What we can learn from others

Carnival of The Animals 2015 from Marion Pettet on Vimeo.

Chelmsford Ballet Company shows what can be achieved by amateur dancers in this clip from Chris Marney's Carnival of the Animals, but we would have to do a lot of work to reach that point

As a first step we must learn all we can from those who have already set up ballet companies.   I know quite a lot about Chelmsford because I have been a non-dancing associate of that company for the last 4 years, I have attended all their shows since 2014, I receive their newsletters and I once turned up at their annual general meeting.  I have also seen two performances of Duchy Ballet in Cornwall and made the acquaintance of the artistic director, Kay Jones and choreographer, Terence Etheridge. At the end of the month, I shall visit Gillian Barton of Ballet West in Scotland.  Immediately after my visit to Ballet West I will drive to St Andrews to attend a performance of the University's Dance Club which I helped to found nearly 50 years ago (see Ballet at University 27 Feb 2017 Terpsichore).

Chelmsford has existed for nearly 70 years. The company attracts dancers from all parts of Essex and beyond.  Marion Pettet, its chair, once told me that one of her dancing members came from as  far away as Surrey.  It is a massive catchment area comparable to the Northern Powerhouse region. The company has a brilliant artistic director in Annette Potter and a hard working committee chaired by Marion.  It has influential patrons in Doreen Wells and Chris Marney.  It has acquired its own rehearsal studio and storage facilities which I described in At Home with the Chelmsford Ballet.   It has recruited some exceedingly talented techies who could teach professional companies a thing or two about stage sets, costumes and lighting..

One of the reasons why Chelmsford is so good is that it holds monthly company classes which it describes as follows:

"Monthly Company classes are offered both as a way to enable the Company to meet regularly throughout the year in the studio, and as an opportunity to take a non-syllabus class with a variety of distinguished and experienced teachers.

Non-members are welcome to attend, with members being offered a discounted rate. These are a good opportunity to meet other Company members should you be considering auditioning for dancing membership or just wish to experience non-syllabus work. The classes are intended to complement and not replace existing dance classes attended."

Fiona Noonan, who trained at the Queensland Ballet Academy and danced with the Queensland Ballet, has already offered us a master class. 

Chelmsford also arranges special workshops throughout the year and Christmas outings to the West End.   I think we could do that too, especially if we have non-dancing as well as dancing members.  In fact, we could go one better and visit Amsterdam for the Dutch National Ballet's opening night gala and maybe join a class at the Jos Dolstra Dance Instiute.

Ballet West has a different model in that it is a first class ballet school.  However, it includes its Edinburgh and Glasgow associates in its productions some of whom seem quite young.  As it would be difficult to bring them all to Taynuilt for rehearsals I surmise that they must rehearse in local studios.  As I think we would wish to allocate divertissements to members in different cities I look forward to learning from Gillian and her colleagues how that is done.   I also hope to discuss the possibility of a residential workshop at Taynuilt though that may have to be arranged through Terpsichore.

Anyone wishing to discuss any of these matters is invited to send me a message through my contact form.


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