Yesterday I celebrated the achievements of Ballet West's first year full time students and members of the school's senior associates programme in Glasgow in Fizzing! Ballet West's Rossini Cocktail 6 Feb 2018. Today I want to applaud the achievements of even younger students who train in the same studios as I do at Quarry Hill in Leeds. The above film records a live class which was broadcast on Facebook yesterday afternoon.
The class is taken by Cara O'Shea who is an excellent teacher. I first saw her in action in Northern Ballet's Open Day 18 Feb 2014, I wrote:
"Ichino was followed in the studio by Cara O'Shea who taught two groups of junior boys. Her style was very different from Ichino's but equally effective. She has a mellifluous voice which she used as an instrument to coax the best from her pupils. "You've always wanted as audience" she said referring tot us. "Well now you have an audience and if they like you they may clap you." The children, who were already working hard, gave us their very best. They did indeed delight us and how we clapped. 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. In a way she did teach me for I think I learned more about ballet on Saturday from watching the teachers at work that I could from a score of performances or a pile of books,"A few days later I actually got the chance to be taught by Cara for she stood in for our usual teacher who was unable to take us on that day. The experience was delightful: "The years simply rolled away. We old ladies were young, energetic and happy today" (see A Treat For Us Old Ladies 27 Feb 2014).
I later learned that Cara and I had something else in common. She had once danced Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty for the Chelmsford Ballet Company of which I am a proud non-dancing connection. The company held Cara in enormous affection though they had lost touch with her. As I had attended Cara's classes I was able to tell them all about the marvellous work she was doing in the North of England. They were so impressed that they invited her back to Essex to give the company a class which I believe they enjoyed tremendously. If you look at the way she inspired her students yesterday you will easily understand why.
Cara is not only an excellent teacher. She is also a fine choreographer. I have only seen one of her works, Small Steps, about the rescue of Jewish children from Nazi Germany in commemoration of the Kindertransport (see Small Steps and other Pieces - Leeds CAT End of Term Show 2 July 2016). It was profoundly beautiful and very moving and I long to see more.
If you live in or within a reasonable travelling distance of Leeds and have what the subscribers to Balletcoforum call a "DS" (that is to say, boy) or a "DD" (girl) of the right age who is good at ballet and wants to learn more, you might show him or her this film and suggest an audition. If your child wants to have a go, you should download an application form from Northern Ballet's Applications and Auditions page. However, do bear in mind that the closing date for applications is approaching fast,