Author Paata Vardanashvili
Creative Commons Licence
Although I was very gung ho when I booked my place on KNT Danceworks beginners' adult ballet intensive summer school on 4 June my feet were chilling at an alarming rate last night as I contemplated the enormity of what I had committed to. I set out the timetable in "A Swan? Me a Swan? Ah! Go on!" 13 Aug 2015. Three days of warm-up sessions, classes and rehearsals and then a performance on the last day.
"Have you taken complete leave of your senses" asked wise I of frivolous Me. "You are 66 years old, way overweight, badly coordinated and one of the least competent students who ever clutched a barre."Hard to argue with the truth. But I had paid my money. Booked three days off work. Told everybody I was going. Too late to back out now. So I wended my across the Pennines in low spirits feeling much as the condemned must have felt as he was trundled along to Tyburn.
My spirits rose when I actually arrived at The Dancehouse. I was welcomed by Karen with a smile and recognized more than a few familiar faces. We were led upstairs to one of the studios where we met our teacher. I know Jane Tucker from Northern Ballet and think the world of her. She has a wonderful way of coaxing us to carry on even when we can go no further. "Not bad" she exclaims after a shambles of a turn. "How are you doing?" She smiles. "All right?" And so we are.
We started our day with a warm up on our pilates mats. Gentle stretches to soothing music. A few minutes break followed by a 90 minute class. Like all Northern Ballet teachers we started with a walk, then arm stretches, then a run, then a skip facing in. Then a skip facing out. We did the usual barre, port de bras, turns and jumps. We had our first rehearsal just before lunch in which we learned the cygnets' dance. After lunch we learned the Hungarian dance. Finally, we had a very thorough cool down on our mats. "Go and take a hot bath followed by a cold shower" advised Jane "And get a good meal inside you,"
Well, I feel knackered but not nearly as knackered as I had expected to be at the end of the first day. I did follow Jane's advice and while the cold shower was murder I have no more aches and pains than I would expect at the end of any class. I must have seen scores of Swan Lakes over the years but this course has given me an understanding of two dances that I would never have gained otherwise in a month of Sundays.
I am just so glad I came.