July 31, 2011

Sleepy Bunhead

You know you´ve had enough of the dancing when you wake up, stand up and are actually relieved that there is no dancing on the day! The body is tired, and brain might like something other than ballet for a change.. Happened to me this lovely Saturday, after one week of working nine to five, followed by dancing between five to nine. Ah, the bliss of daily dancing - which can only be dimmed by the less-than-blissful morning trek to work and back. Nah, seriously, I like my job and the means it provides - but merging my work schedule with life & dance is quite the challenge! Especially when my inner clock is still in holiday sleep-in-late-mode..

Mondays and Tuesdays I get home from class reasonably early, before 8 PM (20:00 hrs) - still plenty of time for whatever else. However, on Wednesdays and Thurdays classes end after 8.30 PM, which means I´m home just before 10 PM. At that point I´m starving, tired and if it´s been a good class, way too wired for sleep. Should be in bed within one hour, but with facebooking, the blogging and the tweeting, the stretching and the eating - no can do. Before you know, it´s past midnight and I´m looking at less than 6 hours worth of sleep. Dang! Did I mention that I´m so not a morning person?

When you dance daily, rest is vital. But don´t try to hold off with the R&R until the weekend, or else your dancing suffers. Fatigue is not just a serious buzz-kill but also detrimental to muscle tonus. Any dancer knows that in order to dance full out, you need your brain and body to work in optimum harmony! Now I just need to follow my own advice.. By the time the past week had reached Friday I could have slept standing up. Class was late in the evening, so I went home first. Any sane, non-dancing person would have hit the couch and stayed there. But has sanity ever stopped me from dancing? Nope. Nor did it stop the attack of the yawns midway through class - which my teacher of course noticed! How embarrassing.. To my defense, the air inside was hot, humid and stagnant. I was not the only one feeling its slumbering effect!

So, what do you do when Big Sleep is but a wink away and you´re still in class? If there is imminent danger of you crashing into anyone, or hurting yourself, then of course stop! Tell the teacher that you have to sit out, but don´t leave the class (unless you are falling asleep just sitting there). Stay until the end, watch and try to learn something, and if the class ends with reverance, get up and finish in style. Do, however, not make a habit of this! Once is really enough.

If you can still manage, do pace yourself. Dance clean, do not mark but don´t push too hard either. As for myself, I have danced so long that I just went on autopilot. Of course it helped that the class was of beginner-intermediate level, and all the exercises familiar. But I missed a couple of steps anyway. Did a grand jeté developpé when there should have been a straight leg, and wobbled on my center grand plies. But class was not an entire waste. We did this exercise in center where you temps levé into arabesque, then walse around with the back arabesque leg coming forward and through.  Caught myself in the mirror and realised that I was rushing and losing proper ligne in the process. Autopilot and auto-correct, not too bad for a dancer half-asleep. ;)

Oops, I´m doing it again - it´s 11 PM! Sweet dancing dreams everyone!

Le Spectre de la Rose. Nurejev and Fonteyn.

July 24, 2011

Driven

All vacations must come to an end, and mine - sadly no exception. Come Monday morning, the alarm will ring at 6:00 AM and this summer will never be the same again. Goodbye to deliberate idleness and days spent sunbathing, swimming, sitting in cafés with the girls.. and dancing. Wait! There will be no end to the dancing. My vacation may be over and done with (truly it is), but my summer dancathon is still in full swing!

I do worry a little that there is no cutting back, now that I´ve gotten used to my daily dose of dance again. And why should I not enjoy it while I still can? Hello, not getting any younger here! I have also noticed some improvement in my dancing, and not just in the purely technical. There might actually be a hint of artistry, just a whiff, in a port de bras, or phrasing of the music.. I really, really want and need to see where this is going.

This means that for the foreseeable future I will either rush from the office to class, or I will be home just in time to get to bed. Not every day of the week, but five at least. In the summer it comes easy, because the sun sets late and days just seem longer. In the cold and dark of Finnish winter - another story. But ballet class has always been my strongest motivator. I suppose you could call me driven.

Desire - dedication - drive. Three words I have no difficulty associating with dance. You begin with desire, with the hope of becoming a proficient and active participant in the art of ballet. You may dream of pas de deux with Marcelo, of octoplet pirouettes and standing ovations, but even simple tendus and pliés already equal happiness.

Dedication is where you turn desire into consistent and real work, and into quality. It does not matter that it is all recreational. The reward lies in the dancing itself, in the countless hours dedicated to barre and center, and maybe the occasional recital.

Drive will propel your forward, but finally it is the dancing that will take you places. Away from yourself and back again, but never returned the same. For me, therein lies the magic. Can you really blame me if I keep coming back for more?

Source: www.flickr.com

July 21, 2011

Ups and Downs: Pliés, not Life.

Ballet class, center pirouette exercise: tombé pas de bourré into fourth, foutté turn with right leg ronde to the back - TPDB into fourth, double pirouette en dehors - TPDB into fourth, fouetté turn into preparation for en dedans pirouette - turn - plié - sous tenu turn - tombé - pirouette arabesque (arms ups) - plié - arms open - pirouette en dendans (arms up). There is no pause in the last pirouette combination, you turn, plié and turn. Or are thrown off your axis, like me..

Now here´s the "trick" to survive: after down, comes up. Up, down, up, down. Or like our teacher Silvia said: it is very much like in real life. I know what she was getting at, it´s an easy comparison to draw.. But, as we know, life is not always fair. There are no guarantees that after "down" comes the inevitable "up". Sometimes shit happens. But not so in ballet! Even if learning ballet is like riding the metaphorical rollercoaster. Your learning curve will take you high, and then you will plummet, gather speed again and plataeu, buy a new ticket and ride up again. Only with learning ballet you will eventually advance, despite the rides down with the arms flailing and the screaming. Wait, no screaming in ballet class. But fun! 

James Whiteside and Melissa Hough of the Boston Ballet. Source: here.

Then there is the actual, physical act of going up and down. No metaphors here. If you want to jump, you plié first to push off. We know that the same applies to turns. Strangely, we keep forgetting this. Pliés become too easily habitual and perfunctory, and in the process we are robbed of their full potential! That is why our teacher threw the life-must-have-its-up-and-downs metaphor us. We were doing the pirouette exercise as if the directional line was fixed by a level, when we should have been going down, up, down, up.. Using our pliés, and the rebound energy they provide. Our teacher demonstrated again, and we tried our best to follow suit. Whaddya know - it worked!

Of course we all know the theory behind the plié, and its purpose. But I urge each and everyone of you to pay extra attention next time you dance. Make those pliés count, and not just in the obvious jumps. Dare to go down, and deeper. Trust that at least in ballet this action will always bring you right back up. Literally and figuratively.

July 16, 2011

Dance-Vacation: Highs and Lows. Mostly Highs.


Second week of my summer dancathon and both my Pirouette Fairy and Inner Ballerina have ganged up on me. Drinking their mojitos somewhere on a sunny beach (which currently is not here), having a blast, thinking it´s their vacation. Just you wait.. Ladies, this is a dance-vacation! Now get your asses back in here!

Seriously, my initial holiday-buzz has faded a bit.. When you´re staying at home, you still have to do the dishes, cook the food, clean the house, listen to the upstair´s dogs bark, take the same bus to the city.. While friends are jetting off to Chianti, Italy or to Paris or Tokyo or even to summer cottages hidden next to lakes somewhere in the Finnish countryside. Sigh. But this is what I signed up for - no schedules, no travel plans, just ballet and beach. The weather is no longer beachy, but thank goodness for ballet!
Toes and Treats

The first week went swell (read my previous post), the second week started stiff-bodied. Could not believe that two days of not doing anything would throw me off my game. But that´s what happens with daily classes - the more you dance, the more you notice even the little breaks in-between. I remember our teacher M-P telling that she used to hate Mondays, because of Sundays off! Then there is the fact that I´m no longer twenty, which means more up-keep and maintenance. You can´t take anything for granted anymore! And do you remember the toes I banged first day? Well, they are still bothering me on the big jumps. That´s why I took yesterday off, to add a third day to this weekend and let them little toes heal properly. 


So, Monday did not start with a bang, but it ended with corks flying. Had a lovely get-together with my ballet girls at a fairly swanky brasserie. Guess what we talked about? Yup, ballet. It´s so much fun to be among dancers, you never run out of topics (dance!) or things to do (dance!). Oh, and the cava and pink raspberry mousse cake was very nice too. Talking about treats, I have decided to limit my chocolate intake to posh Varlhorna only. It´s so expensive that I dare not buy more than 3 pieces at a time! But this way I can have my choc, and eat it too. Another boring fact of life after thirtysomething: your metabolism slows down, making it harder to keep excess weight off. Another reason why I love ballet: it is the best kind of interval training - which raises you metabolism! Now, where is my chocolate?

O Pointe Shoes, Where Art Thou?

Tuesday we went shopping for pointe shoes, but left empty-handed. Well, I did find Bloch Pumps on sale, but the pointe shoes came in all the wrong sizes and widths. I did, however, get to try Bloch´s Morph -model, but it´s not the fit I had hoped for. And I didn´t care for the pre-inserted spongy bit inside the box. It just felt weird. I also tried the Balance European, but I was not so convinced as to hand over my money. The sales-girl was very nice and helpful, but sadly had little knowledge about pointe shoes (which she admitted herself). The shop does specialize in dance sports, not ballet, so I had figured as much coming in. We had been hoping to go to Grishko´s own small store across the Opera, but it´s closed for all of July. Like I said, no luck in the shoe department.

Morphs and Euopeans, I think..
By Wednesday I was still dancing way off my game, not helped at all by the worst case of crankiness. I guess vacations are no guarantee for non-stop fun & cheer. I just could not find my center, pirouettes were all over the place and I kept messing up combinations I had already learned! Grrr.. After class, I just stayed on and practiced on my own - which I like to do whenever I get the chance. I got some extra pointers from our Summer Sub, who was in no hurry to leave. Might as well share them with you.

Class Notes

Pirouettes - for a clean double, you need hardly any impulse. Certainly not the kind that would have you spinning like Baryshnikov in White Nights. If you had the skill. Go on, sit back and dream.. However, all you need is love and a deep plie, instant pose, and quick spotting of the head. Nothing new then. My biggest obstacle is that I overthink my turns, and that I get too excited (as in nervous excitement). Then, at the last moment I do something that throws me off my axis. The point is, that I really need to learn how to relax. Because whenever I´ve been calm & collected, turns just happen. I´m not saying to dance carelessly, but to care less. Like, pirouettes? Sure, whatever.

Economical dancing - how to dance with the least effort and still be on top of the music, with clean and sharp technique? Don´t muck about with anything that does not belong in the choreography. No adjusting of positions, no shifting around. Keep it simple where you can. Be fluid in your movements, not superfluous.

Fouettés Fun? Why, Yes.

Thursday back in business at last! Our Summer Sub gave us another challenging and fun center to do, and this time I also got the tricky ballotté sequence right. The adagio has been one of my favorites, I almost wish I could video it and share with you :) Pirouettes were kind of there, The Fairy was back in the house, but she´s a lazy girl, that one! Only at the end of class, I finally managed to reign her back in. We did a combination of emboité jumps and sous tenus: 4 x emboité - 2 x sous tenu - repeated twice - third sequence starts the same way, but after the final sous tenus straight into fouetté turns, in attitude devant, with arms at the side. That was a totally new move for me! And the first time anything fouetté-related was actual fun (and not desperate).

Who Needs Botox?

Still, could not resist staying behind after class. I find it odd that everyone else is always in such a hurry to leave class, even when there is space and time to dance some more! Sometimes I´ve turned my best pirouettes après-ballet, when I´m all warmed-up, yet totally relaxed. So I practiced more turns, and discovered I can do piqué turns in arabesque and in attitude (sort of). I could have gone on forever, which made my teacher comment that I reminded her of her 12-year old self, always staying behind to work. Last week I was estimated 10 years younger, this week I´m twelve. At this rate I will soon be reborn. Hey, I read somewhere that you only grow old when you stop dancing! So let´s all not.

July 10, 2011

Dancathon - First Week Recap


I really could get used to this way of life.. It´s Sunday afternoon, and I´m as relaxed as can be. No getting ready for another week in the office, instead 14 more days of vacationing and loads of ballet. Daily ballet in fact. What a nice ring that has. Dai-ly bal-let. I´m sorry to rub it in, especially to any reader who has to wait until the end of summer for their dance studios to re-open. But I really had forgotten what a difference it makes in your dancing! Everything becomes more natural, more responsive and less strained. Oh, and let´s not forget the gorgeous outdoors, the beach and the sun! It all makes for one seriously happy combination.
Roll out your landing gear!
Beginning of this week, it almost came to an untimely and disastrous end. I landed badly from a jump. We were practicing grand allegro in center, traveling in four diagonals. Tombé pas de bourré - glissade - grand pas de chat - contretemps - repeated three times - and on the final fourth sequence, instead of grand pas de chat one big saut de chat. This is where you start like a pas de chat, but developpé the front leg in mid-air. It is a new jump for me, tried it a couple of times, but certainly not part of "my repertory". On the left, it went suprisingly well, but on the right.. Oh dear. I had traveled too far, and was jumping off-mirror, without any visual feedback. Mid-air I did something weird, and suddenly had no sense of my placing and timing. It was like flying in the dark, without radar. I came down with my left landing gear still in, that is on pointed toes. Ouch! 

Luckily I landed on two feet, and the toes of my left foot kind of rolled under. God, I would have fainted at the sound of breaking bones! Most of the impact I felt between the third and fourth metatarsals, right at the base of the toes. There was some minor bruising the next day, and I went right back to class. It really only bothers me coming down from a big jump, and on one foot. Which I stupidly keep forgetting. Somehow I have managed to bang the same spot every class, until I had the better idea of easing off it. Last Friday I only did some lite big jumps, and with the added weekend-break the sorry foot seems to be okay now. I hate to think that my dance-vacation could have gone to the dogs.. 
You win some, you lose some, sometimes it rains, and sometimes you get to dance.
Alas, it did not. Phew. Tuesday I went to The Other Place, to try out a different class and a new teacher. Hmm.. What can I say? Every dancer experiences this. Sometimes you come across a class which would have been terrific at another point in your "career", but now it just does not happen. I did appreciate this newly graduated teacher´s eagerness and the knowledgeable preparation that went into the class. She even brought along textbooks and pictures, which we proceeded to look at mid-barre.. For me, however, this disrupts the flow and pace of the lesson. Even though it is commendable that a teacher has such keen interest to share her knowledge with students. As long as you balance theory with practice. Class is short enough at 60-90 minutes. 

The anatomy & alignment lecture, however, was not my reason for not "feeling" the class. I know many others who did. A friend of mine was quite excited after class, saying that she really liked this teacher. I don´t consider it bad judgement at all, it merely goes to show that there are different needs at different times. In the past two years I have been learning a lot of new things, about technique but also about what actually happens between the steps. I have written a lot about it in this blog, but to recap: it has to do with breathing and elongating, phrasing the music, bringing something of yourself into it, of telling a story with the very first movement. There is still focus on very clean technique, but with a new emphasis on expression and artistry. It has been both a relevating and liberating experience.

The zen of ballet class

It is also the very antithesis of robotic dancing, something our teacher M-P disdains greatly. This class at The Other Place had nothing to do with robots, thank goodness, but the movement quality is somewhat sporty, with stick-it-out-there tendu degagés and bouncy pliés. There are some beautiful cambrés, but mostly class feels like a hurried gym exercise. There is a lot of choreography even for the first pliés and tendus, and I can see how others like as much variety as possible.. But it´s not the best way for me to get going. I need that moment of zen to find my center. Give me a simple beginning, some beautiful music and I´m a happy (and properly warmed-up) dancer already! Must be my old age ;) So, despite one very energetic teacher, and lots of sensible focus on anatomical placement, I leave class without my usual après-ballet buzz. I gave it another go on Friday, even switching levels, but with the same result. Class just feels like I´m taking a step back into the wrong direction. But it´s not the teacher´s fault. 
Breathe!
Classes with my own school´s Summer Sub are, on the other hand, getting better every time. The barre is still a little too short & lite for my liking, and I wish we could repeat at least a third of it. I am not the only one who thinks the same, and we are currently wondering if and how we should bring this up.. The exercices are good, we just want more! There are also considerably less corrections at the barre, at least compared to our regular teachers (and even less than at The Other Place). Much more focus is placed on correct breathing - very important - and economical movement. This is something our other teacher, M-P, has also talked about. You can´t be at 110% all the time, or your dancing will look contrived, instead of effortless. It is something that is very hard to teach in the beginning, as muscle memory and strength have not yet developed. But it is a valuable lesson, one that I´m continuously learning.


Oh dear, this is turning into a mid-term paper, not a blog post. I do hope you´re not tempted to surf elsewhere before getting to the closing sentence.. Please let me know if I´m writing too lengthy posts! I was actually planning to do daily short posts this week, but it has been to darn hot to blog. Anyway, it has been a terrific week, even with the classes at The Other Place. You always learn something, maybe a new step, or a new pointe of view. Sometimes there are ahaa-moments, thrills and triple pirouettes. Sometimes it´s just a work-out. But it´s all good. Good to be alive, and dancing.


P.S. Pictures were taken today on my local waterfront trail, around 20:00 hrs (8 p.m.). It´s midsummer, so the sun does not set in Helsinki until 22:39 hrs. All this light = lots of extra energy to dance!

July 5, 2011

Summer Dancathon!


It´s official. I´m on my first decent vacation in years. Three weeks of blissful not-doing-anything, except heading to the beach. And ballet. Lots of ballet! Since there are no summer-intensives for adults here in Helsinki (and I´m lacking the funds to travel), I have compiled my own ballet intensive, with daily classes at two different studios. The only drawback is that there is not much variety in classes. Both my favorite teachers are on vacation too, and at both open studios there is currently only one teacher subbing for the next two weeks. But it is summer, I´m out of the office, and I get to dance. Not really complaining here.

My own regular teacher/mentor Gabriella already handed over the reigns a week ago, and what a awesome rule it was! Classes progressed from the first to last, adding more challenges as we danced along. Got to do lots of batterie again, quick allegros, grand pirouettes, complex variations across the floor and and big port de bras. In our last summer class we did this beautiful adagio, with specific focus on épaulemant: "you have to dance from the heart", she said, laying hands to her chest. "All movement has to come from the heart!". This is so important to remember, especially in technique class where your brain is doing overtime to produce clean lines and accurate steps. You gotta put yourself out there, and not be scared to let your personality shine through! 

Class ended with a crazy grand allegro en manège: valses en tournant, tour jetés, and coming down from entrelacé, fouetté around, step and grand pas de chat. That last big jump - it´s been a long time since I haven´t felt any restriction, no stiffness, no nothing. Awesome! After our final reverance, we thanked with the longest applause, until our teacher waved us off, all embarrassed (and obviously very pleased). :) 

So, until mid-August, new styles and new teachers. It always does you good, as long as you bring the right attitude into class and work as hard and carefully as usual. My own studio´s Summer Sub (Silvia) has already proven to be an interesting experience. She is Spanish, was primarily educated in the Vaganova school, but has since picked up influences from the American (think Balanchine) and Cuban schools, plus contemporary dance (Graham, Cunnigham). I like that she too has actually performed as a classical ballet dancer, in Mexico´s National Ballet and later in Germany. 

Silvia´s class very much focuses on center exercices, with beautiful upper body movements and very quick and strong jumps. She pays particular attention to proper breathing during dancing, and to the phrasing of the music. The center I like very much indeed, but the barre is still a bit too light and short for my liking. Her teaching style is also somewhat more relaxed, for instance she lets us do our own preparations at the barre, and our own stretching before center. Whereas Gabriella and M-P always choreograph the entire class. I don´t mind so much, it´s quite common practice - but I do miss the concentrated feeling of a class working and dancing completely in unison. But all in all, a positive experience.  Really looking forward to more!

My weekly dance schedule:

Monday: Advanced ballet, 90 min (Silvia)
Tuesday: Adv ballet, 90 min, new teacher (N), different studio, today is the first time
Wednesday: Adv ballet 90 min (S), followed by 60 min basic level (S), which I do on pointe
Thursday: Basic-Intermediate 75 min (N), 15 minutes at end of class for beginning pointe, 
followed by 90 min of adv ballet (S). Have to switch studios for this one, luckily they are close-by.
Friday: Adv ballet, 90 min (N)
Weekends: no ballet, just R&R

I´m also planning to finally buy a new camera, so there may be more photos in the future. Most likely these will be shots of pointe shoes and beaches, but if we can get any decent ballet photos.. who knows? Might be time for a full-body-shot. Yikes.. Well, that is it for my first dancatahon post. More to come. Hope you all have a wonderful summer dancing and relaxing!

Picture above post: "Ballet on the Beach" by Loudon Sainthill (1918-1969).
Medium: watercolour and ink.

July 3, 2011

Back to Basics

Beginning of June I returned to basic level ballet class. Not to worry Dear Reader, I have not suffered a sudden injury, nor the onset of ballet-amnesia, and neither have I been scared away from advanced class - quite the opposite! I have never been more comfortable out of my comfort zone. Thrilled in fact. Which means it is time for a new challenge, like taking a regular ballet class in pointe shoes. The timing was coincidentally fitting, as there are no actual pointe classes in summer. And no way could I hang up my shoes for three entire months! Come fall, I´m sure my feet would have punished me for such negligence.. However, our advanced level is too difficult for me to do en pointe, but my teacher okayed it for the basic class. It has been an interesting experience.

Wearing those pointe shoes is like a time-warp back to Akward. Sure, I´m ahead of the rest of the class, but learning to dance on pointe is like learning how to dance all over again! Last time another girl from my pointe group was there too, and after our teacher gave me another painstakingly precise correction, she explained to class that, yes, we are more advanced, but on pointe everything becomes newly challenging again. So true! Especially when we are not doing pointe-specific exercises. Whenever we stand flat, for tendus, degagés or center adagio, I miss feeling the floor under my feet. The first time we did a simple temps lie in center, finishing with arabesque, then plié, then pas de bourré, I was suprised most by the arabesque on flat foot. It´s like standing in a rocking boat! One one foot! Which is kind of odd, that I can balance better up, but I suppose that´s what those clobbers were designed for.. It´s a good exercise, makes you concentrate on proper placement. 

I´m really glad though that our teacher has also incorporated pointe-exercises into the barre, like various soutenus, piqués, sous sous, lots of balances (which I have been doing both rolling and springing up), and even relevés facing the barre. These are not just for our benefit (i.e. us who are pacticing pointe through the summer) but very useful and fun exercises to do on demi-pointe as well. Still I keep getting weird looks, especially when there is someone new. At the barre I´m fairly invisible to the rest, except to whatever poor girl is standing behind me, and getting confused by my modified barre. Hey, it´s a good exercise for keeping your focus!

In the center it´s different. I would prefer to go to the back of the class, but it´s already crowded. Strangely the entire first third of the floor is empty, so I take my spot there and try to lure some other girls to move up as well. I remember how daunting this was the first time around, and it is a bit nerve-racking again. Those pointe shoes sure are a great equalizer; I feel as clumsy as I did, what, 18 years ago.. When we do piqués in the diagonal, my teacher tells me to do just balances, even though we have been praticing piqué turns in our pointe class (or was that with my other teacher?). I decide to give it a go anyway, and one the left I manage to keep up with the other dancers.

It really makes me appreciate basic level ballet again. It is such an important time in your dancing! It is when you build your foundations for everything that is to come, and you want to be a strong house, not some shack with the construction gone all wrong! I sometimes wonder why certain dancers are in such a hurry to leave basic levels behind, even disregarding their teacher´s advice in the process. There is no award in showing up in advanced ballet, not if your basic technique is seriously and sadly lacking. I would like to pull these girls/women aside, and tell them this: why not take the extra time, and hone your skills, build your strengths, do the real work, pay your dues and enjoy the whole journey! It will show in your dancing, and eventually you will be happier for it. Trust me.

Luckily, these few somewhat misguided wannabe-ballerinas are the exception. The basic class I´m taking is full of motivated and smart women who obviously love to dance and want to make the most of it! I thoroughly enjoy being in the same class with them, and hoping to be a good example makes me work even harder. The regulars are also used to my noisy pointe shoes by now - maybe some even like getting a preview of what´s to come.. In any case, if they decide to go en pointe, my teacher requires a minimum of three years of consistent and solid training, which would place them at basic-intermediate level..

And of course they are curious: "So how long have you been dancing before you got to go on pointe?" Me: "17 years." There is laughter, and someone joking that she will be a Grandma before she ever gets that far. Then there is also relief. Me being a teenager´s lifetime worth ahead of them, it kind of takes all peer pressure away. Of course, you do not have to wait as long as I did, but my example goes to show that you can take your own sweet time to get there. In the meantime, be a proud basic level dancer. Appreciate how far you´ve come already and know that you can get much further still!


The following video is not about basic level class, but I want to share it with you because Etudes is a true hommage to classical ballet training, and a dazzling display of brilliant dancing. Here it is danced by the Royal Danish Ballet, one of the finest companies in the world. The choreography is by Harald Lander. The first danseur, Kenneth Greve, is currently Artistic Director of the Finnish National Ballet.