Quick Update: ROH, Wrists and Russian Ballet!

So I thought I’d write a really speedy update about what I’ve been up to the past few weeks. Work has been a bit crazy (my advisor wants me to submit my transfer report and do my viva by the start of December! Eek!) but I’ve been fitting in a fair amount of ballet too…

Royal Opera House Student Ambassadors

A month or so ago, the ROH advertised a brand new scheme they were launching: Student Ambassadors. These would be students across the country who would help promote the ROH at their respective university. As soon as I heard about this I immediately started writing my application (covering letter, CV, and 250 words on how I would promote the ROH) and submitted it for consideration.

I was lucky enough to be selected for interview and headed in to London around a fortnight ago. Entering through the stage door (exciting!) we headed downstairs to a meeting room where myself and three other candidates had a 30 minute discussion about how the ROH (and opera/ballet in general) can engage with the younger audience. This was really interesting, not least because some of us were ballet-goers and others opera-goers. All too quickly the ‘interview’ was over and I had absolutely no idea how I had done. Thankfully I had the joys of Osipova and Acosta in Swan Lake that evening to distract me from stressing too much – talk about a fire cracker! Their Act III blew me away – Osipova starting her fouéttés with ten doubles and finishing with a quad, Acosta finishing his variation with a string of lightning-fast pirouettes before opening his passé to an à la seconde and holding it just long enough to tell everyone in the ROH that he was completely in control. Wowza.

The next day I was tutoring all day and finally checked my email late-afternoon to see that I had been selected as an ambassador! I am completely honoured to be chosen and can’t wait to start. I’m off to the welcome event as we speak: a chance to meet some of the publicity/marketing staff at the Royal Opera House, get a tour behind-the-scenes before finally watching the magnificent current Triple Bill (Viscera/Infra/Fool’s Paradise). I saw the Triple on Saturday (and got a chance to meet some new tweeters in the intervals!) and was in awe: all three pieces were amazing but Infra completely blew me away. Such a powerful piece that I cannot wait to see again.

Infra (Photo Credit: Julian Opie's Website)

Hopefully I’ll be able to keep you all updated about my year as an ambassador – and hopefully I can show a few students just how special ballet and opera can be!

Oh, and I was lucky enough to go to the ROH Gala (you can even see a pic of me on the ROH website) – such an amazingly special night! Every performance was world-class, but the absolute highlight for me was the stunning Wheeldon pas de deux, “After The Rain”, danced by the ever-beautiful Marianela Nuñez and Thiago Soares. Ballet doesn’t get any better than that.

Out of Action

It hasn’t all been good news these past few weeks. Last week I was auditioning for a competition piece with my Uni Dance Soc (more on that below) and headed to a ‘conditioning class’ they were running beforehand. I was a little wary of the fact it was being held in the Uni Club but had been reassured that the floor would be washed from the night before. Unfortunately they had done too good a job on the floor, resulting in an ice rink! After a brief warm up one of the first combinations involved grand battement relevés in center. Unfortunately when attempting one devant my supporting leg decided to meet my kicking leg and I ended up hitting the ground backside-first. Well, it would have been backside-first if I hadn’t put out my hand to try and cushion my fall – not the smartest move.

I hit the ground with a bang (literally) and immediately sprang up to my feet reassuring everyone I was okay. I hit both my ankles and left wrist in the fall and they all felt a bit sore but I was sure they’d feel better in a few minutes. By the end of the class they were still a bit sore but I just ignored that and went to the audition. An hour later and I drove home, wincing slightly every time I had to change gear with my left wrist. A mostly sleepless night and a still-very-sore wrist in the morning meant a call to the Uni doctors to see what they thought. Worried I might have fractured it, they sent me to A&E for an X-Ray. The doctor there was also worried about fractures but, thankfully, the x-ray came back clear so the diagnosis was a bad sprain.


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Unfortunately this means up to two weeks resting – meaning no ballet! I’m taking a week off completely, but hoping to ease back to class next week (though I won’t be doing any partnerwork, that’s for sure!). It’s still rather sore but I can feel it getting better so hopefully it won’t sideline me for too long!

Uni Dance Soc

I mentioned the Uni Dance Soc above and an audition for an upcoming competition in March. Unfortunately I’ve decided to stop dancing with the DanceSoc after the upcoming competition on Dec 1st. Although it would be great to represent my Uni doing something I love, there are a number of factors that have made my mind up. Firstly, work has ramped up a gear and some rehearsals are during the day (namely on Wednesday afternoons when undergraduates have no lectures) which I can’t really do. One of the main factors though is the inconsistency of rehearsals. We might not find out the rehearsal schedule until Sunday night and could be rehearsing any time during the upcoming week. Rehearsals have been as late as 10-11pm and this coming week I have 3 rehearsals on Sunday, each with about a 1.5-2hr gap between them, meaning I can’t really get much work done. It seems almost petty to stop dancing with them because of this but, with an already packed schedule it just doesn’t work. Oh well, I’m sure there’ll be other opportunities in the future!

Russian Classes

Finally, some good news to finish on. I’ve been dancing with the local Russian Youth Ballet Company for a month or two now and am absolutely loving it. The couple who run it push me further than I’ve ever been pushed before and I’ve got the chance to get taught by ex-Principals of a Russian ballet company! On top of that a current Senior Principal of ENB is the patron and comes a couple of times during the year for masterclasses, as well as guest teachers for contemporary too. We’re learning Act II of Swan Lake for a performance in April and the guys are also learning a handful of variations. So far we’ve learnt a couple of Rothbart’s Swan Lake variations, Basilio’s variation from Don Q and the Pas d’Esclave’s variation from Corsaire. I’ve put videos of the last two below to give you an idea of what they’re like – I do quite a bit less pirouettes(!) but they’re definitely the hardest things I’ve ever done!

This week I had to unfortunately sit and watch class/rehearsal rather than take part (I still learnt loads – I’d certainly recommend observing class if you are ever injured) but spoke to the teachers afterwards. They said they’re really pleased with how I’m progressing and I asked if they had any weekly classes I could attend so that I’m not just seeing them every other Sunday. I’m really pleased to say they’ve asked me to join their Advanced (Russian) Ballet classes which meet every Tuesday and Friday for 90 minutes. Not only that, but the class will be performing in the April show (the same one the YBC is dancing in) and they’d really like to include me in the choreography if I join the weekly class! This is the exact opposite to my old school who asked me to ‘take a break’ whilst they prepared for their school show as they weren’t including any boys in it. So once my wrist heals I’ll start heading to their classes and let you know how they go. I really like the Russian style (heavier use of épaulement and port de bras) and feel I’ve progressed so much already, so hopefully I can keep up the momentum!

Well that is it for now, I’ve got to get back to writing my transfer report on the train to London. I’m off tomorrow to see Rambert’s company class in Bath and will be reviewing their performance in the evening so watch out for that in the next couple of days. Oh, and I’m also taking 5 friends (4 of whom haven’t been to a ballet before) to see Marianela Nuñez and Federico Bonelli in Swan Lake on Saturday – I might try to convince them to write a guest post about their first experience of a ballet!

What have you been up to in the last couple of weeks? Anyone started Nutcracker rehearsals yet? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time, keep dancing!

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