February's Company Class: The Faces Say it All

February Company Class, The Dancehouse, 29 Feb 2020
Author Sarah Lambert © 2020 Powerhouse Ballet All rights reserved

Despite last-minute cancellations caused by illness, bad weather and rail disruption we had a great company class at the Dancehouse in Manchester yesterday.  Our guest ballet mistress, Jane Tucker of Northern Ballet Academy, was on top form.  She made us work hard but, as you can see from the expressions, on our faces we enjoyed every minute of it.

Jane's classes (like those of Annemarie Donoghue and other teachers at the Academy who practise the Ichino technique) begin with a thorough warm-up.  We start with a gentle walk around the studio, move our arms, break into a trot, change direction, skip facing in and facing out, perform Jumping Jacks, head rolls and stretches.  We loosen up our limbs with tendus facing the barre, more head rolls and port de bras.  Perhaps because it takes me longer to warm up than it used to do, I appreciate that preparation.

Jane gave us all the usual barre exercises - pliés, tendus, glissés in various combinations folloowed by ronds de jambe, frappés, fondus, cloches and grands battements.  She then called us to the centre for tendus, an adagio, chassés, pas de bourré, pirouettes single or double en dehors and dedans. an exercises that starts off with what seems to be a pas de basque followed by a balancé turn, pirouettes and chaînés, warm up jumps glissades, jetés and assemblés ending with a glorious grand allegro which is always my favourite bit of any class.

We had hired Jane for two hours to give us an opportunity to rehearse Waltz of the Flowers but Jane recommended a longer rehearsal time for that. Instead, she gave us a longer class and will fix a rehearsal for another day. 

Our next event is a full-day workshop in Leeds with Mark Hindle on 14 March 2020. Mark will teach us the Snowflakes scene from Act I of The Nutcracker.  There are two reasons why we are learning repertoire. The first is to stage a mixed bill with our own new works such as Aria and Morning this year in a theatre in Leeds or Manchester as part of another school or company show.  We shall also offer that mixed bill to care homes. hospitals, day centres and other places with residents that cannot easily attend the theatre.  The second is to stage our own full-length ballet in a year or two.  We have a long way to go before we reach that point but, as British Rail used to say, we are getting there.

I have two ballet projects, namely Terpsichore and the company, which I am trying to coordinate together with a third, namely talks by choreographers, dancers, composers and others and visits to companies and ballet schools.  As many of our members come from Birmingham and Wales we have to do more for them.  Sarah Lambert is looking for studio space in Birmingham for a full day or weekend workshop with Terence Etheridge and Alicia and Holly have put me in touch with the owner of a studio in Mold that can host a day-long workshop with Martin Dutton of the Hammond.   We have also got to decide whether "Powerhouse" is a suitable appellation for a company with members from Lincoln, North Wales and Birmingham.

There will be opportunities for discussing all of this later.  In the meantime, I should like to thank Jane for another outstanding class and everybody who attended it for making it such fun.


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