Monday, 30 June 2014

Coming Down to Earth Gently

After Saturday's performance another member of the cast wrote:
"For me I was a little disappointed, it was a lovely moment dancing on that stage with such lovely people but it all ended so quickly, I almost felt robbed. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning and dancing that enchainement to “Return of the Maxim” with you and the other ladies of Northern ,,,,,,,,,,,,"
I know what she means. I also experienced a tinge of sadness as I scuttled off the stage after the reverence and mounted the stairs to the landing where we had left our clothes. But it was short lived for there were so many delights and diversions afterwards: flowers from Mel and another bunch yesterday from Vlad the Lad and his Mum and Dad yesterday, hugs from my friends and family, lovely texts, tweets and emails from all over the world (especially after Mel's review appeared), a scrumptious meal at the Wardrobe with Vlad the Lad, his Mum and Dad and Mel, the delight on Vlad's face when I presented him with Anna Kemp's "Dogs Don't Do Ballet", a house full of guests and a child's laughter and, perhaps best of all yesterday's 10th Anniversary CAT Gala at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre,

The afternoon began with the thrill of meeting Kenneth Tindall who approached me as I was waiting for Mel in the foyer. I recognized him because I had seen him on stage many times but he seemed to know who I was for he greeted me very cordially. "How are you doing?" he asked "Were you dancing yesterday? How did you find it?" I told him that I enjoyed performing very much and that it was very different from a rehearsal even in the theatre. "Yes" he agreed. The thrill of being in the presence of an audience always raises one's performance and one never loses that thrill however often one performs.

Shortly afterwards we were led upstairs to one of the rehearsal studios where there were tables groaning with sandwiches, scones and dainty cakes.  Kenneth Tindall invited Mel to sit next to him on his table and I sat next to her. Also next to Tindall was Natalie Russell who was one of my favourite dancers and whose little boy Charlie made friends with Vlad the Lad while waiting to see our show. I was joined by Laraine Penson whom I had met at Northern Ballet's business breakfast on 23 Sept 2013 (see "The Things I do for my Art: Northern Ballet's Breakfast Meeting" 23 Sept 2013). Connexions of Matthew Topliss who had also danced at that event were on the other side of our table. Last but by no means least, Cara O'Shea sat with us for a little while. I can attest that she is a fine teacher for I have actually had the pleasure of attending one of her classes (see "A Treat For Us Old Ladies" 27 Feb 2014).

We were each offered a flute of champagne with which our table toasted the CAT and looked forward to the next 10 years. While we were tucking into our cakes and scones we were joined briefly by David Nixon (whom I had met briefly the day before on the landing after the show) and later the wonderful Yoko Ichino who sat on our table for a few minutes. It is always a thrill to meet a ballerina but Ichino is special. I must be one of the few people in England to have seen her dance in the USA and I remember her appearance to this day. I blurted out how much I loved her performance, a compliment that she had accepted with the utmost grace. But I had also seen Ichino in February (see "Northern Ballet Open Day" 16 Feb 2014) and it was the thrill of seeing her and Cara teach that prompted me to become a Friend of the Academy as well as the company.

After the meal we took our seats for the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre for the show. Passing the stage which was illuminated faintly by a gentle blue light I marvelled that I had actually danced there the day before. The show was introduced by David Nixon who outlined the history of the CAT programme. It began with students on the current programme and continued with some of its recent graduates who had returned as special guest performers. They were all outstanding and it would be unfair to single any of them out for special praise but I did like Courtney George very much indeed. She danced her solo with remarkable grace, power and speed.  Mel, who knows far more about dance than me, will write a proper review in due course. Each of the returning guests was presented with a big bouquet by one of the junior students which was a nice touch but an even nicer touch was a single Yorkshire white rose that was presented to each of the graduating students by Ichino herself.

The afternoon had been arranged by Hannah Bateman who is one of my favourite dancers at Northern Ballet. Here she is talking about the event. We all owe her a great debt of gratitude for a splendid day.


  1. Don't leave out meeting former Ballet Black dancer and one of the first CAT grads Joseph Poulton! I really enjoyed watching his work, very musical with moments of Richard Alston-style lyricism :)