This class was a real treat. As well as the regular barres at the sides and back of the room, we also had two portable barres in the centre; while three dancers - including Muriel Valtat - were hanging onto the piano. So there was quite a crowd.
I nearly fell off the bench when I realized Darcey Bussell had walked in - but there were plenty of other well-known names to raise blood pressure among the fans: Leanne Benjamin, Tamara Rojo, Marianela Nunez, Mara Galeazzi...and Alina Cojocaru, who was hiding in the corner. Especially lovely to see Belinda Hatley back with the company again.
The barre work was fascinating, as usual, with all the little differences in the way people begin to warm up. Once they'd moved into the centre, though, things got more exciting and also more crowded (we had a couple of near collisions).
There were so many people I wanted to watch that I could have done with four more heads. In the end I concentrated on Darcey, while trying to watch the other principal and first soloist ladies (and
ALL the men!) When is someone going to video these classes so we can study them properly.
The combinations of steps looked gorgeous and fun to do. (Also intricate and difficult!) I suspect half the audience felt like getting up and having a go themselves. The pianist (whose name I can't tell you, sorry) was simply wonderful. The music he'd chosen was haunting at first (there was a certain amount of humming-along from the dancers) then got bouncier and bouncier until the audience could hardly sit still.
Suddenly the class was over. (What? Already? I could have stayed for another week.) A wonderful morning and I left in a complete daze.
According to the list downstairs, the dancers we saw were:
Christopher Saunders, Leanne Benjamin, Darcey Bussell, Alina Cojocaru, Tamara Rojo, Jane Burn, Mara Galeazzi, Belinda Hatley, Marianela Nunez,Jaimie Tapper, Muriel Valtat, Marta Barahona, Hubert Essakow, Vanessa Palmer, Tomoko Furuya, Bennet Gartside, Victoria Hewitt, Maurice Vodegel-Matzen, Natalie Decorte, Francesca Filpi, Vanessa Fenton, Iohna Loots, Laura McCulloch, Ernst Meisner, Natasha Oughtred, Johannes Stepanek, Jose Maria Tirado, Jamie Bond, Tara Bhavnani, Pietra Mello Pittman, Lauren Cuthbertson, James Wilkie, Viviana Mastrella and Emma Jane Maguire. (Apologies if I have spelled anyone's name incorrectly.)