BalletBoyz: The Talent

You’ve probably heard of the BalletBoyz. Two former leading dancers with The Royal Ballet, Michael Nunn and William Trevitt have spent the last ten years, in short, making ballet and dance be cool. To start, that was by their own performances, at the same time they started making documentaries which soon were broadcast on national TV. There was “Strictly Bolshoi” which followed Christopher Wheeldon as he choreographed a new piece for the Bolshoi, and there was “Royal Ballet in Cuba” following their historic tour to the country.  Then this Christmas there was “The Talent”, following the BalletBoyz’s latest venture.

Two years ago the pair decided to set up a new group of dancers and did something a bit risky – held open auditions. They let any guy aged 18-25 apply and watched them move rather than read CVs. The group would need to dance a range of contemporary styles so they needed ‘natural movers,’ which resulted in an eclectic mix of backgrounds from the classically trained to some with no formal dance training. In fact, only one of the eight dancers in the company had started dancing before the age of 16! This emphasises how important the other side of The Talent is – education. Running regular workshops while on tour and hosting a “BootCamp” in the summer they work hard to push boys “past common perceptions and engage with their imaginations”, great stuff!

Great to see such a full theatre for a Sunday night performance - I had a pretty amazing view of the stage!

Forming this group, the BalletBoyz started to put together pieces for them to perform. They adapted pieces that Trevitt and Nunn had performed themselves (for example Torsion), commissioned other pieces (such as Alpha) and even held ‘auditions’ for choreographers to work with The Talent (resulting in Void). The documentary also showed their trip to Ethiopa where they worked with Adugna Community Dance and Theatre Company to create a piece dancing with both able-bodied and disabled Ethiopian dancers. Truly inspiring stuff!

So I headed to the Theatre Royal in Bath with high expectations. I had seen some all-male pieces before (notably Folio by ARB and Men Y Men by ENB) but never an entire evening of such works. The program of the evening would feature three very distinct pieces: Torsion, Alpha and Void. Before I went to my seat though, I simply had to buy one of the coolest T-shirts around: “Real Men Wear Tights”! I know what I’ll be wearing to class this week…

Torsion (Choreography: Russell Maliphant, Music: Richard English)

First up was Torsion, originally choreographed for Trevitt and Nunn back in 2002 before being re-worked for The Talen in 2010. Opening with six dancers, each contained in their own box of light, the start concentrated mainly on the upper body with precise and intricate movements.

This was segued with a rather humorous soundbite into a pair of duets. The dancers were completely in synch with each other resulting in a delightfully smooth sequence. Starting with an almost teacher-pupil feel, one member of each duo put the other in successive poses. There was a fantastic floor solo by Taylor Benjamin which intruded on the pairs before he moved back off stage, after which it seemed the roles in each duo had reversed.

Following this was my personal highlight of the piece – an amazing solo by Leon Poulton. With definite balletic roots (such as a sequence in croisé fifth with almost tongue-in-cheek ecarté tendus) the solo morphed into contemporary style. Whilst hitting some stunning lines Poulton also showed skilled floor work, including an amazing sequence of turns en ménage.

The smoothness of Poulton’s solo contrasted the next duet which involved two dancers exerting opposing forces on each other. A masterclass in strength and balance work it was an impressive sequence, including a rather staying image of a back cambré lift resulting in a crucifix-like pose. As the other dancers rejoined the piece for the finale they showed perfect synchronicity in some challenging moves as the piece concluded. An awesome work!

My programme and ticket - that's the awesome throw in Alpha!

Alpha (Choreography: Paul Roberts, Music: Keaton Henson)

Before the next piece there was a small video segment projected onto a screen on the stage. Showing a snapshot of their rehearsals it was a great way to engage the audience during their set/costume change. It made me wonder why other dance companies don’t use this idea – sure it wouldn’t really work somewhere like the ROH, but would be perfect for someone like Rambert.

Alpha started with seven of the dancers in a tight circle, crouched together. One breaks from the circle and starts a reflective solo whilst the other guys remain motionless. Shelina Somani’s costumes were perfect for this piece, reminiscent of Shaolin monks. Indeed, the whole piece had an almost meditative feel, a lot maturer and deeper than I expected from a choreographer who’s CV consists mainly of working with chart musicians!

The music was simple and gorgeous, a recording of Henson playing guitar and singing. Thanks to the video intro it seems that Henson was there during the creation of the piece, playing live for the guys during rehearsals – something that surely made the choreography even more tailored to the music.

As for the dancing – it was simply beautiful. My particular favourite was a quartet danced to a piece of music with the line “Dear widow” in it (there wasn’t a music listing in the programme). There was just a fantastic flow to the whole piece.

The final scene seemed, to play on the monk theme some more, almost sacrificial. Miguel Esteves was lifted, turned and thrown about as if in ofference to some unnamed deity. There was also that amazing throw of him straight in the air that, deservedly, is used as The Talent’s promo shot.

The whole piece was simply sublime and immediately made me want to rewatch it as soon as it finished, a sign of a great piece.

Void (Choreography: Jarek Cemerek, Music: Ondrej Dedecek, Yoav and Ismael De Garay)

Void, the final piece of the evening, left me utterly speechless. Adrenalin-fueled, high-octane dance that was just unreal.

Opening with a video projected on a warehouse backdrop it followed the guys around city streets at night. Reminding me of Banksy and other street artists, this projection carried on playing as the dancers emerged, in hoodies and jeans. As the piece started in earnest I couldn’t help but think of it foreshadowing the summer riots and the anger that emerged from the youth of Britain during those times (this piece was premiered 6 months before the riots).

As the majority of dancers left the stage, Taylor Benjamin danced a mesmerising solo. As if being tailed by a gang he projected his unease and had me almost gasping as invisible punches and kicks landed on him. This violence continued into the next duet, a pair fighting with raw anger and testosterone. I have seen fight scenes in dance before, but never one that felt so ‘real’. I was amazed at how much control the pair must have had to execute the tense movements without injuring each other.

That was just the warm-up though, as suddenly the music changed and the company unleashed the most high-octane dance sequence I have ever seen. Literally throwing themselves at each other the group split into two factions at war. Their ferocity was palpable throughout the whole theatre. That being said, I couldn’t help but think how much fun the scene must be for the dancers!

If it's on a T-shirt you know it's true...

As the guys surrounded Miguel Esteves he danced a solo as they watched on from outside his spotlight. Almost as if dancing for his redemption he moved with an almost yearning to escape. The lights lowered and the finale began with the dancers in silhouette against a brightly lit backdrop. As the dancers moved in complete unison the piece rose to its finale, highlighting the strength of this small company.

As Void concluded a massive rush of applause rose for The Talent, along with a fair few whoops and whistles. Every single one deserved for the energetic and skilled performance they all gave.

So, in short, BalletBoyz: The Talent rocked it. They proved that dance can be masculine, cool and current. They also made me immediately check if I can make any of their performances at Sadler’s Wells in March. And tomorrow, when I’m in the studio practicing, I’m going to use them as inspiration to hold my head a little higher, add a little pride to my movement and testosterone to my steps. After all, “Real Men Wear Tights”.

Until next time, keep dancing!

Royal Ballet: Draft Works

It’s been a pretty eventful week for the Royal Ballet. First there were the National Dance Awards held on Monday, where the Royal Ballet’s Gary Avis won best classical male performance and Steven McRae won best male dancer. A huge congrats to the pair, and to all the nominees in some very strong fields for each award. The awards ceremony was a great celebration of the top dancers in the country, and was superbly covered with live-tweeting by the Ballet Bag ladies on behalf of the NDA twitter account.

Newly crowned "Best Male Dancer" Steven McRae in Kenneth MacMillan’s 'Concerto’ Photo credit: Johan Persson

Then on Tuesday afternoon, the Ukrainian Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin announced his immediate resignation from the company. The immediacy of his resignation has shocked the ballet world and there have been rumours flying around about what his plans are. Whatever his decision, I wish him all the luck in the world – I never got a chance to see him dance live (although I had tickets for three of his performances in the coming season!) but the recordings I have seen of him show enormous talent.

But amidst all that drama I had some excitement – my first trip back to the Royal Opera House since the middle of December (when I saw a breathtaking Sleeping Beauty danced by the ever-stunning Marianela Nuñez and Thiago Soares). I headed in to see Draft Works, a rather unique fixture in the Royal Ballet calendar.

Draft Works encourages dancers from the company (at any level, plus a couple from outside the company) to choreograph new pieces on other members of the company, which are then performed in the Linbury Theatre – the more intimate basement venue in the Opera House. Not only would I be attending the Draft Works performance, but also an Insiders event beforehand. Insiders is the name for ‘young friends’ of the Royal Opera House (to which my parents kindly got me a membership for Christmas) and there was to be a ‘mingling’ event at the ROH shop – with discounted products and a chance to meet some of the Royal Ballet Dancers. It was also a good excuse for a tweet-up with some awesome twitterers!

While at the Insiders event I was lucky enough to get to talk to Thomas Whitehead, a soloist at the Royal Ballet who I’ve enjoyed watching in the past for both his dancing and acting skills (most recently I thought he was great in Enigma Variations as W.M.B.). Tom had choreographed a piece for the evening and would also be performing in a piece by Kristen McNally. It was really inspiring to talk to him and hear a bit about how he had found his first go at choreographing. He’s a really nice guy and I’m honoured he spared the time to have a chat – thank you Tom!

So after a brief introduction by (the newly CBE-ed) Wayne McGregor it was on to the pieces!

First up was “At the River Styx” by Robert Binet (the Royal Ballet choreographic apprentice), danced by Yuhui Choe and Ricardo Cervera. Inspired by the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice it was a Pas de Deux with a hint at the story behind it (for example, Cervera constantly looked away from Choe to avoid condemning Eurydice to the underworld). A really nice piece with strong classical roots, it was danced beautifully. For me, it almost begged for a chance to develop and lengthen to really explore the story.

Next was “Feathers in your Head” by Ludovic Ondiviela, danced by Lauren Cuthbertson and Bennet Gartside. Inspired by his real life experience with people suffering from Alzheimer’s, Ondiviela created a surprisingly gritty piece. Cuthbertson and Gartside (my “Golden Tweeters”) were obviously superb, the piece showing off not only their technical, but also their acting prowess. Cuthbertson is one of the strongest actors in the whole company and as soon as the piece started she consumed the role, with a finger tapping tic and sudden changes in character (In a strange sort of way she reminded me of Alice Ripley in Next to Normal on Broadway – a huge compliment). As when I saw him with Tamara Rojo in Asphodel Meadows, Gartside showed how strong a partner he is, catching Cuthbertson with tenderness amidst her violent outbursts, whilst rising to Cuthbertson’s portrayal. A fantastic piece, brilliantly performed, that was one of my highlights of the night.

Next were two male solo pieces – “Gallardo” by Fernando Montaño (First Artist of the Royal Ballet) and “Overtone” by Declan Whitaker (a young trainee at the London Contemporary Dance School). Two very contrasting pieces that I enjoyed for very different reasons. Montaño’s piece was a cheeky, enticing solo suggesting a flirtatious encounter at a bar. Showing his Columbian and Cuban roots he hit some great lines and acted the piece with an almost tongue-in-cheek confidence. Whitaker’s piece was much more serious, and evoked a similar response to me that James Finnemore’s Patriot did at Cloud Dance Festival. It seemed to use his youth as inspiration but developed into a surprisingly mature piece. Certainly a piece pertinent to today’s ‘youth culture’ and a promising start for the young dancer.

Finishing the first half was “Lonesome Gun” by Kristen McNally, danced by Hayley Forskitt, Thomas Whitehead, Jacqueline Clark, Francesca Hayward, Sander Blommaert and Tristan Dyer. Dedicating the piece to her Nan (who recently passed away), McNally once again showcased her intelligent, humourous yet always insightful choreographic voice. Playing on the theme of Westerns she was one of the most confident choreographers of the night, not afraid to do as she pleased. Forskitt and Whitehead in particular really brought the piece alive with an engaging duet section in the middle of the work. A fine addition to her catalogue, I look forward to seeing more of McNally’s work in years to come.

Following the interval was “Within the Hours” by Érico Montes, danced by Camille Bracher, Celisa Diuana, Nathalie Harrison, Francesca Hayward, Pietra Mello-Pittman, Romany Pajdak and Demelza Parish. This piece used new music by Oliver Davies performed live, and the almost film score feel to it complemented Montes’ steps perfectly. With intelligent use of the seven dancers there were moments of interplay and distinction, all gloriously danced by the ladies. From my seat almost dead-center in the theatre I got a great view of some lovely tableaux Montes created with the girls, and I certainly would like to see the piece again.

Following Montes was “i lean & bob” by Thomas Whitehead, danced by Sian Murphy and Ryoichi Hirano. Starting, unconventially, with the dancers in the audience, the pair got some chuckles from the audience as Hirano was overcome by the music and Murphy ran after him in an embarassed frenzy. Emerging on stage in converse and “normal” clothes the two dancers embodied the music, the steps flowing with ease, while retaining a sense that this wasn’t an unnatural thing to do. In this sense it reminded me of Robbin’s NYC: Opus Jazz, and I could almost see the piece as a short film set in “normal” surroundings. I also wonder how much Whitehead’s work with Matthew Bourne (touring with Swan Lake) and Kristen McNally (tonight’s piece and last year’s “Don’t hate the player, hate the game”) helped him add that slight comedic twist. A great debut!

Next was “Grace” by Simon Rice, danced by Piedad Albarracinseiquer, Natalie Corne, Sara Pontessilva and Ivey Wawn. As an ex-Royal Ballet First Soloist I was surprised that Rice’s choreography was so far removed from the classical style. Bookended with silent segments, the piece was headed by the girl in red (I’m afraid I don’t know which dancer it was) who was certainly captivating to watch. Overall, however, this piece didn’t evoke anywhere near as strong a reaction in me like the others, although I could appreciate it’s design.

I was intrigued to see “Into the Woods” by Tamara Rojo, danced by Camille Bracher and José Martín. Her first piece choreographed on other dancers, Rojo had created an intense and smart pas de deux, chronicling what seemed to be an abusive relationship and exploring themes such as stockholm syndrome. Martín’s initial movements seemed tender but took a sinister tone as he got more agitated and there was the realisation that Bracher was tied to the chair on which Martín sat. I felt the rope was a brave and well executed device that later showed the turning of power as Bracher finished the piece by tying Martín to the selfsame chair. I loved the piece and there were a couple of bits that certainly seemed to have Rojo’s signature on them – a jabbing of Bracher’s foot towards Martín’s midriff springs to mind. A confident piece from a world-class dancer, here’s hoping Rojo continues to create in the future.

In the tradition of saving the best till last was “Brandenburg Divertissement” by Valentino Zucchetti, danced by Claire Calvert, Claudia Dean, Yasmine Naghdi, Beatriz Stix-Brunell, Alexander Campbell, Tristan Dyer, Kevin Emerton and Dawid Trzensimiech. One of the most ambitious pieces of the night in terms of scale, Zucchetti pulled it off with great aplomb. Staying true to the music (Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3) the choreography was very precise but still glimpses of character shone through (for instance the guys’ entering and watching with amusement as Trzensimiech chased after one of the girls). Danced superbly and with great precision, the mathematician side of me loved the fugue-like structure of certain parts whilst the dancer side of me was in awe of the guys’ jumps and girls’ turns. Zucchetti used the whole space and I could easily have seen the piece scaled up to a larger stage and venue. I wonder if we will get a chance to see his choreographic voice grow like Liam Scarlett’s has (who was in the audience).

So all in all I thoroughly enjoyed my evening – it is always exciting to see fresh choreography, and even more so when you have seen the creators perform and can catch glimpses of their character in the piece. Bravo to choreograpers and dancers alike. If you saw Draft Works this week I’d love to hear your thoughts – what were your favourite pieces? Just pop a comment on this post!

A painting of the original Pas de Déesses - that'll be me in the background!

So what about how my ballet is going? Well things are going very well at the moment! I have now learnt the Pas de Déesses with Ballet Bristol – the choreography is really lovely and I’m dancing it with three fantastic dancers. As there are three woman and only one guy, I’ve got to partner all of them in the opening segment with arabesque promenades and assisted grand pas de chats. My variation involves lots of big jumps (and thankfully no double pirouettes!) and back bends – I definitely have to make sure I’m warm before doing it! I’ve also been asked by one of the other dancers to work on the Coppélia Wedding Pas de Deux with her – it’s going to really stretch me, but she’s a fantastic dancer and I’m looking forward to the challenge. On top of all that, it looks like I might be going to a week-long summer intensive in Wales this August! Applications don’t open until March but I’ve spoken with the organisers (checking that I would be able to apply as an ‘older’ dancer) and they seem keen for me to apply. With this as inspiration I’m now dancing 6 days a week – although four of those are studio sessions on my own. As I mentioned to someone on twitter – I know I’ll never be a professional dancer but I just want to push myself to be the best dancer I can be.

So that’s all for now – I’m seeing BalletBoyz: The Talent on Sunday here in Bath, which I’m really excited about, so I’m sure it won’t be long until the next blog post…

Until next time, keep dancing!

First week of 2012

Well 2012 has certainly started with a bang!

I posted earlier this week about my first class back, and my mini-masterclass on pirouettes. Well I didn’t want to let the awesome list of things to work on go to waste, so first thing on Wednesday morning I called into the Uni reception to book the studio. I’m really lucky that I’m able to use the studio (for free!) and, because it is out of term time, I managed to get it for every day this week. So Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and today (Sunday) I’ve been in the studio for a couple of hours.

It’s been really great for me, and I’ve definitely felt myself improve as the week has gone on. When there’s only you and the mirror it’s impossible to escape  your flaws. There’s no “I hope the teacher didn’t see that” or “I’ll just stand at the back out of everyone’s way”. It’s also been great being in there every day, building on the work from the days before. This has helped me really work on some of the key areas where I struggle. Mainly, those damn double pirouettes!

So I started working on the pointers I had been given. To start, that was to lengthen into the ground to feel secure when turning. I stood for a while in retiré and repeatedly rose to demi-pointe (by thinking of lengthening), trying to feel that security. Then I practiced singles, concentrating on remaining in position for as long as I could manage. Finally, I went for some doubles. And they weren’t too bad! I’ve still got lots to work on, but I’ve helped to eliminate my hop at the end of a turn, something that I think was a manifestation of my nerves. One thing I’m concentrating on now is keeping my elbows up mid-turn. Here’s a clip from Thursday and although much securer than my doubles used to be, you can see the exact moment my elbows drop – Pirouettes (sorry for the random Catherine Zeta Jones in the background – I was listening to A Little Night Music while practicing!).

This week I also worked on being brave and confident by posting a video of me practicing my Port de Bras exercise from Wednesday on YouTube. I got some really helpful comments – about making my arms bigger, lifting my arabesque arm line to lengthen my overall line and to really work with the music, which I’ve been working on since then. I even got a compliment on my “deep plié” – I’ve never had that one before! Here’s the video, and if you have any tips or pointers please pop them in the comments – be nice!

And things got even more exciting this week, when I got an email last night about the performing group in Bristol I’m in. Our first performance of 2012 is at the end of February and the director wants be to be in the Pas de Déesses – Dance of the Goddesses. We’ll be dancing an adapted version of the Robert Joffrey ballet, which depicts three great ballerinas (Lucile Grahn, Fanny Cerrito, and Marie Taglioni) trying to get the attention of danseur Arthur St. Leon. Sounds a pretty good scenario to me! I’ve found a little clip on YouTube of some highlights:

With music by John Field it’s described as “a classical and gentle satire”. Obviously I won’t be doing the original choreography (I can’t do double tours, for one thing!) but I’ll be learning the adapted choreography over the next couple of weeks. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes (and maybe post a video!).

And as if this week couldn’t have gotten any more crazy, I found out on Wednesday that I’ll be heading to Canada to speak at a conference in June! So if anyone knows of any ballet classes in Halifax, Nova Scotia then please let me know! :) Also, I’m hoping to travel back via NYC to spend a few days. Hopefully I’ll be able to take class back at Princeton Ballet School and Joffrey Ballet School and see ABT/NYCB. Awesome!

So that’s been my crazy week – a pretty good start to 2012, I’d say! How’s your 2012 going?

Until next time, keep dancing!

Working on my Pirouettes

Had my first class of 2012 tonight! I swear you can’t beat that post-ballet feeling: after a really productive day at the University it was the perfect end to the day. We worked our way through pretty much all the RAD Intermediate Barre – my practicing over the break certainly helped as I seemed to be the only one who remember all the combinations! We moved to centre and worked through the Port de Bras which I’m getting reasonably confident with, then the pianist started playing the Shostakovitch that goes with the en dehors pirouettes combination…

Tonight my pirouettes were completely MIA. I guess they’re still hiding in 2011 because I was struggling to even do clean singles, never mind doubles! I really don’t know why they were so bad – I guess a couple of weeks without turning wouldn’t have helped. And what made things worse was I started getting frustrated which didn’t help in the slightest.

But the positive side of this was that I got a five minute one-on-one mini-masterclass with my teacher (the amazing ex-Royal Ballet Principal). Her first question was what goes through my head when I’m about to do a double pirouette. I answered honestly: “I’m usually scared”. I think that those nerves are definitely a big part of my problem but there is also loads of technical things I need to sort out.

So after the five minutes of intense pirouetting here is my (long) list of things to work on:

  • Keep bottom foot turned out – when my retiré turns in it is usually because of my standing leg;
  • Keep arms ‘big’ – I tend to contract/collapse them;
  • Think of lifting ribcage and armpit of standing-leg-side to keep it strong;
  • Don’t think of landing – just keep going and see how far around you get;
  • Practice standing in retiré and lifting to high demi-pointe while retaining a stable, ‘secure’ feeling;
  • Get the feeling of turning the whole circle – I seem to rush parts;
  • Especially concentrate on the first part – savour the slight opening of the arms and initiation of the movement;
  • Don’t throw myself up to demi-pointe – can be fairly relaxed in getting up there, being stable is more important;
  • Keep forward on my leg – when I collapse I tend to fall backwards due to contraction;

I’m pretty sure there was probably some more things, but this was everything I noted down after class in my Dance Journal.

I also got some awesome advice from Lauren Cuthbertson, Principal at the Royal Ballet, on Twitter. She recommended thinking of my demi-pointe lengthening into the ground to counterbalance the “up up up” feeling – Lauren’s definitely earning her “Golden Tweeter” award from my DaveTriesBallet awards! :) This advice was echoed by Mark Panzarino, also emphasising the need to push down to connect with the floor which will allow the body to react upwards. He recommended I look at William Forsythe’s Improvisation Technologies – which talks about how the body moves, acts and reacts in a very scientific and precise way. Here’s one video Mark suggested to get the idea of reacting forces – fascinating stuff!

Anyway, there’s certainly lots to think about and I’ll be working on some of the pointers on my own when I get into the studio at University (I’m so lucky to be able to get it for free pretty much whenever I want). It’s going to take some serious effort but I’m determined to get these doubles sorted!

Until next time, keep dancing!

New Year’s Resolutions: Old and New

Around this time last year I wrote a post on my New Year’s Resolutions. Here’s how successful I was in sticking to them:

  1. Keep on taking Ballet classes – Yup! Definitely achieved that one!
  2. Perform – Hell yeah! Check out my Coppelia post for a recap :)
  3. Maintain body, and improve body image – So-so… I have good days and bad days
  4. Use mirrors more – Work in progress: practicing on my own in the uni studio has helped – I can’t escape the mirrors there!
  5. Watch as much dance as I can – Most definitely!
  6. Blog more – I’m trying…
  7. Learn French – Stalled a little…
  8. Make a major life change – Well I moved continent, started a PhD and got my own flat – does that count?!
  9. Be happy – Well I’m happier than last year so I think that’s a definite yes! :)

So that was looking back at last year, what about this year? Well I’ve been having a think and here are some of my, well they’re not resolutions as such but more like goals:

  1. Stretch and/or do ballet every day – I’ve started getting into the habit of doing a home-barre on most days when I don’t have class and I’ve already seen a difference in terms of flexibility. I want to get into the habit of doing ballet (or at least stretching) every day. My home-barre (the barre from RAD Intermediate Ballet) takes around 20 minutes start to finish if you really go through each exercise fully. I can easily find a spare 20 minutes every day, so I may as well put it to some use!
  2. Complete my RAD Intermediate Exam (or at least keep working towards it) – I don’t know how feasible this resolution/goal is. I’ve been working on the syllabus in class for a month or two now and have the barre memorised as well as the port de bras, en dehors pirouettes and the first two allegros. Included in this resolution is an aim to master double pirouettes en dehors and en dedans as well as a few moves I haven’t really done before like tours en l’air. Although I’ve only got the one RAD class each week I’ve been going to the studio at the uni to practice 2-3 times every week and will hopefully be keeping that up too.
  3. Work on my partnering technique – I’m hoping to work on this with the ballet group at Bristol. At the Christmas party we were talking about what pieces we’ll be doing next year and now they’ve got 4 guys they’re hoping to do the Rose Adagio! Will definitely need to work on my partnering before then! There’s an ex-pro guy there who is going to do some partnering classes with us which I’m really looking forward to and when the girls are doing pointe exercises he’s said he’ll go over some male technique!
  4. Perform – This will also be with the Bristol ballet group – I’ve already got my first two performance dates: 25th February and 16th March! I’m really excited to get to perform again and feel that ‘buzz’. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll be performing (except for the mention of the Rose Adagio) but I don’t really care, I’m excited anyway.
  5. Be more confident – I mean this mainly in ballet class. I’m always happiest at the back of the studio during centre, or hiding in the middle of a busy barre. I need to have a little more confidence during class and hopefully that will transfer to more confidence when I get to perform.
  6. Eat healthily and listen to my body – I already eat pretty healthily; I don’t eat chocolate or sweets, eat plenty of fruit and veg, avoid fried foods and try not to let my porridge addiction get the better of me. That being said, my weight has a tendancy to fluctuate if I’m not careful so I need to starts listening to it more. Last year I lost a reasonable amount of weight, but some of this was due to cutting my calorific intake quite significantly. I need to be careful to strike the right balance this year, watching what I eat but also doing plenty exercise – be it in the ballet studio or the gym.
  7. Learn French – this is pretty much always on my list of things I mean to do but never get around to. I’ve been working a little on my French this last year, but am hoping to enrol in a course at the university for postgraduates. I already know (very) basic French but seeing as I’ve got a conference coming up in Grenoble hopefully this will spur me to up my efforts. Maybe if I learn enough French I can reward myself with a trip to see the Paris Opera Ballet…
  8. Watch lots of ballet – This can be live or not, and I also want to watch more of other dance forms than just Ballet. I’ve already made a start on this Resolution; I’ve got tickets for BalletBoyz, Ballet Black and the Royal Ballet in two Romeo & Juliets, two Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, two La Fille mal Gardées, Draftworks and their new triple bill with works by Scarlett, Wheeldon and McGregor!
  9. Take advantage of any opportunities that come my way – this is a bit vague but I mean things like workshops and classes wherever possible. I’ve also been looking at Summer Intensives in the UK – I would love to be able to go on one of those for a week or more and really propel my dancing forward. I’ve found one possibility so far, but I don’t know if I can afford the fees so am still searching. If anyone knows of any then please please drop me an email to let me know!
  10. Be Happy! – I think this is an important resolution for everyone! Needless to say, ballet makes me happy so included in this is pretty much all of the above resolutions :) Also, I want to work on looking happier in class – I love class but often get told I look very serious when doing combinations or at the barre. So I’m going to try to work on smiling more in class :)
So that’s my list – what are yours? Please share your goals for the year in the comments section – are they similar to mine? I wonder how many I’ll succeed at by the time 2013 rolls around…
Oh, and I leave you with a gorgeous clip of Aurelie Dupont in Sleeping Beauty, including the Rose Adagio that I might be doing with Ballet Bristol (it starts about 2 minutes in – but don’t skip her superb variation!). Thank god the prince’s parts are much easier than Aurora’s!

Until next time, keep dancing!