I’m Abby and I’m in my second year of training at Northern Ballet’s CAT programme. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak we’ve had to halt our training at the Northern Ballet studios and train at home.
Even though I have faced challenges in my home training, I’ve also really enjoyed aspects of my home routine. I love using my creativity in the exercises. Although I’m constantly trying to explore new movement in the basic steps I’ve always done, it’s fun deciding which arm I’ll do and although I miss having live music, it is fun deciding on music for each exercise! Moreover, I’m really enjoying seeing my friends online. We did zoom quizzes last week involving general knowledge and quotes about each other- it’s so lovely doing this as it’s been hard going from seeing them every day to not at all. I also love doing facetime classes with fellow student Freddie. We have music theme days like Mamma Mia and Hannah Montana! Finally, I’m really enjoying diving into the self-motivation needed by professional dancers. We are regularly told we need this trait and I’ve found it extremely useful to experience it. I’ve gained a key insight into the life of a dancer and this has shown me I can be self-motivated.
Of course, this has caused some challenges, so I thought I’d share my three main ones! Challenge number one: Space! I live in a small, open-plan terrace house. The living room (now my studio) is perfect for plies and barre work but as soon as I lift my legs problems occur- hitting sofas and walls is now normal and I think it’s going to be a shock returning to Northern Ballet’s spacious studios. Number two: Northern Ballet is great for focus. I can’t say the same about home. My dog Rufus has taken an interest in my dance space and likes to sit down in my area during class. What’s more, the living room is next to the kitchen so Rufus, my cats and my parents are constantly wandering through to get food or drink refills. Finally, due to the design of our house my dad works in the same room. I’m not too sure he enjoys my music and I really can’t say dancing to a conference call is much fun either! Challenge number three: I really miss seeing my friends! We have a good support network and it’s hard not being able to physically dance with them or be able to walk to the studios with them.
I feel it’s important to have a weekly routine for myself. Before COVID-19 I had a strict schedule of school, travel, dance and revision. As my GCSE’s have been cancelled, I have lots of time on my hands. I recently started doing yoga in mornings to start the day with a good headspace. I go on long dog walks and although not doing general schoolwork I am doing some A-level preparation. For ballet, I do a similar warm up to that which we do at Northern Ballet as a nice reminder of our training and to continue strengthening with Miss Yoko’s unique exercises. For ballet class, we’ve been given exercises which I regularly follow along with other regular exercises from the CAT programme.
Finally, we’ve been sending in videos to our teachers as a way of showing our improvements. It’s been useful for Miss Yoko to see how we’re working during this period and if we’re improving. I have found doing these so beneficial for my technique as I can watch what I do and see the corrections I’m often given by my teachers. Although I do work on fixing my corrections, watching myself shows me where they either need more work or when I think I’ve fixed it but in reality, I haven’t. I really recommend this technique of filming yourself as you pick up on details you might have not noticed before.
This has been my experience of dancing in lock-down, I have been faced with a couple of challenges but also many enjoyable moments, one of them writing this blog. I’m definitely excited and ready to return to the studios of Northern Ballet and I hope we’ll be able to do this soon! Stay safe, keep dancing, keep happy!