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

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

Sharing My Stories with Terry Hyde

Terry Hyde first contacted me after noticing my Twitter page and all my posts on dance and being a professional ballerina. He then told me about his past career in dance and what he does now to support dancers and their mental health.

https://counsellingforperformers.com/

He asked if I would like to be a part of his blog and write a guest article sharing some of my experiences in the dance world up until now and particularly a difficult time I went through when it was hard to keep going.

It didn’t take me long to decide which issue I would write about, especially as Terry mentioned aiming the thoughts to dance students, and now we have finally got the article up and running. I talk about losing all my confidence at school and finding happiness in other places outside of dance. Here is a link to the article.

 ”My weight was a problem for the ballet school but not for me”

Harriet Mills, Principal with Staatdballet Karlsruhe, talks about how she survived the toxic regime and weight issues during her ballet training

https://counsellingforperformers.com/weight-problem-at-ballet-school/

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Whilst you’re there have a read and look around on Terry’s website. The issues he is confronting are very difficult and dancers, like everyone, need as much support throughout their schooling, careers and post-careers and I thank Terry for letting me be a part of it.

With love,

Harriet

Dancing with Your Heart on Your Sleeve

Keeping dancers’ emotions in check and learning to handle feelings in and outside the studio to improve as a dancer, artist and person

I often hear artists being portrayed as very emotional people but I ask myself if we are actually more exaggerated and eccentric when it comes to feelings than the average person? Yes, we care a lot about what we do for a living and we are asked daily to bring all sorts of emotions to the surface, but I wouldn’t say we are more sensitive than non-dancers, it just depends on the person and their own personality. I think we are all emotional when we want to be.

❝I can also bring my own feelings and experiences onto the stage with me to help develop a character❞

Dance is a way of expressing emotion so I think it’s quite normal if once in a while we subconsciously, or maybe even consciously, take those feelings out of the studio and into our daily lives, and vice versa. As for me, I love to get emotional and really into a role. The stage is a place where I am put into many different situations I wouldn’t encounter in my normal life and I can also bring my own experiences onto the stage with me to help develop a character.

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Performing as Anne Frank in the most emotional scene I have ever been a part of in Reginaldo Oliveira’s ‘Anne Frank’ with Pablo Octávio as Kitty (Photo: Jochen Klenk)

Continue reading “Dancing with Your Heart on Your Sleeve”

What Do You Think Of When I Say Ballerina?

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Performing The Sylph in La Sylphide (Photo: Pablo Octavio)

Tutus… Tippy toes… Elegance… Beauty… Princess… Skinny… Athlete… Flexibility… Strength…

I am sure all of the above come to mind, and it is true, we ballerinas can be all those things, (I try to convince myself I am a princess every day) but in this post, I want to focus on the ballerina and her flexibility.

Flexibility is a very useful and often needed attribute of a dancer but I would not say it is always the most important. Yes, some days, if not all, I would give my right arm to be more flexible but as I have gotten older and (hopefully) wiser, not only have I decided my right arm is a part of me I would not want to lose, I have also come to realise I can be ok the way I am.

 

Continue reading “What Do You Think Of When I Say Ballerina?”

Making the Comeback After a Setback

My Injury Part 11

As a follow up to my post ‘Sticks & Stones May Break My Bones but Dancing Does Too’, where I wrote about how my stress fracture came about and dealing with returning to work, I wanted to share my ongoing experience with the physical side of the recovery to help anyone else who is struggling coming back from an injury.

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My routine of exercises to strengthen my foot

I have to say it has not been easy, as I am sure no injuries are, and it took much longer than I first expected for me feel like I am dancing as I did before the injury last May. Originally I came back feeling good, thinking I had done everything needed to have a fully healed foot but since then numerous problems and pains have bothered me, with days where my foot still doesn’t feel ‘right’, even after a year.

Continue reading “Making the Comeback After a Setback”

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”

Today is a Good Dancing Day

Thought I would let you guys know I managed to advance further in training this morning so feeling good about that. So good in fact, I treated myself to a new leotard. Feeling positive and pretty in pink.

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May this feeling continue and fingers crossed it is onwards and upwards from here. Have a good weekend.

With love,

Harriet

Sticks & Stones May Break My Bones, but Dancing Does Too.

My Injury Part 1

I have so much to share with you about my injury and the journey it took me on, that I decided to dedicate a few posts to it. It was a significant time for me where I learnt a lot and hopefully, by sharing my experience I can help other dancers, athletes or anyone see what one can get out of a bad situation. Enjoy.

Last weekend I sadly missed the first performance of our season due to pain appearing where I was previously injured. I was very disappointed to find out I needed a weeks rest after only being back two weeks from summer. The workload having gone from nil to intense was just too much for my foot.img_3686

My injury occurred last season in May. I was having pain in my right foot for a while, with it feeling tight and ‘crampy’ most days. After a sudden change of cast I had to dance Taming of the Shrew with only a few days notice and from the increased work my foot started reacting to it. I saw our Physiotherapist to try  release it, but the pain kept returning. I was told to take care and rest when I can.

It is always hard to hear these words. As dancers, I believe we have a very high pain tolerance, and when told to take it easy I always find it hard to step back. I love to do class each morning, and even on the days I don’t think I can manage I push and try to finish, which is not necessarily the right thing to do.

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Morning ballet training

Continue reading “Sticks & Stones May Break My Bones, but Dancing Does Too.”