|Author Marek Szczepanek|
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This is only day 2 of the intensive but already I have learned a lot. A lot of choreography, of course: the cygnets' pas de quatre, the Hungarian dance, Siegfried's solo and the entry of the swans. I have also received some jolly good practical tips such as take a hot bath followed by a cold shower after strenuous physical exercise. I have learned a lot about myself and what I can still do at my age. But most of all I have learned a whole new respect for the dancer.
I have been exhausted by only two days of classes and rehearsals but members of a company have to do that sort of thing all the time and then dance in a matinee or evening performance or on some days both. To do that day in day out requires stamina, strength and determination. It is true that they are all much younger than me, that dancing is their vocation and that they have trained for it over many years but it is still gruelling stuff and I take my hat off to them.
Today I got to know some of students on this course a little better. Several of them had read this blog and we discussed some of the articles in it. I also got into conversation with Mark Hindle, one of the teachers at KNT, over lunch. We found out that we share a passion for Ballet Black and Ballet Cymru and are both fans of Sayaka Wright-Ichikawa and Krystal Lowe.
Tomorrow we are consolidating and refining what we have learned in order to give a performance at 15:45. Karen has very kindly allowed Gita to watch us so that she can review our show for Terpsichore. On Sunday night I was a bag of nerves quite convinced that I wouldn't make it through the first day. Well I have survived the first two days already and I think that tomorrow will be the best bit.
One of the reasons I didn't throw in the towel on Monday is that I was bucked up by an email from my clerk. The Chambers and Partners guides are to lawyers and law firms what the Michelin red guides are to restaurateurs. Just before I was due to go into class I learned that I was in it. Ballet takes a large part of the credit for that. Five years ago I was devastated by the loss of my spouse to motor neuron disease and had more or less lost the will to live. About a month or so after my spouse's death I noticed a postcard on my gym noticeboard offering ballercise classes by a lady who had danced with Queensland Ballet. I took those classes and found that I enjoyed them. They made me exercise and gave me discipline. Ballercise led to ballet and eventually Northern Ballet's Over 55 class in Leeds. I made a lot of new acquaintances in that class and many more through the London Ballet Circle, Chelmsford Ballet, BalletcoForum and elsewhere.
On Thursday Jane Tucker will teach an advanced workshop based on Giselle. Michelle, a member of my Over 55 class and one of the most prolific contributors to BalletcoForum, will be taking part. If it is only half as good as Swan Lake she is in for a treat.