On Sunday night I happened to catch Darcey Bussell’s New Dance on BBC2. In case you haven’t heard of her, Darcey Bussell was a principal ballerina with the Royal Ballet at the age of 20, and now retired, is currently president of the Royal Academy of Dance and a judge on Strictly Come Dancing.
Here she introduces us to innovative modern dance, with jaw dropping performances by Boy Blue Entertainment (award winning hip hop dance) and Le Patin Libre (amazing contemporary ice dance).
I enjoy watching Strictly, but it is more of a crowd-pleasing type of show, so it’s nice to see some fresh expressions of modern, contemporary dance on mainstream television. There are some fabulous artists out there.
I have just got home from Day 1 of the Adult Summer Dance Intensive hosted by the Rambert Dance Company in their lovely modern studios by Waterloo Station. What a day!
I was a little apprehensive because I was going on my own and I haven’t done any contemporary dance since 2013… Anyway, I got there in plenty of time so I didn’t have to stress about being late.
The classes ran as follows:
10am Contemporary (Carolyn Bolton)
This was our warm up class, which got us doing typical ballet warm-up exercises, such as plies, releve, degage, grande battement etc. Aw, I’ve missed these! Then we moved into doing some contemporary exercises, including travelling corner to corner, jumps and a short routine. This was a lot of fun, but not being used to dancing bare foot lately, my achilles tendons did play up a bit on the jumps section. After this we had a 15 minute break to use the facilities, refill water bottles, grab a healthy snack and stretch.
11.30am Choreography (Stephen Quildan)
I had a feeling we would be creating our own choreography, and that’s exactly what we did! We had six words to interpret through movement: Spiral, Drop, Stab, Blue, Explode, Relax. Then we had to perform these in 2 separate groups in silence, then to a piece of music. The observing group then had to answer questions about the differences they noticed between say, music and silence, making eye contact with your partner or looking straight ahead or at the ceiling. Then we did some silly things at the end, including a dance Chinese Whispers game i.e. pass the move along the line… It really didn’t seem that scary to be performing in front of an audience. Definitely found it easier to come up with choreography in this workshop than I did at the Tap workshop the other day…
We were supposed to be learning the piece ‘Ghost Dances’, but they swapped the repertoire programme for the 2 days around, so we were learning ‘Tomorrow’, which is basically the story of Macbeth backwards. We were learning part of what is performed by the ‘witches’ on one half of the stage. It was so much fun! Lots of jagged movements, fast, slow, pauses, pulsing, shudder, shake! We ended up performing it in one big group with the teacher, Simone, then we performed it without her, then in two groups, then in four small groups (about 6 of us)! SO GOOD! Followed by a much appreciated 15 minute break.
For this class we had a cover teacher, so it took a while to get yoga mats and music sorted, but once we got started the relaxation could begin! My favourite bits were the child’s pose and lying on the mat! We were doing Yin yoga, which meant holding poses for around 4 minutes at a time for ‘deep tissue’ work. Some of it was a bit advanced for me, like even using a foam block didn’t help LOL. I also found my lower back was kind of jarred by it, so I will have to stretch and roll out the muscles this evening.
But not before filling out a feedback form and buying a T-Shirt!
Verdict: A good mixture of ages and abilities (from student to retired), and I didn’t once feel intimidated, even though some people were clearly more experienced dancers. Everyone was very friendly and the teachers who are all Rambert dancers made it a fun and relaxed environment. Being a relatively new building, the facilities are fantastic. Although contemporary dance is done bare foot, some wore socks for the whole day (I did on and off to avoid blisters when turning) and some wore foot thongs. I would thoroughly recommend the dance intensive or any of Rambert’s regular classes if you’re in London. I’m really glad I booked it and I enjoyed the chance to learn from the professionals (and other students) and to dance with such expression. BOOM!
This week I have sorted out what dance I am going to do this Summer, after hearing that there is no Brighton Tap Festival this year.
Yesterday I booked onto Tap Shim Sham with my usual tap teacher, which takes place at Morley on Wednesday 12th July. As it will be a late one getting home, I’m taking the next day off work!
Secondly, I have gone all out and booked a place on the first day of the 2-day Adult Summer Dance Intensive with Rambert, based at Waterloo! I’m nervous, but also really excited! It will give me a chance to do something non-Tap. I’ve been chatting with a lady at Tap class about doing something along the lines of ballet barre or yoga to stretch out a bit, so I might mention it to her if she’s there this evening. It involves Contemporary dance technique, repertoire, choreography and some yoga and Pilates to finish! I’ve booked the following day off so I can recover LOL.
I’ve also since discovered, that my tap teacher is also doing a 2 hour Tap Improvisation & Composition class on Weds 19th July! That would be great, but not sure if that will be one thing too many, with work and the possibility of moving house… Must pace myself.
Anyone else doing any summer schools or festivals this year? How do you find fitting in dance classes and work (and commuting?)?
This week I have been doing daily ten minute Aerobics from YouTube to try and get some cardio into my routine. It seems I have hurt my right shoulder so I had to skip last night’s Floor Barre class. Actually I wonder if Floor Barre caused it!
Next week is the start of The Place’s Summer School. I’m not taking part, but it is something I would be interested in next year, particularly if they do Contemporary Jazz again. £65 for the week is pretty good I think.
This year’s line up has Hofesh Schechter (week 1), Avant Garde Dance (week 2) and Rambert (week 3), with contemporary, ballet and Jazz classes. A great opportunity to learn from the professionals!
Speaking of which. I’m looking again at the Brighton Tap Festival and am thinking about getting a 2 class pass for £45. It will be a good excuse for a day off work!
Oh, and I think my Jason Samuels Smith tap shoes arrived!
Yesterday I schlepped along to Covent Garden to my final class of the 12 week Ballet at the Barre course. I was so tired and a bit stressed from a lot of restructure chaos at work that I wasn’t in the mood for physical exertion, concentration or recalling stuff from last week, but I got there and REALLY ENJOYED IT. There were only 6 or 7 of us, plus our teacher and it was a great class! I decided on my way there to throw myself into it. Remember turnout, engaged core, toes pointed, use the floor, pull up….Dance!
Along with a fellow classmate, I got to perform a sequence on demi-pointe! OMG.
At the end we had time to stretch and fill out our course evaluations. I spoke to my teacher individually and he asked what I was intending to do next. He recommended Ballet Improvers, which I would love to do, but it finishes too late for my one hour journey home to the suburbs afterwards. He also asked if I’ve ever done any Jazz! A little bit, but I’d LOVE to do more. Anyway, he said I can try out the brand new Street Jazz course for free in July if I’m interested, and then that will run properly in September.
I’m really confused because I promised myself I would return to Rhythm Tap at Morley in September (and I’m obsessing over getting those Jason Samuels Smith shoes), but now I don’t want to stop Ballet, but Improvers Ballet at City Lit is too late, and then there’s a new Afro-Contemporary course starting (WOW!!!). What to do?!?!?
In the meantime I start Floor Barre in July for 5 weeks with a one-off Rhythm Tap General class in the middle! 🙂