Memories from the '23 Ballet Hop! Retreat

Memories from the '23 Ballet Hop! Retreat
A typical October golden hour filtering through pine trees in rural Québec.

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.

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(My strategy when choosing what to wear to class is whatever will make my inner 5 year old jump for joy.)

A big grey fluffy cat hanging out in a blue suitcase.
The Flouffissime was keen to join the retreat too!
A photo of my bujo (bullet journal) sitting open on my desk at the pages of the schedule for the weekend.
Saturday and Sunday's schedules that I transcribed into my bujo.

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!

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What's a variation class? It's basically a rehearsal of a solo from a classical ballet. A wonderfully welcome change of pace after practicing 1 000 tendus!

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!!!)

The studio is very lovely, with big windows giving on a lake and mountain.
Our dance studio for the weekend.

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!

One last look out the studio windows to the lake. I kept forgetting the combinations in class because I was distracted by the view!

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