I Can Hear the Bells…


So, Tuesday afternoon I get in from a meeting and have a couple of hours to lesson plan before I turn on my heel and head back into town to work. So, motivated head on, I bypass the kitchen (yeh, I know…!) and head straight upstairs. Now, some of you will know, when I’m walking ANYWHERE, I have my earphones in. Fairly loud, not enough to deafen me like we did when we were teens, but you know, loud enough to drown out the world. So I didn’t notice the delicate ‘bips’ of the house alarm going off. 30 seconds later, I’m just about at my room and I hear some kind of alarm thing. Puzzled, look around, take out an earphone… YEP. The burglar alarm is wailing, full blast, for the whole world to hear – I leg it back along the landing, down the stairs, turn back on myself down the hall to get to the alarm box to put in the code. I don’t think I’ve ever run so fast in my life. Apologies to any of my neighbours who were disturbed. Although, having said that, it was 2pm. It’s not like it was 6:30am. Like the last time I did it…

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So with alarms in mind, I have to share with you the couple of alarm related incidents that have happened at theatres. These are different theatres and happened years apart. I guess when you spend so much time in and around them, it’s only a matter of time before a bit of drama happens.

Dry Ice
The first fire alarm incident of my career happened at Studio 3’s annual show, Dance Krazy at Harrogate International Centre. I’m pretty sure it was 2006, please correct me if I’m wrong (if anyone can remember that is, we were only in our mid teens)! So we were all ready to go, we were standing by in the wings for the opening number – and the fire alarm goes off. Now, it was quite a while ago so it’s hard to remember in exact detail, but I didn’t think it was real. You know, as you do, how many times have you been somewhere, heard an alarm and looked around for assurance it was an accident? We’d be a nightmare in an actual fire, back at college they would test the alarm weekly so it became fairly normal to hear it over the plinky plonk of the piano as you did your battement glissés.
Anyway, back onto topic. They started evacuating the audience which is when we were told we needed to make our way outside.
So there we all are, outside, at night, in February – we were in jazz pants and a top. It was not warm. The rest of the school was ready for the ballet so were stood around in leotards and tights! The poor little ones must’ve been freezing. And do you know why the fire alarm went off? Because they pumped too much dry ice onto the stage (smoke, for any of you non-theatre-speaking folk reading this). They started pumping the stuff onto stage 30 minutes before the curtain. 30 MINUTES! Is it any wonder the fire alarms thought it was real smoke?! Thankfully I’ve not come across any further problems with dry ice and fire alarms – but there’s always time…

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Image taken from Dance Krazy 2006

Fire Doors
HSAP’s Footloose in 2010 at Harrogate Theatre. Again, the alarm went off and we didn’t know what was happening, whether to go out into the cold or not. But we did, in full costume, as we were about 5 minutes away from starting the show. The firemen came. I’m still not entirely sure what happened, but it was something to do with a fire door being open and dust from the lights floating…somewhere…? Though a couple of the girls were convinced they’d left their straighteners on that had started a fire 😉 I’m not clear on the details (maybe someone can fill me in), but there’s nothing that throws you off your game and pre-show warm ups/rituals like being stood outside in the cold and the rain.

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Firemen come to our rescue as we evacuate the theatre

Main moral of the story… Don’t go wild with dry ice. And always check your straighteners/tongs are switched off.
Oh, and take your earphones out as soon as you get in the house…

Lynette x

#HairIssues…


Yep, hair. Hair is actually a bigger deal to dancers/performers than we give it/them credit for. I mean, sometimes it can be good: hair down can enhance the style and feel routines (Commercial Jazz and Lyrical being a couple of the main ones). EVERYONE loves a bit of hairography  😉  But no matter what you’re doing – there are always hair issues. 

The ‘Boring’ Hair Cut:
So this isn’t so much of an issue anymore. Anyone who knows me can probably tell by the state of my mane that being able to control my hair is a thing of the past. I was at the hairdressers the other day, the first time back with my old salon and old stylist in five years. And it reminded me of the countless times I went in for the same boring hair cut. It couldn’t be so long it was out of control. But it couldn’t be too short that it couldn’t – here it is, the big one, are you ready for it? – get it into a ballet bun. I’m sure there are plenty of girls out there, young and old who’ve sat in the chair and had this discussion. If your hairdresser cut your hair too short to fit into a bun…
God help her when your Mum found out.
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Escape Artist Hair Grip:
Go on. How many of you dancers out there have been mid dance and felt a grip starting to wriggle it’s way out of your perfectly styled up do. A few seconds later you hear that unmistakable metallic ping as it hits the floor. You spend the rest of the routine trying to guess where it might be so you don’t step on it. And once you finish dancing, spend the next 30 seconds squinting at the floor trying to find it…

The Hair Whip:
It’s happened to us all. Getting whipped in the eye by your ponytail as you pirouette/chainés across the room. And wow does it sting.

Rehearsal Hair:
You leave the house looking fab. You rock up to rehearsals. You go crazy with the choreo, give it your all, have a great time. All is well. Until you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror or reflection in a window. Wow. Hello frizzy mane. What was the point in doing anything with you? I could’ve walked through a hedge backwards and look better than this…

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Sticky Crispy Hair:
Yes. Show hair. Whether you have straight hair or curly hair, you fall victim. If you have straight hair, you add some curls to give it a bit of oomph on stage. If you have curly hair, you need to keep an eye on the oomph so it doesn’t go from ‘nicely volumised’ to ‘crazy frizzy cat lady’ (the latter HAS crept up on me a couple of times in the past…)
And the answer? Hairspray. To hold the curls in the silky smooth straight hair, you need half a can of hairspray. To control the frizz, you need half a can of hairspray. Which is fine. It works. But then you get home and touch your hair…wow. A sticky, matted, crispy mess. Looked great on stage. Not so much in the bathroom mirror.
Then you have the ‘to wash or not to wash’ dilemma. If you wash it, you wash the yuckiness out and are set to go with fresh hair for the next day – until you cover it in hairspray again for the show. If you don’t wash it, it’s already full of product and prepped for the next night (yay!) – but then you have to go through the day with a sticky matted mess on top of your head.

After all these years of shows, I’ve still not come up with a show-week-hair-game-plan. And I’m actually slightly disappointed in myself. I’m organisation Queen. I colour coordinate running orders with costume info, quick change info, timings of each scene and how long between each change. I have separate paper pads at home for different genres of my work. Everything in my life is organised. My DVDs are arranged, in categories, then in alphabetical order for goodness sake. And I still have no system for show hair. Tut tut. 

There will always be hair dramas. But for now, I’m leaving it there. You never know, if you’re lucky there might be a #HairIssuesPart2 some time in the future  😉
If you’ve got any hair nightmares you want to share, feel free to drop me a comment below! Until next time… 

Stay sassy. And try some hairography. I promise it’ll help warm you up in this cold weather.

Lynette x

The Wet Ballet Shoe…


I thought that by the time I was an adult, I would’ve stopped having the problem of a leaking water bottle. I thought I’d have more sense by now. Or more luck at least. But no.

What did I discover when I got to work last week? All 500mls of lovely, soft, Yorkshire water had escaped the bottle and made friends with the contents of my bag (and yes, that IS a slight dig at southern water. I don’t know how I drank it for five years – nothing ruins your morning cuppa more than a layer of limescale). Thankfully, there wasn’t a lot of things in my bag at the time. My NEW iPad had cleverly jumped into the side pocket out of harms way (thank heavens). But right at the bottom of the bag, the thing that soaked up most of the spillage – my ballet shoes. I could’ve wrung them out. Standing with them under the hand dryer for what seemed like hours got some of the thick off, but sliding your foot into a damp canvas shoe is not the nicest feeling in the world. I’m sure I’m not alone here, there must be a couple of you out there who’ve experienced the same feeling!

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‘My Oh My’ @ Henshaws Arts and Crafts Centre, 2000(?)

It did take me back a few years though; to those times when my dance school performed at school fairs and town events. We danced on all types of surfaces: concrete, wood, grass, mud – I’m talking playing fields, school halls, market squares, down Knaresborough high street, and the list goes on. We had a lot of fun. But you always had to make sure you had your old pair of ballet shoes at the ready. No way could you perform in a field one day and turn up to ballet class the next with grass stains on your shoes. So we were always organised. And a good job too, those shoes got wrecked. They got soggy so many times and leaked through your tights until your toes went numb. Except that one time when we were performing in May and it hailed (thankyou, British summer) – hail doesn’t make the grass wet! And yes it was a bit chilly – but we’re from Yorkshire, we’re made of stern stuff. Having said all that, it was an experience. And I will never forget the time we danced in tutus in a hail storm on my school field.

At least in those days, soggy ballet shoes were left by the front door to dry on some newspaper. My recent issue resulted in trailing footprints all over the studio. Thankfully they’d dried enough to not be a health and safety issue (phew). But it was a fairly unpleasant experience – and I just couldn’t channel my inner ballerina or dingle dangle scarecrow because my feet were so uncomfortable. Which was very disappointing. I love having an excuse to be a fairy on a Saturday morning.

Lesson learned – always check your bottle top is screwed on properly.

Lynette x

To blog, or not to blog…

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So. I’ve been back in Yorkshire for just over two months now. Setting myself up as a dance teacher in Knaresborough and Wetherby, finding my feet, having fun with promo vids and posters. And the one question that’s continually cropped up when I’ve talked to people… ‘Are you starting a blog?’

At first I would laugh and say no. But as more and more people asked, the more I began to think, maybe it’s something worth doing. Afterall, I’m trying to create an online presence for myself, to advertise my teaching work. So why not give it a go?

I’ve never thought of myself as much of a writer. Or that I had anything particularly intereting to say. Especially doing a blog…who would want to read about my life and my work? But there is SO much involved in being a teacher. More than I anticipated. (I’m pretty sure this subject deserves it’s own blog, so watch this space). I barely have time to breathe and currently, I only teach three days a week! But, what this DOES mean, is that I’ll actually find stuff to talk about (she says hopefully).

So we’re gonna give this a bash and see how we go…

Lynette x