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Earlier this month a dozen adult ballet students at KNT Danceworks in Manchester took part in a three-day workshop on La Bayadère. We did a little show at the end which you can see in La Bayadere Intensive Day 3: No Snakes 17 Aug 2016. While I don't think I would be wise to give up the day job just yet I enjoyed the workshop enormously.
I think the main benefit of the workshop will be the insight into the ballet that I have gained from attempting the shades and golden idol dances. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen Swan Lake in Covent Garden and other theatres around the world over the last 55 years or so but I learned so much more about the ballet from Jane Tucker in her three day intensive last year that I did in a lifetime of watching performances of it from the stalls or reading about it in the books.
The next opportunity for most of us in the UK to see La Bayadère will be the Dutch National Ballet's production in Amsterdam between 8 Oct and 13 Nov 2016. That is Makarova's version which must be similar to the one she did for the Royal Ballet that was last performed in 2013. We in Team Terpsichore have already got our tickets. We are flying out from Ringway on 12 Nov and returning in the evening of the 13. We shall see the matinee on the 13. If Floor, Cristiano, Emilie, Thomas, Giovanni or any of our other Facebook friends will be in that show do let us know.
As there are still plenty of tickets for the matinee it would be super duper if some of our classmates could meet us in Amsterdam. The above video shows two of the dances we learned in Manchester, namely the golden idol and the entry into the kingdom of the shades. It would be a wonderful opportunity to see the experts do those dances properly.
We could also perhaps make a side trip to the Hague to see our dear teacher, Mark Hindle, lead the gazelles in the Lion King at the AFAS Circustheater. The only problem is that the ticket prices for this musical which has been running in London since Adam was a boy start at 29 euro and go up to 100 euro. That is far more than the cost of the equivalent seats in the Stopera to see one of the greatest ballet companies in the world with some of its biggest stars and a full orchestra. And that is for a show in the Hague - not Amsterdam. However, it may be possible to negotiate a discount if we could organize a party.
Whether or not we get to see Mark on this occasion the ballet is a must. If you have not seen the Dutch National Ballet it is very like our own English National Ballet. It has many connections with this country. One of its leading ballerinas, Igone de Jongh trained in London. Its magnificent choreographer and artistic co-ordinator of the Junior Company, Ernst Meinser, danced with the Royal Ballet for many years and is one of out own (see Meet Ernst Meisner and his talented young dancers 6 Dec 2014). Matthew Rowe, the company's musical director and principal conductor, comes from London. Indeed, he may even have attended my old secondary school for there is a tantalizingly oblique reference to him in the latest issue of our alumnus magazine.
The company performs in the Stopera which is a lovely theatre. I was lucky enough to be given a tour of the building on my last visit to Amsterdam (see Double Dutch Delights 17 Feb 2016). It is one of the most modern auditoriums in the world with a good view of the stage from every seat. There is a terrace on every floor which overlooks the square and canal below. There is no better way of spending an interval than standing on the terrace and reflecting on the show.
Amsterdam has become a little more expensive for us since the recent fish dive of the pound after the referendum but it is still cheaper than London. There are lots of reasonably priced restaurants offering a wide range of national cuisines. My favourite is rijjsttafel which comes from Indonesia, a country that used to be administered by the Netherlands. It seems to be as popular in Amsterdam as curry in Rusholme and for very similar reasons. There are convenient flights from Ringway and Speke by easyJet. Transport around Amsterdam is very easy. Nearly everyone seems to speak at least some English and Dutch is the closest relation to our language.
I admire the Dutch National Ballet very much for many reasons not least of which is the opportunity that the Junior Company gives to outstanding young dancers from many parts of the world. There is a Friends' scheme of which I am a member. If you come with me to Amsterdam and fall in love with these beautiful artists as most do, I do hope you will consider joining it.