Friday the 13th: a magical lucky day in my family. I was so excited, and really nervous too, about going to the Ballet Hop! retreat for the weekend. I hadn't gone to a dance intensive of any kind since at least 2013, and I've never attended a ballet one before. Two of my teachers, Maude and Zoé-Claude, were going to be there, which was reassuring, but I still wasn't sure what exactly to expect. When I was packing my little suitcase the night before, I actually ended up packing every single ballet leotard I could find, because I had no idea if I was going to want to fade into the background or be my usual heavily tattooed rainbow ballet fairy.
(My strategy when choosing what to wear to class is whatever will make my inner 5 year old jump for joy.)
Friday night was swift and sweet: checking in, apéro (cocktails), a really nice dinner (in fact, each meal throughout the weekend was so excellent, a big thank you to Chef Andrew and his team and a particular shout out to his spicy sauce and his poached apples!) and an easy stretch class before bed. Saturday morning, I was feeling incredibly motivated. I wanted to take every single dance class on offer. I started with the beginner barre to warm up, then a variation class. After lunch, I joined the full intermediate ballet class and to wrap it all up, a pointe class!
We started learning Nikiya's enchanting solo from La Bayadère during the variation class. I didn't think of filming us during class, so here's the POB version with étoile Isabelle Guérin, which is very similar to the choreo we worked on:
In just over an hour, we only managed to learn a minute and 20 seconds. But I would actually be interested in coming back to this solo, maybe even in pointe shoes one day. I don't have the leg extensions for ballet, so I do love me a solo with great arms (le feu!!!)
To shake things up after a day of ballet ballet ballet, we celebrated the end of Saturday with the signature Ballet Hop! Apéro Hop! with an ABBA choreography before dinner. I did end up not going to the last stretch class before bed, instead I joined a small group out by a campfire outside and we shared stories and watched the stars. (I just didn't want to move anymore, haha!)
Sunday was decidedly less intense. After the morning stretch class, I joined the contemporary choreography class. Zoé-Claude created a three minute choreography for us to the tune of Charlotte Cardin's Confetti. Three minutes may not seem like a long time, but rehearsing it four, five, fifteen time quickly adds up and becomes completely exhausting! After Saturday's ballet marathon, my left leg was becoming uncooperative, so I focused on learning the arms and marked the steps. I did pull out my phone to film us for this one, so I'll probably eventually come back to it and put it all together one day.
Contemporary danse is a style that I'm not really familiar with — when I look at the film on my phone, it's totally obvious! Since August 2021, I've been pouring an enormous amount of my free time into ballet, and my reflexes are a lot more "ballet" than they were before. Forgive me if I don't share the clip of the choreo of Confetti here; uno, I don't have the permission of the other dancers or the choreographer to do it, secundo, I want to maintain a certain aura of competence on here 😆...
After the contemporary class, it was time to repack our bags, leave our rooms, go to a very charming brunch, drink one last delicious tisane of local flowers, take a bunch of photos outside as a group (I can't wait to see them!) and in the blink of an eye, the ballet retreat was a success. All my muscles were begging for a three-day nap, but my heart was still dancing.
A big thank you to Zoé-Claude, to Maude, to Ballet Hop!, to every dancer who came, for a very beautiful weekend. I can't wait for next year!