Archives For ballet

Cracking Inspiration

January 13, 2019 — 41 Comments

From a young age, I have many happy and vivid memories of performing in front of audiences. I was always thrilled to know that I could tell a story through dance, music, singing, acting, or speaking to a group of people, both large and small. I felt lucky that for every performance a selection of the audience would always be my supportive family but it was always special when a stranger came up to me and commented on my performance, especially if I had a small role and they noticed my constant focus and smile. This is why on Monday I attended the LSSO (London Schools Symphony Orchestra) New Year Concert at the Barbican. The young orchestra is a collection of children aged 12-18, who have been selected following an audition process to participate in courses that culminate with a concert. On this occasion, the LSSO performed ‘Death and Transfiguration’ by Strauss. Following which the performers were joined by soprano Rachel Nichols to perform three orchestra songs by Strauss then the Brünnhilde solo’s in ‘Twilight of the Gods’ by Wagner. At the start of a new year, it was energising to watch these players because they bowed, plucked and breathed life into the music with sheer enjoyment and wild enthusiasm. Their playing enthused my practice with risk-taking and the goals of seeking fun. It is always important to remind yourself of these two aspects when making music – especially when constantly focusing on the technical aspects of my singing. I felt lucky to have seen this performance and I’m glad that I went. The LSSO is funded by the FYM ( the Foundation for Young Musicians ) which also funds the Centre for Young Musicians.

Last Friday I bought some ‘Friday Rush’ tickets from the Royal Opera House to attend their performance of the Nutcracker. Even though my ‘seat’ was standing, I was chuffed to have got the ticket as I remember watching several touring ballets as a child with my Mum. We would go for my birthday if the company came to our local hall. I loved the glitter, the extravagant tutus, and the impeccable footwork and I was not disappointed with the ROH’s performance.

The Nutcracker

The character Drosselmeyer, entered the children’s home in a vivid blue cape with gold decoration and a splash of glitter, each time he entered he would clap his hands together creating an explosion of glitter creating a golden cloud on the stage. It was so magical, the first time there was a mutual gasp of enjoyment from the audience! I loved it and now I want to enter every room with a glitter cloud! Although hoovering it up afterward could become a chore, haha. Every dancer jumped with elegance and occasionally humour across the stage. Each arm gesture flowed from shoulder to fingertip – inspiring my practice for musical phrasing. I wanted to imagine that the air danced away from my mouth like a Ballerina’s gesture and arm line. The King and Queen of Sweetie land had exquisite onstage chemistry; their movements were so in sync and slick you that they seemed conjoined!

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I took so much personal enjoyment from the performance and many new ideas for my own work. It just shows you that sometimes looking at other genres and work can help inspire you and lift you forwards closer to your goals.

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Be Happy, Be Yourself

September 27, 2015 — 71 Comments

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The introductory week for the new term was a great taster for what lies ahead for me and over the coming months I can’t wait to share it with you. One of the reasons that I chose to study here at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is that they allow you to follow your own creative pathway.  Dance and music have always been so closely intertwined in my life, though opera is my true passion I was delighted that as part of my final year I got the opportunity to audition for an own choice module which if I was accepted would enable me to take RAD advanced 1 ballet classes.

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I always found that dance was a great way to keep fit and it really helped me with my movement when on stage.  It was fantastic fun to get back to practising, with my tights and leotard on. (Even though in the travel from the changing room to class I kinda wanted a pair of gym shorts).

In the audition we had to wear pinned numbers so that the three teacher panel could make notes on our technique and abilities. It has been over three years since I last participated in regular ballet classes so the audition was quite nerve racking.  As we went through each element in turn it reminded me of Latin and Ballroom dance exams that my brothers and I took part in when we younger.

When the audition was finally over you could tell that it had been a while since my last regular lessons, exercises that I used to do so easily had really taken their toll but inside I felt fabulous.

I’m really excited to tell you that I have been accepted and I will participate in my first class on Monday 28th September. Ballet has many attributes, optimum fitness, deportment, core strength and stamina all of which I can apply to my own performances on stage.

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I can’t wait to get back into my ballet, it really is a joy and a challenge, but one that I know will complement the work that I do in movement classes.  You know me I will give 100% and work hard to try keep up with the ballerinas, (but perhaps not with my legs so high!), they are all lovely and very friendly so I’m looking forward to the classroom atmosphere.

And all that Jazz

September 29, 2013 — 41 Comments

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This evening I received a fabulous surprise, tickets for the Scottish Ballet productions of “The Rite Of Spring” and “Elite Syncopations” which were being performed at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow.  I was so excited, having spent the day getting ready for the first day of college on Monday and rehearsing for my concerts next weekend this was a wonderful way to end the evening.

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The choreographer, Hampson, opened the show with a talk to the audience. Telling us how he adjudicated for the ballet competition at RCS (the final is tomorrow), I loved this interaction.

The set had the appearance of a large white skateboard rink with white slopping walls that increased the performance area for the dancers.  This gave the choreographer the ability to interact with the walls as an extension of the floor area, running up and down the walls, sliding, falling, climbing and looking over the top.  One beautiful moment was when Faith slid down the wall assisted by the two male dancers which gave the impression that she was a flying angel.

The props were simply a stool and cup in one section and the dancing so powerful and aggressive that the stool broke, brilliant partner work, very fluid! Dramatic facial expressions, the younger brother held the audience alone as the other cast changed, his breathing strong to show he was afraid. There was magnificent music association – thumping shoulders with drums, brutal attacks matching the climatic crotchets of sound.  Followed by fragmented music, like hearing through a broken mirror, a distorted mixture of beauty and pain.  I could write so much more but it would make an overly long post, I really must learn to express myself more concisely 😉

In the final act where the younger brother was desperate to escape but couldn’t due to the walls that surrounded him, at each attempt to climb the walls he would fail and fall back down to the surface of the stage very dramatic, fabulous movement. The young brother danced himself to death drawing a parallel to the original production where the girl being sacrificed danced till death.

At the end of the performance, as though on a precipice, the female dancer climbs the central wall and then poised and confident she falls backward……a leap of faith…breath-taking!

Here is what the Scottish Ballet said of the dance :

Choreography: Christopher Hampson Music: Igor Stravinksy  “Intense and visceral, Christopher Hampson’s The Rite of Spring, created originally for Atlanta Ballet, is presented 100 years after the original production revolutionised the world of dance and music.  Set to Stravinsky’s exhilarating score, performed live by the full Scottish Ballet Orchestra’ who were marvellous tonight.  ‘Hampson uses three dancers – two men and a woman – to reinvent the now infamous story of remorseless human sacrifice with brutal physicality and primal energy in this challenging work that examines themes of violence, obedience and domination”

Then came the “Elite Syncopations” with its elegance and glamour.  The costumes were a complete contrast to the minimalist approach of the previous piece.  I would just love to get my hands on them 🙂  The performance left me smiling which is always a good sign.

Here is what the Scottish Ballet said of the performance :

Choreography: Kenneth MacMillan Music: Scott Joplin (and other Ragtime) “In stark contrast Kenneth MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations is an irresistible carnival of colourful characters, psychedelic body-skimming costumes and vibrant ragtime music performed live on stage by a 12-piece band. Inspired by the social dances of the 1920s, MacMillan’s dazzling characterisations are both witty and touching as the dancers flirt, dance and vie with each other for the limelight in this uplifting ballet from one of the most innovative choreographers of the 20th century.”

This was the trailer created for the performances

Sadly this was the last night of this production but if it comes to a venue near to you I would recommend it, even if you don’t normally go to the ballet, it would be a good first experience.

One of the things that is really great about studying in Glasgow is the way that all students can purchase tickets for a wide range of live events, such as the Scottish Ballet at low cost.  I made time on Friday to listen to a fabulous lunch time concert given by three time Grammy award winning saxophonist, Tony award nominee the NEA Jazz Master – Branford Marsalis at the RCS as part of their “Fridays at One” concert programme.  This is the 25th anniversary year of these lunch time concerts and it was great way to start them off.  Marsalis created an intensely intimate atmosphere in the concert hall as he played to a full house.  This was a wonderful introduction to Jazz for me and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone that wants to sample this exciting genre of music.

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The lighting really set the atmosphere for the concert

One last thing to finish on 🙂  the other treat that Fresher’s week exposes you to are “Shop Lock Ins”  I tried to be good but ended up inside Lipsy and had to buy this red lounge top and bottoms.  But what do you know I entered their competition and actually won a £ 50.00 voucher, so I might go back for the turquoise one.  I wore it to the Jazz concert 😉

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Don’t you just LOVE the colour.