A Dancer in Macau, part 2

July 20, 2010 at 10:54 am (Dancers, dancers' diaries, Hong Kong & Macau 2010, Overseas Tour) (, , , , )

Here’s Hannah‘s final report from the international tour…

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Friday in Macau

We had class today at 12.30 – 13.45, then straight into the tech at 14.00- 17.00 with the Orchestra here in Macau. Time for a quick swim after early breakfast, a dip in the pool is a really great way to start a day! The tech went really well and the Orchestra sounded great, I keep my ear’s open as it’s only human nature to go on auto pilot after hearing the recording for a week or so. A live orchestra really does give a show that extra lift and edge of excitement. The show was a success and people of Macau relished the chance to scream ‘yes’ to believing in fairies. Room service at the hotel for me after the show and then bed ASAP, starting to feel like the end of the season!

Ayana and Christie

Ayana and Christie

Julie at the mirrors, there certainly isn't a lack of space!

Julie at the mirrors, there certainly isn't a lack of space!

The Stars...

The Stars...

Saturday the last day

The rain is beating down at quite a rate but I think we will be typhoon-free or at least if it could hold off till we take our flights home tomorrow that would be great. Tonight is David Ward’s last show with the Company and a chance for us all to say farewell to him before he departs for a new adventure in Ballet Met, Ohio, USA. We also say a fond farewell to Georgina Gabbie (Doll) who is leaving us to tour with Evita. David and Georgina will be very much missed.

We had class with Dan today at 11.30 and then double duty with performances at 14.30 and 19.30. In between the shows I took the 4 minute walk back to the hotel to get on top of my luggage, literally! Some people went for a last afternoon dip in the pool.

Show went really well tonight, extra excitement as so many of the dancers will be on their way home tomorrow to see family they haven’t seen for up to a year. I am sure there will be much celebration this evening!

The auditorium at Macau Cultural Centre

The auditorium at Macau Cultural Centre

The Darling nursery all set for the final show

The Darling nursery all set for the final show

Loads of room backstage, the pirate ship can be laid our flat

Loads of room backstage, the pirate ship can be laid our flat

Ash putting his priate belly to good use as an iPhone stand!

Ash putting his priate belly to good use as an iPhone stand!

Sunday, home time!

We left at 9.30am from the Grand Lapa, which we have all enjoyed calling home for the last five days. We are off to all four corners of the globe as we also start our summer break today: Japan, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand and so on.

I have really enjoyed this overseas summer tour and would like to take this opportunity to thank all our fab techies, our great physio, Adam, who goes out of his way to make sure all of us are fit, well and happy. The ballet staff, music staff, wardrobe and Doll. But also my fellow dancers who I am always honoured to share a stage with. Every department has pulled together as only NBT can and have really pulled off eight wonderful shows to be proud of

I asked around and highlights of this tour have been the pool (!), the amazing audiences in HK and Macau, spending time together, all touring departments, the Cirque [de Soleil] show and getting to dance aboard. It has been a long season from August last year to now. We started with Dracula and have ended with Peter Pan. We had a crazy busy but awesome Christmas season with the Alumni Christmas Carol and the highlight that was the Gala. I feel privileged to do this job and I am well aware I couldn’t do it if NBT didn’t have the support of all our friends and audiences. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

First things we will be doing when we get home, having a cup of tea! Being reunited with family and pets who include Kitri and Basilio the Yorkshire Terriers in France and Coco the Boxer in Italy. I am off to Koh Samui, and then back to Yorkshire to rescue my garden! Till next time, it’s good bye to HK and Macau and hello holidays!!!

Good bye from all of us and see you in September! (Vicky, Christie and Micky)

Good bye from all of us and see you in September! (Vicky, Christie and Micky)

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A Dancer in Macau

July 16, 2010 at 2:35 pm (Artist's News, Dancers, dancers' diaries, Hong Kong & Macau 2010, Overseas Tour) (, , , , , )

Following on from her journal about Hong Kong, Hannah tells is about taking Peter Pan to Macau…

Monday: on to Macau

At 11.45 we met at the foyer of the YMCA Hong Kong for a 12.00 on-the-dot leave to the ferry terminal. We put our cases into what looked like a Chinese bin lorry and then onto an air conditioned coach. Not too far to drive and everyone is double checking they have everything they need and are all organised. We were all hoping for a quick, smooth journey over to Macua, as the sooner we got there, the sooner we could start the ‘day off’. A bizarre check-in period: we were ushered in groups of ten from one official to another until we got to the seating area and were abruptly told to, ‘sit, wait’! It was slightly painful as we loaded all 60 plus of us into a lift, 5 at a time, to the ferry terminal area but we got to the boarding area eventually!

WAITING, things happen slowly in China and you just have to give in to it !

WAITING, things happen slowly in China and you just have to give in to it !

A few of us have slightly delicate stomachs but travel sickness tablets are very reliable and we have travel bands on too. All ready for the 60 min crossing to Macau, or Mini Vegas as it is nicknamed.

All seated and ready for (fingers crossed) a smooth ferry ride, on the TurboJet

All seated and ready for (fingers crossed) a smooth ferry ride, on the TurboJet

Giuliano & Yoshi

Giuliano & Yoshi

So our 1hr 30min journey turned into a 5hr journey door-to-door. By the time we got to our rooms we were all feeling a bit sorry for ourselves, very hot and uncomfortable. Time for a shower to cool off and calm down. So as we waited for our luggage to arrive at to our hotel rooms we went to explore the hotel and all was forgiven when we found this…

The Pool!

The Pool!

We raced back to our rooms. Yippee! A tropical pool !!! Gleeful smiles on all our faces and the journey was forgotten!

Yoshi prepares for the pool

Yoshi prepares for the pool

A very kind man named Victor, one of the wonderful staff at the Grand Lapa, helped a few of us book tickets and travel to the Venetian over on Taipei to see Zaia a Cirque du Soliel. It started at 8pm and we left our hotel and pool at 7pm. There are free shuttle services between most of the main casino’s 24hr a day, yet more evidence of just how much money the casinos actually make. The show was out of this world as Cirque shows always are. Just think of what ballet could do with half a cirque budget! Oh to dream. On Monday night we all slept very well indeed!

Orchids in the foyer at the Grand Lapa, makes mine at home look pretty sad!

Orchids in the foyer at the Grand Lapa, makes mine at home look pretty sad!

Ready for the Cirque du Soleil show

Ready for the Cirque du Soleil show

Grand canal inside the Ventian Resort and Hotel

Grand canal inside the Ventian Resort and Hotel

Tuesday: our long-awaited day off

Most of us took advantage of a lie in and just made it for breakfast, which had something to suit all of our many nationalities. Then straight back to the pool for us all. The techies didn’t start till 2pm assuming their containers arrived on time.

The atmosphere at the pool was great. There were hardly any other guests and NBT had taken over in the best possible way. We all got to spend some quality time together and after five excellent shows in Hong Kong we felt like we deserved some time out. As dancers seem to always do, there was a lot of practicing of lifts in the water, a great place to practice with the only worry being water up the nose!

Ash, John and David were practicing propelling Thomas into the air to see how far they could throw him to allow him enough time to do multiple somersaults! The techies helped out too and also scored the highest out of 10 for their efforts. We all started to have ago on this kind of human trampoline. My first attempt was rubbish as was attempt #2. Determined not to be the worst one I gave it one last shot. Apparently it was a very, very good somersault but I was somewhat distracted with a slight wardrobe malfunction! Let’s just say a bikini isn’t the best attire to somersault in! I did get 10 out of 10, even if the crowd had gotten more than they bargained for! Good job we are all good friends!!

NBT Girls 'work it' at the pool, sorry all those left at West Park!

NBT Girls 'work it' at the pool, sorry all those left at West Park! (We'll get you back - Ed)

All at the pool side

All at the pool side

Yoshi prepares for Swan Lake in September!

Yoshi prepares for Swan Lake in September!

At 1.30pm David, Kenny and Micky had to drag themselves away to a press conference. This was a great experience for the Peter, Hook and Tink. All the Macau media were there and it was televised in mainland China, and Macau in English, Chinese, Mandarin and Portuguese! It lasted well over an hour and after the three of them where all talked out!

In the afternoon we took a slow walk in the heat around the MGM Grand and theatre. Some went to see Usher performing at the Ventian. Early to bed for me though, Mr. Nixon for class tomorrow morning!

The Theatre, Macau Cultural Centre

The Theatre, Macau Cultural Centre

Poster outside the Theatre, this is also the stage door

Poster outside the Theatre, this is also the stage door

Wednesday: Just class today

Mr Nixon for class at 10 till 11.30 today and then the rest of the day off. Full day for our techies and the local crew. They are finding the heat insufferable, I can’t imagine how horrid it must be to load in a show in humidity, I find it hard enough to pull my own body around let alone a load of set and lights, stage-weights etc.

Class with Mr Nixon was awesome, really got us stretched out and ready. He can be very inspiring as can Yoko. It’s great to always be encouraged to improve and hone our technique rather than just go through the motions of class.

The theatre seems great: large and very clean. They don’t quite have the individualism of our theatres back home but they do the job very well. More of a look around in the afternoon, and I treat myself to a Thai massage, heaven indeed! Salsa night at the MGM Lion bar, you don’t have to ask dancers to do this more than once. Then off to bed, not too late, tech tomorrow.

This was a gift from Mainland China to Macau

This was a gift from Mainland China to Macau

The MGM Lion

The MGM Lion

View over to Taipei

View over to Taipei

Thursday: Class and a Tech

Class at 1.30, so time for a morning swim. Then class with Yoko, excellent. David felt like we had all been doing really well and there was no need for a separate flying rehearsal, so thank you all the Peter’s and Darling children! We moved on through the day and completed the tech by 5.50pm. We all got to finish early and had the evening off. Lots of people took advantage of the free Wifi at the theatre and sent messages home.

Three shows to go. We stopped of at the Sofitel Hotel as they had a really good Micheal Jackson exhibition on and then off to bed. It’s business as usual tomorrow: technical rehearsal with the Macau orchestra and then our first show in Macau.

By the way today we were issued with a level 1 typhoon warning! Umm … should I be worried?

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A Dancer in Hong Kong

July 12, 2010 at 11:36 am (Artist's News, Dancers, dancers' diaries, Hong Kong & Macau 2010, Overseas Tour) (, , , , , )

First Soloist, Hannah Bateman, tells us about the tour to Hong Kong from a dancer’s perspective…

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So off to Hong Kong we go!

We’ve never finished a touring season abroad, when we have done overseas tours before they have been at the beginning of a season. So after a touring stretch from February till now with a total of six ballets within that time, we were all feeling the end of season blues but the excitement of a trip abroad filled us with some much needed energy.

I chose to do a mad dash drive down to my sister’s house on Monday night after a final run through at West Park in the day as my stomach prefers not to travel by coach! But the rest of the Company headed off, guide books in hand, at 12 noon on Tuesday. It was going to be a long journey as the arrival time meant we were due in to Hong Kong on Wednesday at 15.30. I met my fellow travellers at Heathrow at about 16.45 and so it really began.

I hate group check-ins, but they are a big part of the experience so you just have to sit back and relinquish control (not a strong point of mine!) After check in, the big wait and for me especially the big temptation! I really don’t need any more perfume, make-up, etc just because it is discounted, stay away. This time however I was really pushed to my limit as there is a Mulberry shop at terminal 3, lucky my credit card is wrapped in cling film. It really is just for emergencies!!!

Kenneth & Yoshihsa diligently guarding the bags

Kenneth & Yoshihsa diligently guarding the bags

Time flies in Terminal 3

Time flies in Terminal 3

The newlyweds, Mr & Mrs Goldsmith

The newlyweds, Mr & Mrs Goldsmith

Julie, Michela, Jeremy, Sebastian and Yoshihisa

Julie, Michela, Jeremy, Sebastian and Yoshihisa

We arrived in good time and even though the flight was very long and uncomfortable you are restored with a temporary burst of enthusiasm as you ride from the airport to the hotel.

Welcome to Hong Kong

Welcome to Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a strange metropolitan jungle, a mix of Japan and New York on the sea front. It is so over-developed, perhaps we were never meant to adopt this island as a business hub but somehow someone has squished a load of high-rise everything on to it.

Hong Kong land reclamation and development

Hong Kong land reclamation and development

A quick story from the plane

The main aim of a long haul flight is to try and stop the swelling! I have had long haul flights before where my feet have swollen so much that I cannot get my pointe shoes on the next day, so every dancer adopts their own way of handling this. Kenny purchased some rather flashy state of the art tights by Skins, compression wear and this worked out really well for him, I had flight socks (I won’t bother next time!) Some drink loads of water before the flight and take Paracetamol. Georgina was determined to find somewhere to lie down, good luck to her I thought! Well, half way through the flight, it was like everyone everywhere was asleep and as I looked around with green envy I realised Georgina wasn’t in her seat. Great, I thought, I can go and find her and we can trade magazines as planned and have a chat and a cup of tea by the fire exit. I looked around the plane three times! She was nowhere to be seen. I had horrid thoughts of her being stolen like in ‘Flight Plan’.

Where was she? Lori, who she was sat on Georgina’s row was squished on her seat, the third of their line was fast asleep in a labour-like pose. One leg resting on the back of the seat and the other resting on the food trays! As Lori woke I dashed to her and in a frantic whisper asked, “Have you seen Georgie? I can’t find her anywhere!”

At that exact moment a head popped up between the food trays and Ben’s right leg and a sleepy voice said, “that was great a got 3 good hours sleep.” Georgina had slipped under the trays and the three chairs and had made herself a pretty good make shift bed with plane blanket and pillow. Swelling averted! Well done Georgie!

We attempted to stay awake for as long as possible on Wednesday to get on Hong Kong time so we all went off to explore our new city and most were in bed by 10pm.

Thursday

Our first day in the theatre, a morning of sight-seeing, late class at 17.30 and the first tech.

The humidity is a killer; we drank loads of water and walked very slowly. Note to self, don’t bother moisturising in the morning as you just end up sweating it out and, quite frankly, it becomes a waste of money (there are air conditioned walk-ways but we haven’t found them yet!)

We looked around a couple of shopping centres, the Botanical Gardens, Zoo and we managed to stop for lunch inside the IFC building at Pret-A-Manger of all places.

Jeremy, Thomas and Kenneth relaxing in the Gardens

Jeremy, Thomas and Kenneth relaxing in the Gardens

Ashley in his Temple on Hong Kong island

Ashley in his Temple on Hong Kong island

High-rise in Hong Kong

High-rise in Hong Kong

By the time we made it up the steep winding hill to the Gardens we were greeted by a small shop where we quickly purchased water and Christie & I purchased a very natty fan each! We wanted to get out there and see what Hong Kong has to offer, but I was still feeling the effects of the flight and the thought of class and a tech is in the back of my mind.

Dance Class in the theatre

Warming down & stretching after a humid class

Class was with Dan, and he was very kind to us as we slowly worked out all our lumps and bumps. The tech was with Ayana and Jeremy’s cast and went very smoothly indeed. The crew here seem to be fab and with our great crew, they all make a very slick team.

The theatre is huge and very well kept. Georgina and I have a lovely dressing room together and had a chuckle over the fact that on every light switch and door handle it tells you, in a laminated sticker, just how many times a day it has and will be disinfected. Good to know!!!

Found a great place for a quick dinner after the tech and then to bed, still not quite on Hong Kong time.

View from TST (Tsim Sha Tsui), a major Hong Kong tourist hub by the theatre

View from TST (Tsim Sha Tsui), a major Hong Kong tourist hub by the theatre

View of the harbour from TST

View of the harbour from TST

Another vire of the harbour from TST by the theatre

Another vire of the harbour from TST by the theatre

Crossing the Hong Kong harbour

Crossing the Hong Kong harbour

Friday, seems like a regular day on tour. The Boss (Mr Nixon) and Yoko joined us today, it is always great to have them with us; the team is complete!

I had a look round the Cultural Centre and the hype for the show is great; the shows are nearly 100% sold and we are headlining the festival out here so fingers crossed we can impress the Hong Kong audience. A good tech and a good first show, a couple of bumps in places, but nothing the audience would notice (I hope).

Pippa and David lead the Company and I must say I always watch the first time Wendy flys, it’s magical. I sneaked a look at the audience through a gap in the wing and the first row was nearly all little children, every one of their beautiful faces lit up with excitement. They really love this show wherever we take it in the world.

Our techie’s really are fab, as are the Hong Kong crew, it’s all going rather well and audience response was great especially when asked, “Do you believe in fairies?” Well I am glad to report the people of Hong Kong certainly do!

Hong Kong Ballet banners

Hong Kong Ballet banners

The exhibition banners telling the story of Peter Pan

The exhibition banners telling the story of Peter Pan

Welcome to the Land of Dreams at the Cultural Centre

Welcome to the Land of Dreams at the Cultural Centre

Pride of place, the Peter Pan banner in the Cultural Centre

Pride of place, the Peter Pan banner in the Cultural Centre

Saturday, double-show day.

15.30 and 19.30. Emergency rehearsal today for Ben as he is on today for Peter in place of Jeremy as he is really very unwell. (First time to China, it has happened to us all.) Jeremy’s Dad lives in Hong Kong so he is able to take care of him, which is just what you need when you are so far from home.

Get well soon Jez!

Ben did really well as did Ayana, who’s parents came over from Japan to see her dance.

David and Pippa again in the evening and another great and very smooth show, apparent from a rebellious young boy who shouted “NOOOOOOOO!” to the famous do you believe question – much to the audience’s hilarity. David handled it very well and Tinkerbell made a full recovery!

After the show straight back to the hotel for a movie and then bed. Boring but needed, mind you today I felt myself again, definitely fully on Hong Kong time now!

Sunday, double duty again!

11.30 and 15.30 shows this time. Wow, did it feel early to be in for class at 9.30. Oh well on with the show. The buzz of the audience was excellent all day and well worth the early morning wake up call.

This is mainly a festival for families and outside the theatre there have been mini-shows by local children on an open air stage, so passers-by can grab a seat and be entertained in the Hong Kong heat.

In between the shows and from my window near the dressing rooms I have seen some Chinese opera, ballroom and Latin American dancing kids, sing-a-long sessions with a very enthusiastic young Asian man and also a homage to Michael Jackson and some bizarre hip hop. All very good fun and totally entertaining from my air conditioned viewing gallery!

After the shows were done I got to catch up with my cousin who lives and works in Hong Kong and we took in the sights from the peak! This is where you get a fantastic view over Hong Kong Island and you can shop yet more in the centre perched on the top of this huge peak. We had a lovely dinner and a slightly uncomfortable journey back down the twisty alp-like road to the bottom.

Star Ferry trip across the harbour

Star Ferry trip across the harbour

Beautiful skies over Hong Kong

Beautiful skies over Hong Kong

The star ferry back to TST and then very much time for bed. Packing in the morning and then off to Macau for us all!

There's no place like home...

There's no place like home...

It's Bruce Tindall! Or Kenneth Lee?

It's Bruce Tindall! Or Kenneth Lee?

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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.

 

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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