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!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Another trip to London

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!


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!


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!