Thursday, May 31, 2012

HIBC - first round, second day, yay!

Yesterday was as interesting as Tuesday. In my opinion, the boys were a bit better in general. But some girls were so mature and ready for stage that they have to be mentioned! And this time I had a pen, made notes like crazy :D Wrote something about everyone, every performance/variation, but will share my favorites here.


Ryo Shimizu (-93), Japan
Variation was James from La Sylphide. And you know what? This boy knew his stuff. The JUMPS, oh my... Everything was in place, prepairing moves, the actual move, endings/landings. On top of it all, he danced through the music, continuity of the movement was there, all the time.
...and luckily we got to see another variation from him (Le Corsaire). Same quality there. And he's a junior! This guy could win the whole thing.


Maria Baranova (-92), Finland
She won the junior division last time (3 years ago) and is a strong candidate this time also. So can you imagine what a huge pressure that puts on a dancer? It's not easy to be her, I think. As the seniors got to choose between pas de deux or 2 separate variations, Maria.B. performed a pdd from Giselle. Interesting choice, as it isn't maybe the most obvious competition piece. Her partner in crime was Nicol Edmonds, whose lines (body and movement) were very beautiful. I was maybe waiting for a bit flashier jumps, but he's not competing, so that's that. Maria on the other hand was basically everything I expected - the depth of the role (especially in 2nd act) isn't easiest to achieve. I felt like watching a real ballet performance, not "just" a competition bit. Give her couple of years more life experience and what a star we'll have... :)
I'm sure she'll be seen in rounds 2 and 3, hopefully doing some explosive kind of variations. I'd love to go and see all the rounds, but today (Thursday) is sadly the end for me. But: Maria is a principal at our National Ballet, so I'll see her there ;)

Yun Wang (-88), China
The first thing I noticed was her tutu - long sleeves! White lace all over. So beautiful. Her programme was a pdd from the Nutcracker (partners name wasn't in the leaflet, sorry). But they were as good as Maria & Nicol, it felt again like watching the real deal. No competition nervousness seen here. My notes were quite short: "Beautiful and strong/firm dancing. Lovely tutu! Jorma's Bravo!" The last line means that our fabulous dance professor Jorma Uotinen shouted very spontaneously bravo after Yun's solo variation. Then huuuuge applause from the rest of the audience.

Some other notes:

Giovanna Lamboglia (-94, Brazil) was twirling like mad - she knows how to do pirouettes. Seriously.
Alys Shee (-94, Canada) was also confident in her turns and balances.
We saw Many Aurora's yesterday, Yukiko Yanagi (-92, Japan) was my favorite. Grace and elegance.
Anna Bolotashvili (-91, Ukraine) had very nice double pique turns in the end of her Kitri!

Today will be surely as interesting as the previous 2 days. It's funny to notice every once in a while that I'm tensing my back and leg muscles when watching. So sitting in the audience is a workout, too. And it's been wonderful to sense the positive mood of us spectators. Every contestant is given equal mental support, they are encouraged. And from the photos I've seen in fb (HIBC's own page), the young dancers are feeling it. They smile and even seem relaxed.

Toi toi toi!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Helsinki International Ballet Competition + a surprise

Today was the first day of the first round. Of what? Well, this: HIBC! :) Bought meself tickets for the first round (3 days), because I wanted most to see the classical variations. And all the competitors! Based on just this evening, it was worth the euros spent.

But FIRST something Else.

I've mentioned my first ballet teacher here couple of times. We spent about 10 years "together" and though I wasn't the most eager/motivated/flexible pupil, she always seemed to have the patience and encouragement for me too. Also I've been wondering how she's been all these years. Just counted that the last time I met her was my last ballet recital in May -96 or -97 (I really can't remember, probably -96). So, it was Some years ago... And today, as me and a friend with her daugher waited for the competition to start, in the foyer, I spotted something very familiar in a table bit further. Arja and her husband (you'll guess which of the teachers) sat there with 2 friends. I hesitated if I could go and greet her, but then made the decision. It would probably happen never again, the chance to say hello I mean, so I went. Cautiously said pardon & hello and then, you know what: she knew right away who I was!!!!! :))))))))))))))

I can't tell you how happy I am. She asked if I'm a musician now, said that she could tell it back then... :) In the short conversation I told her that I've taken ballet classes for 2 years now and how wonderful it is! She asked where - and just before I left, she asked (smiling) that hopefully I didn't get any awful traumas as a kid/teen. Assured her that it was the other way round for me. I'm hoping she'll be there tomorrow and Thursday, but this really was the best surprise one could get.

Back to the day's event.

Today there were 10 juniors and 11 senior dancers, from 10 countries. More coming during the next 2 days. To put it short, I had 2 favorites over everyone.

Francesco Frola Gabriele (-92) from Italy
Danced a variation from Don Quixote and Swan Lake. Both just pure brilliance. High jumps, perfect pirouettes. He could easily compete in the senior group. I'll be very disappointed if he doesn't make to second round.

Candice Adea (-86) from Philippines
Danced a pas de deux from Don Quixote. The pair had a breathtaking lift & balance high up there quite in the beginning, woooooooooow... She was the stronger of them two. Precise and clean, strong pirouettes, jumps, everything. Really waiting for her to make it further, too!

Both my favorites also had the charisma, charm, elegance, stage presence... I'm sure they were a bit nervous too, excited, but it gave them probably just the extra kick.

Beautiful costumes were seen also. One of my favorites was the very first. Obengül Polen Gezmis (-93) from Turkey had the honor to open the competition. She made it with style and aplomb, variation was from Esméralda. Don't have a photo of it of course, but if I'll find it somewhere, I'll share the link! :) It was so nice... Also there were 2 really cute/lovely bright pink tutus, the other one with some white in the mix and the other with golden details.

All in all, there were lots of confident performances. Two dancers fell, but not too badly. And they both saved the situation quite nicely. One or two stumbled a bit in the end/middle, but nothing enormous there either. Only one contestant left me cold, but that's quite little.

Maria Baranova, the winner of Juniors in 2009 (photo by Sakari Viika). She's on stage tomorrow, as a senior!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Marimekko ♥ National Ballet

Yesterday went by too quickly, so now's the time to post some photos from Friday's first event - the traditional Marimekko's fashion show! This year the models were a bit different from the usual, they were dancers from the Finnish National Ballet. Which happens to celebrate it's 90th anniversary this year. What a coincidence... ;) Theme of the show was a certain Finnish tradition, this kind of a "barn dance". Except that we don't actually dance in a barn, but it's usually a building that contains a huge dance floor (called stage, in Finnish) and a stage for the band. And a bar, of course... :D Waltz, tango, polka, everything like that.

Coreography was by Johanna Nuutinen (dancer herself also at the FNB), fun, lively, captured the spirit of Finnish summer so well. There was a live band, too - drums, accordeon and double bass. They played some "golden schlagers", the sun was shining and everyone seemed to be in a good mood! :)

There are some amazing and fabulous photos of the show in the internet, by some real photographers (google them or find for example Mikael Rantalainen Photography on facebook). But here are some of mine - not so sharp and great, but I still had fun taking them, yes sir!

The directors... :)

Minna Tervamäki herself, grace and elegance.

The kids were so sweet.

Girls got the meet and perform with their idol!
Wouldn't mind dancing there myself :)

Up in the air!

Jamming with the kids again! :)

One of my favorite dresses.

Smiling... :)

Loved her short hair-do!

Who gets the boy? ;)

The Shoe.

The Shoes.

One of my absolutely favorite things in the show was the fact that everyone was SMILING. All the time. Fashion doesn't always have to be so serious, you know... :)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Some shows, I say!

Today was my pre-summer-vacation-day. Went to Helsinki for a meeting with flute society people, after which with a colleague to see the Marimekko Fashion Show. And it was starred by the dancers of our National Ballet! :)

Little preview by me - Minna Tervamäki opened the show! :)

Managed to fetch tickets for next week - the first round of Helsinki International Ballet Competition. Classical variations. Then it was time to take another tourist class - this time with a new teacher I'd heard so much good about. It was a beginners' level (60 minutes), but worth every second. Mrs G. came by many times and fixed things with me. Loved it all.

After class - to a cafe with a ballet (geek) friend, then to the Senate Square -> National Ballet's (free) performance! Bits and pieces of many works, all danced with heart and soul. Weather was as superb as the artists, audience was Big.

Just a small part of us.

Well, there was also my current favorite on stage - the one on the left! :) 

The only thing that didn't turn out as good as I would've liked was the photos. A small digital camera just isn't that much. But still I got some memories captured, so it's all fine and I'm very happy!

Have to write more about this all tomorrow. Or on Sunday. When I'm already officially on vacation. YAY!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Summer Plans

If I were a rich gal... Well, I'm not so have to cope with a little less. And I'm of course talking about summer ballet classes! Last year we had only once a week, 90 minutes on Wednesdays - of which I missed first weeks, because of the ankle operation. This year we're getting double, yay! Monday & Wednesday, 90 minutes both evenings. And a litttttttle bit of pointe work every now and then. (The only problem is that my pointe shoes are no good. Bought a bottle of shellac, will try to bring life to an older pair...)

My dream week would be having a class on Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat. Streching on Sun. But as things are how they are (and I live where I live), I'm taking those 2 classes and taking up running/jogging instead. Last Autumn I won a pair of very good running shoes from a sport store, it's about time to try them out. Found a reasonable "start-running-instruction-set" from the mighty interweb, have to print it and put on the front door. It has stuff to do every other day, for 11 weeks. And it starts quite slowly, so it will probably suit me just fine and dandy. I've Never been a runner, ever. Hated it at school. Riding a bike is okay, dancing is super, playing football/Finnish baseball/etc. is okay. But just running - nope. So you see, I'm really challenging myself here. Luckily I've got a small mp3-player (no ipadspods...), so have to load it up with inspirational music.

So, weekly plan looks like this:

Monday → 18.30-20.00 ballet
Tuesday → running programme
Wednesday → 18.30-20.00 ballet
Thursday → running programme
Friday → home gym & extra streching
Saturday → running programme
Sunday → running programme/home gym & extra streching

There are also 3 "compensation" tickets that I can use in summer aerobic classes, have to check the time table if there's anything interesting. Fridays would be ideal for them (or some Sundays).