Updated: May 7, 2020
Hello all, we are now four weeks into our season at the SemperOper Ballett and here’s what we have been up to.
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I attended an event called Floor on Fire which is held in many European cities and is effectively a dance battle between for styles of dances, and dancers from the SemperOper Ballett usually represent the classical ballet portion. The dancers have no idea who they may be paired with or what music they will be issued to dance to. Improvisation is all you have. Now whilst the idea of this petrifies me I have edged closer to wanting to try it being inspired by the dancers I know who took part. This event takes self-expression and imagination to a whole new level!
We had our stage call for Manon and for the first performances I was a beggar in act 1 and a Town Lady in act 3. Even the smallest of roles in a ballet like this is great to do, a lot of fun and personal development can be had acting and reacting to the on goings during a performance.
Town Ladies is a demanding dance for the corps de ballet girls, opening act 3, as it requires intricate precision with our spacing (which we are always aware of) but with a layer of elegance and charm. With our staff here we work hard not just on the technicality of our steps but with the finer details of each movement to create an atmosphere with what we are doing.
Also this was my first opportunity to wear a wig! In Manon most of the characters in the ballet are wearing wigs but this was a first for me. It was nice to be a brunette for and hour or two but dancing with a separate head of hair on top of yours really feels like your dancing with a separate head of hair!
The day of a performance comes in many shapes and sizes, we could be rehearsing a completely different ballet than the one on stage that evening or if my schedule is light after class in the morning I like to hit the gym to keep myself moving for longer in the day and have a good stretch out before sleeping and eating and returning to the theatre for hair and make-up. This was my routine for the first performance of the season.
The sewing of our pointe shoes has intensified with rehearsals for Symphony in C running alongside. Here we are expected to darn our pointe shoes as it finishes our lines in a sharper fashion and as a dancer it reiterates where your central pointe is on your platform especially when the shoes are as we would call it ‘dead’ and the platforms are softening. Each pair can take up to 1-2 hours with ribbons and elastics included.
We are extremely lucky to have had two guests in house for Manon, the first being Dutch National Ballet’s Principal Dancer Anna Ol. A beautifully petite ballerina with immaculate precision and effortless artistry. The second, Paris Opera Ballet’s Etoile Dorothee Gilbert and incredibly honest ballerina in her work and whose actress skills will never be forgotten. It’s been a dream to witness and share the stage with both of them!
The new dancers of the company had a photoshoot and interview for the new season’s magazine. A little introduction on where we have all come from and how we are finding the first weeks at the company, 8 of us in total. For myself it is more like first months with the time I guested here last season. I will be sure to feature the article when it is released!
Finally getting to the past few days which was very exiting for me as I made my debut as Madame in Manon. This is a character role who plays a big part in the story as it is her brothel that hosts to soiree in act 2 of the ballet. When Manon catches the eye of Monsieur GM, Madame tries to recruit her as one of her ladies of the night. This was a wonderful opportunity for me to develop my acting skills in a more demanding and upper-handed manor. I have four performances in total so this really enables me to explore and develop her personality and relationships with the other characters.
Toi toi toi is a phrase that all dancers are familular with and we all have our own versions. For instance, at home we would say ‘break a leg’ or ‘chukkas’. All of them mean good luck! Toi toi toi’s are a big thing at SemperOper Ballett, it consitis of a small present or gesture and perhaps a note to say good luck. No matter who you are in the company or how long you have been there the dancers here never fail to remember a Toi toi for you if you are debuting in a role however big or small. There is a beautiful feeling of support here which is warming to work with. Here are some of mine from my debut as Madame.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about our on goings here and look forward to the next one. If you would like to keep up with me on a more regular basis I post with the hashtag #StageDoorDiaries on my Twitter feed and Facebook page so give those a follow if you fancy!
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