'Everything about Northern Ballet's Swan Lake makes this a stunning production the perfect first event for this landmark theatre. The drama, the breathtaking beauty and the live orchestra all create a sense of occasion that will captivate hearts and minds - and show off Aylesbury's new jewel.'
No pressure then! This was the opening page of the brochure for the sparkling new Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. It was a fantastic new theatre to end a three week leg of Swan Lake and as you will have seen great to be part of such a star studded event.
We visited Bradford, Woking and Aylesbury and spent our first week in our new building. The Bradford week was very long and stressful and it wasn't helped by the exertion felt by all the dancers just back from Bangkok. We successfully made it through the week and it was wonderful to perform on the Alhambra stage (large and flat). As always we had fantastic audiences. At least it was a short drive home on Saturday night and a long sleep in on Sunday.
Then came Woking, and as this is my home town, a great time for me to catch up with my sisters. I always have mixed feelings 'coming home'. I always look forward to it but the reality is actually terrifying! Try as I might not to put extra pressure on myself I invariably do. The theatre itself is perfectly nice but something about the smell and atmosphere of the building puts a fear deep in my stomach and somehow I regress to a petrified 10 year old attempting to do a tap routine with Des O'Connor in the panto Cinderella. This was the first time I performed at the New Victoria Theatre and did so nearly every year after in one thing or another each time just as worried as the next.
Even now I flinch at the sight of dry ice. I was, again in Cinderella the panto when I had my first experience of dry ice, I was very small and short at 10 years old and it didn't take long for the creepy ghost like blanket of dry ice to fully envelope me and then the panic set in. I couldn't see a thing not even my feet in front of me and it was so cold it was like being a victim of a Dementor from Harry Potter. How you are supposed to hit all your lines when you can't see? Anyway you adapt quickly especially when on your first night you walk into the feet of someone swinging on a wooden swing happily above the clouded child dancers below them.
I have had some great support from my old dance school and they even gave David a cheque towards the momentum campaign, money they raised in their summer show. It will be put towards two chairs in our sparkling new studio theatre that I like to call the Mini Met!
Aylesbury next and as you will have seen a great week had by all. We all had a laugh to ourselves as we were given swipe cards to access all the areas we would need during the week. On the surface this looks like an excellent idea but there isn't an inside pocket on a swan costume to store your card safely and wearing it round your neck might somehow spoil the magic of theatre! We chose to think of it as a rehearsal for the week to come, at our new home. It all went smoothly, but by Saturday night I have to say my lower legs were happy to say good bye to the lake.
Quarry Hill really is a great building, light and airy and full of potential. We didn't have long to organise ourselves on Tuesday morning as we got stuck straight into rehearsal for The Nutcracker, but by the end of week we had stated to feel settled just in time to go back out on tour again.
We made use of our fantastic studio theatre with three full runs of The Nutcracker. These studios are fab. One wall is entirely glass with great striking images of dancer bodies and then there are the bleacher seats and the viewing galleries, all wonderful.
The building really did come alive on the Saturday as it was filled with all the lucky children dancing the party children and mice in Manchester and Leeds and really that’s what the building is all about, building a future for the Company and Academy. Luckily there is no dry ice from them to contend with.
All photos © Hannah Bateman