|Manchester's Northern Quarter|
Author Michael Ashton
Creative Commons Licence
For reasons that I am sure that my readers don't want to hear I have not been able to attend many ballet classes lately. All but one of my classes in Leeds take place during the day which is just when I need to be available to my clients. My classes in Manchester take place at 18:30 but as extensive roadworks are taking place in Oxford Road the only way I can be sure of reaching The Dancehouse on time is by train and that requires me to leave home at 16:15 which is just when solicitors and patent and trade mark agents are most likely to want to talk to their barrister. True, there are such things as mobile 'phones but I don't like to give legal advice at the top of my voice in a crowded carriage as the "Pacer" train lumbers through the Standedge tunnel.
However, yesterday was my birthday and, as a treat to myself, I resolved to slope off early and attend Karen Sant's class at KNT. I set off in good time and caught the train to Huddersfield which arrived 25 minutes before my Manchester connection. And then I got distracted by a text on my mobile 'phone. I put down my ballet bag which contained my shoes. I was so engrossed in the message that I mounted the train without the bag.
In the middle of said Standedge tunnel I realized what I had done. I was devastated. I had been looking forward to that class so much. It was to be the highlight of my day. The thought of catching the next train back without a class appalled me. And then I had a brainwave. I googled "ballet" and "shops" and "Manchester". Google regurgitated many but they were all in Manchester, New Hampshire. I also appealed to my friends on Facebook for suggestions. Ryan Davies, whom I had met in Greenock on Sunday, replied with a link to Move's website. So, too, did Google, eventually, when I re-entered the search terms with the addition of "UK". I called Move's number and, to my great delight, my call was answered. The lady who answered the 'phone told me that the store closed at 18:00 sharp and gave me directions from Piccadilly station.
The train shuddered into Piccadilly station at 17:48. I was in the rearmost carriage and I shot out of the train like a bat out of hell. I darted along the platform. The ticket collector conscientiously scrutinized every aspect of my return ticket before allowing me on my way. I sprinted down the ramp onto London Road, sped first along Ducie Street, then Dale Street and eventually found Port Street. At number 58 I found Move Dancewear opposite what seemed to be a rather interesting pub. My native city is full of such ancient watering holes. To my great relief they were open, but would they stock my size?
I have exceptionally large feet that would not disgrace a penguin. Freeds can usually fit me out but I have had to order shoes at other stores. The assistant produced a pair that fitted my flippers like a glove. The only problem was that the elastic straps were loose. She advised me to tie them for class which I did.
I made another dash to Oxford Road and reached the Dancehouse just a few minutes before we were called up to the studio. All my classes in Leeds start with a run. I think it is part of the Ichino method. If that is the case I had the perfect warm up. I met our instructor, Karen, who wished me happy birthday with a great hug, and a fair number of my classmates who greeted me similarly cordially.
It was a lovely class from warm up to reverence. We started with foot exercises facing the barre and continued through pliés, tendus, glissés, ronds de jambe and grands battements. I was a bit stiff but was pleased to find that I could raise both legs to the top rail of the barre for stretching exercises. After a short break, we started glissés in the centre which I guess is intended to improve our balance and coordination. Jane starts her centre work with a similar exercise too. We proceeded to pirouettes which seemed to go better than usual this time. I think one of my pirouettes actually worked yesterday and the others were sort of half-way there. We followed with an enchainment and finally jumps which are my favourite part of the class. Yesterday, Tyson Collins managed a wonderful assemblé with real elevation winning Karen's commendation and our applause. We finished with a joyous temps levé, one of my favourites, from stage left and stage right. Then, far too soon, cool down and curtsies.
I caught my usual chugger back to Huddersfield which arrived just before 9 pm. While waiting for my branch line I checked the lost property office and, to my great surprise and delight, my little red ballet bag was there. Not only that but my trusty Freeds and copy of Alexander McCall Smith's Espresso Tales were inside. Quite restored my faith in human nature.
I am so grateful to Move Dancewear. They saved my evening. I would have been close to tears had I missed that class as I don't know when I will get to Manchester again. I will return to 58 Port Street anon to have a proper look at their stock for I have promised them a write-up in this blog soon.