Billy Elliot Guest Blog – Matthew Cluff on Maintaining Ballet Technique in Rehearsal
Being a professional ballet dancer throughout the year, it’s been quite a different (but exciting) change of pace for me to get this opportunity to do the role of Older Billy in Billy Elliot with the Arts Club.
With the demanding rehearsal schedule we’ve had so far, though, it’s been a difficult challenge for me to keep up with my ballet technique, as rehearsals run from 10am to 6pm daily (or even later) and only give me so much time outside of that to do “dancer stuff”!
Normally in a ballet company, you always start your workday with a 90 minute ballet class, simply to maintain and refine your technique from day-to-day and to keep your muscles in shape. However, in the theatre world, ballet class isn’t built into the rigorous schedule and I can’t attend open ballet classes at a studio drop-in due to rehearsal conflicts.
To maintain my technique and dance abilities, I do a combination of cardio, training, and stretching until I can get back to taking ballet classes again. I go to the gym (for cardio and weight-lifting) everyday before rehearsal in order to maintain my lean dancer physique. After that, I ensure I stretch well and do my splits and other exercises for a good length of time to maintain my flexibility and prevent my muscles from getting too tight during these rehearsal periods. If we do rehearse the “Dream Ballet” section on a rehearsal day, I make sure my body is appropriately warm before I start dancing so that I reduce the chances of injuring myself.
Once we get into the run of the shows, things should start getting a little easier for me. As our main schedule will move into the evenings for performances, it’ll allow me to get back to taking open ballet classes at places like Harbour Dance Centre (or other studios of the like) in the mornings, allowing me to get back into full dancer shape – something that I’m definitely looking forward to! Until then, I’ll keep up with this fitness regime so that I can perform Older Billy to the best of my ability and keep my body to the standard needed for a professional ballet dancer.
Guest blog post by Matthew Cluff
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Author: Arts Club Theatre Company
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