Saturday, 26 June 2010

Back in the saddle

I went to ballet class this afternoon: new syllabus (IDTA classical award class); same old teenagers; newly found love of class teacher (I used to be scared of her, but since she worked through my exam preparation with me, I think she's brilliant!) and it wasn't half as bad as I anticipated.

After Thursday I had butterflies in my stomach before I got there, and I was worried I'd feel despondent throughout the class, but no, it was great. Fab to have a new challenge and fab to just get right on back up there dancing. Mr. B was right, it was important to get back in the saddle. If I hadn't done it today I might never have done it! But I'm pleased I did.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Wishful thinking

I so wanted this to be my victory post...

My exam went awfully. Awfully.

I lost my nerve and from the 3rd exercise on the barre, made silly mistakes, closing the wrong foot behind/infront, panicking and dancing out of time to the music. I can't believe it. I really can't. If I had written this a month ago before I was prepared, I could explain it away, but I knew my stuff, and I didn't perform it even half as well as I know I can. I am so disappointed and I would be surprised if I scrape a pass.

My dance teacher was lovely and mopped up my tears, reassured me that we always think things are worse than they are, and if the worst comes to the worst, I can retake in July, so that's something, but I'm just so sad: it meant so much to me.

It won't stop me dancing, but I need to pick myself up and remind myself that whatever happens, it's a good 12-13 years since I last took an exam and try not to be too hard on myself. Thanks for all your good wishes and support (especially Elise, I'll email you!) and I'll be back dancing (or at least writing about dancing) better than ever when I feel suitably restored (I bounce back pretty easily, so it won't be long!).

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

This time tomorrow...

So, less than 24 hours to go. Lessons all complete and I can honestly say I've tried my hardest. I've been practising putting together enchainement, and I'm honestly getting better (not brilliant, but better!), and the pas de bourrees over and under/ under and over aren't the stuff of nightmares anymore. One, maybe two last run throughs of the syllabus CD I have before the exam at 5.50pm tomorrow.

I'm aiming for at least a highly commended. I may be really disappointed, mess up the exam and fail to reach my target, but I figure writing it down makes it more plausible in that I'm focusing myself on the goal. I'm taking all that positive psychology (where you picture yourself doing it the best you've ever done etc!) and I'm putting it into practise. I'm setting aside my inner doubting demon, and I'm going to put it down in writing: I *want* and am setting out to get, at least a highly commended. Honours would be awesome, anything from a pass upwards is completely acceptable, but I figure I've worked hard enough to set my sights relatively high.

All that remains to be said is: wish me luck, or merde, or break a leg, or whatever it is that dancers say. This time tomorrow it'll all be over...

Saturday, 12 June 2010


The countdown's on. Whilst some of my colleagues and friends have been counting down the hours, minutes and seconds to the start of the [interminable] world cup, I've been counting down the weeks, days and hours until my exam. It's now just under 11 days until my exam. To be precise, 11 days 22 hours and 50 minutes: Thursday 24th June at 5.50pm! I'm excited and nervous in equal measure. I couldn't have worked harder preparing for it, and I really want to do my very best, whatever that is..!

As the clock ticks on, I'm determined to use every moment wisely! Wish me luck (and please, feel free to impart any exam taking/performance advice!!!).

Sunday, 6 June 2010


I need help!

I actually cried today because of ballet, and that's so not me. I'm getting myself really worked up about the [unseen] enchainement part of my exam because a) I really struggle with enchainement anyway, as it's not something I did before taking up IDTA syllabus but b) I really messed up my enchainement yesterday, and whilst I knew it was bad, I'm pretty certain that I saw one of the studio teachers mouth to another that I was 'dire' just after I'd done it. I knew it was bad, I may even have said it was dire myself, but I am now just feeling really negative about this part of the exam.

I need to get over myself and just do it! I know. It's just hard, as it means a lot to me. I really want to go on and do my next grade and now I'm worrying that I won't be allowed to do that.

So, dear blog readers, if you've waded this far through my moaniest post so far (so sorry! I'm picking myself up as I write, I promise!), do you have any tips for tackling unseen enchainement under pressure. I don't have a problem with the moves, just the putting together under pressure. How do *you* do that? Have you any tips or practical advice for picking it up and just going with it. Meanwhile, I'm going to give myself a good talking to and get out of my temporary dip to make sure I blitz this exam (in a good way!!).

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Exams looming!

So, I am taking my exam in less than a month now: what a scary but exciting thought! I think I'm nearly ready but I'm taking a few extra lessons in preparation for the exam so that I don't completely freak out, especially at the enchainements! What I need now is some really focused, dare I say it harsh, correction to make sure I'm as prepared as possible. I'm trying really hard to take everything on board, but it's harder than it looks.

Amusingly, my dance teacher, having said she would prefer to put me into the exam with adults (as the examiner would be more likely to be more forgiving of any mistakes and if she put me in with younger girls the examiner would assume I was also a teenager) has entered me along with 2 sixteen year olds! I am not quite sure what to make of that. I think it might be a compliment. I shan't speak too soon!

Royal Ballet Triple Bill at the ROH

This was only the second time I had ever seen a ballet at the Royal Opera House, but felt like I really got value for money for my £16 ampitheatre (face on, about 4 rows back - not bad!) ticket. Chroma, Tryst and Symphony in C were, I believe, performed for a specially reduced rate to encourage non-typical ballet goers to attend, and they didn't disappoint. Quite how the dancers didn't pass out through the heat in London that day (it topped about 33degrees at one point, I am told) made their spectacle all the more impressive.

I wasn't sure what to expect from Chroma, but it certainly didn't disappoint. The programme talked about Wayne McGregor's desire to challenge the status quo and push dancers to their physical limits. The stark 'box' of white the dancers performed in only served to enhance this strangeness: it was at once ballet and not-ballet as I know it, but none-the-less beautiful. The music was compelling, although, again, rather more pulsating than symphonic. It certainly took an orchestra of unspeakable skill to make such an amazing job of whitestripes music gone orchestral. Mr B. was most impressed although, as we both saw E=MC2 and the Centre and its opposite recently, I think we were both expecting something more musically akin to these. The dancers, however, were flawless, filling the space with their often alien movements and showing off their beautiful lines both in solo, duet and trio work. There was a real harmony to the way they both moved together, and at odds with one another, and it left me with a sense of relationships not quite explained, yet perfectly balanced at the same time. I'm not sure I totally understood the ballet, but then I'm not entirely sure it was meant to be understood in the way, say, Sleeping beauty (or even E=MC2) had a narrative; it was, however, stunningly danced and really showcased the talent of both principal and solo artists of the royal ballet.

I'm going to gloss over tryst quickly, not because I didn't enjoy it, because I did, but because by the end of the second performance, having driven for 2 1/2 hours to get to London and probably not drunk enough water throughout the heat of the day, I felt quite dizzy, and therefore don't remember a great deal about the specifics of the performance (I admit to feeling rather sad about this as my overall impression was that it was equally, if not more, impressive, than chroma!). Still, thanks to the wonderful hospitality at the ROH, and their ample supply of free water and a truly awesome chocolate browny on the beautiful rooftop terrace of the Opera House at the expense of Mr. B, I was fully ready to appreciate the wonderful Symphony in C!

I had never seen a Balanchine ballet before, but I loved it. I think to say that it was everything I probably expected from a ballet as a little girl would be the best way of describing it. Beautiful white tutus, gorgeous lines and 'proper' classical ballet dancing of a range of stars. I was completely mesmerised throughout. I enjoyed star-spotting Alina Cojocaru (she has AMAZING footwork but also incredibly, scarily, bendy feet... I think I am quite jealous) and Rupert Pennefather. But I also have to admit (and I blame the heat) to not realising that there were actually 3 sets of Ballerinas until right near the end. Mr B. was rather more perceptive than me, but does say that if it hadn't been for Rupert Pennefather's shock of red hair he too might not have realised this! Whilst the other two ballets were more suited to the more open minded ballet goer, I would recommend Symphony in C to anyone who wants to see a 'proper' ballet; children and adults alike. I loved it!

Quick recommendation for anyone visiting London: Go to the ROH terrace restaurant, even if only for a chocolate brownie. It's GORGEOUS! We felt like we were back on honeymoon in Italy as we relaxed in the sun, listening to the bustle of Covent Garden far below.