Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Hendrick's Class at Danceworks

Hendrick January

Well over a year ago Lesley Osman of Danceworks invited me to review one of her classes. I had intended to accept her offer much sooner but I don't get to London all that often and when I do it is nearly always for work. Last Saturday I decided to treat myself to a matinee at Covent Garden (see The Royal Ballet's Double Bill 18 Jan 2016) and Hannah Frost's beginners' class at 16:30 at Danceworks.

Between Rhapsody and the Two Pigeons I received the following email from Cherise Collings the reception manager at Danceworks:
"Hi Jane,

Hope all is well.
To update - unfortunately Hannah Frost will not be teaching her class today, she will have cover .
Hendrick January. He is a very good teacher and Hannah consistently has Hendrick cover for her when she is away.
Sorry for the late update - we only found out a bit earlier today that Hannah could not teach.
Best and look forward to seeing you.

Cherise Collings"
The double bill at Covent Garden ended just after 15:00. There was, of course, lots of clapping and cheering which is very much part of the show and I exited the theatre just after half past. I walked to Holborn and took the Central Line to Bond Street dropping into Boots to procure some water and bun pins on the way.

The moment I arrived at Danceworks's studios at Balderton Street I was feted like a ballerina. Cherise introduced herself to me and gave me a guest pass. She showed me the studio where the class was to take place and directed me to the changing room. The facilities while Spartan were more than adequate. There were showers, loos and mirrors and enough space to change in privacy.

I presented myself to Henderick who remembered meeting me at one of Ballet Black's performances. There were about 27 names on Hendrick's register - about half a dozen men and the rest women.  There was at least one gentleman who seemed to be about my age and several ladies who seemed to be not far short. The rest were of various ages and levels of experience.

Hendrick introduced himself and promised a "gentle class". I would not describe it as easy but it was well within every student's capability. Hendrick started with pliés in each of the positions but he kept us alert by making us rise or do a port de bras after every movement. He kept us on our toes with tendus incorporating a rond de jambe and weight transfer into the exercise.  It was much the same with the other exercises until we had completed the usual canon.

Hendrick has an eye for detail and he made many corrections. In my case my arm was drooping in second and he had to remind me twice before I got it right. Ports de bras seem to be one of his strengths because he drilled us through each of the arm positions a couple of times before he was satisfied with us.  One tip that I learned from him was to retain the curvature of the arms when coming out of 5th.

He gave us a couple of great centre exercises. I particularly enjoyed the last one which started with a tombé, pas de bourré, pirouette, balancé and ending with a jeté.  He allowed a little time for pirouettes and jumps - sautés and échappés - an echainement where we combined everything we had learned and then - far too soon - the reverence.

Hendrick packed a lot into the 90 minutes so there was not much time for cool down but we were allowed time to stretch and I carried out the exercises that Annemarie and Jane had taught me in Leeds. It was a good class and it ended a great day of dance after a virtually dance free week.

After the class I thanked Hendrick for the lesson.  He recommended my taking Hannah's class which I certainly hope to do but I would also like to take his class again for, as Cherise said, Hendrick is a very good teacher.

He is of course just one of several. Lesley reminded me of some of the others:  Roberta Marquez, Zdenek Konvalisa and Antonia Franceschi as well as Leanne Benjamin teaching a series of repertoire classes from February and Michaela DePrince in July.  I will mention them again nearer the time.

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