Last February Yukichi and I had the great privilege of taking our students to Hamburg on an educational trip into the halls of the Hamburg Ballet and its school. This was such an incredible visit for us on many levels. Yukichi trained at the School of Hamburg Ballet as a student and we both danced for the company for many years before our move to Canada. It had been twelve years since we had been back. So many things had changed but what had stayed the same was the warmth of the people in the Hamburg Ballet. Their generosity of spirit and knowledge, their willingness to open their doors to our students, and all the familiar faces were so heartwarming. It was very special to be able to share this experience and part of our history with our students and we feel it was an invaluable enrichment to their training. We wanted to share a few of their observations on what they experienced and learned.
“Being given the opportunity to attend The Hamburg Ballet School was amazing. During the trip I learned valuable information that made me grow into becoming a better dancer and person. Having the chance to learn from these educated teachers from The Hamburg Ballet School who had attained invaluable information from older generations passed down to them was incredible. I felt like I was learning from some of the most famous ballet legends themselves. I discovered abstract methods of thinking that I will forever work towards understanding to the fullest of my potential.
The best aspect of the trip was being able to be mentored by Yukichi and Galien. During my time there they always provided me with excellent advice and constantly encouraged me to keep persevering. The amount of knowledge and history I gained from Yukichi and Galien while I was on the trip was remarkable. I learned an immense amount of life lessons that I will forever hold on to and remember. They truly showed me what it would be like if I did choose the ballet career path I intend to and shared all of their wonderful experiences and stories with me.
Being able to attend the Hamburg ballet school was a wonderful experience that I will forever be grateful for. It will be a memory I look back on and reminisce about how enjoyable the trip was. Being immersed in the school community and exposed to such a high international caliber, made me realize how wonderful my teachers are that I have back at home in Calgary. Not only are they superb ballet teachers who have the same qualities as the ones I trained with in Hamburg, but they have shown and taught me many wonderful morals and values that I will forever hold myself to. My trip to Hamburg was an amazing and unforgettable experience that I will forever treasure.”
“Our school trip to Hamburg, Germany this past February was memorable to say the least. I feel so fortunate to have been able to go on this amazing journey and gain new and valuable experiences, as well as insight into the professional world of dance. Being immersed in the unique arts and culture of a different country is something you could never get by simply staying in Calgary, or even Canada. Seeing professional dancers working in the studios and performing onstage provided a glimpse into the life that we all hope to live someday.
This experience was especially exciting for me because this was my first time outside of Canada. I found it so interesting to explore the similarities and differences of German and Canadian cultures. Hamburg’s architecture was so diverse, with historical and intricate structures such as St. Michael’s Church mixed with modern and innovative buildings like the newly built opera house. We had the opportunity to go inside and view the church, and the amount of detail which was put into every inch of the place was incredible. It was completed by amazing statues, gold trim, and beautiful windows. I have yet to see something more beautiful than this.
My favourite segment of this trip by far was watching the Hamburg Ballet company perform Nijinsky. The dancers exuded passion and committedly portrayed their characters like I’d never seen before. The story of Vaslav Nijinsky’s life was communicated effectively and artistically through the piece, while keeping the audience at the edge of their seats. We also had a tour of the backstage of the opera house at this time, and I could not believe how incredible this theatre was. Standing backstage and looking up, the ceilings seemed impossibly high. Parts of the stage could also lower into the ground and the back of the stage could open and become very deep to allow for a wide range of sets and scenes. We were able to see the dancers warming up and preparing for the show, and I know that at least I was imagining myself being in a position like theirs someday.”
“My experience training with the Hamburg Ballet School was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. I was able to grow daily as I was surrounded by extraordinary dancers with an exceptional calibre of talent. I attained a great amount of information from the Hamburg Ballet student’s work ethic, drive and determination that was present in their attitudes during class time. I was constantly challenged to perform at my best and to push past the barriers that would normally burden me in the studio. Each individual in the class applied themselves to the best of their ability which created a very motivating environment to be immersed in. The teachers at the Hamburg Ballet School gave me incredible instruction and were very helpful in guiding and educating me on the techniques of ballet. The teacher’s passion and energy during class was exhilarating which allowed the students to perform to the best of their abilities. Galien and Yukichi were wonderful role models during this experience as well.
During the Hamburg trip, we also got to observe the Hamburg Ballet Company in class, rehearsal and performance which was a very educational experience. We learnt so much about the expectations of the professional ballet world and the self-discipline necessary to become successful. It was very inspiring to watch the dancers intense focus and artistry while they were performing. The dancer’s technique was exquisite and the precision taken with every step was incredible. This experience was a very eye opening endeavour where I gained a large amount of knowledge that has so far drastically assisted my technical and artistic growth as a dancer.”
We at H/W look forward to sharing many more journeys like this with our students. Traveling, learning, and growing together is such an enriching part of the education we offer and we look forward to inspiring the next generation of dancers year after year! Thanks again to John Neumeier, Indrani Delmaine, Gigi Hyatt, and the School of the Hamburg Ballet for welcoming us so generously into your home.