Thursday, 15 September 2011

Summer School

I said I would blog about the Summer School. There’s something about being together dancing for a whole week with no other distractions that’s very special, and every year we have weekenders saying they’ve changed their minds, they don’t want to leave, they want to stay with us for the rest of the week.

As usual I arrived early, and so did Sophie, Margaret and our team of Angels. Actually, Sophie, Claire and Margaret were an hour late this year because Claire’s car broke down. I don’t think it was because it was so loaded with stuff you couldn’t see out of the windows…… Anyway, never fear, because Clair asked the builders working on the clockhouse where she could get it mended. They recommended a guy who came and took it away. She recovered from the shock of watching a complete stranger drive away in her car, a couple of days later when he brought it back mended. Whew!

I did my unpacking. Every year I say I’m going to pack less stuff, and every year I seem to have crates and crates of equipment and, well, just stuff…. It’s strange, because I can do minimal packing for holidays if I’m flying longhaul, but the Summer School? No, I have to bring the kitchen sink for that.

The Angels did a lot of work before anyone arrived, putting signs on doors, organising swipe cards, checking studios and common rooms, organising a rota etc. I always hide from this so I can sit quietly and arrange all my teaching notes, making sure I have a file for each day. Any given file may contain an assessment form for someone doing their final Teacher Training Diploma Assessment, notes and music for a class, a tick sheet for a technique assessment, more music for a private lesson, notes for a meeting about JWAAD courses, yada yada yada as they say. Every year I say to Margaret “we can have a relaxed tea together every day” and every year we’re MUCH too busy. Oh yes, and everywhere now my ipod goes with me. Teaching with an ipod instead of CDs is a JOY (but I still have CDs as backup).

The Zar on Monday night is a turning point in the Summer School. Afterwards we sit around and drink hot chocolate, some people giggling, high as kites, others quietly spacing out. This year we had to stop Priya from going out and playing with the traffic – why does yoghourt from Tesco have such a pull for people who are out of their heads after the Zar?

Parties, parties. The Saturday night party had a lovely atmosphere, old friends and regulars, new friends and first timers, all boogying away and a casual, relaxed performance slot in the middle. We use the beautiful Red Room, and have our own small marquee on the terrace and the lawns are huge so there’s space to play. The last night party is something else entirely - there’s something about a large gang of madwomen who have just spent a week together really letting rip. This year we had a 70’s disco. How is it that music I hated at the time seems so fabulous now? You would think we would all be too knackered to dance, but we couldn’t stop. We Are Family is now our theme tune……..

These days I teach the Professional Development Course during the week, and I find it endlessly fascinating. Every dancer has her own unique style and personality, and it’s a privilege to be able to help bring it out for the stage. I love teaching the course but it takes a huge amount of mental concentration. Then when I see my babies dancing in the show and they do really well I want to cry. Actually I do cry sometimes but I don’t let on……

Usually after the Summer School I have a few days to unpack and unwind, but this year I got back, unpacked the van, repacked it and left for France the following day. I had three idyllic weeks with John deep in the French countryside, but that’s another blog.

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