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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 - 12:30PM
Rehearsals for choreographic workshop
Studios, Celia Franca Centre
12:30PM - 2:30PM
Lunch break for staff & students
Mona Campbell Square, Celia Franca Centre
2:30PM - 4:15PM
PERFORMANCE: Presentation of choreographic workshop (matinee)
Betty Oliphant Theatre
404 Jarvis Street
7:30PM - 10:30PM
National Ballet of Canada Sleeping Beauty performance
Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
145 Queen Street West

Interviews and Reports

AI09 Day 7

Creativity and Collaboration
by Tamara Tomic-Vajagic, Dance Writer & PhD candidate, Dance Studies Roehampton

The final moment of the performance with all the dancers standing together, mixed from all the different schools, bonded and beaming after a job well done on stage of Betty Oliphant Theatre was one of several peaks, if not the ultimate high point of the Assemblée Internationale.

Last night’s performance of the Student Choreographic Workshop showed how all the stimulation during the week, the tasks and exploration became a springboard for an inspired stage performance. During the first two evenings of performances, the audience had a chance to see and understand the facets of different schools’ traditions. Last night, the student choreographers showed how ballet language and the layers of ballet heritage can be used to convey ideas and feelings that relate to the world of today’s teenagers.

Very distinct creative personalities of choreographers and performers emerged on stage even though, going with this week’s main topic, many dances were explorations of the power of ensemble (rather than traditionally highlighting solos or duets). This exploration of a community of individuals in a mutual space was one of several exciting themes that emerged in performance. Another theme was that simplicity brings out clarity. All the dances seemed effortless, and whether intentionally or not, they were all composed using uncomplicated stage elements – as if the evening title was "how many interesting things can be said with bodies moving through a spacious stage, dressed in simple leotards". I also loved that there were many female ballet choreographers.

Most of all, if what we saw last night shows things to come, not only that we witnessed debuts of many up and coming international choreographers, but we will see the contrast between choreographing and performing dissolve, as today’s dancers are clearly nurtured to become investigative and creative artists and individuals.

AI09 Day 7

Mark Annear, Head of Teacher Training, Australian Ballet School
in conversation with Joanna Gertler, NBS’ Director of Marketing & Communications

As the Australian Ballet School’s representative for the week, Mark spent much of his time in the studio teaching classes. His intent was to teach some of the elements of classical ballet – to give a taste of the details and co-ordination of the movement and the musicality. Because some of the school’s attending focus more on contemporary dance, Mark needed to choose the middle-ground in his classes and endeavoured to make them enjoyable (although he heard from some of the other teachers that some students had reported his classes as being demanding).

When asked about his expectations for the week, Mark said he’d come with none – yet enjoyed seeing the different approaches to class work from the different schools. From country to country there were evident differences, and within those countries (both Germany and The Netherlands sent 3 schools apiece!). As he said, there is the language of dance, but within that language, there are different dialects, with different nuances. The challenge for today’s ballet teacher is to find the balance between teaching the classical elements of ballet: tradition and discipline with a twenty-first century approach.

In terms of best possible outcomes of the week: Mark believes it’s given the students the opportunity to see the possibilities: that there are different ways of training. Students, upon reflection, can ascertain the strengths of their school’s program, but also appreciate the strengths of other approaches. This opportunity has developed through participation in the mixed classes and mixed casts in the Student Choreographic Workshops. And for the participating Artistic Directors? Mark believes that while there will always be a level of competition between the schools, there’s much more that the ADs have in common. Mavis Staines, as the visionary who put the AI09 together proves to be an excellent role model in demonstrating what can be achieved together.

AI09 Day 7

Nikki Holck, PSP student at NBS
in conversation with Joanna Gertler, NBS’ Director of Marketing & Communications

Nikki participated in the Student Choreographic Workshop, dancing in Sasha Rivera’s piece, Words Unsaid (Hamburg). When asked about her experience of participating in the AI09, Nikki said she was very grateful to have been in the room with so many different artists from around the world. "The energy in the room felt very different; it was very exciting and a very collaborative environment," she said.

Asked specifically about the student choreography workshop, Nikki says she thought it was a very ambitious component to the AI09 festival. "Given the challenges of having to learn to choreography from DVDs and then coming together to rehearse in a limited amount of time..." But, she found it great working with Sasha – a choreographer she claims who’s so passionate about his work, yet still allowed the dancers to bring a part of themselves to the piece. Nikki claims she feels very lucky to have been a part of the workshop.

Keeping connected to all the participants is something Nikki will continue do through Facebook thus allowing the networking this festival has helped establish stay alive.

Martine Lamy

Martine Lamy, NBS Professional Ballet Program Teacher, AI09 Host
in conversation with Joanna Gertler, NBS’ Director of Marketing & Communications

In conversation with Martine prior to the AI, she expressed interest in both teaching the mixed groups as well as observing some of the other guest teachers from the participating partner schools. Here’s her feedback when asked how she found these experiences: 

One of the fascinating things to see was how inspired the NBS students were by the other students in their morning ballet classes. They went beyond their "normal" and were really motivated being around the other students. In each class they put out so much more and I could see them taking it to new levels – as if they were performing every moment!

I loved observing the visiting teachers and found each one had elements that inspired me, I only wish I could have observed them all. David Nixon, former NBS student and now Artistic Director of the Northern Ballet Theatre, was so energized and animated! He made everything so interesting – especially with the level of energy he put into his class. Lolo de Avila, from San Francisco Ballet combined many elements in one exercise. This made the students have to really think and use their brains to achieve her goals. You could see the students really working their brains to complete her tasks! Ramona de Saa, from the National Ballet School of Cuba used different directions to push and challenge the students: she’d have them facing the back or the side, and then working diagonally at the barre – I found this really worthwhile and will try to incorporate more of that into my classes in future. Jason Beechey, Rector of the Palucca Schule in Dresden, and another NBS grad spent his classes focusing on breathing. It was all about the breath, almost like yoga, and the breath was utilized in every exercise. Jean-Yves Esquerre, also from San Francisco concentrated on musicality in his classes. He demonstrated a grande battement with an adagio – and I found that really compelling!

I loved watching the students bond during the Student Choreographic Workshop – the exchange of languages, the strong bonding and sharing – it was wonderful. The whole week was such a fantastic opportunity to mix, talk and exchange ideas with other teachers – communication was so easy and I’m sure we all made friends with whom we’ll keep closely connected.

Day 7 in photographs

AI09 Day 7

Rob Binet's Surge

Excerpts from Surge, choreographed by NBS student Rob Binet. View full-size on YouTube. (00:45)

NBoC's The Sleeping Beauty

The Sleeping Beauty

AI09 students attended
The National Ballet of Canada's
The Sleeping Beauty.

AI09 Blog

AI09 Blog

Read our AI09 blog & check back frequently for updates.

A wonderful ten days!

What a wonderful ten days it was for all. The incredible dedication from all at NBS, to everyone who participated – and especially to the one and only Miss Staines.

Jason Beechey,
Palucca Schule Dresden

I was so inspired...

for the future to see those young people absorbing every moment, every opportunity and every idea and I'm excited to see what riches, over the next decade, emerge from them all. It was a privilege to be a part of it and to spend time with you all.

Deborah Bull, Royal Opera House

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