Shires Ballet Workshop

Posted: June 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

Hi all,

hope you are enjoying the fine weather we have been having. You may recall that I have been involved with setting up a ballet company- well, we now have some news! 

We are running our first workshop on the 10th of August, in Northampton. 

we have two fantastic teachers, Aime Brotherton ( and Sophie Kilby-Smith ( who will be there to guide and share their knowledge. We are planning to do some rep work in the afternoon- we are still working on what, so watch this space!

So to get involved with this exciting oportunitiy please email the team on

Oh, and its a bargain at £30 for the day.


Look forward to seeing some of you there! 


Posted: May 10, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Well folks, where do I start? So much has happened since my last blog!

Massive news- I have started a ballet company!


Like many of the more bizarre decisions in my life, this was driven by a throwaway comment on Twitter. I can’t recall how the subject came up, but rather than get frustrated by the lack of performance opportunities for adult dancers outside of London, I thought lets get something started!


I mentioned the idea to a few people I trust, to gauge opinion/interest and Shires Ballet was born.


I’ve been very lucky- I have a fantastic team of people who have offered to assist me in the running of the company- Thanks Ladies.

You’ll learn more about them when the website arrives. (Soon) In the meantime please follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


Its early days for Shires, but rest assured you will here more about us! 


And as always, I promise to try and blog more! 

Pointe Shoes

Posted: March 23, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Folks- I finally did it! 

After much talk and research I took the plunge- and went and got fitted for some pointe shoes!

On Thursday I featured to Freed of London’s shop at St Martins Lane, near Covent Garden, not really knowing what to expect. 

On my 2nd attempt (okay, I walked past first time because shop was full of scary bun heads) I went in. Lass behind the counter (coincidently the one who seems to know exactly what size you need (see previous blog)) asks “How can I help?” then we get into the fitting.

I’ll be honest, having spoken to them on the phone I wasn’t expecting to try one pair let alone the eight or so that I did!

I have to say it felt rather peculiar in various aspects-

  1. Firstly, these things on my feet that felt like nothing else I have ever worn, the nearest thing I could describe them to is similar to too small steel toe cap boots (which probably doesn’t do pointe shoes any favours!)
  2. I have never looked down at my feet and seen pink satin shoes before and as a male dancer its very unusual!
  3. People bang on about it being emotional being fitted for your first pointe shoes- I get it, but I can’t explain it. Its probably in the same stable as the first time you partner someone- a bit of a milestone.

The fitter was incredible- Her understanding of how the shoe would work with my foot and what tweaks she would need to do to get the perfect shoe for me was superb- Things like identifying that I have a strong high instep and suggesting a deep V vamp and knowing which of Her makers shoes would suit my foot. 

Throughout the fitting I had been pliéing and putting one or the other foot on the platform, with little or no weight on it. Then she says to me-

“Come into parallel and take my hands…” 

“Oh bother” it think (or words to that effect) having guessed what was coming next;

“Just pop one foot up and then the other”

Just she says. Just. Like its no drama.

So I go for it.


“Congratulations” She says “You are on pointe”

My well considered and very eloquent reply “This feels very strange!”

We finished off the fitting, talked about padding options, different finishes and finalised exactly what was to be ordered. 

I ended up with 

  • Freed Classic special order
  • Mens last
  • Wing block, banged out wide (yes, apparently that is a technical term)
  • Deep V vamp
  • Angled Platform 
  • Elastic Drawstrings
  • Plus some other bits that I have either forgotten or didn’t understand

The only downside- the two to three month wait. But when you consider that Freed produce thousands of shoes and these are made to a very exact specification- I’m not going to complain.

Oh, and don’t worry, come May-June time, you WILL be seeing pictures!

An extended hiatus

Posted: February 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

Hi all,
Just a short entry to say- I am still here and dancing, but due to work constraints and my home pc expiring, I may be quiet for some time… I’m still around on twitter, and hope to restart blogging soon.
Keep pointing those feet folks!

I’ve been thinking…

Don’t panic, its not thoughts of world domination.

It’s about teaching.


A large part of my day job is about developing and training people. In the past I have taught others to ride horses. Both my parents were in education. I’m a trained workplace coach.


As a trainer, I have been doing a lot of thinking about being the trainee (in this case, being a ballet student) how ballet teachers train and I learn.


Now let’s get this out of the way, this ISN’T a dig at teachers at all- all the teachers I work with are fab, I’m just curious at the difference in teaching styles.


To me, ballet seems incredibly prescriptive in the way it delivers training. It is always very exercise based- this is a good thing in one way, as nearly all people learn best by doing. And let’s be honest, I can’t think about a better way to learn to do something as kinetic as dancing in any other way.


My reservation to this style is it seems to be delivered mainly in large chunks. What I mean by this is an exercise is, lets say;

Coupe, chasse, pas de bourree, Assamble battu, glissade, releve.

Now that’s fairly simple exercise in (about) eight counts. However there are six very definite steps that you need to know to be able to perform that.


And here is my beef; sometimes I feel that an exercise like that gets thrown at you, and not broken down into more manageable sections so I end up struggling at one or more aspects of the sequence and messing the rest up because you are on the wrong foot/out of time/sequence.


To use an equestrian analogy, it would be like asking a horse and rider to jump a show jumping course, while still learning to trot, canter and jump. You just wouldn’t


Many (10+ years ago) I learnt to cabriole. My then teacher taught it in isolation, not in an exercise- certainly for me, it’s a style of teaching that works. Breaking down sequences into smaller sections to perfect the techniques. As a training technique, it worked for me as a pupil, and its one I use often in the day job. I’m baffled why more ballet teachers don’t do this.


I’d be really interested in others opinions on this one- so please pop me a message with your thoughts. I’d love to hear from both teachers and pupils.

As I sit here and listen to Don Quixote, (good ballet, can’t decide if I would be better as Don Q or Sancho) I think; golly and gosh, isn’t it a long time since I wrote?


I apologise. My real (i.e. non-ballet) life has been a little hectic to say the least!

I won’t bore you with that, as I’m certain you are not interested. (I know I’m not)


Dancing, yes, that is what we are here for; huge highlight occurred a few weeks ago where I was privileged, honoured and very, very lucky to have a chance to dance at the Royal Ballet School, being taught how to do pas de deux properly by the talented Henry St Clair.


I learned SO much that weekend, and ticked some special boxes I never dreamed I would achieve. Such as dancing with a partner on pointe, learning repertory from a “real” ballet (Swan Lake) for me, I had the tiniest taste of what a dancer’s life might be like.


The whole weekend brought home how far I have come in the last year.


A year or so ago, I took part in the first UKBTM class- after and hour and a half I was exhausted, and, if I’m honest, in well over my head.


Since then, I have listened and learnt from lots of people, not just teachers, but fellow dancers as well.

I got on a stage in front of real, fee paying audiences and danced.

I did 2 days of around 5 hours a day dancing. I could not have done that a year ago.


I know I have a lot further to go, but I have got further than I thought I would get.


Roll on September.

The show blog at last!

Posted: July 24, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Well- what can I say? One tech rehearsal, three shows, it’s a week later and I’m still on a high!
We had a very shaky tech- no lighting at all, so the first time we “experienced” the lighting was in the first performance! Not ideal, as we had very dramatic lighting (including smoke effects), which made seeing where you were quite difficult!
The tech was probably the worst that we had done the piece, which was ominous…

Saturday’s performance came along faster than my nerves would have liked, so we went for it- you could tell from the other dancers we were all giving 110%! When we came off- what a high! If I’m honest it was a bit of a blur, but in a good way- I think I lowered one of the girls onto my foot in the pas de deux section, but I don’t think it noticed!

Sunday we did it all again… Twice!
I got a cheeky comment from the front of house staff about turning up late- apparently its VERY showbiz to turn up half way through if you are only in act two!
Matinee went well; apart from the nearest I have come to dropping someone! I didn’t though, so all was good!
We then got to watch the 2nd half of the show- fantastically talented dancers!

We managed to sneak into the auditorium for the first act of the evening show; it was a pleasure to watch all the dancers from the tiny to the slightly bigger!

Then for the final time… off we went. I honestly thing we saved the best till last- the steps seemed slicker, the lifts felt higher.

Then the finale! Lovely but slightly bittersweet, as our teacher is leaving. I’ll miss her loads, as she has really built my confidence and pushed me- I hope we did her proud.