Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Michaela's Masterclass

Michaela DePrince and her students, Danceworks, 7 July 2015
(c) 2015 Danceworks Ltd

Here is a photograph of some of the luckiest, happiest and most excited young dancers in the kingdom. The reason for their happiness and excitement is that they were lucky enough to attend a master class with the outstanding young dancer Michaela DePrince. DePrince is an eleve with the Dutch National Ballet (although she is soon to be elevated to coryphée according to the company's press officer) and her company is in London to dance Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella at the Coliseum. Yesterday DePrince found time to give a master class at Danceworks' studios in Balderton Street.

Lesley Osman, Danceworks's General Manager, described the class as "wonderful". She added that the rehearsal studio in which the class was given was full of young dancers who are inspired by DePrince. Lesley sent me these photos of the event and kindly gave me permission to reproduce them here.

One of the young dancers in DePrince's class was Ciara Sturrock. As you can see, Ciara shows promise as a journalist as well as a dancer. I am sure that everyone who reads this post will wish her well in her studies and career whether it on the stage, in print or somewhere altogether different  She wrote about her experience yesterday as follows:
"To say I wasn't the best dancer in Michaela's Masterclass today is not an exaggeration. I'm 15 years old, not a 'ballet build', and, although have been taking ballet and various other dance classes since the age of 2, I found a lot of the exercises quite difficult. However, Michaela couldn't have been more helpful and was totally inspiring.

She obviously spotted I wasn't technically as good as everyone else and helped me with my body positioning without making me feel awkward. In fact, Michaela helped everyone. Sometimes she just was like a little girl, flapping about when she didn't do something herself quite the way she wanted it to be - just like most of us girls do!
Michaela taught us both technique and how to make more of our presentation. She told us to keep our heads up, open up our chests and, because you don't speak in a ballet performance, to tell the story through our hearts. This really struck a chord with me and I will always remember this when I perform in the future.
Knowing the story of Michaela's early difficult and dangerous childhood, and how successful she has become, I find it amazing that she is so approachable, humble and funny. I may not be a ballet dancer but I really enjoyed the class today, and learnt a lot in
a short space of time, with this fantastic and beautiful role model."
I was lucky enough to see DePrince dance in Cool Britannia in Amsterdam on the 27 June and I witnessed the enormous and enthusiastic following that she enjoys in the Netherlands (see Going Dutch. 29 July 2015).  I am looking forward to seeing her dance again on Saturday in Cinderella and at the gala for the opening of the ballet season in Amsterdam on the 8 Sept 2015 (see Triple Dutch 4 July 2015).

I took an interest in DePrince even before she joined the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company because I have connections with her country of origin, When I saw her dance for the first time I wrote:
"she is even more impressive in real life. She is quite simply the most exciting dancer I have seen for quite a while" (see The Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet - Stadsshouwburg Amsterdam 24 Nov 2013 26 Nov 2015).
If you want to find out more about this remarkable young  woman I have collated links to most of my articles in Michaela DePrince at TEDx Amsterdam 26 Nov 2015.  My thanks to Lesley and Danceworks for the photos and to Ciara for the copy.

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