In Realizing a Dream 12 Sept 2013 I described my first ballet class with Northern Ballet Academy. It was a very special day and one of the reasons why it was special was that we had an excellent pianist. Pianists are special as I explained in The Miracle that's wrought by tickling the Ivories of the Old Joanna 27 Jan 2016.
"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.The pianist at my first ballet class with Northern Ballet Academy was Ms. Alena Panasenka who appears in the YouTube video above. Alena has composed the short work that you can hear in the film called Truth. She has entered Truth in a competition to win a Clavinova digital piano. Now there are some lovely pieces in this competition and I wish I could vote for all of them but my favourite by a country mile is Truth. If you agree with me you can vote for that work here.
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 ballet 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."
I wish all the competitors well in their musical careers and an in particular, our wonderful pianist, Alena Panasenka.