Sunday, 14 May 2017


Move it!13 May 2016
Author Gita Mistry
© 2017 Gita Mistry: all rights reserved

We attracted quite a good crowd to The Dancehouse for Move It! yesterday despite competition from the Eurovision Song Contest, Ballet Central's mixed programme in Whitehaven, Birmingham Royal Ballet's triple bill in York and the Royal Baller's Mayerling and Nothern Ballet's Casanova in London. That is not because we are such talented dancers -though several of our number are very good - but because it is fun to be there. It is more like a party than a performance both for the performers and for the audience.

I took part in KNT's pre-intermediate class show. "Sounds intriguing," said Tracy our compere at the dress rehearsal, "what's that?" Our teacher, Karen Sant, shouted that it was for students who were no longer beginners but not quite up to intermediate level. As it is a bit of a mouthful I prefer to call it the Tuesday night class which I have been attending off and on for the last two and a half years. You can see us in the picture that Gita took last night. I'm in the back row second from the left.

Karen had choreographed a piece for us that lay just within my capabilities based on the exercises that we do in class with lots of balancés and glissades and one spectacular lift by two of the gents in our group. We also had to run around the stage in clockwise and anticlockwise circles, a run into the centre and a run back and a reverence in which we bowed rather than curtsied. Unlike the previous years, all classes reappeared at the end for a final curtain call.

Yesterday was not the first time that I had danced in front of a paying audience so I knew what to expect. It did not mean that we were (or at any rate I was) any less nervous as we crept onto the stage in blackout  or any less exhilarated once the lights came on but I knew that I would not freeze like a rabbit in a car's headlights and that I was likely to enjoy the experience.

For once in my life, my hair was arranged in a proper ballet bun (merci a Gita who had arranged it in a heart shape just like one of her edible buns). Not even my hairdresser had been able to accomplish that.

Karen has asked us to assemble in the Dancehouse café at 15:45.  Gita had guessed as I panicked in the traffic looking for a way to the Chester Street car park that Karen probably meant 16:00 but knew better than to disclose the actual timetable to a band of adult ballet students. Olivier, our chef de quelquechose on whom I occasionally practise my French, confirmed that that was indeed the case.

At or about the appointed time we were led into the auditorium. Tracy emerged from behind the curtain and greeted us cheerily. We gave her a sort of half muffled grunt in reply. "You'll have to better than that, dancers", she told us. "If you expect to receive the love you've got to share it."  She read through the running order and called on the first act which was Josh Moss's repertoire class. A recording of harp strings and then Minkus's gorgeous music from La Bayadere as Katie Daly led her shades into their kingdom. Tendus and arms in 5th look simple enough but I had tried to learn that dance from Jane Tucker last year and knew that it was anything but - particularly when it comes to the bourrées with arms in arabesque towards the end.

All the other classes filed on and were warmly applauded by the crowd. I can't quite remember the order in which they came but they included the usual jazz and contemporary classes plus the belly dancers whose rhythmic music to a compelling Arabic air is clapped on by the audience and the lovely Chinese dancers in their flowing sparkly robes. "I can see you sparkling away," said Tracy from the stage, and they really do. The show rounded off with the adult ballet class in which my friend Yoshie Kimura performs. Now those students really are good. This year they recruited a young man who knows his onions when it comes to jumps. His assemblés and entrechats were a joy to behold.

After rehearsal, we were led back to our studios where we practised our steps, ate our sarnies, shared our jokes, caught up with our mates on Whatsapp and Facebook and generally chilled out. I spotted a member of the advanced class performing barre exercises. As we always have a class before a show in Leeds I decided to join her for a few pliés, tendus, glissés and ronds de jambe and am very glad I did because I would have been even more wooden otherwise. This is one thing that Manchester could learn from Leeds.

Before we knew it, it was our turn to come on. There had been some lively street dancers immediately before us and we knew they would be a hard act to follow. We entered the stage and all seemed to go well. The lift was perfect and received some cheers. We finished our routine and bowed to what seemed very generous applause.

There is always a flood of emotions after a show. On the one hand, relief that it went without too many disasters but, on the other, sadness that it is all over. That made me think of the cast of Casanova at Sadler's Wells whose two-month tour of the nation also ended last night. They must be going through the same emotions one hundred fold.

We all repaired for the bar. Hugged and congratulated each other, our friends and relations and theirs and then melted into that good Manchester night. More classes next week. More camaraderie. More pain and stiffness afterwards. More fun.

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