Life At The National Ballet



April was super fun filled, mostly with AI preparation. NBS was ecstatic with not only rehearsals, but actually planning for the guests. I was a part of the AI’13 student cabinet. The student cabinet met regularly with or without NBS’ artistic director Mavis Staines, to plan and figure out practical details about the AI’13. We started our meetings back in November, but had many meetings in April. I was assigned three student contacts: one from Royal Ballet School (London, UK), one from John Cranko Schule (Stuttgart, Germany), and lastly one from The National Ballet School of Cuba (Havana, Cuba). My role was to email these partners often, updating them with new documents, and information about AI.

The week previous to AI was very exciting, happy, and full of thrill; it was very fun. I was at the school very late most nights preparing AI’13 binders for EVERY participating student, teacher, etc., student partners, and more. Student partners are different from the students with which I was previously emailing. Every NBS grade 10, 11, 12 and Post-Secondary student was paired with one and/or two visiting students to have as a buddy during the festival. I was paired with a boy from Australia, and a girl from Paris. Although the preparation for AI was so much fun, it’s miniature in comparison to the actual week!

AI was perhaps one of the best experiences in my life. I had the opportunity to meet so many fantastic teachers and dancers. I could go on and on, and write this blog entry for ages, but instead I’m going to highlight my favourite moments during this festival.
Early during the festival I was added into my student choreographic piece. I had been learning “Homme” brought by Hélias Tur-Dorvault from Hamburg Ballet School. When we met before the actual assemblée started, we talked about how I knew the entire choreography, but was simply an understudy, he saw no reasoning in just creating another part for me; I was ecstatic. So that was very exciting for me. I performed for an audience a total of three times, one was a dress rehearsal (Wednesday May 1st) and the other two were actual shows (May 3rd and 4th).

My favourite teacher during the week was Chris Powney, who came from Dutch National (Amsterdam). He had such a good balance between technical requirements, and the actual essence of a great ballerina. The way he worded his ideas made the concepts in my mind click; he would pose questions that would make the dancers really think about the ultimate answer. For example, he asked the class what makes a good dancer, and we all answered their artistry and the way they manage all of the little steps. He then added that it’s also how they’re able to switch the mood of their dancing from one exercise to the next. He was an awesome teacher.


Another highlight of the week was that I was on CBC news! On Monday, April 29th I was shown in a segment of an interview with CBC after my ballet class with Chris Powney. It was so cool to actually see myself on TV! It really made the festival real, it was actually occurring, not just a dream.

There are many more highlights of the week. The whole event was really amazing; in each different ballet class in itself there were highlights, or epiphanies, and of course all of my performances, and conversations with the visiting students.

At the end of the festival there was a closing ceremony; a discussion between world renowned choreographer Wayne McGregor, and the amazing Deborah Bull (a past dancer with the Royal Ballet, and more). They led a discussion about creative initiatives to help the AI students understand the creative proposal Ms. Staines is presenting. Ms. Staines has invented something called the ‘Creative Challenge’, which is an opportunity to choreograph or dance within very simple guidelines: the choreography must be presented in a non-conventional setting (not a theatre), and the choreographer must collaborate with another art form or media. It is to be presented sometime within May of 2014 as an anniversary to AI13. In blogs to come I will explain what my involvement will be, for I’m still un-sure at this point.

After the closing ceremony there was a celebratory party, with food, socializing, and dancing, with students and teachers. At this party I was able to meet Leigh Rowles, a choreographer and teacher from Australian Ballet School. I will meet her again when I’m in Australia for exchange.

My total AI experience was amazing. I had the privilege to dance with the dancers of the future; the best in the world. I will never forget my experiences with AI. I have been opened up to so many new ways of enriching my dance training. I have gained insight into what’s happening in the world around me, not just within the NBS bubble. I have made so many incredible connections that will surely aid me in the future. I’m so thrilled that I was able to take part in Assemblée Internationale; it was an un-real, un-forgettable experience.

Talk to you soon!!!!


If you’d like to watch some of the classes and rehearsals you can check them out here: The National Ballet – Assemblee Internationale

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