Pages

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Your cotton is important!

So yesterday I was in pointe class. It was so long and intense.

We were doing some really difficult combinations, set to the Rose Adagio music, as well as to Aurora's variation music from Act III of Sleeping Beauty.
Awesome..., but yeah, you can imagine: our feet were hurting a lot and we were so, so tired. That was honestly the first time in my life that I needed a ballet class to finish already (even if I was having LOTS of fun). There must have been a moment of total despair, because the teacher looked at our faces and said:
I know, I know. It is difficult and it hurts. You know what? I have this little student. The other day we were in class and I realized she wasn't going on pointe. She kept dancing on demi-pointe again and again. So I asked her about it (Nerea points out: in a cute voice talking in French):
—But... what happens? What's wrong? You can't go en pointe? Did you hurt your feet?
—No, madame... but...
—Then what...? Just tell me, it's okay...!
—I... I forgot... to put the... the cotton in my pointes...
—But how come? When you put your pointes on you always put some padding in them...!
—I know, madame... but this time I... I forgot!
—Okay, okay, don't worry... but remember the cotton for our next class!
So there you go. Don't forget your cotton. Or whatever you put on your toes to make pointe work just... bearable.
And keep dancing anyway!
Nerea.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Another trip to London

Hello!
So it's already been about a week since I came back from another trip to London. This journey was easier and more pleasant than the last one, since I was able to travel by Eurostar instead of by bus.

You may wonder why I would want to go to London again after only three months since my last visit. Well, actually February 21st was Tamara Rojo's last performance at the Royal Opera House, with the Royal Ballet (the company she left in order to become English National Ballet's new artistic director). And you know that I really, really love her as a dancer, so I couldn't miss it. Plus, she was going to dance along with Sergei Polunin, one of the most amazing dancers of his generation, who shocked the dance world when he left the Royal Ballet last year.

So yeah. I had to ask for a free day at school, because I always work on Fridays and the performance was on Thursday. I also work on Thursdays, but I managed to find a train at 15:15, so I rushed from work to the train station all dressed up for the gala at the ROH. I met my friend Rosa next to the ROH shop. We had been talking for ages via Facebook, but we had never seen each other in real life. She's also a big Tamara fan, so we had decided we would go together to her last performance with the RB. It was amazing to share this experience with her!

Photo © Bill Cooper/Royal Opera House
The performance itself was amazing. It was a Frederick Ashton mixed bill, which included La Valse (which I had already seen in October during the ROH Gala, and for some reason I liked it better back then), Meditation from Thaïs (which was beautifully performed by Leanne Benjamin and Valeri Hristov), Voices of Spring (by the lovely Yuhui Choe and Alexander Campbell, who were perfect and a joy to watch), Monotones I & II (not my favourite pieces, but still they are perfect to show the beautiful lines and technique of the Royal Ballet dancers) and Marguerite and Armand (the piece Tamara and Sergei were going to dance, which was created on the legendary ballet couple Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev). The audience was waiting for the last part to arrive, and when it did, it was breathtaking. Literally. Since Armand met Marguerite until she died in his arms I couldn't even hear the audience breathe. An absolute silence. And... oh, Sergei and Tamara. Oh. That was beautiful. Perfect. You got me. I feel so privileged for having seen you both dancing live. Thank you.

And it is clear that London loves Tamara. They love her so much. That endless flower cascade, that thunderous applause, those meaningful tears. She can never have too many. She will be sorely missed at the Royal Opera House... and no wonder, because she is one of the greatest ballerinas of her generation. The only thing that makes me sad is that in her country -in my country- people don't appreciate her. It is so sad that she had to leave Spain in order to become the star she deserves to be.

Tamara and Sergei taking their bows. She's holding some of the thousands of flowers they threw for her farewell.
Anyway! I can't wait to buy the DVD of that final performance! Opus Arte has already confirmed that they will release it at the end of the year or in 2014. I am so happy! It truly was a night to remember.

Also, after the show we waited for the dancers at the stage door. I got Yuhui Choe's autograph and I also was in the presence of Kevin O'Hare, Dame Monica Mason, Carlos Acosta, Lauren Cuthbertson, Bennet Gartside (who signed a beautiful photograph for me) and others... And of course, we met Sergei Polunin and Tamara Rojo, who signed programmes and took pictures with people.

With Tamara Rojo and Sergei Polunin. ROH stage door after Marguerite and Armand.
I spent the next days in London with Rosa, visiting museums (we went to the Tate Modern, to the Victoria & Albert and we visited the British Museum twice). We went to The Globe, Shakespeare's theatre, which was so great. We were assigned a very funny old lady as our guide and we were able to attend a little demonstration of how people used to get dressed during the Elizabethan era, as well as some sword fighting theatre rehearsals. Lots of fun! We also wandered around Covent Garden (we bought Royal Ballet's Onegin posters and a pair of new Bloch pointe shoes for me) and we had a walk at Portobello Road, where she bought a red scarf (Little Lotte!) and I purchased an old vinyl record of the Original London Cast of The Phantom of the Opera. Finally, we went to the Royal Albert Hall and to the English National Ballet's headquarters (but we didn't go in, we just walked around - we're not stalkers!). Oh, and last but not least... we met James McAvoy at the stage door of Macbeth, where he is performing now! He really is the sweetest! We got his autograph and a picture with him.

I also had some time to spend with Chris, whom I hadn't seen since his last visit to Paris in December. We had a coffee at Prêt (well, I had a hot chocolate) and then we went for dinner at Pizza Express, next to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. He really is some good company! We'll see each other again in March. We have tickets for the Paris Opera Ballet, to see a Roland Petit programme at the Palais Garnier. I can't wait!
And finally, on Monday, the day I had to come back to Paris, I met Alejandro, a Spanish Twitter friend who lives in London. He invited me for lunch and then we went to the Casino at Leicester Square, where we had free drinks because he's a friend of the place. It was very nice to meet him and her friend Esther in real life!

So that was pretty much my second trip to London of the season. I honestly hope I can go to live there very soon. It really is a magical city!

Nerea.

PS.: I think the hostel we stayed in deserves a little comment. Horrible place (there was no space!), but lots of fun, I have to admit!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Loads of questions

About a month ago, Kristen of the amazing Adult Ballerina Project invited me to answer some of her questions for a "Ballerina Profile" post on her blog.

Moi as Kitri! - Photo by Carlos Ochoa
So I thought you would like to read the interview... and I really hope you like it because it was lots of fun. Thanks a lot to Kristen; make sure you check out her blog. It's designed to create a community of adult dancers who share a passion for the art!

And you can read my interview by clicking here.

Until next time,
Keep dancing!

Nerea.

Monday, January 21, 2013

I am confused

I guess one of the most exciting parts of ballet is that you can go to any place in the world, take a class and be able to understand the teacher, even if you hardly speak their language.

The thing is, I do speak French, so I thought ballet classes would be quite easy to follow... especially since almost the whole terminology is always in French (even in Spain). But NO, nice reader! Things are not that simple. And you know why? Well, because in France a tendu is not the same thing as my Spanish teachers used to say! Here, a tendu is called a dégagé. And things would be fine if that was the only difference. But NO, because the word tendu also exists. A tendu in France is the fact of not pliéing when doing a movement. For example, you're in first position and you want to go on pointe: without bending your knees, you just go to demi-pointe and then to pointe. That would be a relevé en tendu. And I have to say I actually find it very practical: very precise!

Then there are many other things that have changed. For instance, I have never heard my teacher use the word passé. Never ever. She says something that sounds like jarret or jarré or something like that. If you're French I'd be thankful if you could help me with this one!

Also... it seems that our arms are never in fifth position. They are in couronne, which is a rather cool word. Oh, and jetés are no longer just jetés: they are now battement jetés. And grand battements are usually just battements. And pas de chats have now became sauts de chat! And I've heard my teacher say pique (/pik/), instead of piqué (/pik-ay/), but I'm still not sure if she says so just to fit words better with the music.

And then there are lots of new words. For example, a déroulé is this thing we do to practise with our pointe shoes and break them in. Starting in first position, plié, demi-pointe, pointe, tendu (like, straightening our legs) and then demi-pointe and heel to the ground in tendu.

Still, even if I am a little bit confused, I am loving every single second of class and I feel I am learning so much. I am really happy to have found this school and these amazing teachers. They are an absolute joy to take class with!

Also, one month left to see this live! - Tamara Rojo and Sergei Polunin in Marguerite and Armand.

Until next time, keep dancing!
Nerea.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Turning as Kitri in Paris!

I found a studio!
An awesome studio with an awesome ballet teacher who also teaches awesomeness at the Paris Opera Ballet. She's brilliant, funny, clever and a really beautiful dancer. I feel really, really lucky, nice reader. And dancing again feels great. I missed it so much!

And the school is this one: http://www.institut-stanlowa.com
It looks really good. The teachers are all from the Paris Opera Ballet; there are even some étoiles teaching. Also, they take teaching adults seriously! And there is live piano music! So I can't be happier right now.

I leave you with something that happened yesterday in pointe class.

*Piano plays Don Quixote coda music*
Teacher: Okay! Don Quixote music? Well then, we're gonna do the 32 turns!
Class: HAHAHAHAHA!
Teacher: I'm serious!
Class: OH, OKAY.
And then we turned. Or something!

To be honest, we weren't doing fouettés, nor pirouettes. Just normal turns in fifth position. But some REALLY FAST TURNS! By the end of them I was so dizzy I couldn't see properly. MUST.WORK.ON.SPOTTING.

Love this pic of Polina Semionova and Cory Stearns from ABT rehearsing Don Quixote in Barcelona. Photo by Renata Pavam.
Keep dancing!
Nerea.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ballet class in Paris

So I told you a few days ago that I was attending my first ballet class in Paris.
Well, it hapenned before I went to London. I'm still not sure if I liked it or not. Which, now that I think of it, probably means that I didn't (?)... or not much, at least.

New leos make Nerea happy, though!
The thing is, I felt the level was too high for me, maybe. Well, not exactly too high. I guess I could have got used to it after two or three classes. Barre was nice, fast, challenging. I liked it. It made me feel like I was dancing again after such a long time.

But there was this moment that I didn't particularly enjoy: even if the teacher was nice and a beautiful dancer, when we got to the centre, she showed quite a long combination (not particularly hard, but really, really long), and by the time it was our turn and (of course) we messed everything up, she said something like: "okay, what do you want me to tell you? that wasn't even worth commenting. Now you don't get to repeat it".

What the what, nice reader? I mean, seriously! If none of your students can do something right, it's probably because you didn't explain it properly, isn't it? And how the hell do you want them to learn if you don't let them repeat the whole thing after they mess everything up?

So I guess I'm going to try at another studio.
Keep dancing!
Nerea.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

London's got something special!

It really does.
Ever since I went to study at the University of Westminster almost three years ago I knew that city had something different. Something perfect. I went to London last Saturday and I arrived back in Paris this morning. I still am quite unsure if the previous five days of my life were real or if I was just dreaming. Let me explain you the whole thing from the beginning.

So about two weeks ago I was in Paris, looking forward to the holidays because teenagers are not always very easy to deal with… and then Chris asked me via Twitter if I was doing something special for those days. He kindly said he had a spare standing ticket for Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House (all the tickets for this production are sold out since months ago), so… after struggling a lot to find and affordable way to get to London in time, I finally found a cheap night bus ticket and got really excited for my journey. Right after that I said on Twitter that I was visiting London soon, so I ended up arranging meetings with lots of amazing people, like Zebra (I know what your real name is, of course, just privacy reasons and stuff!), Nina and Dave (who told me I should go to the ROH Gala on Tuesday and was kind enough to phone the box office and book a cheap ticket for me!).

So with those amazing plans in mind I got ready for my trip on Friday night, right after I finished some really hard lessons at the high school. Going from Paris to London by bus is not an easy job. It’s a nine and a half-hour-long trip, during which you can’t sleep properly, mostly because you need to go up and down the vehicle many times, in order to show your passport at the border or to get in the boat which crosses the English Channel.

Anyway, so after a super long trip where I met a nice Belgian guy, I finally got to London Victoria at 5.30 am. It was absolutely freezing in and outside of the station, but I had to wait at least until the sun rose to be able to phone my friend Sara, with whom I’ve stayed these days (thank you!). So I waited for three hours sitting on a cold chair at the station, covered with my coat and the towels I’d brought in my suitcase… and still I think I’ve never been that cold in my whole life.

But a few hours later it didn’t matter anymore. I went to Sara’s house, which is big and great, and she’s lovely; I slept for an hour, I got dressed to go to Covent Garden, had a delicious lunch with Chris (well, it was actually dinner for him) while talking about languages (especially Russian and also about my problems when it comes to speaking two foreign languages at almost the same time), and then we went to the Royal Opera House to see Swan Lake. We arrived quite early, so he showed me the building and we went to the box office, where he suddenly remembered that you can do backstage tours at the ROH, so I booked a ticket for Wednesday morning (what a great decision, you guys!).

As for Swan Lake, it was beautiful. Alina Cojocaru was a sweet, childish Odette, yet an extremely sexy and seductive Odile. I have to admit I was really looking forward to seeing Act III because Alina is normally so lovely and adorable that I couldn’t imagine her as a fierce black swan. But yes, of course, she did it, and it was extraordinary. Federico Bonelli was on great form as prince Sigfried. He’s got such a beautiful technique! And he’s also really nice: he helped Chris solve the technical issues with my mobile phone while I was having my picture taken with him.

Alina Cojocaru, Federico Bonelli and myself. ROH's stage door after Swan Lake.

In other news, I have to say that it is absolutely worth it buying standing tickets at the ROH. You get a full view of the stage for a really good price and you can rest your arms on a barre, so you don’t get tired… as long as you aren’t wearing high heels, of course. I will do it again at some point, for sure.

The ROH is also a beautiful place to meet interesting people. The night I went to see Swan Lake I met Lee, and it was a pleasure to stand with him and Chris waiting for the dancers at the Stage Door. I also met Thomas, a German doctor working in Cambridge who was sitting next to me at the theatre, who invited me to a glass of champagne and with whom I had a very interesting conversation on opera, ballet, languages and working abroad. I saw him twice again during the week, but we’ll get to that part of the story later.

Picadilly Circus by night.
I hadn’t got anything scheduled for Sunday, so I ended up walking around the city, doing some improvised sightseeing and taking many photos. I took the Tube and started at Notting Hill Gate, walked next to Hyde Park until I got to Oxford Circus and Regent Street (were I had a delicious Kit-Kat McFlurry). Then I walked down Regent St to Picadilly Circus, took Haymarket Street and took a picture of Her Majesty’s Theatre (the venue for my favourite musical of all time: The Phantom Of The Opera)… so you can imagine how much I wanted to go inside that building! From there I went to Trafalgar Square, which was really crowded because they were celebrating some kind of music festival. Later on I took the street that goes down to Westminster. I stopped next to Downing Street to take a picture and got asked by a French tourist if I knew what that place was and why there were so many people looking at that fence. After explaining it to her, I went straight to Westminster Abbey and to the Houses of Parliament… and finally I crossed the bridge until I got next to the London Eye. Then I thought it was time to go back, so I walked again to Trafalgar Square and took a different path to get to Picadilly Circus. This time I walked around the West End to see the venues for the rest of the musicals, such as Les Misérables (maybe in a desperate wish to find Sierra Boggess walking around, since she is now the leading lady in that production). I also went to China Town and to Covent Garden one last time to take a picture of the ROH at night. Then I was tired, so… time for some sleep.

On Monday I wanted to see Nina, but she got stuck at university, so we decided to meet the day after. No problem! Change of plans, then. Luckily Thomas phoned me. He said he could come to London in the afternoon, so I waited for him next to the statue at Picadilly and there I met a guy who wanted to invite me to a cigarette (but no, sorry, I don’t smoke) and also a really nice Italian guy who was in London to go to a concert with some friends. We had quite an interesting conversation! When Thomas arrived he told me we should go to see a musical. Quite shocked, since I wasn’t expecting to have such an exciting evening, I said I loved Phantom, so he invited me to see the show… and I invited him for dinner in exchange. You cannot even have a remote idea of how much it meant to me to see Phantom on a Monday. On a Monday evening! The day when the amazing Anna O’Byrne leads the show. Anna O’Byrne! Like… only one of my favourite musical actresses of all time (along with Sierra Boggess)… playing my favourite musical role of all time, Christine Daaé?! Seeing her LIVE?!? Come on, just look at her in this video; isn’t she just perfect?


Of course, the production of [The Brilliant Original] Phantom is simply sublime. The cast is incredible, the music is wonderful and the story is heartbreaking… No wonder it’s running since 26 years ago. I cried a little, as usual.

The beautiful and talented Anna O'Byrne!
Anna portrayed a phantastic young Christine. I specially loved it when she sang Whishing You Were Somehow Here Again. It’s such a beautiful, emotive song with an unbelievably hard ending… and she made it look so effortless. She was also really kind when we waited for her at the stage door. She talked with us for a while and we had our pictures taken with her and everything was perfect. Except for the picture maybe, which is quite dark.

After the stage door I had coffee and more conversation in Covent Garden with Thomas, who told me (among other things) that he had attended one part of Wagner’s The Ring the day before at the Royal Opera House. It was a six-hour-long show, but he said it is really worth it seeing and that the ending is especially amazing. Then we went back home.

Finally Tuesday morning! I got dressed quite nicely for the ROH Gala that I was attending that night. Then I went back to Leicester Square and had lunch at Burguer King (because that’s a big place where I could easily find a seat and get connected to the Internet comfortably… and also because I think it’s very classy to go to a junk food restaurant all dressed up for a jet set gala). An hour later I went to Picadilly Circus to finally meet Zebra, who was really, really nice. We walked towards Covent Garden and visited many ballet shops which were amazing and I still can’t believe I had never been to any of those before. Beautiful leotards, shrugs, leg warmers, skirts, tutus, flat and pointe shoes… just perfect! We need more of these shops in Spain! And then Nina sent me a text message, so we met her at the ROH shop (it was great to see her again after a year!) and we went for a walk around Covent Garden while talking about the ROH and its productions, its dancers, its friends, other tweeps and stuff. Fun talk, yay!

Zebra and Nina had to leave quite early, so I said goodbye and waited for Thomas to arrive to Covent Garden. I told him I was attending the gala that night, so he decided he wanted to come too. We went to the box office at the ROH and somehow we managed to get a ticket for him. We had dinner around there and at 7 pm we headed towards the ROH shop, where Dave was waiting with my ticket for the gala. I was really looking forward to meeting him in real life, and even though we could only see each other for a little while (since the ROH was really crowded that night), it was really cool!

The gala was sublime. I was sitting on one of the cheapest seats of the house, so I obviously didn’t have the best view of the stage… but I found it really good actually! I couldn’t see the back of the stage, but I was so close to it that I could perfectly see what was going on at the wings, see the dancer’s faces and even hear them breathe, which may sound quite creepy, but it’s a good way to realise that they were actually there! And also, since I was so close to the stage I could see the rest of the audience from a very good perspective. This means I could see Her Majesty, the Queen (yes, she was there!) during the whole show.

So let’s talk about the gala itself! It was a mixed programme with lots of dancing and arias from operas, with video interviews with the staff of the ROH, their artists, their employees, their friends (including Dave!)… a rather special evening. To be honest, I didn’t know what I was going to see, since I hadn’t been able to read the programme before the show started. I absolutely had no idea I was going to see almost all of my favourite dancers together in only one night. Back in Spain I have a very good friend (and former ballet classmate) with whom I always talk about the gorgeous Natalia Osipova. This friend of mine went to see her last Saturday in Barcelona, in the role of Kitri (Don Quixote). She told me she loved it! And no wonder she loved it, because Osipova is amazing. What a surprise when I saw her there, dancing Ambar with Edward Watson! And then Alina Cojocaru and Carsten Jung danced a quite joyful pas de deux by Neumeier (Liliom); then we got to see Ashton’s La Valse, by the artists of the Royal Ballet, which was spectacular, with the stage full of dancers. Later, Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae danced a new pas de deux by Alastair Marriott, In the Hothouse. Oh, and I also finally got to see MacMillan’s Farewell pas de deux, from Winter Dreams, wonderfully performed by Nehemiah Kish and Roberta Marquez. As regards the operas, I found particularly stunning Dvorak’s Song to the Moon (Rusalka, Act I), sung by Angela Gheorghiu, and also Bizet’s Habanera from Carmen (also sung by Miss Gheorghiu). But my highlight of the night would probably be After the Rain, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon with Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel music (which I absolutely love) and superbly danced by principal dancers Marianela Núñez and Thiago Soares… just glorious. I must admit I was teary eyed by the end of it.

The gala finished with a fast and amazing Jubilee pas de deux choreographed by Liam Scarlett (I think that man is a genius) and danced by Laura Morera and Federico Bonelli… and also with Giacomo Puccini’s Te Deum, from Act I of the opera Tosca, sung by a splendid Bryn Terfel. Right after that, the Queen went onstage and Laura Morera gave her a cute flower bouquet… and the whole audience sang the National Anthem (God Save the Queen) together. That was… just wow. You know I’m not British but… seriously, wow. That was honestly one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen live.

Singing God Save the Queen!
Woah. That was so amazing! Too many incredible things had happened in four days. Too many unbelievable things for me to be able to get a good sleep! Anyway, Wednesday was my last day in London. My bus was leaving at 21.30, and even though I still had one trip left to the ROH in the morning, I wasn’t really expecting much of it. I was wrong. Oh, how wrong I was!

The backstage tour at the Royal Opera House was magical. Our guide was a young and funny woman who led us throughout the building while telling us fantastic secrets about its construction and also about the foundation of the Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera. We were lucky enough to get a seat on the best stalls of the theatre while they were building the set for Sigfried. I found it very funny when the woman said: “and there, do you know why there are flowers on that balcony? Because yesterday night we had a gala here and the Queen was sitting there!” And everybody went “woah!” And I thought: “yes, yes, there she was! I could see her during the whole show!”

The Royal Opera House
And then we got to see the set for act three of Swan Lake, which is so cool, with all the mirrors and everything, and we watched a DVD on how they build sets and they bring them to the ROH, and we went to the place where they make the costumes and props and we could touch many of them and try them on… and then… then we went to the dancers’ part of the building and… we watched a rehearsal for the next triple bill. And that was just tutu much, you guys. Tutu much I say! There they were, just two metres away from me, rehearsing with Liam Scarlett and Wayne McGregor! Marianela Núñez, Sarah Lamb, Eric Underwood, Edward Watson, Yuhui Choe, Ricardo Cervera, Olivia Cowley… and all the others were also around there, just chilling out, relaxing, warming up and chatting. Surreal. But obviously that’s how it is! I mean, I was just absolutely amazed for being there and being able to watch!

And then it was over, I was still in shock and I went to meet Chris for the last time. We had coffee, chocolate, tea and an apple juice. It was very nice to see him again and I’m already looking forward to our trip to the Opéra Bastille together in December! We said goodbye: he went to see a ROH Insights programme while I took the Tube back to the Victoria Coach Station.

In the bus back to Paris I met a Welsh guy who was sitting next to me and I still don’t know if I forgot all my English at once, or if his accent was simply impossible to understand. We had some drinks together in the boat and he ended up being a really good travel companion. With a nice conversation trips seem shorter, huh? When we arrived to Paris I had to help him buy Métro tickets because he couldn’t speak French, which is quite a problem if you come here alone and your English is hardly understandable by the average people! Anyway, I got home at 7.30 am., went to bed until 12 pm and here I am, writing this hyper long text because I don’t want to forget anything that has happened during this wonderful trip to London.

And that was all, nice reader. Now I have to say that if you’ve read the whole thing, you truly are nice, nice reader. Thank you!
See you soon, when I talk about that ballet lesson I took in Paris!

Nerea.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Thoughts from Paris...

Oh là là!
Long time no see, nice reader!
I am in Paris! I arrived here almost a month ago and I am already working as a Spanish Language Assistant at two high schools near the Opéra Garnier... which is so cool and also kind of unbelievable! I'm starting to get used to this life: new home, new friends, new food, new things to discover...! It's truly amazing!

As for my experience as a Spanish teacher, I must confess I was really scared during my first week. I still am (a little bit), but things are going better than expected. My students are mostly adorable and you can tell they want to learn lots of things. I guess I was lucky!

Tomorrow I'm going to my first ballet class since the end of June (that's a four-month-long break!). I'm probably attending three hours a week. I'd go to the studio everyday, but life in Paris is expensive, you guys. I'm a little bit nervous, you know; it's a new studio and a class in a foreign language (which I do speak, but whatever!). So I hope everything goes well!

Also, here in France we have holidays very soon, so I'm going to London next Friday to see the Royal Ballet in Swan Lake and, hopefully, Les Misérables and/or Phantom of the Opera, which are awesome musicals that happen to have the most beautiful casts right now at the West End. I'm obviously going to meet some tweeps while I'm in London, so if you're around and you want to meet up, just let me know!

I have some other plans for the future: for instance, I'm going to see Don Quixote by the Paris Opera Ballet in December, at the Opéra Bastille, which is next to my house here in Paris... and I also managed to get an amazing ticket with the best view ever for Tamara Rojo and Sergei Polunin's farewell from the Royal Ballet, which is taking place in February at Covent Garden (yes, that's another trip to London!).

And that's all for now. I'll try to keep writing now I have time and news!

Nerea.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Graduated translator and jinxed dancer!

Hello, nice reader!
It's been a while! Let me explain you why! Lots of things have happened since that post in June. For real: LOTS of exciting things, so this is going to be quite a long text –consider yourself warned!

First of all, I spent the whole semester and, in particular, the whole of June working on my Bachelor's Degree Thesis, which was a didactic translation of Maurice Béjart's memoirs. As you can imagine, I had to work a lot, but still it was so much fun. I learned a lot, both about translation and about dance. It was a great experience. Then, the examining board seemed to like it a lot, which means that... I just graduated from university! I am now an official translator and interpreter, even though I am still not working. The good news are that I am going to Paris in October, to work as a Spanish Language Assistant at two high schools, which are located next to the Opéra Garnier. Isn't it exciting? Obviously, I have already registered myself in the POB website, because I'm planning a few trips to see them live. Duh!
Also, now I'm trying to find a flat in Paris, which is not an easy job, but I really hope I'll find something interesting and affordable before September!

My Thesis right after I finished it. It was time to celebrate!

In other news, I left my ballet studio a month ago, since I'm no longer going to live in Salamanca. It was really hard, nice reader.
We'd just done a beautiful performance for charity, for which we spent hours and hours at rehearsals. My life in June consisted basically on working on my Thesis, going to rehearsals, drinking water, eating food and sleeping (not much sleep, though). The day of the performance was brilliant. I had planned with my ballet classmates that we were going to make the most of it and enjoy it as if it was our last show, which we did. The rehearsals at the theatre were exciting, our group lunch was lots of fun and the performances were all fantastic. I took part on two dances from La Bayadère; the first one being the Fire Dance from the first act, and the second one, the D'Jampe with the ribbons (here's the video to the second one. Try to find me!). Also, my teacher choreographed a piece for us in, like, two weeks, with Vivaldi's Andante, Concert for two mandolins. And the last piece I danced in was the Fire Dance by Manuel de Falla, the same choreo we did in February. And I also had promised to my classmates I would try not to cry at the end... but I did, ok? But come on, it was my last day ever dancing with them! So I hugged my teacher while crying a LOT and then she told me that we could have a last class next Monday. So I stopped crying. Kind of.

And then I went to class on Monday and she had prepared the most amazingest class ever. EVER. Because she's adorable! She taught us Kitri's variation from the last act of Don Quixote. Which is, like, one of my favourite variations ever. It was also very strange, because we usually don't learn variations in class, the only exception being an excerpt of a variation from Paquita, which we didn't master at all. Sure, we didn't really learn the whole Kitri variation properly (we only had 45 minutes and we were wearing flats), but it was amazing! And also very exhausting. So that was my last class at the studio in Salamanca. I said goodbye to everyone, crying twice as much as I had cried the day before, and I also got the opportunity to write a page in the book the teachers have there for everyone that has ever been a student at that academy and then has left. Emotions! Weirdness!

And then... I came back to my hometown. And something kind of incredible happened! I have a friend who is a fashion designer. He's actually well known in Spain; he's good and has been invited to show his designs all around the world. So he was preparing a super big catwalk to celebrate his 25th anniversary as a fashion professional... and he asked me if I would like to dance during the spectacle, with one of his costumes and a fan. A FAN, you guys. You do know what came to my mind, right? KITRI. I'd just learned the variation and I had the chance to dance it en pointe, in front of thousands of people and wearing a gorgeous dress. So I said yes. The problem? Where could I rehearse? I had only done it once or twice and the show was one month away. So I talked to the mayor and he gave me permission to go to the local theatre to rehearse as many hours as I wanted, as many days as I needed. A theatre, nice reader. Not a really big theatre, but it's got a floor made of linoleum, just for me and my pointe shoes. Greatest thing ever. And this is the result of one of the afternoons I spent there:


And that's pretty much it. The day of the performance was actually not fun AT ALL. I woke up early because my father phoned me. He was at the place where the show was going to be held that night. Even though the non-permanent structure was designed for a catwalk, there was also a really big stage for me to dance on and for the models to stay at. The problem now? The organiser hadn't thought of a little person EN POINTE, who could not dance on a wooden and absolutely irregular floor. So I got dressed really quickly and went there almost running, to check it out. Exactly. It was absolutely impossible to dance on that surface. I put my pointe shoes on and tried to do it, but I was so afraid of falling off the shoes that I immediately had to say I wouldn't dance that night. Then I saw the long and narrow stage that was prepared for the catwalk. Its floor was so much better! I decided I could change a few things of the choreo, in order to adapt it to the super narrow stage and to the public, looking at me from both sides.

Myself trying to adapt the choreo to the tiny stage. The show was to be held that night.
I spent there like half an hour and then stopped because all the pedestrians had decided that it was more fun to look at me, desperated, marking and doing weird moves, than to continue with their walk. So I went to the theatre. And even though I didn't have any tights, I spent an hour or so rehearsing. BIG MISTAKE, nice reader. I wasn't feeling confident, I couldn't remember the dance or the new positions and my feet were hurting like hell. Like, I'd never, ever had so much pain on my toes. Maybe it was because of the stress. Maybe. The thing is, after that hour, I took off my pointe shoes and I had blisters. Some super painful ones. So I decided it was time to stop and have lunch.

In the afternoon I had to go to the hairdresser, who put on my head the biggest bun I've ever seen (I still don't know where all that hair came from). And then I tried to rehearse on the catwalk thing again. Worst rehearsal of my life. I almost fell down a hundred times (the floor was slippery), I couldn't remember anything, my toes were hurting and I wasn't able to avoid grimacing with pain. Literally. Horrible. Only two hours to go. I decided to stop for good.

Then the show started. I put my pointe shoes on and I waited for my turn. The spectacle was divided in four sections: the beach, the opera, the wedding and China. I was going to dance in the opera section. So when that part started, I was very nervous. Even more nervous when I saw that they were putting some enormous flowerpots on my stage. For decoration. Like, as if I hadn't struggled enough with the little space I had before. Seriously, what else could go wrong?!

And then it was my turn. Of course, the flowerpots were still there, so I improvised. I started doing my variation and I had to decide how to do the next step while I was dancing in front of a thousand people. I didn't dance well. I forgot about the technique, I didn't listen to the music as I should have and I didn't do things that I knew I could do. The weird thing is... it felt really well. I was happy to have been given that opportunity, so I didn't stop smiling at any point. I forgot that my toes were hurting. And I had fun. Ballet is incredible. The feeling of being on a stage is something you can't really explain with words. But after that experience I can really say that it is worth the effort. In my hometown nobody knows anything about ballet. I know I didn't dance well at all, but they loved it. They loved it so much that now I am "The Girl Who Danced". For real, nice reader. They've been talking about it for two weeks. I feel privileged! Next time, on a bigger stage, they'll see!

When I started writing this post I decided I was not going to show you the video of the actual performance, because, if you know something about ballet, you will not like it. I am not proud of it. I'm just proud of my feelings during the dance and after it. Now I've decided you can watch it because you know my story. Here you are: you can compare it to the rehearsal, if you like.


And well, that's it.
I have more plans for the future, but for now, I'll just try and find a flat in Paris... and then let the fun begin!

Nerea.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Scared

—I am scared.
—Scared of what?
—Scared of doing it wrong.

So I guess that sums up the whole thing.

Marianela Núñez in Giselle