Tuesday, 9 May 2017

KNT's Le Corsaire: "It wasn’t called an intensive for nothing"

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KNT Beginners' Ballet Le Corsaire Intensive  Dancehouse Manchsester, 15 April 2017

Wendy McDermott

The workshop at KNT always seems popular and this one day workshop, taught by Jane Tucker, was certainly that. There were around 25 dancers all ready to learn some of the choreography of Le Corsaire. We poured into the Dancehouse Theatre building at around 9.40 am, the majority of us made a beeline for the changing rooms (a.k.a the toilets) and into the studio for 10 am to begin a 30min stretch and warm up followed by a quick break, after which our 90 min ballet class started at the barre.

Now the trouble with writing about class some three weeks after it has passed, is a little unfortunate as I’m struggling to remember the finer points, but what I do recall is that when we moved into centre we paid particular attention to pirouettes, both en dehors and en dedans, which gave us an inkling of what lay ahead for the repertoire classes in the afternoon. After another short break, we began learning Act II’s pas de deux, the male solo part probably made famous by Nureyev (though I must say, after watching other solos of the same I enjoyed Baryshnikov just as much, if not a tad more). Starting downstage left, a keen ear was needed to pick up the count to move into our three grand pas de chat, each one followed by attitude derriere on demi pointe and finishing downstage centre into pirouettes en dehors right and left, balancé de côté, one more pirouette then a pose, which is best described as Usain Bolt’s signature. Finally a step, glissade jeté* (I think!) around the studio with chaînés and final pose to finish. Phew! Just about the majority of this we all worked very hard to learn before our well earned hour long lunch break.

It wasn’t called an intensive for nothing, as the afternoon continued in earnest and for the remainder of the afternoon we were taught two sections of Act III’s pas de trois (pas des odalisques). From glissade assemble, attitude devant derriere, pirouettes from fourth position, and ‘lame ducks’, to temps levé in arabesques and all the other steps in between. As beginners, we may not get the leg height of some or turnout be as strong but we all danced our hearts out that afternoon, and came away feeling invigorated. What’s more, all our hard work was filmed for our final performance which can be viewed above.

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