2018

This year has been one of the best and busiest of my life! However I’ve just had so much going on that I haven’t been able to devote as much time as usual to this blog. That’s okay- sometimes life happens, and although sharing my journey is important to me, life is primarily for living!

Having moved house, finished my first year of uni and started my second, moved ballet schools, completed 2 performances and started rehearsing for another, taught all over the country and more, I was never in one place for long this past year. I have big plans and goals for 2019, but there aren’t any more foreseeable big changes on the horizon, so things should be much more settled.

One of my main goals for this year is to really up-level this blog and also my associated social media channels. I currently have YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I’ll be focusing mainly on the blog and the Instagram page this year, and I haven’t decided yet about YouTube videos. If that’s something you want, now’s the time to comment on this post to let me know! So be ready for 2019, the year of really good content!

In the meantime, I have had some AMAZING experiences in dance this year! Things I never imagined I’d have the chance to do. Here’s a run-down of some of my 2018 highlights!

All the links open in a new tab so click away, you won’t lose your place!


 

In January, I started off my year watching New Adventures’ Cinderella at Sadler’s Wells. That was one of my favourite performances of the year, and all time. I absolutely loved it. I wrote a post all about that experience, which you can read here!

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Watching New Adventures perform Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella at Sadler’s Wells

 

Also in January, I successfully auditioned for a new ballet school, and started classes there later the same month. I’ve been incredibly happy there ever since, and have probably made more progress this year than any other.

In February, I attended the Sampled festival at Sadler’s Wells. I got to experience a whole array of new kinds of dance, including flamenco and some amazing breakdance, inches from the stage! I also got to watch Zenaida Yanowsky perform The Dying Swan, which was really a once in a lifetime experience as she’s now retired. Unfortunately, right after this I was really unwell with exhaustion for several weeks, so I never got to write a full blog post about the experience!

In April, I received one of the biggest and most exciting opportunities in my career so far. I was invited by the Sadler’s Wells social media team to Markova House, home of English National Ballet, to host a live interview with former NYCB Principal and now renowned repetiteur Diana White, and watch rehearsal of Jerome Robbins’ The Cage. This was a real “pinch me” moment for me! I wrote all about the experience in this post, and you can watch the rehearsal followed by the interview here.

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Me outside Markova House, home of English National Ballet!

 

In May, I had a really unique performance experience with the Royal Opera House’s whole-house student production of their new Swan Lake. It was an incredible performance, with Marianela Nunez as the most perfect Odette/ Odile. What made the evening really special were all of the fantastic extra features that ROH put on, including tables of props, artefacts, costumes and more for people to look at and touch, special performances and music in the Paul Hamlyn Hall, themed cocktails and activities! I also sat in the best seat of my life for £25! Again, I didn’t get to write a dedicated blog post about this because I was moving house (side note, I don’t want to go through that again any time soon!) but I did talk about it and provide some pictures in this post about Young ROH.

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My £25 seat in the Grand Tier at the Royal Opera House for Swan Lake!
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Odile’s costume on display at the whole-house student performance of Swan Lake

In July, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to host another live interview for Sadler’s Wells. This time, I got to watch the Hofesh Shechter Company rehearsing for Grand Finale, and interview Hofesh Shechter himself! It was an incredible experience, one I can’t believe that I got to do! I was really beside myself with excitement (and very nervous!). I wrote about the experience and about going to watch Grand Finale here, and you can watch the rehearsal footage here and interview here. There are 2 videos because the camera was locked sideways at first, but stick with it because the rehearsal footage is insane and the interview is great!

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Me interviewing Hofesh Shechter at the rehearsal studio in Sadler’s Wells

Also in the same week, I was invited by Sadler’s Wells to an event Designing for Dance at Studio Wayne McGregor. We got to spend the day at these incredible East London studios, and had talks about the design process for the unique set of Autobiography. We also watched rehearsals, and had a chance to meet and chat to the dancers. This is something that I’ve been desperate to write a full blog post about, because I have loads of amazing content from the day! However my blog setup doesn’t currently support video so I’ve held off because I wanted to make a really good post with all the images and video footage. I started working on switching over my blog but it’s a huge job that I couldn’t dedicate the necessary time to. But don’t worry it’s on the list for 2019! Therefore I won’t talk lots about it now, but this simply had to make the list!

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Dancers rehearsing Autobiography at Studio Wayne McGregor

At the end of July, I had the opportunity to perform a contemporary piece in my school’s end of term show at the Lilian Baylis Studio Theatre at Sadler’s Wells. I haven’t performed in a long time so it was a great experience!

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Contemporary performance at my school’s end of year show. I’m on the far left, second from the front. Photo by Sian Trenberth.

Over the summer, I had some new teaching experiences, teaching hen parties all over the country! I had to learn choreography for themed parties including Charleston, Cheerleading, Grease, Beyonce, 90s, Irish, Glee, and more! It was a steep learning curve and although I chose not to carry on with it once summer was over, it was an interesting dance experience. I definitely got so much quicker at learning choreography!

In September, I started my second year of university and a new academic year at my ballet school.

I also worked on a very exciting project with Sadler’s Wells, creating a short film about how to see dance in London on a budget. You can watch that here– please do click because I’m very proud of this project!

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Me on the Sadler’s Wells stage after shooting our short film with Signiature Pictures!

In October, I found out that I had been chosen as a Student Ambassador for Young Royal Opera House for this academic year. That was a huge achievement and dream come true for me! It’s been great so far and I can’t wait to work more on that in 2019! You can read a bit more about the Young ROH scheme here, and sign up for free here.

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Also in October I was chosen to perform a piece that my friend Vaida and I choreographed ourselves for a university assignment to the new first-years. We were one of three duets chosen so it was an honour and privilege, as well as a really fun experience. It was a rather abstract contemporary piece set to spoken word poem Dumbek Bookache by Charles Amirkhanian, in which we explored the idea of transferring energy without ever making physical contact. I got the idea for the soundtrack from Richard Alston’s Dutiful Ducks, if anyone has seen that! It’s wonderful! Vaida was a great partner to work with and it was really rewarding seeing our own ideas through from studio to stage.

As for the end of the year, in November I celebrated a birthday and I had an incredible evening watching La Bayadere at the Royal Opera House, and the experience of dining in the Paul Hamlyn Balconies restaurant. It was such a special evening to remember, and the performance blew me away!

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Me in Covent Garden on my birthday
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Dining in the Paul Hamlyn Balconies restaurant- a truly special experience!
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The view of Covent Garden from the roof of The Royal Opera House
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Enjoying the view from the brand new spaces at the Opera House (in my favourite princess dress of course!)

 

Here’s a list of all of the wonderful dance performances I watched this year:

January

Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella– New Adventures at Sadler’s Wells

February

Sampled Festival– various artists at Sadler’s Wells

The Winter’s Tale– The Royal Ballet at The Royal Opera House

March

Mid Century Modern– Richard Alston Dance Company at Sadler’s Wells

Mixed programme- Ballet British Columbia at Sadler’s Wells

April

Manon– The Royal Ballet at The Royal Opera House (also attended an Insights event about Kenneth Macmillan)

Voices of America– English National Ballet at Sadler’s Wells

Insights: Class On Stage– The Royal Ballet at The Royal Opera House

May

Swan Lake– The Royal Ballet at The Royal Opera House

Life is a Dream– Rambert at Sadler’s Wells

July

Grand Finale- Hofesh Shechter Company at Sadler’s Wells

Autobiography– Company Wayne McGregor at Sadler’s Wells

September

Pure Dance– Natalia Osipova at Sadler’s Wells

Mixed Programme- Le Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo at Sadler’s Wells

October

Mayerling– The Royal Ballet at The Royal Opera House (also had tickets to an Insights event about Mayerling which looked incredible but I couldn’t make it!)

November

La Bayadere– The Royal Ballet at The Royal Opera House

(I also had tickets to see The Unknown Soldier triple bill by The Royal Ballet in November, but I had to miss it because I was sick!)

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Just some of the programmes and tickets from productions I’ve been so lucky to see this year!

 

All in all, I’ve had some absolutely unbelievable opportunities this year! I wish I could have shared more of them at the time, however in 2019 I will be bringing you all sorts of new content and I’m really excited. If you have any requests or ideas, all are welcome, just leave a comment!

Happy new year!

Jessica x

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