Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Northern Ballet Restarts its Open Classes

Photographer Mtaylor848 Licence CC BY-SA 4.0  


Northern Ballet Academy Open Classes For All Improvers Class Jane Tucker, 22 Sept 2020 18:45 - 19:45

Not quite the same as usual because the class was 30 minutes shorter and live-streamed over Zoom but at least the Northern Ballet Academy Improvers' Class was together again. Once again we could train with our wonderful teacher, Jane Tucker.  We met on Tuesday rather than out usual Wednesday which will be a problem for me as I usually attend Karen Sant's Pre-Intermediate Class in Manchester on Tuesday evenings. From now on I shall have to alternate between the two.  But it was very good to see in gallery view faces I had not seen since early March.

Jane usually starts our studio class with a walk around the room adding arm exercises, breaking into a trot, changing direction, skipping facing in and then skipping facing out, and finally jumping Jacks and stretches. None of that was possible in our kitchens or living rooms but we still managed running on the spot and other exercises.  The tendus facing the barre (in my case a high backed kitchen chair), pliés, tendus, glissés, ronds de jambe, fondus, développés, grand battements et cetera proceeded as normal.

We then moved to the centre with tendus front, back and each side before attempting an adagio.  My favourite adagio from Jane's studio class is Minkus's Descent into the Kingdom of the Shades from La Bayadȅre which starts off in the usual way but includes some additional refinements that I have never been able properly to master.  That, of course, cannot be performed safely in domestic premises but Jane gave us something equally lovely to do that started with a port de bras, balancés, soutenus, more balancés, some gentle single pirouettes and finishing on demi with arms in fifth.

We omitted the usual chassés pas de bourré and three pirouette turns which I dread because I get them right only occasionally and the grands allegros which can be anything from zig-zags to grands jetés that I adore.  In my very first ballet lessons as an undergraduate at St Andrews in 1968 my teacher, Sally made me do a lot of jumps - far more than the other students - because I was then the only student in her class who could fulfil particular roles.  I've never found ballet easy - not even when I was 19 - but I found the jumping fun.  My favourite bit of choreography is the bronze idol dance from La Bayadere.  I much prefer it to Shades, Cygnets or Juliet's dance which Jane has also taught me.

However, we did have pirouette exercises which I found I could do better in my kitchen than I can on carpet or even in the studio.   We also did some very tiny jumps in first and second.   Before we knew it we were in cool down.   It is always a good sign when a class seems to have finished far too early as it did for me yesterday,  We all unmuted and gave Jane a well-deserved round of applause.

Northern Ballet Academy offers classes for everybody.   For seniors, I can strongly recommend the Over 55 class with Annemarie Donoghue.  I can't always attend it because it meets during office hours.  I must also congratulate Northern Ballet on following the lead of English National and Scottish Ballet in running classes for Parkinson's.  I have donated to the classes run by those other companies and I shall support the Academy's financially.   For more information, visit the Open Classes for All page on the Northern Ballet website. 

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