Moving

I’ve decided to keep on blogging at Entrechat as I didn’t end up using my blog re-boot at Entrechat Quatre to actually write about a vastly different array of topics! Turns out I do mainly chat about ballet.
So I’m back here!
Apologies if this has messed about with your life in any way.
Got some reviews coming up very soon
and some beautiful ballet art from the archives
and some more chat about doing exams as an adult!

LOVE

xxx

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#ENBDitW

I met a lot of very interesting and lovely people at Dance is the Word’s opening session on Saturday. The day was led by Donald Hutera, dance critic for the Times, and featured Emilia from the Ballet Bag and staff from ENB, covering writing questions, giving us insights into working freelance, discussing blogging strategies and giving us all opportunity to talk about our dance background and what we wanted to gain from the course. I even got to work through some blogpost ideas in a group – really valuable and something that the lone blogger doesn’t often get to do!

One of the most interesting writing questions for me was concerning confidence and giving opinions. As I come from an academic writing background, I’m fairly confident in my own critical judgement and I think I can be very opinionated –  and also willing to back up and discuss my views. This is of course in a thesis-writng context, and one of my worries is about translating this into a blog-writing, reviewing, journalistic context.

A good number of people expressed concern, not just in finding confidence in their own views, but about backing up negative opinion, and how to write about negative reaction to a piece. This is a very current concern for me, and I think something that is compounded by fora like Twitter, where it seems we’re all in contact with each other whilst not knowing anyone at all. Although I feel secure in making a value judgement on a piece, my query is around is how to express this properly, especially in a blog that is by its nature instantly accessible by anyone.  I’d never be rude or destructively critical about anything, however I’m acutely aware of my position as an amateur writer in comparison to the well-respected practitioners I’m critiquing.

I guess the only way to find out what works is to write, and maybe make mistakes, and write some more. Just as judgement on dance pieces is instantly tweeted, reaction to your writing can be just as quickly fired off. It feels a little bit like entering into a fray, but hopefully a constructive, rather than a combative, arena.

 

Dance is the Word

I’m very excited to be able to take part in Dance is the Word 2014, a dance writing course run by the English National Ballet.

I got my confirmation through this morning, and the course starts on Saturday with writing workshops with some well known and respected dance writers, both print critics and bloggers. We’ll be attending and writing about the Emerging Dancer Awards, with opportunities to talk to the dancers themselves.

Hopefully I’ll be able to blog in a personal capacity about my experience and thrash out some writing questions with you lot! Keep your eyes on Twitter for updates and photos!

My Dance Journal

This Royal Ballet organiser would be a cute dance journal. Look at those '60s ballerinas! (Image: roh.org.uk)

This Royal Ballet organiser would be a cute dance journal. Look at those ’60s ballerinas! (Image: roh.org.uk)

So the other week I obsessively read every single article on the Ballet pages at iSport. Yes, even the one about how to get those perfect Russian Fouettes, which is so totally applicable to me.

The bit about keeping a dance journal actually made me smile – it seems to be aimed at younger dancers who might be concerned about their mum finding their top secret biz. But I thought I’d give it a try and my journal has been taking shape over the past  couple of months.

There’s several reasons why I find it useful. First of all, I began it after a period of feeling really miserable and not getting to class for about three weeks – previously UNHEARD of. So I can see each entry and feel proud of a small victory – of getting to class, doing something that makes me happy and healthy, working hard. Also, the moments of reflection as I scribble (…tap?) in it on the bus to and from class are lovely. And its not often that you get to go OMG blahblah did you see me on the temps levee I felt like a baby elephant!! straight out of class, unless you’re lucky enough to have some close ballet friends. I think the actual content of the journal is perhaps secondary to these reflective, affirming qualities. But of course you do track your progress, think about corrections, note all the fleeting glimmers of feeling and performance that are so hard to pin down and hold on to.

Here’s what I do and how I set it out.

I work in Evernote, on my Kindle Fire. Easy to slip in my ballet bag and less likely to get lost or forgotten than paper notebooks. I do it to and from class, so it’s always in the moment, never a chore I have to fill in later on.

AIMS going in to class. Lately these have been all about relaxing and practising yoga breathing. I’m so bloody tense. I do need reminding to. just. breathe.

CORRECTIONS obvs. All the personal ones, of course, and the class-wide general ones. Often I’ll reflect on what changed or felt different after the correction, or f there’s anything I need clarification on.

THOUGHTS – divided into two sub-sections:

GOOD. I knew I’d have to force myself to focus on the good bits so the whole enterprise didn’t turn into My Book on Why I’m Crap at Dancing. The brain’s really good at selectively focussing on the difficult bits isn’t it? So here goes things like: I’m keeping my releve for longer all the time; adage was challenging but felt great; learnt a new step; I understood much more clearly about how my standing leg should be working in xxx; my port de bras is friggin’ ELEGANT, etc.

DIFFICULTIES. All the bits that come up during class that you want to work on, of course.

SORE SPOTS. I don’t have any injuries I need to look after or anything but I think it’s useful to reflect on how your body feels after class. I reminded myself about footcare when my feet were sore, for example.

AIMS both for next class, and in the longer term. Two major continuing journeys are the Muscle Relaxation Quest and the Pirouette Crusade.

So far, it’s all feeling good. I’d love to hear from other people who keep one, or are thinking of starting one, too. Maybe you do something differently?