Saturday, 26 September 2020

Never have I been more proud of Powerhouse Ballet

© 2020 Powerhouse Ballet


I had booked a studio at Yorkshire Dance for our September company class because it has a piano. Throughout lockdown, I had promised our members that Jane Tucker would one day lead triumphantly back to the studio with David Plumpton at the piano.  

It was, therefore, something of a blow to learn that we were limited to 12 in the studio including our teacher.  The increasing numbers of coronavirus cases across the country as a whole and in the North of England, in particular, was a further blow.  The sudden imposition of restrictions in Leeds on the very day of the class felt like the last straw.     

And yet today turned into a triumph - not a disappointment - thanks entirely to Jane Tucker's inspired teaching and Sarah Lambert's technical genius.  Just over half of us attended the class in the studio while the rest of us joined in from home over Zoom.  We had tried a hybrid class last month with Sophie Richardson and several dancers in Birmingham and others at home.  It was a partial success despite Sophie's brilliant teaching because those of us at home had problems with the sound which made us feel more like spectators than participants.  

This time Jane and Sarah made us fee;l a single integrated class.  We felt the energy radiating from Leeds and iI got the impression that we were energizing them in return.   Never have I seen the dancers in the studio and online look happier, more confident or more capable.  Never have I been more proud of our company. 

Our July company class will be given by Lynne Reucroft-Croome in Studio 3 at Dance Studio Leeds on 24 Oct 2020 between 16:15  and 17:45. We hope to acquire a portable microphone for the teacher which should improve sound quality even more.   We shall also return to Manchester just as soon as the Dancehouse becomes available for hire.   If anyone can suggest an alternative venue in Manchester, Liverpool or elsewhere in the Northwest please let me know. 

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.