Friday, August 23, 2013

Pros, Toes, and the F-Bomb

Ballet season will be starting soon, and professionals will be heading back to their studios. So, where are they now? They are taking class with the variously challenged adult ballet students at my studio. What is it like taking class with a real dancer? Well, humbling. I certainly won't be dropping down in to those perfect splits anytime soon, or kicking in to a high and strong faille* with total grace and ease. On the other hand, watching some of our more advanced girls alongside the pro gives you a real appreciation for how far you actually can go as an adult recreational dancer.
I also felt good about doing my fondues on flat rather than demi-pointe because she was doing it as well.

PS: we spent our full hour of pre-pointe last night at the barre. You might think that doing a whole class of relevés would be easier than normal, but you'd be wrong. In fact, I think my feet hurt more than they ever have. Apparently my teacher recently brought home a copy of the Pointe Book and now she's all excited about trying out the exercises it recommends. I can't imagine how the girls on pointe are feeling today, I was on demi-pointe and I feel like a train wreck!

* this word is usually pronounced "fye-ee" in ballet but "file" in most fabric situations. I bet in France they don't say it either way! In fact, I just looked it up! I was right! Check it.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hardly Workin'

I chickened out of master class on Tuesday. Well, it wasn't really so much a chicken-outing as a "there is no way in hell this is going to work out for me so I think I will just skip it"-outing. So I spent the night at home with my husband and kitties. An evening of reflection and family togetherness, if you will. Mostly what it means is that Thursday's back-to-back classes kicked my ass six ways to Sunday (of Sunday? from Sunday? I've heard it so many different ways. Almost SIX ways, I would venture.) I'm still sore. My shin splints, thankfully calm the last few months, flared up right as we were starting grande allegro. And then my foot chimed in after pre-pointe class like "what the crap do you think you are even doing, woman? This foot was made for walkin'. Walkin' not goaty-footing around like Miss Thang. Knock it off."
Why the heck does taking a few DAYS off of ballet make going back feel like the longest, hardest slog on the planet? I can't even imagine attending a studio that gives it's students the entire season off. I would just turn in to a big blob of goo over the Summer and when I came back I would probably have a heart attack.
Someone I work with often tells the tale of working at a ballet company during a Winter storm. The studio was shut down due to flooding or something and the dancers freaked out because they couldn't fathom not going to class. I can sort of see that, actually.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Small House of Uncle Thomas

The theater where I work recently (like a week ago) staged the King and I. I think I saw the movie once when I was 17 and staying at someone's house to watch their cat while they were out of town. That was back when I was terribly industrious and used to get house sitting jobs to earn extra cash. At night I would sit around with the cat and watch my employer's video collection (remember when we all watched videos?) or read their books (Memoirs of a Geisha SUCKED, by the way) . Anyway. So, I saw it ages ago and aside from "Shall We Dance" (buh-dum-dum-dum) and the king dropping dead at the end the only part I really remembered was the ballet version of Uncle Tom's Cabin in the middle. Because it is SO freakin' weird, yo.
So. I went to see the dress rehearsal and found to my surprise that the crazy ballet is actually the best part of the entire show. Maybe I just have a greater appreciation for the dancers and details now, or maybe the antiquated /romanticized/borderline racisty stuff is just more glaring at 32 than it was at 17.
There is a bit when Eliza and the angel are walking across the frozen lake that involves all these little scootchy foot movements across the stage. As I watched all I could think was "I bet people think that is easy, but that shit looks HARDCORE to me". I totally had to try it when I got home. It TOTALLY IS hard! Dang!

This isn't us, but it's the best production I could find on Youtube. The scootchy feet are about halfway through.

PS: am I the only one who really only knows the story of Uncle Tom's Cabin through this movie? Sure, we talked about it in history classes when I was in school, but it's not like people actually READ the darn thing these days.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Master Class

My regular Tuesday class was replaced this week by a master class taught by a former NYCB dancer. I tossed the idea around all weekend before finally deciding to go for it and attend the master class. It was ... quite a thing.
Barre went well enough. We had something like 22 students in attendance, so there were a lot of people smushed in to nooks and crannies. With four portable barres of various sizes all set up at once I mostly spent the latter half of barre trying not to smack or be smacked by my regular teacher, who was taking class along with us (and showing us up, mostly. It was adorable, though, she was having a really great time and was so very excited) and the person standing behind her. Center was... well. It was. Mostly it was an exercise in futility. I did a lot of flailing around and very little to impress anyone. We weren't going for any new steps, really, but my old enemy (speed) was working against me in full force.
At the end of it all I was quite ready to be done, honestly. Not that I didn't learn some things. I definitely have some new food for thought. For example: petite allegro (never my strong suit, but improving slowly) should focus on pushing down in to the floor rather than bouncing up. I hadn't thought of that before, so as soon as I have an opportunity to actually think about ANYTHING while attempting petite allegro I will try to keep it in mind.
Will I be taking master class again next Tuesday? The jury is out on that one, check back after I've recovered my pride a little bit.
When I got home I googled our instructor for the evening. Here he is in all his professional glory:

Saturday, August 3, 2013

How can they see with SEQUINS in their eyes?

For the past several weeks we've been doing this horrific dégagé combination at the barre. It involves counting and it's ridiculous and no one ever gets it right. Well, last night I freakin' NAILED that son of a bitch. That is right, STONE COLD NAILED IT. Well, on the first side, anyway. The left side will get there in it's own sweet time. Which isn't to say the rest of class went beautifully, but you have to seize your triumphs when they present themselves.

Last night I actually saw my teacher wearing pointe shoes! It was pretty astounding. Usually you won't catch ballet teachers within a mile of a pointe shoe, regardless of the class they are teaching. In fact, I could have sworn I once heard her say she wouldn't be caught dead in them (I believe the exact words were "wild horses could not drag me back in to pointe shoes") but there she was! Also: girlfriend straight up uses scotch tape on her toes. That ranks up there with folded up cheap paper towels, which I have also seen.
While she and the pointe students (I am the only person on flat in that class, now. Don't I just feel special) were all sitting on the lobby floor putting on their shoes I was standing alertly in the corner, absorbing their ribbon-tying instructions on the not-even-at-all sly. She looked at me and said "aw, RPrin. Do you feel left out?" and I was like "naw, naw. It's all good. I am learning from you guys" and she mentioned that she did not want to put me en pointe while I am still working at the theater (the season ends next month, and I go back to maybe-sorta earning a living from home for the next nine months) because it would be "a recipe for disaster". I wonder, do I really seem that harried and out of it right now? I mean, I AM harried and out of it, because I have to tube feed a cat at 6am and midnight every day. But STILL. I like to think I present an image of having my shit together.
It makes me think of one of my favorite songs (which, holy crap, we are staging at work this Summer. I am pretty excited.) I try to live the dream, man:

Obviously I am not doing such a great job of it.