Northern Ballet’s Director of Communications gives us the low down on the Festive Family Workshop
Ok, so hands up – I work for Northern Ballet and I have danced in the past, so I’m quite confident with this sort of thing but this was my first experience of one of Northern Ballet’s family fun workshops so I wasn’t sure what to expect. There were about 30 of us in the workshop and the children’s ages ranged from 4 to 11 years old. I took my son Douglas, aged 5, who suffers from the affliction that seems to affect lots of young boys - the inability to sit still!
Having watched The Nutcracker on the Saturday night it was fresh in our minds and the workshop was the first thing Douglas talked about when he woke up in the morning so he was very excited about it. On the way to Leeds we talked about the ballet. He said he liked the Chinese dancers but he was concerned that he might have to take his shirt off like the Arabian dancers. I said not to worry.
Douglas started the session saying that he didn’t want to do any dancing(!) and just wanted to do the crafts, so I was slightly concerned when we learned that the key to the room holding the crafts had been lost so we’d mainly be dancing. However, a few seconds into the warm-up Douglas had a big smile on his face which stayed there pretty much throughout the whole 2 hours. I give all credit to Caroline and Sophie, our Dance Education Officers, who brought genuine warmth and enthusiasm to the proceedings. A live musician added extra excitement to the workshop.
Baggy clothes and bare feet were the order of the day although some children did come along in ballet slippers. We started with a warm up which involved simple walking, skipping and galloping. We then learnt some steps from the party scene and were able to make up our own steps, working as a pair and then joining with other people. We also learnt steps from the battle between the Nutcracker Prince and the Mouse King. This was Douglas’ favourite as he got to kill me (not sure what that says about our relationship). The movement was challenging at times but not too much so that everyone couldn’t follow and it was a great atmosphere.
Everyone was fully involved in the workshop and the adults enjoyed it as much as the children. I would probably never spend 2 hours at home dancing with Douglas, so attending this workshop meant I spent some good quality time with him, sharing an experience and having bags of fun, they’re memories I’ll treasure forever.