Friday, 5 January 2018

Class Review - Hype Dance Company Revisited

Hype Dance Company, Beginners' Ballet, Instructor Anna Olejnicki, 4 Jan 2017, 18:30 - 19:30

I used to go to Hype a lot when Fiona Noonan taught there (see More than just Hype - Beginners and Improvers Classes in Sheffield 14 May 2014). Fiona taught the beginners and improvers classes while Emily Talks was on maternity leave.  After Emily returned to work I attended one of her classes which I enjoyed very much (see A Different Kind of Ballet Class - Emily Talks at Hype 28 July 2015).  Sadly for me Emily moved to Sydney. Shortly afterwards, I attended a couple of vacation classes in Leeds and an intensive workshop on Swan Lake with Jane Tucker in Manchester. Although Jane's classes are far from easy I like the way she teaches and I attend her classes whenever I can.

Northern Ballet are on vacation this week and my neighbour and contributor, Amelia Sierevogel, wanted to get a class in before Hannah Bateman's Ballet Retreat which starts tomorrowI asked Karen Sant whether there was anything in Manchester but learned that classes at KNT begin on the 8 Jan 2018. Amelia was resigned to pliés on YouTube until I received an email from Hype advertising a half price sale. As I also fancied a class I passed the information onto Amelia and we decided to give it a go.

Hype has moved since I was last there. They used to be near the Chinese quarter not far from the Moor. They are now at 60 Upper Allen Street  which is not far from Paradise Street where the Sheffield bar and most local solicitors are to be found.  I used to have a door tenancy in one of the sets there some 30 years ago.  Even though it has moved from the Chinese area, Hype now shares a building with a Chinese restaurant and it looked quite a good one from the outside. There is plenty of street parking and  I was assured that the traffic wardens are a lot less bothersome.

The new premises are something of an improvement on the old place.   There is a comfortable space to change with a chair and the studios look more like studios than corridors.  The loo does not look like a museum exhibit.  Alex was still there and I recognized at least one of the students from Fiona and Emily's classes.  There are even hooks for clothes and dance bags in the studio.  A nice surprise was that we were admitted for £3 instead of the usual £6.   Part of the January sale.

Our class was taken by Anna Olejnicki and I should say that there were about 12 of us in her class.  All of us were female and the others were considerably younger than me.  One student was completely new to ballet but most seemed to have done some.  All seemed to have a much better idea of what they were supposed to be doing than I did.  We started with some floor exercises. In one we split into teams one student lying face down on the floor trying to push up with the team member other encouraging her.  Karen does something similar in Manchester except she makes us hold our partners' feet and legs to the floor.  Anna gave us a lot of tips such as stand more on your toes than your heels.  She also had quite a store of jokes and anecdotes.

Barre started deceptively easily. Only demis in first and second.  We followed with tendus and ronds de jambe and then the fun started.  Still in teams of 2 we lifted each other's leg until it was quite high and then dropped the support while we struggled to maintain the position.  Not exactly a penché but quite taxing on my poor old bones and muscles.  It soon became clear that this class was not going to be a cake walk. Two particular exercises nearly knackered me.

One started as a glissade but we had to jump high enough so that the feet would connect while still in the air.  I have no idea what that is called but Amelia thought it was some sort of gallop.  We had to do these several tomes as we crossed the studio and then repeat it on the other foot.  Even Amelia exclaimed that it was horrible.

The other exercise that nearly did for me was to perform 4 sautés and then hop 4 times on one leg repeating the exercise on the other leg and then alternately.  The other students were alright but I was terrible.  Karen's exercise of making us stand on demi for several seconds after jumping is bad enough but that was worse.

However, I did get one thing right. I really love my ballet and can't believe my luck that I am still dancing at age 69. So I can't stop smiling. "What's your name?" asked Anna.  After I told her she replied "You were the only one who gave me a smile." I remember that Sir Peter Wright once said something very similar to Ruth Brill and that she dined out on it for ages.

As we had only 60 minutes class was over far too soon. "I'm very old school" said Anna "and I expect a proper curtsy in the reverence."  We all did our best to give her one.   Anna is a very good teacher and I warmed to her a lot.  I would love to attend her class regularly.  Alas, time can't be spent twice and I already spend quite enough tome on the M62 commuting to Jane's class in Leeds and Karen's in Manchester.  I leaned quite a few useful things from her yesterday.  It was a very good start to be New Year,

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