Thursday, July 29, 2010

My first proper ballet class in NL

Yesterday after work, I went for a trial ballet class in The Hague.

Since I arrived in NL, I had been looking for a ballet school to continue my lessons in, but no luck in Rotterdam. There was only one that had an okay website, but when I went to their annual concert to check them out, the quality of their ballerinas were simply abysmal. It wasn't the lack of choreography or skill of the dancers - it was the technique. You can tell when a dancer doesn't have the proper foundation, and that means that they haven't been taught well.

So I gave up on looking for ballet schools for a while, until Moeder Irma emailed me one day and asked if I'd like to join her summer classes. Summer school for ballet is more of a one-off thing, you can register at any school for just one class (or more). This is because many ballet schools close during the summer (school holidays), so the ones who remain open welcome other students for the timebeing.

Last Wednesday, I followed Moeder Irma to her class in Alkmaar, 30 minutes from Hoorn. Schrobbenmaster and I had to stay in Hoorn for the night because of that.

Well, the class was quite hard, especially when I hadn't been taking lessons for over a year and all my muscles and technique were already rusty. But it helped inspire me again to look for schools, and this time I spread my search outside of Rotterdam.

That's how I found Balletschool Mabel Alter.

It's located in The Hague, very close to the centre (therefore has really expensive parking) and in a secure and nice house/building overlooking a canal. From their website, I could tell that they were a professional school because of the information they provided, but mostly from the strict dress code they have. In ballet, basically, the stricter you are, the more professional you are :P

The class I was put into based on my experience was Intermediate and it was pretty scary when the teacher announced: "This class is Intermediate, so you should be able to listen to the steps once and then repeat immediately!". Oh gawd, I'm absolutely abysmal at choreography! But I survived, even with lots of mistakes.

I also received a: "Do you not have hairpins?" from the teacher, while she gave my spiky ponytail a light flick.

I can remember every single lecture/speech/announcement she gave in the class: "Did anyone watch the earlier class before you? No one? Tsk. You should be so obsessed about ballet that you want to see everything you can about it!"

And another one specifically directed at me: "Were you counting?" Um, no... "You should all count! You have to count! In Swan Lake, everyone is counting all the time! One! Two! Three! Four! Count after me!", after which I partly redeemed myself by answering correctly to the question: "At which count do you make your turn?"

I was, in the entire duration of the class, scared shitless of the teacher. But very inspired. It's the only way (at least I believe so) to really step your game up in such a strict and difficult discipline as ballet. So I decided to sign up for their new season in September. Very excited about it! I will be so ready for it. Hairpins and all.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A weekend full of socialising and sleeping.

It has been a long time coming, but you finally can move on from Brussels :P

Been back at work for a week now since Mumsy Bumsy and Yelleh Belleh left NL. Really enjoyed their visit here... so good to have a piece of home.

But now it's Monday again and no more holidays to look forward to till after the NS Try Out Festival in October. Boohoo...! I hate stress and last-minute things, which are inevitable when you work with lots and lots of people. Just have to be a hermit every weekend now and get my de-stressing rest.

Highlights of last weekend include:

  • Waking up at 11am, having lunch, then going back to sleep till 4pm.
  • Having a 1-hour cruise on a Pancake Boat with unlimited pancakes (managed to stuff 3 down).
  • Actually asking a new friend out for drinks instead of waiting to be invited. Ended up being a really gezellig cocktail night round the corner from our place with 5 of us.
  • Waking up at 1pm the next day. And simply not having any energy at all to do anything.
  • Another social outing at Bagels n Beans, with a lovely mochaccino and chocolate muffin.
  • Reinstalled Snow Leopard to speed up my MacBook Pro and downloaded trial 10-day version of World of Warcraft. Quite entertaining, actually.
  • Counting down to the launch of Starcraft II!!!
One of the things I love about living here is the ease of ordering things online. Ordered a design book last week and anticipating its arrival some time this week. Goodness knows I really need a new design book to inspire and teach me! I hope it's as good as the reviews say it is.

And one of the things I don't like about living here is how things are so spread out in different cities. If this were KL, everything I would want would be in the city itself. But here, if I want to take ballet lessons from a good school, I have to travel all the way to The Hague. And it's not even considered something unimaginable here. As if I would travel from KL to Putrajaya for a ballet lesson!

Mmmmm... lunch soon, and stroopwafel for dessert!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Brussels/Brussel/Bruxelles (Part 2)

We really had no idea where to go or what to do in Brussels. I didn't do any research on it as I wanted to be surprised. All I knew about it was that it had really nice buildings from my searches for hotels. So we just walked around aimlessly, following our feet. And we stumbled upon so many nice things!

I love what they did with the wall murals. It's not just random abstract art, but it's actually street life (might even be this particular street, in fact) and I think it's so cool how through the years you can see how the place may have changed. Also, the style of these gigantic wall paintings are very similar, almost comic-style (Belgium is famous for their comics), so it gives a kind of uniformity to the city.

Same view as before, but from across the road. We first sat at Cafe Lombard (on the left of the photo) then Schrobbenmaster decided that the bar across the street called De Plattesteen looked nicer. Good call!

Actually, we came onto this road earlier in the afternoon and somehow wound up back here again at night, which is why we decided to drink our must-have Belgian beer here.

The buildings here look so Parisian. And once again, so amusing how all signboards have both French and Dutch names on them. How do they even decide what to put on their business cards, I wonder.

That's like a mini old Times Square in front, with the old Coca Cola billboard. This is me having just come out of a Leonidas store to buy the required Belgian chocolate. Truffles are always my choice!

I actually look nice in this picture *gasp*. When walking all day on a hot summer's day, you need a fresh drink at regular intervals. This time we had two milkshakes because, man, juices are expensive. And all ice teas are fizzy! Grr.

After that, we headed to the regular shopping street - as in, regular high street shops, nothing special. It was sooooo friggin crowded because they were having a sale, and the Yves Rocher shop with body and face stuff was even all on 50% discount! I walked in, saw the queue and squeezed out. Boy, oh, boy.

After a few shops, we couldn't take the crowd and the heat, so we veered off to the parallel road and stumbled upon a very peaceful square with a statue in the middle. It was too sunny and hot to walk over to read his name, though, so... apologies for the weakness of my human body.

The heat had taken its toll on my truffles so we hurriedly squished them into our mouths.

For such a grand city it's funny that the road we were on is called Parsley Street. Anyway, here's another signboard for your viewing pleasure.

I like the way they landscaped one corner of the square with bushy tree hedges.

We walked on, back to a busier area, through a nice little park area and found a very tall, grand church.

And some queer, vandalised bulls in the little park area.

End of Part 2! Time to get ready for bed, and hopefully Part 3 tomorrow, amongst all the house cleaning and preparations for Mumsy Bumsy and Yelleh Belleh's arrival a week from now! Yippee!