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Subject: "The Royal Ballet In Class" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #1703
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Pete

25-05-01, 11:33 PM (GMT)
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"The Royal Ballet In Class"
 
   LAST EDITED ON 25-05-01 AT 11:58 PM (GMT)

Royal Ballet in Class

I had no idea what to expect as I entered the ROH from an overcast fresh Friday morning in the Covent Garden piazza. I collected my ticket and made my way to the Clore studio upstairs admiring the sheer architectural magnificence of the house. I naturally polished my shoes on the escalator (thanks Jim). The queue had already formed at 10.10am and I took a seat to the left of the studio following the advice posted by David. As I took my seat I became aware of two dancers limbering up - Martin Harvey (separated at birth from Jonathan Cope) and one who I didn’t recognise immediately - Marianella Nunez.
I can recall a rather cruel comment posted about her on this site regarding her figure. Seeing her in the Clore today reinforced that she has quite simply blossomed from a teenager into a young woman -she looked sleek, lean and absolutely gorgeous. Both were stretching their bodies from toe to head. I thought to myself - ‘only two dancers eh, oh well at least they’re good ‘uns.’

Suddenly the double doors to my left were opened and a sporadic parade of well known faces entered the studio, glancing only at potential places at the barre. Emily Low, Edward Watson, Bennet Gartside, Vanessa Palmer just to name a few well known faces, all wearing baggy but hole-free clothing, no scruffy worn pants & shirts -has the trend for wearing battle worn gear lapsed or is this simply looking the better for the public?.

And in walked Tamara Rojo, her shimmering black number with pink piping contrasting with her porcelain complexion and matching her beautiful dark eyes. I heard a lady near me remark ‘Oh wow’ echoing my reaction. She is so tiny but she casts such a huge presence. She took her place at the next place available at the barre, centre stage. The area was quickly filled with 18 dancers and a mobile barre was carried in to be occupied by three including Bennet Gartside.

The guest teacher introduced himself as the dancers bent their heads to their ankles, as David Howard who modestly stated that he had taught in a few different countries and was a dancer in the fifties & sixties. Mr Howard has been in many films, musicals & TV shows, was a dancer at the London Palladium ‘55-’57 and the Sadlers Wells Theatre Ballet & RB from ‘57-’63, he was with the Nat. Ballet of Canada 63-64 and has been teaching since 1965. He was the Director of Harkness Ballet School and ran his own ballet school in New York. He explained that class is a very personal & usually private thing for a dancer and that they did not particularly welcome the idea of an audience being present. Given that class is an everyday routine for a professional dancer that’s not too suprising -how would you like an audience of 180 scrutinising the way you cleaned your teeth.

Each segment of the class was divided into levels, starting with light movements at the barre. Please excuse my naivete in terminology but they started with light exercises - demi-plie, rond de jambe a terre, fondu, battement decage & battement tenduand other exercises. The amount of effort require to control the body was incredible in developpe exercises. All 'morning pallor' was replaced by a healthy glow as exercises progressed to Rond de jamb en l’air, grand battement, grand plie.

The barre was abandoned and the dancers moved to the centre - brisse, promenade en arabesque, entrechat, glissade then the moves progressed to sissonne fermee, grand jete, coupe jete en tournant, fouette en tournant each dancer playing to us in a spectacular tour de force. All of the dancers seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely -making me personally wish that I had been a little more open minded as a child to dismiss any sterotypes about dancing. These guys & girls are the finest athletes, & we are so very lucky to have such a great company.

What an incredible two hours for a tenner! The day was incredible, infomative and enjoyable stuff. I’ll book early next time. I suggest you do the same!

PS If anyone can give me a list of the participating dancers I would be grateful.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: The Royal Ballet In Class Tomoko.A 26-05-01 1
     RE: The Royal Ballet In Class sylvia 26-05-01 2
  The Royal Ballet In Class Justin 27-05-01 3
     RE: The Royal Ballet In Class martinjay 27-05-01 4
     RE: The Royal Ballet In Class Steven 27-05-01 5
  RE: The Royal Ballet In Class Robert 09-06-01 6
     RE: The Royal Ballet In Class Pete 09-06-01 7
     RE: The Royal Ballet In Class martinjay 29-06-01 9

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Tomoko.A

26-05-01, 00:13 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: The Royal Ballet In Class"
In response to message #0
 
   Thank you for your interesting report, Pete. I wish I had been there ! Watching dancers in class must be as exciting as watching their performances on stage. Maybe it's worth taking a day off (I don't live in London).


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sylvia

26-05-01, 03:39 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: The Royal Ballet In Class"
In response to message #1
 
   LAST EDITED ON 26-05-01 AT 03:44 AM (GMT)

I was a bit curious - do the RB dancers usually have a choice of classes to take? Do they choose to take these public classes in the Clore studio, or are they required to take one every few months for the benefit of ROH?

BTW, thanks so much for the report! I've only managed to watch a tiny bit of a class during an ROH tour but I did get to see Johan Kobborg in centre - your report makes me want to see the whole thing too!


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Justin

27-05-01, 02:18 PM (GMT)
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3. "The Royal Ballet In Class"
In response to message #0
 
   A few more thoughts:

First, thanks to those who posted here advising me of how and where to get the most of the class on Friday. Since my wife and I had gone to the trouble of taking a day off work and arranging child-minding, we got there early, followed advice to the letter and were first into the Clore, taking central front row seats. I think it's true that there are no bad seats in the Clore, but these were worth the queuing, though we did have to be somewhat forceful in ensuring that the queue wasn't jumped when we got to the terrace bar.

Overall, I can't think of a better way to spend two hours, and £10, than seeing the class: it was magnificent. Being fairly new to ballet I wasn't too good at putting names to faces, though I did recognise and enjoy watching Edward Watson, whom I have admired for a while. I wasn't sure whether I was going to focus on individuals or watch the whole class, but I ended up doing the former. One comment on clothing: I did find it more enjoyable watching those dancers who weren't wearing very baggy clothing: Tamara Rojo was beautiful but the fishing-style 'waders' she was wearing didn't enhance the experience for me! (Please don't misinterpret this as a criticism of her or any of the others: this is THEIR class and definitely not a performance, and what they wear should not be influenced by the fact that there is an 'audience'.) From where I was sitting I also found it easier to watch those on the lighter and more sunny side of the studio, which was the right-hand side: the other side is somewhat gloomy.

I can't improve on Pete's description of the technical content of the class, except to add that, towards the end, it did become much more of a performance (a 'circus', according to one of the participants), though a very light-hearted one, with both male and female dancers putting on some crowd-pleasers and not worrying too much if they didn't come off - I don't suppose they get much opportunity to do that and they seemed to enjoy it.

As for names, I can add very little: only that the tall male dancer (looking a little like Pete Sampras) at the barre on the right-hand wall (opposite Martin Harvey) was José Maria Tirado, newly arrived in London from Germany. He told me he prefers London to Germany, it being more lively and like his home-town Madrid (except when it rains). I noticed him talking in Spanish to Tamara Rojo and commented that there were quite a lot of Spanish speakers at the Royal Ballet now. From watching the evening performance of 'Song of the Earth' I concluded that the blond man with the bandana must be either Richard Ramsey or Brian Maloney.

I too would love a complete list of dancers, if anyone could supply it: in particular, I'd like to know the name of the girl in the right hand corner furthest from the piano, at the barre on the wall with the door in it: she impressed me very much but I don't know who she is! Any ideas?


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martinjay

27-05-01, 05:50 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: The Royal Ballet In Class"
In response to message #3
 
   Justin,

Glad you enjoyed class on Friday, it was one of the best public classes this season. (By the way, I was the one with the walking stick and shorts standing behind you in the queue).

Class this time was interesting for the middle section where the dancers did floor exercises other than the usual stretches. I'm pleased to say the Ben Gartside & Martin Harvey always turn it into more of a performance at the end.Usually, the manager in charge will have a good idea of who's dancing - but don't be afraid to ask.

I hope you'll consider it worthwhile enough to attend again. Details are published in the advance booking brochure available in July.

Best wishes.

PS I though the blond with bandana was Thomas Whitehead, but I stand to be corrected!


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Steven

27-05-01, 06:53 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: The Royal Ballet In Class"
In response to message #3
 
   I wasn't at this class, Justin, but Richard Ramsey is dark haired, Brian Maloney is blond, if that helps.


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Robert

09-06-01, 01:43 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: The Royal Ballet In Class"
In response to message #0
 
   This is the list of participants you asked for, sorry it is late but I have only just read your report.
Tom Sapsford
Martin Harvey
Vanessa Palmer
Ernst Meisner
Natalie Decortes
Tamara Rojo
Ed Watson
Marianella Nunez
Antoine Jully
Helen Crawford
Jose Maria Tirado
Laura McCulloch
Emily Low
Ben Gartside
Marie Doutrepont
Gemma Sykes
Johannes
Brian

As a regular at these classes, I must say that they are always informative and great fun


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Pete

09-06-01, 06:42 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: The Royal Ballet In Class"
In response to message #6
 
   Thank you so much for this posting Robert!
I will certainly do my best to attend the next class & hope to meet you and other regulars there. A truly fascinating day!


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martinjay

29-06-01, 08:56 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: The Royal Ballet In Class"
In response to message #6
 
   Robert,

Pleases accept my apologies for not having posted sooner regarding your message.

Thank you for the information, (though as I mentioned in a previous post, I thought Tom Whitehead was also present) can you or anyone else please tell me whether there exists a 'mug shot' listing of all RB dancers? It would make life so much easier and more interesting.

Many thanks.


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