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:
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!
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!

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!

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!


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!


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 is 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!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012


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

So I guess that sums up the whole thing.

Marianela Núñez in Giselle

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ballet week!

So as previously stated, last week was also full of ballet, and I'm not talking about lessons. Actually I had fewer classes than usual, since the 19th of March is a public holiday in Spain.

Getting to the pointe, right before my slightly embarrassing interpretation of Christine I couldn't help but try to développé in that dress. Firstly, because it was nice and kinda Giselle-like in my head (yeah, you can call me crazy if you want); and secondly, because I had to wear my ballet slippers with the costume, since I had no other white shoes. Yay! Dancewear for the win!

Also I was  portraying a very realistic Christine, since she was a ballerina and a singer at the Opéra de Paris. See? I should have won the Best Actress Award or something. Instead, my friend (the Phantom; a super good singer) and I got eighth place out of sixteen. But I received a pretty white rose from my classmates which made me happy.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Ballet week!

The Royal Ballet (♥) has been specially adorable (♥♥♥) during these past days. First of all, they made a worldwide cinema relay of Romeo & Juliet. I absolutely LOVE them for doing this. I always want to see them dance and I never can because I live so far away (this must change). The thing is, I could see them live and it was amazing. Romeo & Juliet is one of my favourite ballets ever. It is just glorious. I really believe that Kenneth MacMillan was a genius, and the Royal Ballet can perform his works in such a flawless, wonderful way. The dancers were perfect. I found a particularly convincing Bennet Gartside as Tybalt, performing one of the most furious sword fights I've ever seen against Federico Bonelli, who played Romeo. Oh, Federico. I saw him live at the ROH some months ago and he was a perfect Prince Florimund (he signed my tiny pointe shoe too!). Now, as Romeo, he was spectacular. Strong, dreamy. The way he stared at Juliet's eyes right before their first kiss was sensational. Speaking about Juliet, Lauren Cuthbertson touched the whole world the other day. I honestly believe that it was a huge privilege to see her dance. So innocent, so emotional, so tragic. So tecnically flawless. They say I am a crybaby, but I cannot help whining every single time I see this ballet. I just can't! And I know it, so I always make sure there is a bag of tissues around.

Let's move on... though I could talk about the Royal Ballet for hours.
Oh wait, the next thing I want to talk about is actually... the Royal Ballet! Because, nice reader, the Royal Ballet rocks and last week they did something else to prove their awesomeness to the world. The Royal Ballet Live took place on Friday and it was basically a documentary on a day at the Royal Ballet, from the daily class to all the rehearsals... all of it broadcast live to the whole world via YouTube. Isn't it the most amazing idea ever? Well, for me it is. I had always dreamed of watching an entire class with professional dancers, and on Friday I could finally do it. It was so inspiring! Also, all the rehearsals were an absolute joy to watch. Well, the whole thing. It was just plain awesome. Did you read that, ballet companies?
The only thing was, I had to work at Munusal the whole day, so I had to divide my screen like this:

Have I already said that Marianela is lovely?
I also put one of my earphones on and I used my other ear to listen to my fellow translators. You can imagine the scene: translating from English into Spanish while my editors were speaking in German, my colleagues in Spanish most of the time; two girls in Romanian... and also listening to the Royal Ballet Live. Thankfully my simultaneous interpreting lessons taught me how to multitask!

Keep dancing!

Munusal 2012 and a festive atmosphere

Last week was very exciting for me, both as a translator and as a balletomane.
But since they are very different issues, I'm going to divide the story into two blog posts, being this one the entry on translation.

You may have noticed that I haven't written anything here for long. Well, let me explain why:
Firstly, because just like every year in March, my faculty celebrated an entire week of festive events, like a Trivial competition, an Eurovision-like contest called 'TraDocVisión' and a costume contest among others.
I participated in many of them. I even played Christine Daaé from 'The Phantom of the Opera' in TraDocVisión. And this is the proof:

Yep, that's me, and I'm singing. I never thought this could ever, EVER happen.
Secondly, because as a translation student, I can ask for an internship period with an institution, such as the UN, the Spanish Police, the University of Salamanca and many others. I decided I wanted to work for the Model of the United Nations of the University of Salamanca, also known as MUNUSAL. So after two weeks receiving and translating texts, my colleague and I were asked if we would like to work as press translators during the actual conference. We said yes, even though we didn't really know how it worked.

For those of you who've never heard of MUNs, they are basically simulations of the United Nations system, with all the organs and their respective committee sessions. They are held in many cities around the world and this one is called MUNUSAL because it takes place at the University of Salamanca once a year.

So that's what I did last week. I was one of the five translators at The Globe, the Munusal News Network.
Basically our work consisted of translating all the articles written by the journalists at MUNUSAL, from English into Spanish. At the beginning the texts were all abstracts of the sessions, but at some point, the committees simulated a global crisis, so the whole situation became very exciting! We received lots of articles and press statements from many countries, we all got very stressed and we really had to work as a team in order to hand everything in on time! It was such an amazing experience!

I really loved translating in a "real" context with my four colleagues, meeting our editors in chief and all the nice people at MUNUSAL. I enjoyed all my time at the "office" -some days I was there from 9 am. until 6.30 pm.-, the coffee breaks, the hours we spent at the canteen, having lunch together along with the delegates and chairpersons.

So basically it was fun, fun, FUN! I can't wait to do something similar again!

Look! I even got a Translator Pass with my name on it!
That's all regarding the translation matter. The balletic part is yet to come... :)
Keep translating!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Anoche en el Bretón...

So it's been more than a week since we performed our Quintuple Bill.
The whole spectacle was called Anoche en el Bretón..., something like Last night at the Bretón..., which was a theatre located here, in Salamanca. The performance was inspired by the only visit the Ballets Russes made to this city, back in 1918 in that theatre. At the time, the company came and danced Le Carnaval, Les Sylphides, Le Spectre de la Rose and The Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor.

So our ballet school -whose students have founded the Ars Movendi dance association- created a new vision of that night. We performed all those dances in a different way; kind of neo-classical and some of them were even contemporary. We also added a fifth piece, the Ritual Fire Dance, by Manuel de Falla, danced by the whole company as a way to put an end to the spectacle.

And let me say it was a huge success. We danced in front of a full house! There were even people sitting on the stairs! We were told it had been very beautiful and as I went out of the theatre, I heard many comments which made me believe that the public had actually had fun and enjoyed the show a lot. The day after, there were articles in all the local newspapers, some of which had really good critics. They even interviewed our choreographer on the radio!

Needless to say, we, the company members, had so much fun. The final purpose of all the things we learn in class everyday is to be able to show them; to be able to perform in front of a crowd at some point. When we were told we had this opportunity, we all got very excited. You can imagine our dressing rooms, full of happy people taking pictures and recording videos, laughing and dancing around... But the real magic happened at the moment we got onstage and started to dance. It is a feeling that only those who have already danced on a stage can understand. It's something like happiness, excitement, nervousness, sparks, rainbows and unicorns, all mixed together and exploding. Duh! Do you get what I mean?

As for me, I can honestly say that it was one of the greatest days of my life. I spent my whole evening recording backstage videos and hanging around with my ballet classmates as we got our hair and make up done and we put our dresses on. Oh, and I felt free onstage. I stopped thinking of all the steps I had done a hundred times during rehearsals and I focused on having fun, smiling and making the most of it. And it worked; it was amazing. I am very happy I could perform in Salamanca again, along with my wonderful classmates and under the watchful eyes of my three ballet teachers, who were supervising the whole thing. I am going to miss them all SO MUCH after June.

So... that's all. I leave you with a picture and the video from Les Sylphides, which is the part I danced, as well as the video of the Ritual Fire Dance, with the whole company. Oh, and in case you're interested, you can see all the other pieces by searching for Ars Movendi on YouTube.

Les Sylphides. I am the one on the right.
Don't look at my right foot; I was having trouble with my balance there!

Until next time...
Keep dancing!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Michael Jackson Syndrome

You know this thing that happens when people are bored? Like, they do random/weird/stupid stuff?
Well, I was really bored tonight after ballet class.
And I also miss Ballerina Class®, because we are rehearsing for Les Sylphides instead of doing pointe work.
So I decided to put my pointe shoes on and then... this thing happened.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sweet face!

Ok, so now you know the choreography; let's start focusing on your expression. You know, Les Sylphides is a very romantic ballet, like, very feminine and sweet. I need to see that sweetness on your faces. No, don't smile! That's too much. Just show tenderness with your eyes... everything is very romantic...

Oh, yeah, sure! I'm going to try and show tenderness and sweetness when I'm counting and when I know I have to chainé-né® to the LEFT after those two soutenus!!! Yeah! I'm going to try and make a pretty face which I don't really know how to make! As if I wasn't scared enough!

Well, I guess that's ballet!
And we love it!

Monday, January 23, 2012

It wasn't embarrassing, but it does hurt!

Last minute of class. We were doing some temps levés en arabesque with a chassé and the floor was a little slippery, so I lost my balance and fell down with all the impulse on my knee. Yes, the very same knee that was already bruised. So I got up quickly, Mrs. M asked if I was alright, I said yes (my pride, you know) and continued dancing.

When class finished I looked in the mirror and I saw my torn tights and my blood and... let's just say that it wasn't very funny.

Yep, I fell down in class, I got a cut that hurts a lot and I ripped my tights.
So what? Professionals fall all the time. Even the amazing Sylvie Guillem! I've got over it! I'm already getting ready for a two-hour-long rehearsal tomorrow afternoon! Say what?

National Ballet of Canada - Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann

Let's dance!

Sylphides update

Last week was a pretty busy week.

I had four days of dancing, including two classical ballet lessons and two long rehearsals for Les Sylphides. Oh, and also a dress fitting. I can now tell you, nice reader, that the only thing about the performance which has to do with Les Syphides is the music.
The costumes are pretty, but they are blue and completely different from the ones worn by the sylphids in the ballet. And the choreography is also very, very different. It's neo-classical, kinda contemporary and we don't wear pointe shoes. But I like the whole thing, anyway!

On Saturday we finished learning the choreography. You know I've just been "promoted" from beginners level to intermediate, so I guess you also understand that I feel a little behind the rest of the class. It's more difficult for me to get to remember and perform all the steps and I'm feeling really challenged. But I'm determined to rehearse a lot and I'll do my best!

The performance will be in February 17th, and until then I'll have classes and rehearsals from Monday to Saturday; at least eight hours a week (well that's crazy, innit!). Oh, and my choreographer told me that whenever I have free time I can go to the studio to practice. Free time? Me? You know that now I'm in Salamanca just because of ballet, right? I have no uni classes! I'd be in the studio during the whole day if possible! So maybe I'll get to add some more private lessons with her so I can work on my déboulés and soutenus, which are giving me a lot of trouble... and unfortunately there are lots of them in the choreography!

That's all for now!
I leave you with a quote by my choreographer:
"Give a hundred per cent of your dancing during rehearsals so when I ask you for 120% during the performance you won't run out of stamina! Make the most of every rehearsal!"


P.S.: I had to buy a knee bandage because my right knee was giving me a little trouble due to my falling on it over and over again during the beginning of the choreography.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Is there any word that your ballet teacher says a lot?

Mine, apart from "¡no!", likes to shout "¡TALÓN!" all the time. It literally means "heel!", but not literally, it means "push your heel forward so I can see your turnout, damn it!!!".
So basically, if we're doing a series of relevés, we hear something like this: "¡uno, talón, hop, talón, tres, talón, cuatro, talón, hop, talón, hop, talón, etc.!"
And the same happens when it comes to tendus and jetés: "¡y, fuera, talón, fuera, talón, fuera, fuera, fuera, talón!"

Kinda funny, guys!

This is not even possible!
Venus Villa's turnout
Remember your turnout!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

Hi everybody!

How's this new year going? For me, quite well, even though I spent the first week really stressed due to bureaucracy. I hatehatehatehate it! But some hours ago I sent the last envelope to the correct address and now I'm happy to say I am free!! I am back in Salamanca and I'm allowed to do nothing but dance, read and write, because I already did my exams in December. Big YAY until February 13th!

So I have never, ever, written a list of new year's resolutions. We don't do that in Spain, nice reader. But some things just came across my mind and then I thought: "hey! I could do those during 2012! They are perfectly achievable in a year!". So this is my super short list:

  • Learn Catalan. I know: nobody can learn a language in a year (unless you're the most intelligent person on Earth). But the thing is, I already know Catalan. I know I do! I can perfectly understand it, both reading and listening. But I never dare saying it's one of my working languages, because I always struggle when it comes to "producing" the language. Catalan is kind of similar to French and I can't help but mix them in my head. If I start speaking Catalan, I always end up saying things in French and so on. So yeah, by the end of this year I'll be speaking and writing Catalan fluently, you'll see!
  • Become a translator and a teacher. Just six months to go and it'll be done. I just need to pass three more subjects and write a long Bachelor's Degree Thesis (on dance, nice reader! I got to mix translation and dance for the last essay of my degree!) and I'll become an official translator. Obviously, I still have lots of things to learn, but for now I'll be happy with my Degree thingy. The teacher will come later, because I'm probably going to work in France as a Spanish Language Assistant in October. Pretty nice, huh?
  • Pirouette. I just need to be able to do some clean singles before I even think of doubles. I am getting better, yes. I can pirouette, but I just want to be comfortable and get to measure the amount of impulse that I need, both en pointe and in soft slippers. The round fouettés will come when I am fully aware where my weight is and where it should be.
  • Always dance like nobody is watching. This may be cliché, but I have realised that I dance way better when I forget about everything and everybody. I must get to find this feeling every single time I practice.
  • Work hard... in every aspect of my life.

Also, can I haz Lucía Lacarra's arabesque? Plz!? *_*
 Photo: Stanislav Belyaevsky
And that's pretty much all.
Be happy, y'all!