Today I got to watch members of the Royal Ballet in class! This open class was part of the Royal Opera House's Insights series, and there will be similar events occurring throughout the year. I think it's really wonderful how actively the Royal Opera House pursues audience outreach.
I went to the class expecting mostly members of the corps the ballet to be there and was completely blown away to see Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae, Thiago Soares, Federico Bonelli, Akane, Takada, Eric Underwood, Yuhui Choe, Ryoichi Hirano and Claire Calvert all there, sitting under the barres warming up! They were dressed in layers of tights, leggings, leg warmers and jumpers, surrounded by yoga mats, leg rollers and thera-bands, stretching and chatting amongst each other. It was so great to see how the dancers socialise with each other. The atmosphere felt pleasant.
It was really interesting seeing how ballet dancers start their day. The class was structured like a typical ballet class, starting at the barre and progressing to the centre. The dancers shed layers of clothing as the class progressed (it got pretty warm in the studio even for the audience), and the girls started in flat and changed into point shoes for the centre. All the key exercises were covered from plies and tendus, to pirouettes and jumps. The class was given by Olga Everinoff, who demonstrated the exercises and walked around the room giving corrections in a clear but kind manner. It was obvious from the way the dancers acknowledged her when they left the class that she is well liked.
We were told that after class, which lasts 75 minutes, the dancers go on to rehearsals. Class starts at 10.30 and rehearsals go on to 17.30 on performance nights or 18.30 when there is no performance. They do this six days a week. It's absolutely incredible.