Responding to Philippa Price - Why Performance is so important

 Philippa Price posted the following remark to Facebook:

Philippa Price

You have been extremely generous Jane, and I thank you again for the opportunity to engage personally in a high quality artistic experience, and also that you have done so much to support dance art in such difficult times.
I’m sure everyone values what you have organised and funded, and wishes you well, and will support your aims for your new company. Best wishes! Philippa

 Even though she lives a long way from the North of England, Philippa has supported the Powerhouse Ballet project.  We first met her when she attended Sophie Richardson's class in Birmingham and she attended many of our online classes throughout the second lockdown.   I acknowledged her remark as follows:

Jane Lambert
Thank you, Philippa. You attended Sophie Richardson's class in Birmingham and many of our remote classes during the lockdown. Your comments and contribution deserve a fuller response which I am just about to set out in an article for Powerhouse Ballet's website. I will announce when it is published.

This is my promised response.

I founded Powerhouse Ballet to give those who want it a chance to perform in public.  Throughout my adult life, I must have watched an average of 50 ballets a year, read countless programme notes, newspaper reviews and just about every book or article on ballet that I could lay my hands on.  I had even taken a few classes when I was at St Andrews 53 years ago and I learnt a great deal more from Fiona Noonan who led me back to the barre over 40 years later, Annemarie Donoghue whose classes I have attended regularly since 2013 and more recently Karen Sant, Jane Tucker, Mark Hindle and many other great teachers. 

But I only began to understand ballet when dear Annemarie offered me the chance to perform in Northern Ballet Academy's end of term show at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre in Leeds.  I wrote about the experience in The Time of My Life on 28 June 2014.  In that show, I felt for the first time the heat of the spotlights, experienced an adrenalin rush as the music sounded and sensed an audience that I couldn't see just a few feet away.

That last sensation made me realize for the first time that ballet (like theatre generally) is two-way communication between artist and audience.   You can only learn that truth from the stage and unless and until you have experienced it for yourself you can never really understand ballet however many performances you may have watched, however much you have read or even how far you have advanced in your RAD or ISTD grade exams.

Many have asked why I don't charge for classes and workshops and my answer has always been that Powerhouse Ballet is a company and not a school.  The Royal Ballet does not charge its dancers to attend class because class is part of their job.  Neither should we.  

But the other side of the coin is that if you are going to perform even as an adult student you need to train and rehearse.   Before she allowed us anywhere near a stage, Annemarie gave us a 30-minute session called a choreography class but actually a rehearsal after our usual ballet class.   Karen did the same wherever she staged a show in the Dancehouse.  And the dancers in our first ballet, Aria, trained and rehearsed regularly between September 2018 and May 2019 even though it was an imposition for the Welsh members to travel to Yorkshire and for the members east of York to travel to Manchester.  I know because I participated in every class and watched every rehearsal. 

Performance needs commitment and not every dance student can give that commitment because of career, family or other priorities.  I recognize that which is why I am introducing a Friends scheme.   There will still be classes that Friends can attend but they will have to contribute a little towards the studio hire, insurance and teacher's fee.  Cast members who commit to training and rehearsing will continue to pay nothing.   As and when we raise sufficient revenue from advertising, grants and sponsorship they will be helped first with their expenses and later they will be paid for rehearsing and performing.

If this formula works in the North we shall repeat it elsewhere so that our good friends in Shropshire, London and elsewhere can participate properly in our project in local studios and theatres. 


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