As a little girl, there was a time when I could picture myself as a ballerina or a virtuoso pianist. A dream it was and a dream it remained. Meeting people who made such dreams come true, or are working on it, make you reconsider. For between the dream and reality, there’s more than talent, there’s dedication.
What else would you call six to eight hours practice a day? Meeting the students at the classical dance boarding school “Académie Princesse Grâce” was a breathtaking experience. Those young girls and boys are between 13 and 18 years old. In the name of their dream, they decided to leave their family and friends behind to move to Monaco and share a dormitory with five or six other dancers. As Luca Masala, the Académie’s Director puts it: “It’s not only a dance school, it’s a ‘life school’.” The dancers are being prepared for a professional life on the road, sharing with other dancers while touring with a company.
You should see them during dance class. Smiling must be part of the training for however painful or tricky to perform, each movement comes with a smile, giving you the feeling that all this is sooooo easy, effortless really. Honestly, they already looked quite professional to me. Then, there’s training on the side: warming up, stretching, muscle building and on top of it all, distance learning so they don’t lose touch with their homeland’s education system. Yes, dedication it certainly is.
As for the professional dancers, I felt quite humbled when I saw one begining his warm-up with the splits. Or was he showing off for the camera? Even if that was the case, it says a lot about the training behind it. When it comes to looking at the company rehearsing Jean-Christophe Maillot’s contemporary choreography, you’re just lost for words. Emotion is in each movement, precise, delicate or full of energy. Supported by the music, the body is the language.
Dedication is also part of life for the professional musicians I met in Monaco. The “Orchestre philharmonique de Monte-Carlo” made me travel to dreamland as well. Have you ever noticed violin players often have a bruise on the chin, caused by long hours practising their instruments? Maybe not, as what counts is the beauty of the sound and beyond, the emotions it triggers. Liza Kerob, concertmaster – which means first solo violin – admits to having sacrificed her childhood, her adolescence and her life as a young woman, for her love of music. She also told me how rewarding it was today, how it was worth it all.
All I know is that next time I have the opportunity to see the ballet or the orchestre de Monte-Carlo – or, even better, both performing together – I will simply not miss it. Nor should you.