Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Elizabeth Rae

This morning our Over 55 class at Northern Ballet Academy was taught by Elizabeth Rae. As you can see from her biography on Northern Ballet's website she has enjoyed a glittering career as a dancer, teacher, choreographer and author. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be taught by her.

We have two classes on Tuesday: an hour of barre and exercises in the centre and then an extra 30 minutes for those of us who want to improve (or in my case learn) pirouettes and jumps.  It was quite challenging for all of us and particularly for me but Elizabeth gave us lots of useful tips and information which she delivered with considerable wit. For instance, always keep your little finger in view when doing grands pliés because you keep your back straight and transfer your weight to the ball of your foot and not the heel when doing turns.  Although I have been trying my best for ages I still can't do pirouettes properly and I get really frustrated with them but Elizabeth's exercises really helped. She taught us to do tours lents in retiré and while I was a long way from  getting it right I was a closer to getting it right than ever before.

After class we gathered round to thank her for her teaching and in a short conversation that followed she spoke to us briefly about her career.  She danced many important roles with Frankfurt Ballet and there is a lovely picture of her with Richard Sykes of that company on her Northern Ballet web page.  I googled her and found that she danced as Lisa Rae when she was on the stage and I found lots of other beautiful images of her.

One of the reasons I take as many ballet classes as I can is the precious interaction between teacher and student which you can see in the clips from Moscow and San Francisco (see "Adult Ballet in Moscow and San Francisco - could have been Leeds or Manchester" 2 Oct 2014). I have heard great dancers from the past such as Antoinette Sibley talk fondly about their teachers (see Le jour de gloire est arrive - Dame Antoinette Sibley with Clement Crisp at the Royal Ballet School 3 Feb 2014 and modern ballerinas like Lauren Cuthbertson and Elena Glurdjidze talk in the same way about theirs.  I will never be a ballerina but I can at least experience that aspect of their lives.

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