Learning the Fred Step, the Lyrics to the Entry of the Swans and a Good Deal More ....

Author Jane Lambert
© 2019 Powerhouse Ballet: All rights reserved
















I am glad to tell every member of Powerhouse Ballet and its many friends and wellwishers in the United Kingdom and elsewhere that its future is assured.  A meeting was held before our company class at the Dancehouse at which the business plan or road map for our transition from an informal group of friends who like to train together to a registered charity was approved.

For the medium term, we have agreed to organize ourselves as a members' club from the 4 May 2019. We elected a small management committee consisting of Nicola Hodson as Hon. Treasurer, Helena Tarren as Hon. Secretary, Sarah Lambert whose specific responsibilities will be agreed and me as interim chair. We shall charge a modest subscription to be fixed by the committee (initially at no more than £25 per year) and seek contributions for the hire of studios and teachers' and pianists' fees from those attending classes, workshops, rehearsals and other events. We agreed to welcome non-members to our classes when we can but they will be required to pay an additional fee if they do not wish to become members.

Your committee's mission will be to form and register a charitable incorporated organization with the objects of the advancement of education and the promotion of the arts.  The new corporation will take over the management of the company and seek public funding and sponsorship from the private sector.  As soon as we can afford it we shall look for an artistic director who will plan our performances and educational and other outreach activities.   I am very grateful to everyone who attended yesterday's meeting as well as those who could not attend the meeting but indicated that they approved the resolutions.  I am particularly grateful to Nicola, Helena and Sarah for offering their services to the company.

The formalities having been completed and recorded we welcomed Terry Hyde to our number.  Terry was one of the beautiful dancers from Festival Ballet who attracted me to ballet when I was young.  I remember him as the headmistress in Graduation Ball and I must have seen him as Lorenzo in Don Quixote at the Coliseum and also in The Nutcracker at the Festival Hall.  Terry sat quietly in the corner as Mark Hindle put us through our paces.  It was a tougher class than he had given us in June and September. He gave us some horrible things to do but we all had a go and, mirabile dictu, most of us succeeded.  Mark is a wonderful teacher with a great line in repartee.  He has an eye for detail and his corrections are always helpful.  After a very demanding barre, he taught us two delightful enchainments before a joyful grand allegro to end the class.

We welcomed several newcomers to our class including a fellow St Andrean who had danced in the club that I had helped to form over 50 years ago (see Ballet at University 27 Feb 2017 Terpsichore).  I dropped ballet when I left St Andrews because I could not find another class either in Los Angeles where I attended graduate school or London where I read for the Bar.   It was not until I spotted Fiona Noonan's ad for ballercise classes in my gym nearly half a century later that I returned to the barre.  Perhaps we should hold a free class in September for recent graduates of St Andrews (and indeed other leading universities) who start their careers in the Northern Powerhouse region.  We should certainly make them aware of our existence and of our warm welcome to any who want to dance with us.

The cast of Aria held a dress rehearsal after class.   While the dancers were trying on their costumes Terry taught us the Fred step in the next studio.   This was one of Sir Frederick Ashton's hallmarks and he inserted it into most of his works.   It consists or an arabesque, développé, pas de bourée and pas de chat.    This elegant movement requires a little bit of concentration at first, but it does not take long to get into a rhythm.   Before long we were all doing it.   Having learned this new step we returned to the dress rehearsal.   

It was the first time that our dancers had performed in their costumes and all I will say at this point is that our designer and wardrobe mistress, Amelia Sierevogel, is to be congratulated.  I am not going to give any spoilers but be prepared to be amazed.  The artists performed several run-throughs from the top and walkthroughs in front of Terry. He gave the dancers lots of tips and encouragement,   One of the dancers described Terry's job as "amazing" and I agree.

I had prevailed upon Terry to accept a modest fee for teaching us the Fred step but he would accept nothing for his contribution to the rehearsal.  The least I could do was to treat him to a slap-up dinner at the first restaurant from the Dancehouse that would give us shelter from Storm Hannah.  Over murg makhni and rogan josh, Terry told me something about his life and achievements which are considerable. He has had several careers and has shown great enterprise which he attributes in large part to his ballet training.  We compared the theatre to advocacy.  He knew something of the latter having served as a justice of the peace for several years.  And of course, I knew the exhilaration of being on stage as the music starts (see The Time of My Life 28 June 2014).

 One of the most hilarious things he told me is that there are lyrics to the entry of the swans in Swan Lake which the women members of the corps mouth to themselves.  I will never publish those lyrics as it would break a spell but I will ask dancer friends in Holland whether there are similar lyrics in Dutch or, indeed, Russian.   The English lyrics express a grievance that the chaps in the corps can b...... off after Odile and von Rothbart bring down the roof of Siegfried's mum's castle but the women have to stay for a fourth act and take at least one curtain call by which time the men will be at home with their feet up.  I shall write a feature on Terry based on my conversation with him and publish it in Terpsichore.

If you have not already bought your tickets for next week's show I urge you to do so fast.  I shall be dancing though as a student of KNT rather than as a member of Powerhouse Ballet.  The theatre website describes it as a celebration under one very happy roof. 

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