I have been part of the Landestheater Salzburg for almost two months now and am definitely on my way to feeling settled. The new routine is becoming my norm but still fresh enough to be interesting, and the people that now fill my days are all making life enjoyable and welcoming.
I feel cosy in my cute little apartment, filled with leftover furniture and comforting photos of friends and family. I am adapting to the very different timetable here where we work through rather than having a split working day. We begin at 10am with training followed by morning rehearsals till 14pm, a half-hour lunch break and continue with rehearsals until 5pm. When we start performing it will be a little different, but for now, I am really liking this way of working.
❝This is a big ballet to create so a lot of interesting work is going into this part of the process❞
Before I joined the company I admit I was a little worried about this change as I couldn’t imagine not having the long afternoon break I have grown comfortable too, but now I really appreciate having the evenings to relax and recover for the next day. Our bodies have so much more time to recuperate and it also gives us the feeling of a ‘normal life’; work is done at 5pm, time to enjoy dinner, meeting friends or an evening at home.Continue reading “Finding My Feet in Salzburg”→
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As the end of our ballet season in Karlsruhe is approaching fast, the time for big changes is also on the horizon, and with this post, I want to share with you the next step I am planning to take in my career and personal life.
This season will actually be my last with the Staatsballett Karlsruhe and I will be eagerly joining the Salzburg Landestheater Ballet Ensemble at the beginning of August. A company I have had my eye on for a while and a place I hope will bring many different and exciting opportunities my way.
❝Karlsruhe Ballet has been my home for nine seasons, giving me more than I ever thought I would have❞
The world is a small place. But the dance world is even smaller. And you wouldn’t believe how international every school or company is around the world. I have had friends from everywhere and there is a huge chance that they know people I have met in school or in other companies. And there is even a bigger chance they are from a different country and are now living in a different country to that due to dance.
In my experience alone – I have shared a room with a Norwegian girl and became friends with a bunch of Australians during my school time. When I started working I joined the company with an American, Israeli and Austrian. I created life long friendships with a Korean, French and a Belgian. I have shared a dressing room with a Spaniard, Czech, and many Japanese girls. I have partnered Brazilians, Chinese, Armenians and Italians. I have worked with teachers and choreographers from too many places to remember and the list goes on of international friends, co-workers and associates I have met because of my chosen profession.
❝We are able to form very close bonds to people we would never have met if it weren’t for dance❞
As the applause subsides and silence falls throughout the auditorium, there’s chance for one last breath in the wings. Then the smile is adjusted and the walk to centre stage begins. The moments before performing a solo can be very nerve-wracking ones. Time is up. It is only you and the music, and all eyes are on you. You can’t practice that pirouette one last time, you can’t work on your stamina anymore. All that work is done. It’s go time.
❝With my confidence hitting rock bottom at times, even stepping on stage was terrifying❞
When I remember back to the very first solo I performed in my first year as a professional dancer all I recall are the nerves. I was part of the Pas de Trois in Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake and my little solo was the biggest thing I had done so far in my career. It was my first chance to dance alone on stage, and it was scary.
During my younger education, I danced plenty of ballet, tap and jazz solos as a schoolgirl as part of our school productions, but back then it was no big deal. Being young and innocent made it all amazing good fun. ‘Bring it on’. But when I joined The Royal Ballet School things changed a lot and nerves grew inside me. There, I was never the ‘chosen one’ and with my confidence hitting rock bottom at times, even stepping on stage was terrifying. Being part of a group was just enough for me to handle. I had little stage experience and wanted to avoid any spotlight as much as I could. Continue reading “Everything is Possible if You’ve Got Enough Nerve”→
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.
Arriving at 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 introduced to her pupils as ‘my Harriet’, Jane had me feeling like I never left. Continue reading “My Unforgettable Debut as Giselle”→
Over the last few weeks my days have been filled with preparations for something I am very honoured to be working towards and can’t believe it has arrived so quickly.
It was back in February when I got an email from an unforgettable teacher I had while training at The Hammond School, the wonderful Mrs Elliott. This delight of a women being someone who took me through my final years at the school,before transferring to the Royal Ballet School, and gave me so much joy in the studio as a student asked if I would return to the school for their 100 Year Anniversary performances to dance the lead role in Peter Wright’s ‘Giselle’.
Being a role I have not yet had the opportunity to dance I was very excited to confirm with my directer, Birgit Keil that it would be possible for me to travel to England in May and take part in the production. It was a little concerning that I would have to learn the whole ballet on top of the usual work schedule, as it would be something I would do in my free time, but seeing as I was informed early enough I was sure I would manage the work load.
Everybody needs a holiday, and dancers are no different. It is always something we look forward to, and I mean really look forward to. It’s a time when our bodies and minds can take a well-earned break and recuperate. We can let go and relax. We can forget about work, about dance for a week or two. And I have to tell you, it feels good.
It is so important that we give our bodies time to rest. We work them so much and push past pains that could be bothering us for a long time so a mid-season break could be just what we need to recover from our tough timetable. It is also quite refreshing to have some time away from the studio. Being inside the same four walls is not good for anyone, and the studio is a place dancers have to love. It is a place for hard work and creation, and for that to happen we don’t want to be climbing the walls but rather filling the place with our passion. Having time away can remind us how good it can be to come back.
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.
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.
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”→