Zach's Diary part one: Growing up dancing in Canada
Zach's Diary part two: Starting at Stuttgart's John Cranko-Schule
Zach's Diary part three
Christmastime in Germany is like a fairy tale, though so far only a couple light dustings of snow but, of course, the wonderful Christmas markets.
December has been a very busy month here, with a performance in the Opernhaus on the 8th (featuring school and company members), and a ballet exam on my birthday, which was this past Tuesday! After the exam (which went fairly well), I went out to celebrate with some friends.
So far I'm really enjoying the training here at John Cranko. It doesn't differ too much from my training in Winnipeg; although it is definitely more Russian and stays true to the Vaganova method. Our days can be long here, sometimes finishing as late as 8.00 pm. We also have academic subjects, including anatomy, dance history, and music theory, as well as German lessons. My German has gotten so much better over the past four months of being here, although I can still understand a lot more than I can speak.
We've been learning a lot of different kinds of works, including a Balanchine piece, a new modern creation and another contemporary all boys piece that the school has had for a few years. It's been a bit challenging to jump back and forth so often between styles, but it's definitely a good way to improve my versatility as a dancer.
I'm really in love with Balanchine though, and dancing his works always makes me so happy. I feel much more at home in his pieces with quick footwork and jumps than more contemporary pieces where one has to feel more ‘grounded' so to speak. I've attended a few more Stuttgart Ballet performances, including a great triple bill featuring pieces from Hans van Manen [Frank Bridge Variations], William Forsythe [workwithinwork] and a new work by Marco Goecke [On Velvet]. It's stunning to see these dancers dance everything from the most classical to an evening of all contemporary, and they feel just as comfortable. At least they look like they do! Being grounded and more at home with contemporary work is definitely something I need to work on the most, and being here I'm already feeling better about it, with the range of repertoire we've been learning.
As I'm not going home for the holidays, I have plans to take classes with the company while school is on break. I've already done a few and, although it was nerve-racking at first, everyone is so nice and welcoming (plus, there are other students taking them with me, so I'm not alone!) so it doesn't feel too strange. It's so awesome to be able to see how they work in class!
Although I'm going to take class as much as possible to stay in shape over the break, I am going to allow myself some time to rest, of course; I've even bought a ticket to see the Mariinsky Ballet perform a gala in Baden Baden, a city close to Stuttgart, on the 26th! I can't wait, and what would be better to do on a day off than to go see one of the world's most renowned ballet companies. They hardly ever tour to Canada, so I'm so glad that I'll have the opportunity to see them, and many other companies, in the future.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.