Rym Kechacha Weblog 2

November 6, 2008 at 2:20 pm (Artist's News, dancers' diaries) (, , , , , )

“We are at the beginning of the long winter tour of Nutcracker. Last week was the last week of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for a while, and this got me thinking about this well-loved, brilliant ballet. I have always been a voracious reader, and among the books I love reading are old ballet books. There is a wealth of information written by balletomanes and critics about ballet in Britain when it was beginning to take off as a serious and attended art form. I find this era is so fascinating, and it is the role of the touring ballet troupes who travelled the length and breadth of the British Isles to bring ballet to the masses, and the reaction of…”

Read the rest of this post on Rym’s blog

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Rym Kechacha Weblog

October 28, 2008 at 10:20 am (Artist's News, dancers' diaries) (, , , , , )

Rym Kechacha is a dancer with Northern Ballet Theatre, joining the company from The Central School of Ballet in August 2008. While at Central School Rym kept a weblog for Ballet.co.uk and the entries continue now.

Click here to read Rym’s blog

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Hannah’s diary part III

October 13, 2008 at 11:06 am (Artist's News, dancers' diaries) (, , , , , , , )

Hannah Bateman

Hannah Bateman updates us on news from the tour:

I have just seen it’s a month since I last wrote so I have some catching up to do! The week’s run at the West Yorkshire Playhouse went very well and with hindsight I think I should have appreciated the scale of the WYP stage a little more! The next two venues we took A Tale of Two Cities to were Nottingham and Sheffield and although these are wonderful theatres with very warm audiences, they are not known for their stage size and are also raked (on a slope)!

This production was slightly unusual as we only had two casts. We normally work with three to four casts and the corps de ballet are interchangeable within each one. I only performed in the first cast so I had the rare chance to sit out front and watch the show as an audience member. I tried to sit and watch the show as if it were new to me and not just look at the part I also perform. The only time I was caught out was when I was sat flinching in preparation for the gunshots! I have to say, I really enjoyed the show: I thought it was a very attractive piece, the costumes and the lighting. For us on stage the lighting felt very dark and didn’t allow for much sight beyond the orchestra pit but from out front it looked fabulous and there were moments when Georgina looked like she had been borrowed from the set of a Jane Austen adaptation.

The week after the Playhouse saw us back at base at West Park in rehearsals for The Nutcracker and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and, for the girls, La Bayadere. We also had a few rehearsals for Rhapsody in Blue from I Got Rhythm, which is one of the pieces we are taking to Milan. David and Yoko weren’t there for the whole of the week as they had both travelled to Slovenia to set David’s Nutcracker. So, while we rehearsed in Leeds for two weeks, David and Yoko were representing NBT in Slovenia and Kenny and Keiko were representing us in Miami. Out of the many couples in Miami, from major companies around the world including the likes of Stuttgart Ballet and Royal Ballet of Flanders, Kenny and Keiko were one of only two couples to be reviewed very warmly in the press. It was a huge accomplishment to be invited there and to be reviews so positively is the icing on the cake. It seems that NBT is becoming internationally recognised, not just for its dancers but also its director and his choreography.

Dan kept us all busy and base with the help of Andria Hall. She is a great coach and soon had all the Snowflakes and Flowers under control, looking clean, crisp and very together. She also worked a lot with the pas de deux couples and I watched a couple of those rehearsals; it still amazes me that we have four couples who can all do the pas to such a high standard – not bad for a company of just 40 dancers, The fouettes at the end of all that work for the girls are so hard and they can all do them so easily and actually make them look fun and exciting! Yi Song has come into his own this season and looks very Prince like – he must have been inspired by the Olympics in his home country. It’s a joy to watch someone’s talent really start to blossom.

Our next venue on tour was Nottingham. I love this theatre as it holds special memories for me. I loved dancing one of the sisters in Beauty and the Beast there in my first year; dancing the Nurse to Chiaki’s Juliet and I also danced my first Juliet there as well. But it is raked so Tuesday tech days are always difficult. You get to the stage after two days off; it’s raked so you know it will take double the time to get back on your legs after the weekend. It’s always amusing spotting the new members faces as they realise they have to negotiate the rake. Some have never been on a rake before and it’s scary at first but you soon get used to it. There will always be those who don’t get affected by it though – oh to be Keiko for a day! Also, because the stage slopes down, you must remember to use the brakes on props. We almost lost Scrooge to the orchestra pit one year as his bed went wheeling down. The audiences in Nottingham, while not huge, were warm and it felt like they were really captured by the piece.

The week after saw us in Sheffield, again a lovely theatre but raked and even smaller than Nottingham. We had to change some entrances and exits of people and props but I think it worked well in the space and provided an intimate experience. Space is so important to dance; it can make the atmosphere cosy or cold and also help or hinder our work. It did feel like we were doing Flintstone runs at times (where you run on the spot imagining you are running a great distance at speed) but Dan assured us we didn’t and he was pleased with the shows.

We are back at West Park now for another week and in full Nutcracker mode as well as keeping A Midsummer Night’s Dream ticking over. Midsummer will see all the new members of the Company on stage and by the time we open The Nutcracker in Hull I am sure they will be feeling a lot more confident and comfortable.

Milan this week for a lucky few of us so I promise to write all about that and I may even test my technology knowledge and try to include some photos! The end of last week saw a photo shoot for Wuthering Heights, Swan Lake and La Bayadere pictures for next season, which will be on us before we know it. In the back of our minds is the thought that this year we will be at home in Leeds for Christmas and not on tour. But that is far off – before that we have over 50 shows of The Nutcracker – that’s a lot of snow!

Till next time. Hannah xoxo

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Hannah’s diary part II

September 1, 2008 at 1:28 pm (Artist's News, dancers' diaries) (, , , , , , )

Hi all. Well it is Sunday night and the excitement of first night is still in the air but the tiredness has set in big time! At the moment the thought of working tomorrow is hurting me and I would really like to sleep for a while, but then I remember that Monday night is another first night (for 2nd cast) and I get another burst of excitement!! The last two weeks have been a real build up experience and for so long our focus has been 30 August that when you get to that date being a page away in your diary you have a feeling of being propelled forward. The momentum begins to take force and you forget about fatigue and generally all manner of normal life and you get a complete tunnel vision for opening night, first night, the Première!  

We concentrated on details for the first half of the third rehearsal week with Dan guiding us through, then by Thursday Cathy was back with us after a check in on her dancers at Bern. We then ran the ballet twice on the Thursday. 2nd cast in the morning and 1st in the afternoon along with some major note sessions! Notes are mostly done after a run or rehearsal. Some choreographers shout notes out to you as you are dancing and others remain silent and give them at the end of the piece. Cathy watches very closely and so concentrated, and dictates notes to Dan and then they go back over them with us after. David is much more physical and calls them out to us as we are dancing and also remembers huge volumes of details to go over with us after the rehearsal. You always know where you stand with David as you can tell how the rehearsal is going by the way he is sitting. Every now and then he sits right back in his chair and simple enjoys watching his dancers. Cathy sits quietly and everyone gets on with their work and not till the end, until she speaks do get a sense of whether you have given her what she has asked for. I didn’t realise how used to David’s way we were, until Cathy came and at first I was really worried that she didn’t like what we were producing in the studio. This is just another example of the many different ways that choreographers like to work and proves that there is no one right way!

On the Friday of the third week we had a costume parade. With only a week to go until opening night, the whole of our wonderful wardrobe team had their fingers crossed. It is a trying time. If all the costumes fit then the wardrobe girls have an easy week but if they don’t they have only seven days to get it fixed and two of those days are days off, Sunday and the bank holiday. As everyone puts their costumes on, in order of appearance and stand with their partners or dancing groups you can hear the silent pleading of the wardrobe girls. ‘Please let the guys be able to lift their arms about their heads in those jackets’, ‘Please let the jackets do up across the chest and still allow the dancer to breath’, ‘Please don’t let there be an indecent exposure as that girl does a back bend in an over head lift’ and the classic ‘Please let that seam be strong enough in those trousers so we aren’t subjected to any, bright white checks’ !!! As it happens the complaints came in thick and fast and all the wardrobe ladies jotted down every needed alterations and of course achieved the impossible and come opening night everyone was in a costumes and nearly 100 % happy!!! Costumes are a funny thing. You know how good you feel, when you first slip on a brand new pair of shoes (well I do) a costume can do exactly that and it can really boost your confidence and performance. If you look the part, you feel the part. Our wardrobe team are great and really bend over backwards for all our funny requests, ‘please can I have really tight elastic on my pants around my left leg more than the right leg’ or ‘please can I have that style of dress cause I have broad shoulders and wide arm pits’, believe me I have heard these things being asked for. Lucky for me, Kim, Laura and Micky all know about my large head and always pick out the biggest hat for me or at least put a big chin elastic on!

On Friday afternoon we had all the little and young Lucie’s in and it was time to teach them their steps for the show, you have to be patience and calm but working with children  is very rewarding and to be around children and their energy and excitement for dancing is really special. The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol are great shows for that. 
By the end of Saturday we were ready for our rest days of Sunday and Monday and of course the weeks run up to 30 August.

Tuesday was a rehearsal day at West Park, it was busy, with rehearsals for A Tale of Two Cities, Miami, Milan and The Nutcracker. Wednesday was slow, a whole day and night in the theatre for light plotting. This is vital as lighting is so important. But it is a funny experience to be all made up and in costume and then just stand in different places on the stage as the production team organise different shades of light on you. It is a very quiet time, as the team are all sat at a desk in the middle of the auditorium discussing and we as dancers stand on the stage and occasionally move from spot to spot, scene to scene. It’s the first day in the theatre and you are eager to get going. We normally work out all our marks on the stage and where to put props and spacing, basically ground work to make the coming runs, go as smoothly as possible. By Thursday night we had run the ballet even if it was 2nd act first then 1st act and we had done it with the Orchestra for the first time too. Friday was 2nd casts go at a run in the afternoon and of course Friday night was the offical Dress rehearsal for our Friends. This is really exciting for us dancers. It’s the first time we get any feed back from the public, and a time when a lot of our questions are answered. Will the Friends find that bit funny, will they laugh ? Will they applaud after that section? Will they like it? Saturday afternoon was for Cathy to do last minute changes and after an excellent, enthusiastic class from our boss we felt ready for the Première.

The show went really well, of course there were a couple of hiccups but nothing major. Everyone had given their best and it was a great example of NBT team work. This show really relies on 100% commitment from every dancer and everyone back stage and it all came together. It feels like we can go even further with it and as we do more shows I am sure we will find new areas of the piece to explore. We are lucky as artists that we have that artistic freedom given to us by David to do this. I was yet again proud to be a dancer at NBT. But one of the best bits was seeing Mr Nixon really enjoy an opening night, the stress of the night belonged to Cathy! She seemed very pleased with the performance and I know she was proud. I hope NBT’s path and Cathy’s cross again, if only to see her another beautiful opening night outfit of hers!  Next week we meet Mark Godden for a piece for the upcoming triple bill, the excitement just keeps coming, 

Till next time, 
love Hannah xoxo

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Dancer Hannah Bateman keeps us updated on rehearsals.

August 18, 2008 at 8:55 am (Artist's News, dancers' diaries) (, , , , , )

Hannah Bateman - Junior SoloistAs the second week of our rehearsal period draws to a close I thought it was a good time to keep all you readers up to date! We weren’t quite sure how pushed for time we would feel for this ballet (A Tale of Two Cities). On paper it looked like we had plenty of time, two weeks in January and four weeks at the end of the last season in June and four weeks (just) after the summer break until opening on 30th of August. But Cathy’s work is a very different style to David’s and you never know how quickly you can adapt and give the choreographer what she needs, until you get in the studio.


We were all very excited about the prospect of this new ballet and keen to get into it. Cathy managed to get a lot of work done in January mainly focusing on the pas de deux and a few pieces in the corp. This gave us a head start for when we came back to it at the end of last season. Daniel (our ballet master) kept us in check as we revisited these bits of work whilst touring Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo & Juliet, before Cathy’s return in June.


In the four weeks before our summer break we managed to finish the ballet and left for the holidays with a couple of full runs under our belts. The first week back was a teaching week where we all helped to pass on our knowledge of the piece to our second and third casts. Due to injuries we have two main casts not the normal three and then a lot of ‘just in case’ or understudies. We completed another run today of first cast and it is starting to feel real. It sometimes takes a little while to build up a cohesive feel in the corp and because of the style of this piece it has taken time to get on top of the steps and the counts! But today felt like a real step forward. It feels good to be at the point of run through, we now have had time to clean it and we can concentrate on ironing out the few remaining creases. We have section of the ballet that we have nicknamed Shidoko! It is a real test for the eight or so corp dancers that have to dance it as it relies heavily on counts and counting, counting, counting! I am not involved in this section but every time I watch it I am amazed at my colleagues. There is beautiful umbrellas pas de deux to look out for which is complete contrast to the pas de deux that follows that is incredible powerful and transports me to another place every time I watch it. I have to admit it brings tear to my eye. But I am quite good at getting carried away with how powerful dance can be!


Today was also the first rehearsal for our trip to Milan! Well actually it was Jon and Julie’s first rehearsal for the pas de deux from The Nutcracker, which they will showcase in Milan. They were both superb. I think it is a real testament to David (Nixon, Artistic Director) and Yoko (Ichino, Ballet Mistress) that two corp de ballet members (all be it extremely talented ones) can run from start to finish the full Nutcracker pas de deux and look as great as they did today. They haven’t danced it since December last year and they remembered every count and were very technically accurate. I love that I work with a group a people that constantly impress me; I feel truly privileged at times.


We are also very excited (if not a little jealous) that Kenny (Tindall) and Keiko (Amemori) will be representing NBT at the International Ballet Festival in Miami. This is a massive achievement for the company. It really feels like things are on the up for NBT, and as we look ahead to Christmas and all the work we have to get are teeth into, it’s a great foundation to build on for our 40th anniversary year in 2009.


It’s our last week in the studio next week. There are a couple more run throughs to finish off this week, and this will really make a Sunday off feel deserved. The lighting designer is in today, so fingers crossed we do Cathy proud.


Next week the costumes arrive and the excitement really begins to build as we pack up our skips (our personal belongings) and set our sights on the West Yorkshire Playhouse. You always get a real kick of adrenalin the first time you see the set and that just builds and builds especially when we get to hear the orchestra for the first time.


All my digs are booked for the season and I feel ready and organised just have to think about “Chukkas” and of course all of those steps. For those of you not in the know “Chukkas” is NBT’s way for saying good luck. We all exchange cards and gifts on opening night (think mini Christmas) and before the curtain goes up we run round wishing everyone “Chukkas” for their first show. When ever we première a new ballet we do this and even mid season if someone premières a new role everyone remembers to get them a “chukkas” gift and wish them “chukkas”. There will be a couple of individual premières to look out for this season as well as the whole Company’s première in A Tale of Two Cities. We normally give themed gifts and I have to say I am finding this ballet a bit difficult to buy for; it doesn’t seem right to give someone a good luck guillotine! Maybe wine will suffice seen as it’s set partly in France (any excuse!).


Well I will draw to a close now. I hope to see some of you at the ‘dancing with Cathy’ event next week and of course, all of you at A Tale of Two Cities. Seriously, your support is invaluable and we as dancers are nothing without an audience to perform to, so thank you in advance, I am sure you will really enjoy this ballet and just a hint, bring a tissue!


Till next week,


Love Hannah.










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