Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The Miracle that's wrought by tickling the Ivories of the Old Joanna

Igor Zapravadin.                          Standard YouTube Licence

Because last week's class at KNT was so good (see "So what was so great about it exactly?" 20 Jan 2016) I feared tonight's would be something of an anticlimax. In fact it was even better and one of the reasons why it was even better is that we had a pianist. There are some lovely recordings for ballet classes on the market but there is nothing like a live pianist especially when he or she plays something from a well loved ballet. I remember being transfixed by strains of Mendelssohn's Dream from the next door studio at Quarry Hill and fighting back tears as memories of Sibley and Dowell flooded back.

Although we have pianists for most of our classes at Northern Ballet we are taught to honour them. We curtsy to them in the reverence. One instructor, Elizabeth Rae, taught us to curtsy with our hands over our hearts. "You've always got to show respect to the maestro" she explained. A classmate who had studied at one of the best schools in London corroborated her. "They have real power" she warned. She told me a story about a pianist from her student days,
"If you got on the right side of the pianist he would play 'I feel pretty' for your turn. If you upset him he would serve up 'Nellie the Elephant'". 
Consequently I always make a point of thanking the pianist as well as the instructor though I would probably do that anyway.

The other reason why tonight was so good is that we had our rehearsal on the stage of the auditorium in which we are performing. What a stage it is!  I thought the Stanley and Audrey was big but The Dancehouse's is even bigger. When the house lights are up and you peer into the seating are it looks and feels cavernous.

Our rehearsal did not get off to a good start but Karen coached us patiently. We performed it in the studio a couple of times. Then Karen led us onto the stage. The first run through needed some adjustment particularly with the last movement but we practised it a couple of times before Karen called it a day.

I didn't go home immediately because some of the members of our class were in the pointe class and several of us wanted to watch them. I was quite impressed but Karen saw room for improvement. She drilled them as she had drilled us and the second time through they were even more polished.
"You must think I'm terrible" muttered Karen as she dashed past.
"Not at all" I replied. "Mark had told me you had high standards and expected nothing less than the best." 
That was true by the way. Vlad the Lad, his mum and dad, Gita and I collared my teacher Mark Hundle at the stage door of the Empire after he had danced two shows in Dick Whittington on Boxing Day and wanted nothing more than to get on with his Christmas (see a Liverpudlian Whittington 27 Dec 2015). It was Mark. incidentally, who encouraged me to dance in this show and for that I am very grateful. In that suggestion he was backed up by Mel who once saw me dance (see Mel Wong The Dance DID go on - Northern Ballet Academy Show 2014 29 June 2014).

Today we got our costumes which in my case is a mesh dress over a black leotard. I'd been worried that it might not fit because it is made by Bloch whose idea of extra large seems to me to be an anorexic stick insect. But in fact it does fit and I feel so good in it.  I shall be 67 on the 14 Feb so I am not sure how much longer I can keep dancing. But for the moment I can. And I love every minute of it.

So folks, if you find yourself in Manchester on Saturday night and feel like you need a break from assembling your Billy flat packs or a change from propping up the bar of the Lass o' Gowrie, The Briton's Protection or The Old Monkey you could do a lot worse than come to the Danchouse at 19:30  and watch us Move It.  All that entertainment for a fiver. You won't get much better value than that.

No comments:

Post a Comment