English Youth Ballet: Giselle, The Performance
I almost didn’t want to write about the performance of Giselle, because it means my time with the English Youth Ballet is now over. It’s such a sad feeling, to think there will be no more rehearsals, no more giggles, no more dancing. . .
It was such an intense few weeks with a major build up for the production and now it’s finished I feel like a balloon which has been deflated – I didn’t realise how big the anticlimax feeling would be afterwards.
I’ve made so many new friends that it was hard saying goodbye to them all, but Facebook is a wonderful thing! We’ve planned to get together and have a reunion in the summer holidays, which is something to look forward to.
The day before the first performance we had a rehearsal to get used to the stage and scenery. I didn’t realise how tiny the stage at the Princess Theatre was, I’ve never danced there before and I was expecting a huge floor to leapt around in – what I saw was exactly the opposite!
Trevor, our teacher, had to alter a few things round in our Hunt dance, mainly the spacing, and we had to practice coming on and off stage from the different wings too, which none of us had a problem with.
The day after it was Friday the 25th, the first day of the performances! We had a dress rehearsal at 2.30pm, which was scheduled as a matinee performance in the Giselle programme, where academic schools who had pupils taking part in EYB were invited to come and watch.
I didn’t have the pressure of all my class mates watching me, but I still had a few butterflies, not that that was a bad thing – it’s good to have nerves, because it shows you care about the performance you’re about to give. So long as you’re not crippled with nerves and have an attack of stage fright of course!
Our Hunt group shared a dressing room with the Nymphs, our room was in the basement right under the stage itself so we had to be extra quiet to make sure our voices couldn’t be heard whilst the performance was happening.
Once we had our make-up on and were in costume we all felt, and looked, the part. It’s amazing how much more in character I feel once I have my costume on.
I had a shock before the performance started however, because two bouquets of flowers were brought to our dressing room – one for me, the other for my friend Mia. It was from our dance teacher, there was a card with the flowers wishing us luck for the performance.
Everyone from Totnes School of Dance received a bouquet, and we all had a text afterwards, saying well done everyone. Considering our dance teacher hadn’t been that forthcoming about EYB we were all astonished – it was a lovely gesture though!
The dress rehearsal went quite well, Miss Lewis gathered us on stage afterwards and informed us she only had three pages of corrections, usually she has six!! In the Picnic scene I hadn’t been able to get into my correct position because the scenery had been changed since the rehearsal the previous night, so when the principal dancers came on stage from the wings I had been in the way.
I felt like a twat as I was nudged into the right place and muttered “oh shit, I’m sorry” as they sidled past. Oliver, the chap who was playing Hilarion, just winked at me and mouthed “this is what dress rehearsals are for!” That made me feel a tad better!
Once the matinee was over we were allowed outside for an hour, to get some fresh air before the evening performance. I’m used to it being stuffy backstage, with so many people crammed into one area the atmosphere is always sticky, but as the weather turned out to be so hot it was even more humid than usual.
The Princess Theatre is right by the seafront so we had a cool breeze coming up the pier which was like heaven to our sweaty bodies!
The evening performance went wonderfully, no one dropped their props and I sat on a stool in the right place this time, which helped!
Judging by the noise coming from the auditorium the audience definitely enjoyed it – we had raucous applause when we went on for the finale, that wasn’t just for our Hunt group, we had constant clapping for everyone! My brother and his girlfriend had come to watch that performance so I’m glad it went so well.
The final day, Saturday the 26th, was a long long day. We arrived at 1pm and didn’t leave the theatre until 10pm – we couldn’t go out in between performances this time because straight after the matinee parentswere allowed to take photos of everyone in costume on stage, and after that there was a certificate ceremony.
It was a strange atmosphere backstage on the last day, everyone was feeling bitter-sweet – outloud we were all saying I can’t wait for this to be over, and to get my life back again but secretly none of us wanted the EYB experience to end – this weekend I’ve felt lost without the routine of rehearsals!
We had a lovely surprise before the matinee, Trevor sent a big box of chocolates down to our changing room for us to share between us. See what I mean about him being the kindest teacher?
We all felt guilty because we hadn’t had time to think about getting him a card or present, so we rallied round and quickly got some money together – everyone from our Hunt group chipped in and we had a grand total of £21. We agreed to get him some wine, a box of chocolates and a card to say thank you.
I was going to nip to Tesco and buy everything but it was too near the performance for me to leave the theatre, so we all begged Helen, the wardrobe mistress, to get the stuff for us in the interval. She agreed straight away!
One of my none-dance friends watched the matinee performance, he lives in Exeter so it was great that he came down to watch me dance. I don’t know who was in charge of props that afternoon but when the toasting dance came up there wasn’t enough glasses to go round and I had to pretend – the saying “the show must go on” came to mind!
My parents came to take photos of me in my costume afterwards, as there were so many of us and so little time we were called up on stage in our groups, and held three different poses whilst the parents jostled for a good position and started snapping away.
You can see throughout this post I’ve included photos taken on that day, you can’t miss me in my orange ensemble!
Once our photos had been taken we had to take our costumes off in our dressing rooms, then head back into the auditorium for the certificate ceremony. Again, as time was precious, we were called up in our groups on stage, did a little curtsey, and Miss Lewis presented us with our certificates.
All the team at EYB have signed the certificates at the bottom, and at the very top it states “Certificate of Merit: This is to certify that Beckarooney has been successful in achieving a high standard of performance in Giselle, Princess Theatre Torquay, 25 and 26 May 2012”. Ooh, I just know it’s going to look great in a frame, hanging on my bedroom wall!
Once we all had our certificates Miss Lewis gave out three special awards to individual children who the whole team at EYB thought deserved it the most – and guess who one of those dancers was? Only Shona, one of the Totters gang! We all went crazy when her name was called out, I’m surprised we weren’t told off for making too much noise!
After the certificate ceremony we had to go backstage again and start getting ready for the final evening performance. Once we had our make-up and costumes sorted we all signed the thank-you card and took it, along with the two bottles of wine and box of chocolates, up to the men’s changing room to surprise Trevor.
He heard us coming (what bloke wouldn’t notice nine girl’s voices in a strictly male zone?!) and was so surprised but really delighted with his presents. He gave us all a kiss on the cheek and said “I’m sure you’ll make me proud tonight girls”.
We definitely made Trev the proudest teacher on the planet, for me personally that last performance was the best I’ve ever danced throughout the whole of EYB. I couldn’t have chosen to do it at a better time to be honest, especially as my parents were in the audience and a DVD was being made of the production on that night!
The finale was just insane, the whoops and cheers went on and on, I didn’t think the applause would ever stop – we had to do an extra curtsey at the end because the audience kept shouting for more!
It hasn’t quite sunk in that EYB is over, I haven’t come to terms with the fact that this was the first and last time I’ll ever perform with them. It’s been mad, exhausting, amazing, fun, memorable – overall it’s been an incredible experience.
I’ve learnt more than I ever thought I would and met people who I’m sure I’ll be friends with for life – dancers and teachers alike. For anyone who’s in two minds about doing something like this, all I can say is go for it.
The only regrets you have in life are the chances you missed, and I for one am so glad I grabbed this opportunity with both hands. It’s been an experience I will never forget!
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