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Munich Masterclass with Marcia Haydée

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"The Taming of the Shrew", 30.01.2002

Last night saw the third masterclass given at Bavarian State Ballet - this one was sold out even quicker than the ones before, and again the studio was packed with ballet enthusiasts. (I am always wondering how the dancers find enough air to breathe in such an atmosphere!)

Marcia Haydée rehearsed Lisa-Maree Cullum and Alen Bottaini, both Munich first soloists who have not danced in this ballet yet and are going to have their first night tomorrow. I think I have rarely before laughed and learnt as much as in these 90 minutes - it was a fantastic evening, and I hope I can transmit a bit of the atmosphere on this board for those who may be interested!

Before the actual rehearsal started, Marcia Haydée told us a bit about herself and about working with John Cranko - unfortunately I have never seen her live on stage, but her presence and energy were still absolutely fascinating. Some of her remarks I remember....

- For her, Kate was a turning point - not only as a dancer, but also as a person - she learnt that she can be funny (Lisa agreed that she also found it difficult to be funny)

- "Drama is much easier than comedy! Comedy - if you overact, it becomes Kitsch - if you don't do enough, it doesn't work."

- "John said: 'Now you will be funny.' I said: ,'I am not funny.' - John said: 'That's your problem' and went for lunch."

- "Shrew" is the most difficult ballet by John Cranko. You have to be earnest - and you must never ever look at the audience. "You have to dance as if you were in a closed room and if everything was real - as soon as you start to laugh, you have lost."

- Difference Cranko - Neumeier: Neumeier gives the exact moves to the dancers. Cranko wanted the steps and a certain feeling behind them. Today's problem: Dancers watch a video and copy the step - "but they don't know why I did it that way. And in the next performance I did something different. Richie [Richard Cragun] never knew exactly what I was going to do - I was challenging him!"

Rehearsal of the fist pas de deux - when Kate is the stronger one. With this pdd, John Cranko started the whole ballet! Lisa and Alen danced some bits, were corrected, and for the "finale", Marcia Haydee asked them to go through the whole pas de deux as if it was a performance. And it was amazing to see how many details they remembered after such short time!

Some details that struck me:

- Those "falls" of Petruccio looked so real, everyone kept his breath. There was such a loud "bang" when Alen hit the floor and he looked almost unconcious, so even Ivan Liska stepped a bit forward to see if he was ok!

- Already in this pas de deux Kate starts to give in (typical for Cranko - at the end of a pas de deux at least one of the partners has changed) - before she turns a slow arabesque (Petruccio comes last minute to support her), "you realize that you do like this man. You don't want him to take his hand away - but you don't want him to know that - so you take away his hand slowly and walk centre stage - thinking: How can I get the man without that he notices that I want him?"

At the end, Marcia Haydée gave a big compliment to Lisa and Alen: She told us (the audience) we had a wonderful cast (thundering applause) and said to them: "John would be proud of you."

So... I am really looking forward to their performance tomorrow night - but apart from these personal emotions, I feel we have learnt a lot about John Cranko and his works that night!

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