Thursday, 27 February 2014

A Treat For Us Old Ladies

In my post on Northern Ballet's open day on the 15 Feb 2014 I wrote how I had intended to spend an hour at Quarry Hill out of loyalty for Northern Ballet as a Friend of the Company but ended up spending the whole day there rooted to my seat watching a succession of brilliant teachers pass on their art to the students of the Northern Ballet Academy. One of those teachers was Cara O'Shea and I wrote:
"She is another wonderful teacher and again I could see that the kids were devoted to her. I would have loved to have been taught by her."
Well little did I suspect that less than 2 weeks after writing those words I would actually be taught by Cara.

Our usual teacher, Annemarie Donoghue, was unable to teach us today so Cara took us instead.  We were a large class with several new students at least one of whom I recognized from the taster class at the open day. We warmed up in the usual way walking, exercising our arms, skipping and jogging and finding our posture. There were some slight differences in the barre exercises but generally they followed very much the same pattern as Annemarie's class.

However we did learn some new things of which perhaps the most important was to imagine a story for each exercise and to act that story rather than just perform the exercise. Cara told us that she gets the kids to do that and a typical story is "I am imagining throwing a rotten tomato at my brother." Poor brother! However, the technique really worked for me. Having seen Ballet Black yesterday I visualized myself as Titania approaching Bottom in Arthur Pita's A Dream within a Midsummer Night's Dream. I concentrated on that instead of worrying about whether I was properly stacked and, you know what, I was able to balance when I lifted my back foot inro the air without even thinking about it.

We picked up lots of other useful tips such as imagining holding a mirror when doing the port de bras so that we would look into our hands as our arms unfurl and we had some real fun with the jumps though I must confess that I got a bit muddled  at that point.  The hour passed far too quickly and we left to the changing room chattering and giggling like teenagers.

I was very tempted to bunk off class today. really struggled to come in this morning. I had a really hard day in London before I went to Covent Garden with a meeting at Middlesex University and a drive into Central London to pick up a heavy banker's box of papers from chambers as well as helping some of the juniors in our IP team. I then went to see Ballet Black which was of course uplifting but anything but relaxing. A quick supper with my former ward who is the nearest I have to a daughter at the Masala Zone  And then the long trek North through umpteen roadworks and speed restrictons on the M1, howling gales and driving rain. I was utterly zonked by the time I made it back at 03:45 this morning.

But I am so glad I forced myself to make that effort.

After the class I texted a friend with a daughter in Cara's class at The Academy. She told me that her daughter adores Cara to which I replied "so did we." The years simply rolled away. We old ladies were young, energetic and happy today.

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