Over the past few weeks I’ve had the chance to attend two amazing events. Two equally talented individuals, who have been honing their craft for many years, sharing with the audience very special, personal moments.
On Friday 7th October I managed to get tickets for my daughter and I to attend Carlos Acosta’s final classical performance – The Classical Farewell at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London. To say that this was a treat is an understatement – we felt so privileged to be a part of the audience that night. We enjoyed some of the finest classical performances from our favourite ballets, performed by the cream of the Royal Ballet‘s crop of amazing artists, alongside Carlos; the dancer of my daughter’s generation who will inspire her, as my idol Mikael Baryshnikov inspired me in my youth. It was purely magical.
Carlos is a true athlete, a dedicated and disciplined dancer and although I’ll never know him personally, seems to be genuinely good man. He has a passion for dance that is expressed so thoroughly in every performance and the fact that his classical career has now come to an end is truly sad, but equally exciting knowing he is moving onto more contemporary work. After many magical classical pieces including Kenneth MacMillan’s Winter Dreams, Mayerling and Requiem, George Balanchine’s Apollo, Marius Petipa’s Don Quixote he concluded with Memoria by Rambert’s Miguel Altunaga. It was pure, ridiculously perfect and so exciting – a taste of things to come.
When the final piece, Memoria (a contemporary piece choreographed especially for Carlos), was complete, the audience was only too aware that we had just been witness to the last classical performance by the finest male ballet dancer of his generation. It was beautiful and sad. He moved from his final position to a single chair set off centre of the stage, sat down, removed his ballet shoes and placed them in his bag, replacing them with normal, everyday training shoes. A poignant, special, moving moment – I can only imagine what must have been going through this great man’s mind. I sobbed with sadness that his classical career was over, but the sheer excitement of what is to come is something we cannot wait for.
My second event was last night (20th Oct) at the Vaudeville Theatre on the Strand in London’s West End – Dawn French – Thirty Million Minutes. I bought tickets for myself and my friend who had helped me out with a tricky time recently. We were excited about seeing Dawn on stage in this one woman show, but nothing could have prepared us for the story we were to hear .
She started at the very beginning, her life with her family: meeting the Queen Mother, dreams of becoming a ballerina and a pop star, BOYS, stories of angelic and naughty grannies and the day to day life of a family travelling to wherever her father’s position in the armed forces placed them. A family unit that was so strong, yet not without its sadness.
The years as an adult – marriages, children, health and all things about being a ‘grown-up’ – were dealt with a beautifully considered respect, not only for herself but for her nearest and dearest. Her personal life remails personal, but we have an insight into what makes Dawn who she is – the person we see and love on our TV screens.
There was laughter and tears in equal measure, however the tears of laughter outweighed those of sadness. Optimism and positivity in abundance.
Dawn’s ‘performance’ felt so personal, to the point where you basically forgot you were watching an actress/comedienne – it was not acting, it was story-telling of the highest degree. Entertaining, moving, funny and a damn good story – a true story and one that she didn’t have to share with us, but chose to. That’s what people who love life and are happy in their own skin do.
What else can I really say about this remarkable woman, that won’t sound contrived and patronising? We were so touched by her candid, honest accounts of the many stages of her life to date; her self-deprecating humour and ability to openly convey how she’s dealt with the trials that life throws at us. It was a sheer pleasure and again, a privilege to be a member of the audience. Congratulations Dawn, you are truly inspiring.
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When that moment hits you, that you’re actually getting old and the body doesn’t do stuff like it used to it’s time to do something about it. Today I did just that.
I’ve been inspired by my 15 year old daughter. Every morning for the past week, she has been getting up at 6am to do her stretching & exercise regime. She’s doing this in order to achieve the maximum physical strength and agility required for her to reach her goal – being accepted on a dance course for her final two years at school. I used to be like her, ballet, & dancing in general, was my first love, it was my escape and my passion.
I’ve attempted going back as an adult several times, but always end up injured, both physically and mentally. The physical injuries leading to the mental ones – not being able to physically complete an exercise is as damaging to the body as it is to the brain. You feel deflated and fed up, and as a consequence start to wonder why you bother with the whole exercise thing. You can see a vicous circle happening here can’t you.
Anyway, today for the first time, I actually set my alarm for 6am. I must admit I nearly didn’t get up, I lay there for a few minutes until my daughter popped her head round the corner and said she was off to do her exercises. I then lay there for another few minutes trying to convince myself that having another half an hour in bed would be far nicer and tried to go back to sleep. I couldn’t. At that point I conquered the lazy devil on my shoulder and took up the challenge by the motivated, energetic angel on the other one; got dressed and heading out for a brisk half hour walk.
It was fabulous! The sun was shining, there was a nice breeze, and it was quiet – no chance of bumping into too many people. The odd dog walker, a man in a suit heading to the station and me.
I actually felt like I’d achieved something. There was a real buzz about that. I started my day in an energetic way and I intend on doing that every day from now on. Not sure how I’ll go once the dark days or Autumn and Winter come around, but for now I’ll do my best to remember why I’m doing this and what I’m achieving by sticking to it.
It’s as much for my health as it is for my kids – I want them to be proud of their Mum and to know that I’m looking after myself so that I’ll be around for them for as long as I can.