest, distant woman, but an excellent mother, who went to any lengths for her children. With Anne however, their relationship was quite complicated affecting Edith more than Anne.

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Tense moments between the families during their time hiding in the Annex (Photo: Jochen Klenk. Rafaelle Queiroz, Andrey Shatalin, Harriet Mills, Bruna Andrade, Blythe Newman, Ed Louzardo)

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.

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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.

 

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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”

Bringing Misia to the Stage

Today the new season officially starts with our first performance back on our big beautiful stage. The company will perform Das Kleine Schwarze/The Roit of Spring, a modern ballet by Terence Kohler portraying the lives and relationship of Coco Chanel and Igor Strawinsky. It is always great to return to stage and there is always such a good energy in the theatre.

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All the girls in Das Kleine Schwarze/The Rite of Spring (photo: Jochen Klenk)

Unfortunately this year I will not be part of this excitement due to an injury (post coming soon on this), which I am very sad about. Who wants to be off before it has even started? But I am realising, one must not dwell on things they can not change and in order to be part of the excitement I decided to share with you my wonderful experience of creating this production instead.

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Best friends Coco & Misia

Last season, when the piece premiered I got the chance to work with Terence in creating the role of Misia Sert, Coco Chanel’s best friend. And oh how I loved becoming this lady. She was confident and sassy, and a socialite among the upper class. Her relationship with Coco was very passionate: insinuated by similar interests, a lethal wit, and drug usage. There was almost rivalry between the two and without Misia introducing Coco to the world of art and beauty, she would not have become the icon she did. Misia often gave Coco ideas for her production in fashion and perfume, telling Coco that fashion changes but perfume is forever: introducing Chanel No. 5. Continue reading “Bringing Misia to the Stage”

Another Fest in October – O’danced is!

And what a nice Theaterfest is was… For that reason, I would like to share some impressions of a marvelous day with you.

Already on arrival people were in a festive mood and once again I was surprised how many people who came to the theatre that day.

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We had a fun and successful open ballet training and rehearsal of La Sylphide with Peter Schaufuss.

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Continue reading “Another Fest in October – O’danced is!”

Theaterfest

Today we are dancing into the weekend with our annual ‘Theaterfest’. A day where the theatre comes to life and welcomes everybody back after the summer break. There is always yummy food and drinks outside in the sun and short presentations shown on stage from the ballet, opera and drama department to entice the guests into what is to come in the new season.

I always have so much fun on this day because we have the chance to see friends in the theatre and mingle with the guests who support us throughout the year. The atmosphere in the theatre is great.

On top of that we get to show our fans a ballet class on stage and then present a rehearsal or a snippet from the premier piece we have been working on, which is a good chance for them to see what goes on backstage.

With a performance in the evening it is a great way to start the season off with positive vibes and smiles from the guests and employees of the Staatstheater.

http://www.staatstheater.karlsruhe.de/programm/info/2376/

Have a lovely weekend!

With love,

Harriet