Cecchetti Bursary to attend the Bartholin International Summer School – By Karen Drake and Michele Pope.


We were lucky enough to be awarded a bursary to attend a summer school overseas. We decided to attend the course in Copenhagen, where we would cover classical technique, point and variations with Eva Evdokimova, Classical technique and men’s class and variations with Johnny Eliasen, Broadway Dance and Bob Fosse repertory with Bill Hastings.


We decided to add a trip to London and Italy! What a wonderful experience. A whole new world! We learnt very quickly about trams, trains, undergrounds and busses!


In London we went to see the ballet Romeo and Juliet and the production Stomp. Entry into the theatre took our breath away, the magnitude of the auditorium, lavishly decorated swivel chairs in a rich red and golden trim. The conductor prepared to start and we closed our eyes to year the emotion of this tale through Prokovief’s ears. – Such a reverence and appreciation of all that our eyes found to be beautiful!

To see a corps de ballet of this magnitude reminded me of Ashley Killar’s Napac. The excitement when Juliet enter the room with her naïve and youthful charm was delightful to watch. During Interval we walked through hallways and viewed photography of the history of Royal Albert Hall. The walls were adorned with enlarged photos of dancers during rehearsals or in life. In all it was an evening we shall never forget. It’s so exciting to be moved to tears when watching this precious art form.


A unique combination of percussion, movement and visual comedy. The production has been on the West End since 1991. We were fortunate enough to witness the production at the Vaudeville Theatre, one of the oldest theatres on the West End. The energy and discipline were awesome. We noticed by the end of the performance we were all clapping and stomping with sheer thumping dynamics. Stomp was an invigorating production which made me dance all the way home, working out different rhythms and continually on the lookout for things that made different sounds.


Italy was time to relax and enjoy the sun! We went to Isle of Capri, a trip into the blue grotto, a wonderful evening at a restaurant, where we sang and literally danced the night away!


Off to Copenhagen with not a pride or penny to our name. We had to walk many miles to our apartment as we could not afford a cad which proved to be a difficult task as we were both 12kg overweight. You can only imagine what we were looked like. We had learned a few words to help us on our way “In gen teal”  one more time, “Tuk” thank you. “Nyhaven” – Harbor where we spent many a late evening, walking enjoying the atmosphere of music coming from the jazz festival. With the sun setting late we had plenty of time to shop, charging the credit cards!!!!


We anxiously walked to the Ballit Theatre. Once inside the wooden handcrafted doors backstage we entered the studios with its grey flooring, big mirrors and large hanging lights. The air smelt of excitement. The ballet pupils began their warm up an hour prior to class. We noticed ninety percent of the dancers were long legged, arched feet, slim lines. They had an innocent youth about them and the thirst for knowledge. They were 14 years and up. To our surprise in walked Joy Cooper. It was a relief see another South African Cecchetti member. Eva began the first class, Classical Ballet, her demeanor was that of a quiet elegance and grace. She seemed a humble yet confident character willing to offer information on request. The class was conducted with clarity, lots of turn out, retires and squareness of the torso.

She continually strived to achieve a relationship with the music. Her demonstration of Giselle was full of emotion. You could just picture her performance with Rudolph Nureyev!!! Bill Hastings called Eva’s feet the feet of death.


5 min Break and into Bob Fossee with Bill Hastings, what a character. “Arched back, parallel legs, ribs extended, elbows behind, roll toe to heel, hips. Wow. “Feel the negative space” Don’t focus on striking the position but rather what shape the body makes to the naked eye. We noticed how the younger students battled to work without their classical rules. The class ended learning repertoire from “Black Bird” What a giggle we had. And aching Bodies. “No rhythm No Dance” was drummed into us every class. There was such a relationship formed between Bill and hiss pupils. We left feeling inspired to try and break conventional boundaries.


Johnny Eliasen had a calming persona. “Dare to be wrong”, “lengthen your legs”, “push down from the hips” were his words of wisdom. He got the dancers to dance to their full potential and using muscles they never knew they had. He made his dancers think of the mechanics behind the movement and left us feeling equipped to bring back his knowledge. We had wonderful experience, and came back exited to impart the knowledge we had learnt. To travel is to live, to broaden one’s knowledge and to gain friendships abroad. We defiantly encourage more members to experience these summer schools.


Thank you to Cecchettie Society KZN for an opportunity we shall never forget!