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Assemblée Internationale 2009

Assemblée Internationale 09

8:00AM - 9:30AM
Currie Hall
10:00AM - 11:30AM
Ballet classes
Studios, Celia Franca Centre
11:45AM - 1:00PM
Rehearsals for choreographic workshop
Studios, Celia Franca Centre
1:00PM - 2:15PM
Lunch break for students & staff
Mona Campbell Square, Celia Franca Centre
2:30PM - 5:30PM
Dress rehearsal for existing repertoire Program B
Rehearsals/notes for dancers in Program A
Studios, Celia Franca Centre

Betty Oliphant Theatre
404 Jarvis Street
7:30PM - 10:30PM
PERFORMANCE: Existing repertoire Program A
Betty Oliphant Theatre
404 Jarvis Street

Interviews and Reports

AI09 Day 4

Day Four at the Assemblée Internationale
by Joanna Gertler, NBS' Director of Marketing & Communications

I was invited to visit the History of Art and Ballet teachers' Grade 8 class today to talk to her students about contributing to the AI09 blog. They'd been observing ballet classes that morning and were hugely motivated by what they saw. After I told them a bit about the 50th anniversary website, we took a look at the AI09 pages and specifically the blog. Some of them were familiar with it and we talked about adding a comment to one of the entries. Ms. Epstein, their teacher asked them to talk about some of the things they noticed in the class they'd attended that morning and there were lots of comments flying around.

They noticed that different schools' training focused on different things from their own training; that although the teacher from Cuba spoke no English, it didn't matter because she could make herself understood simply by demonstrating; by using the French terms everyone learns as part of their ballet training, and by using sounds (but not words) to express what she was looking for.

Someone spoke up about different body types which then got them talking about the different styles of dance the visiting schools teach: some are more geared to classical repertoire, while others have a strong contemporary focus. All of the students felt that while there were students from everywhere, once in the studio they formed one dance community. One of the students told us that she was imagining herself in a few years in a similar kind of festival when she was watching what was going on.

There's no doubt that NBS is humming from top to bottom with the infusion of dance students, teachers and directors this week! Performances begin tonight and the excitement is mounting.

AI09 Day 4

A Joy to Have Around
by Arthur Stashak, NBS Grade 10 Student

The AI students are a joy to have here at NBS, they are such nice people and great to be around. In class they show their amazing talent and I can't help myself to look at them constantly. On stage they give artistic expression and the precise technique that professionals give. Each school gives us their own cultural influence from their own country and it is very interesting to watch!

AI09 Day 4

Rehearsing for Shaun Amyot's Improvisation AI09
by Michelle Murphy, NBS Student

I have recently been attending Shaun Amyot's rehearsal for the Assemblée Internationale 2009 choreographic workshop presentation. Shaun Amyot has created an improvisation piece with a cast of students from many schools including the San Francisco Ballet School, Palucca Schule Dresden, Rotterdam Dance Academy, The Hague, and a few others.

On the first day of rehearsals we reviewed the basic improvisational techniques. We separated into small groups to perform each task: this allowed everyone to become familiar with the improvisation work that is used in the piece. When you were not in the group dancing, you had a chance to observe other students' movement choices and approaches to each specific improvisational technique.

While waiting my turn, totally in awe at everyone's movement capability, I learned that a few students have never had an improvisation class. With a small exchange of words at the side of the studio, I understood that some people were slightly hesitant to perform in front of many eyes in a genre of movement that felt very far from comfortable to them. After a few groups went, the atmosphere in the studio changed completely. By the third task, called "universal writing," students familiar and unfamiliar with improvisation were eating up space in the school's largest studio, feeling more and more confident as the time passed by.

I watched as those few students dove into the tasks and started exploring their own abilities. I believe that their attitude to jump right into this would not have been as successful if it hadn't been for the atmosphere the group created. Those who have a strong contemporary background set a tone of freedom and exploration of movement where mistakes can happen and judgment is not present.

I think after our first rehearsal everyone learned something from everyone and left the studio not only knowing more about the improvisation piece they will perform, but also discovering something that will help them enrich their own dancing.

AI09 Day 4

Natalie Leung, NBS' Wardrobe Supervisor
in conversation with Joanna Gertler, NBS' Director of Marketing & Communications

Preparing for NBS' AI09 performances of Swan Lake + the Student Choreographic Workshops was, in Natalie's words, "like any show, but with way more students". Leading up to the arrival of visiting students Natalie and her team were dedicated to preparing the tutus required for the 24 swans in Swan Lake. Each one had to be cleaned and fitted to each dancer – as fit is critical for ballet costumes. A new tunic was also made for the Swan Prince. Up until the AI performances, a tunic donated by the National Ballet Company was donned by our Swan Princes. However, this tunic dated back to the 1960s and was deemed too old and worn to reuse – it was worn by Raymond Smith when he danced this role at the Company (he's now on NBS' Artistic staff). The new one took three people 3 weeks to make and looks beautiful!

Once the international visitors arrived, wardrobe staff ensured every costume brought was properly labeled and stored – in fact, there were 12 racks of costumes crowded into the wardrobe department. One of Natalie's favourite were the Cuban costumes which had been specially created for the ballet piece they performed. Titled Majisimo, the ballet and costumes combined both Spanish and Cuban elements and looked fantastic. Natalie also admired the French costumes which she also believed were newly made for the AI09. The variety of costumes were intriguing and varied – for example, the maillots worn in the Royal Conservatory's Kylian piece were very simple, yet quite striking.

Not all the visiting schools have their own wardrobe department – NBS is lucky on that front! While some schools are conjoined with ballet a company and able to access their company's wardrobe staff – not all of them were able to have final adjustments made prior to arriving in Toronto. Natalie and her staff were able to step in and provide support when adjustments to costumes were necessary – this occurred when alternate casting (due to illness or injury) required different dancers to step into roles for which they were not originally cast. Being able to help in this manner made Natalie's group feel special, and a vital component to the Assemblée Internationale 2009.

Day 4 in photographs

AI09 Day 4
AI09 Day 4

AI09 Blog

AI09 Blog

Read our AI09 blog & check back frequently for updates.

Dear Colleagues,

Just a quick note to let you know how much I enjoyed our time in Toronto. I feel re-charged and inspired – and in fine company – to improve and further develop professional dance training.

Hopefully, there will be more opportunities like the one... to continue an exchange of ideas and information.

Thank you very much to Mavis and to her wonderful team in Toronto on behalf of all of us at Rotterdam Dance Academy,

Warmest regards,
Samuel Wuersten,
Rotterdam Dance Academy

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