• Teachers at CM Dance

This week I completed something that I started entirely on a whim.


I had seen an advert for a job in Southampton that looked interesting. So in a fit of stepping outside my comfort zone I decided to apply!


What was the job I hear you ask!?


Rehearsal assistant for the Birmingham Royal Ballet's Swan Lake Dreams project.


Anyway, I applied, sending a detailed CV, a comprehensive covering letter and video footage of my teaching. Then I waited until suddenly my email went ping and I had been astoundingly offered an interview/audition. Further details followed and I was set!


So on Wednesday morning I got up early, picked out my nicest leotard, packed my ballet shoes and headed off for central Birmingham. I arrived at the Stage door in ample time and was taken to the dressing rooms of the Birmingham Royal Ballet where I had ten minutes to prep and get into the right mindset.


The lovely manager took me on a trot through the BRB buildings and into the adjoining Birmingham Hippodrome to a beautifully light and area studio. The door opened and in I went!


A head of me was a chap seated at a grand piano, and 4 women! Two were the artistic directors of the project and two were the teachers for it I believe, though it was such an overwhelming moment I'm not too sure! After brief introductions we then waited for the pupils to arrive, cue 9 young dancers aged between 8 and 12, at varying points of their training - the eldest at Elmhurst and the youngest a part of the out reach program that BRB run.


Then it was straight to the task at hand, I'd been told to teach a basic warm up, plie and tendu exercises, a jump warm up and a travelling exercise. I did this then had a further task which was to polish a short piece of choreography. I did these tasks with the added benefit of a wonderful musician.


Then it was onto the interview part with a panel of the loveliest ladies who made me feel like I wasn't out of place! I'm just a regional dance teacher who only wanted to teach!! After 10 minutes of chatter it was done!


While I walked back to the dressing room the project manager told me the girls had enjoyed my class so I had a smile on my face as I left the building!


The result...


I didn't get the post. But actually that's ok.


My rejection letter is as follows;


Dear Chrissy,


Thank you for attending the auditions yesterday for the Swan Lake Dreams Rehearsal Assistant position. We really enjoyed meeting you and appreciate the efforts you made with your application and audition.


We saw quite a few candidates for the positions and unfortunately on this occasion you were unsuccessful. Your approach to the class was excellent and the attention you gave to L and S really didn't go unnoticed! Your students are very lucky to have such a caring teacher, but please have confidence in your abilities!


We could really see your passion and commitment to ballet and hope that you will still continue to find some professional development opportunities and apply for further roles in the future.


We still hope that you would encourage your students to apply for this and attend the teachers day in January. We would really like to remain in contact as it is really nice to meet such passionate and committed teachers. Going forwards there may be other opportunities that we could offer, so please do stay in touch.


Thank you for your interest in Birmingham Royal Ballet and Swan Lake Dreams, we wish you all the best.


With kind Regards,


Rebecca


I've been able to take so much away from the opportunity, and who am I to argue if the BRB say my approach is excellent!


I think most importantly I would say that I've learned from this that you might be scared to change focus, or be worried you'll look silly, or that being rejected would make you believe you aren't good enough, but go for it anyway! As Miss Gem and I say - Eat the frog! I took a leap into the unknown and while I didn't get the result I want I feel inspired to keep working and progressing to be the best that I can be for the kids I teach.


Inspirational, 'ey kids???

  • Teachers at CM Dance

By Miss Gem


It's so important to have a supportive dance family. Everyone was there for me when that huge (vocational) tap exam fail this year completely knocked the wind out of my sails. And it really did - I was floored by it. I couldn't even put my shoes on and do a shuffle without bursting into tears. I had to keep going out of the room because even watching others do a tap made me feel all panicky. But my dance family were all there for me, and I got through it. I soon started tapping again and even teaching/choreographing more than ever before.


I think it's because dancing takes over every part of your physicality, and mentality too. When you've practised and practised and then you perform, it makes you feel so powerful. Nothing else goes through your brain apart from the beat and the feeling of You, in space, expressing a story or a mood. It's all YOUR energy, and if it goes wrong, you feel like you've wasted all that power. Where has it gone? You feel like a painter who looks down mid-masterpiece to find they've had their paints stolen, or a rock band suddenly finding themselves with no power. And in dancing fails, it's usually down to someone else's opinion of you, that you can't do anything about! ARGH…


That why it's so important to make sure there are amazing people around dancers who make up for the times where it goes wrong. Our older ones are a sisterhood and they have already learned to love and support each other in a world full of Mean Girls - they help each other so much when someone has a bad day or crisis. We've had illness and injuries and frustration when bodies won't do the thing properly. We've had sadness about exam results and we've had getting to the very last stage of auditions and not making it... It's always heartbreaking to see them sad about dance when it's such a joyful thing. But dance love is BIG love and nothing stops us grabbing hold of the joy when we can, and helping each other when we lose it!


Early (and harsh) life lessons are plentiful in the world of dance (some might say that's healthy and dancers are set up for the disappointments of life) but the mental health of our dancers is always our priority. We make sure nobody gets pushed for an exam if they don't want to take one. We won't enter a student until we believe they will get a good result. We won't force anyone to go on stage if they don't want to, especially if they're only 3 and really have had enough of being magic ballerinas and just want hugs!


And those times where someone has a wobble - either an actual wobble or an emotional one haha! - and if someone accidentally lets go of hands in a circle and goes flying (as demonstrated in Show Ho Ho during that lovely sweeties dance, hahaha) it actually makes us so happy to see the circle collapse in giggles, as we know the joy of dancing together is always more important that whether it goes right or wrong.

  • Teachers at CM Dance

The second installment of the jobs in the arts series that I'm curating introduces us to Ricky Rojas.


What is your job?


I’m a musical theatre performer and have been in several musicals internationally both in the West End and Broadway, New York. Buddy the musical, Fame, Grease, Joseph, Flashdance, Burn the Floor, Sister Act, Moulin Rouge to name a few. 


What is your dance background


I didn’t actually train in dance although coming from a Latin background I always had rhythm. I was in a Chilean folk dancing group which taught me how to dance in an ensemble and spacing. Later when I was went into musical theatre I took classes at the Sydney Dance Company in Australia.


Did you want to be a dancer when you grew up?


I was more interested in being a singer and performer but of course all of this goes hand in hand with dance.


What training did you do for it?


I did my A level equivalent in Drama in Australia and also took some classes at they Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) which worked on all aspects of theatre as well as physical awareness and dance


What are the best and worst things about your job?


The worst thing about my job now used to be the best thing... the travel. I’ve been lucky to see many places around the world.


Would you recommend your job to aspiring dancers?


Absolutely.. but just know that it is a tough ride... and you have to put in the hard work and be willing to diversify (voice/acting) if you want to make a career of it as you get older. The acting isn’t generally too hard for dancers as when you dance you have to act (or should be) to get the best interpretation from a set piece.


Who is your dance inspiration?


I love to watch strong dancers ... when I was in the folk group I was really inspired by Joaquin Cortes the Spanish flamenco dancer. From a musical theatre view... there’s no one better than Gene Kelly... ahead of his time.