August 12, 2015

Back to Being a Ballet Student

This is my teacher Marie Greve. Before she came to Helsinki, she was a Principal Dancer at the Royal Danish Ballet, and before that, she danced at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. She's danced all the big roles: Juliet, Giselle, Odette/Odile, as well as choreographies by Bournonville, Balanchine, and Forsythe (to name a few). Alexei Ratmansky created Anna Karenina on her, and John Neumeier his Little Mermaid. She has the most beautiful port de bras I've ever seen on any dancer, and mile-long legs that extend past six o'clock without any effort. She looks elegant in everything that she does. All of this would be impressive by itself, but Marie also happens to be the most nurturing teacher I've ever had.

I was already forty when I had my first classes with her, but she held my hand to help me with a balance on pointe and sat down onto the floor to shape my foot into a beautiful arch. In the past almost-five years, she's given countless corrections and adjustments, her patience and good humour never wavering. She saw potential where I saw obstacles. She's encouraged me to "play with my port de bras", to "colour" my dancing, and to make it interesting. Marie has made me work and dance in ways I did not know where even possible for a middle-aging late-starter ballet student like myself. It hasn't always been easy (but when is ballet ever easy?). At times, I've struggled, been frustrated, even negative. Not the kind of student you'd be happy to teach... Still, she did not give up on me. I had to learn my lessons, adjust my attitude and re-discover both the joy and discipline of ballet. Which is why I love her classes to bits. Today, Marie's back after a four-month long break - and I cannot wait to be her student once again!

This post is dedicated to all those wonderful ballet teachers who guide, correct, encourage, nurture, motivate and inspire us  - without you it would not be the same amazing experience. Thank you!

P.S. For readers and ballet students in the Helsinki area: Marie-Pierre Greve teaches at Tanssikeskus Footlight, Wednesday evenings (levels basic to advanced) and Tuesday & Thursday mornings (intermediate/advanced/pro). Note: This endorsment is completely unsolicited, I do not receive any benefits or class price reductions.

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