Monthly Archives: April 2013

Dancing with adults, what a novel thing

That’s how I felt when I went to the open class yesterday morning. It’s the intermediate open class and used to be one of my regular classes until I decided to pursue a second degree.

There were five adult dancers in the class of 13 … and by adult I mean the recreational, above 18 variety (the 18-and under company kids in the class qualify as adults, but you know what I mean).

It was actually nice to see some familiar faces that I haven’t seen in a while. It was also nice that I didn’t feel like the only one at the bottom of the class for once, although there were some pretty tricky combinations that made me wonder what the heck happened to the intermediate part of the class (for instance a glissade-jete’, glissade-jete’ combination that involved turning in the opposite direction and throw in a pas de bouree and a sutunu turn).

It helped to be back in a comfort zone for once in a class that includes people you do really feel like are your dancing peers.

Of course, yesterday, I pulled a double, as in went to the evening company class, which was, not surprising, absent of “adult recreational dancers” and male dancers period save me … the second part is becoming a little more of the norm with the departure of the guest artist who performed the role of Billy the Kid, and another recreational guy who moved back to Utah.

And we’re losing our two senior company guys, one to high school graduation and a theater-dance scholarship to a college in Florida; and the other received a professional contract with a company in South Carolina.

So, it was just me and the company girls in the evening class. I thought about skipping, to be honest, but I found out an old college friend died of cancer. Ballet for me is a very healing thing. I needed to dance.

And, shockingly, I felt I danced better in the evening company class, which included more work Susan K’s school sketch piece (which is dedicated to a family who recently lost a child). Two of the girls in the piece were absent … so once again I filled in for one of the missing girls. If I keep filling in, I will know this piece pretty well.

It’s a beautiful piece, a sort of an adagio dance piece. And considering it came at the end of what turned out to be an emotional day, being able to dance in it was really what I needed.

Just for laughs on a rainy Sunday

Parody of the Dying Swan

Ballet is a refuge for me

I’ve been under a lot of stress lately. Final exams and final projects at the end of the semester have just about gotten the best of me, the assignment on an 88-page graduation section to lay out at work at the same time, plus a few parental-stress issues did not make it a pleasant week.

I’ve been mentally exhausted for the most of it, so much that I slept in and missed my Thursday morning open class with Mr. O.

I came very close to doing the same for Mrs. O’s company class yesterday. Pretty much had to force myself out of bed to make it, but glad I did.

Mrs. O has two types of classes: Very intense or a teaching day.

Yesterday was a teaching day (well, all of her classes are, but even more so on a “teaching day”). She makes us focus a lot on body alignment, and will go into detail to explain the method to her madness.

She combinations she gave us helped us focus on what are strengths are, yet exposes our weaknesses (and believe me, it seems I have a lot more weaknesses than strengths).

It wasn’t a push you to the limit class (I love those, by the way), but she taught us so much that I was able to leave the stresses of life at the door (where they were still waiting when I return).

The combinations were still challenging even though it wasn’t an intense class. Even the company girls struggled … “Is the music too fast? it seems it’s going faster than you’re able to think.”

That question usually applies to me. It was directed toward the around 20 company girls I was dancing with (suddenly, the other guys have been slacking and I was yet again the only guy in class). To a strange degree, it actually made me feel better to see some of them struggle through a combination, so I wasn’t the only one.

Challenging as they are, her combinations are always fun. For me, sometimes comedic, but fun. Try to wrap yourselves around this one: balance’ turn, balance front, tombe (misspelled) back (at least I think that’s what that was called) pirouette in fourth, pique, inside turn, sutunu (yeah misspelled again) twice, chaine and pull the leg up.

And do it with mothers my age watching through the door window. Trust me, I was able to do the combination … albeit not fundamentally sound. Quite certain I probably gave them a laugh. My transition, at times, from each step in the combination left a lot to be desired.

I know I struggled, although I think I fared better than I thought I would.

Regardless, it was fun.

It was the class I needed.

Sun King Adult Ballet Camp

I’ve always wanted to attend an adult summer ballet intensive, and going to this camp has been a goal.

Something old school today

In my dreams, I could do this variation.

A summer intensive challenge

It really began as a passing comment to one of our guest artists during performance week.

Dede Barfield, who is the ballet mistress for Ballet San Antonio, is my age and danced the Dying Swan. She’s a former principle dancer with Pennsylvania Ballet who was a partner of our artistic director, Mr. O., and a good friend of Mrs. O. I took a master class under her a couple of years ago and to this day, it remains the toughest class I’ve ever had (but what fun!).

She kept giving me tips and in encouragement during performance week, which meant a lot. She’s really inspiring.

I told her I really enjoyed the class I took from her … and mentioned I was tempted to ask Mr. O. if I could take the intensive the week she teaches (which would be late July, early August). She mentioned she didn’t think Mr. O would have a problem with that (and in passing he told me I could take it that week).

I’ll be honest, I’ve had a goal to go to one of the adult summer intensives like the one put on by Sun King in Virginia and New York. Because of my job, and duties as a parent, that goal seems out of reach.

I’ve never fathomed actually taking our intensive with company level dancers. Our school brings in high caliber teachers and does a good job accommodating adult students with open classes three days a week during the intensive weeks (not to mention having a few options during the five week summer regular session).

But I’ve been always quite envious of being able to dance all day for a week, to be pushed to see how far I could go.

So, if things go as planned, this would be my schedule for the week I take the intensive.


Advanced ballet: 9:30-11 a.m.

Variations class (pointe for the ladies) 11-12.

12:45-1:45, master class.

1:45-3:25, choreography

Ending with an hour of Pilates.

On Friday

Advanced class: 9:30-11,

11-12, rehearsal

12 p.m., in-studio performance.

That would be my next big ballet challenge.

Need something cardio to go with the ballet

I decided tonight I need to do some consistent cardio to go along with ballet. I dance three days a week (it will bump up to five for most of the month of May with the end of the college semester on May 1). I feel like I’m in reasonably good shape (you have to be to take a pre-pro company class), but I’ve had trouble shedding the pounds I want to shed.

Step one was giving up the sodas (for the most part) and eating smarter and in smaller portions. I need the cardio, I think, to push me over the top. A few friends who blog here are runners and I’m giving thought to running in a 5K, but I’ve struggled with shin splints when I’ve mixed run and dance, and I don’t want to be sidelined from dance (I’m miserable when I’m not able to dance).

As for the dancing, I had one of my better classes since performance week tonight. My turns still aren’t back, but most of the combinations tonight didn’t involve as much turning, except for pique turns and balance’ turns, and mine were surprisingly clean and I was able to stay on the music.

We also learned more of the choreography the company girls will be dancing to during school sketches (I really wish I was going to be part of it, it’s looking like a cool piece).

A little something from PNB

Yes, more amazing fouettes. Love the way she spots since that’s my weakness.

Today, everyone was a teacher

You know you’re in trouble when … you walk into your Thursday morning open ballet class and find that’s just you and six teenage company girls taking the class.

It seems quite a few people are taking a break with the end of company season this past weekend, and the end of the school year a month away, especially the other guys since this was the second class in a row that I was the only guy.

Mr. O., to his credit, made this class fun, relaxing one, which helped since I was the intimidated “remedial student.” But if you think being the remedial student gives you a free pass in Mr. O’s class, think again. I got the corrections just like the company girls did.

And the one thing he pointed out that I clearly need to work on is my confidence (he pointed out I showed more confidence on stage this past weekend than I did in class). Of course, it goes way down in classes where the rest of the dancers are company dancers and in small classes (where there is no where to hide) when Mr. O or Mrs. O are teaching.

I stumbled around during some of the combinations, but it was really fun despite my stumbling. And in keeping with the fun element, we were all required to teach, or demonstrate, an exercise in class (hence the title of the blog!). My part? I taught grande battements (I gave them three, then a passe’ releve’, en croix). I was a little nervous and moved ahead of the music while I demonstrated (I tend to rush things when I’m nervous).

We ended up with some interesting combinations, including one where we were in a circle doing four pique turns, saute, balance turn into a grande jete’. It was fun, but I think my version was rather comical. It would have helped if I’d done a better job spoting

Even though many of the combinations were complicated for me, it was a good change of pace from the intense classes we’ve been having, although I expect the intensity to return during Mrs. O’s class on Saturday morning.

“Just ballet class” tonight

It was really weird going to class tonight without having to check the rehearsal board.

Most of us were pretty much in recovery-mode, and our teacher tonight, Susan K., put a high premium on stretching. And we really didn’t push it tonight. And as is usually case the first couple of days after performance week, attendance was down. I was actually the only guy tonight, which was really weird.

We worked a little on trying to do solid pirouettes in addition to just trying to get our legs back under us.

Susan also unveiled the opening part of the dance some of the company members of the class are doing for the school show (which is our version of the end of the year recital, where the kids show what they’ve learned, which is different from the company’s spring performance that we did this past weekend).

It was fun being a part of it (on the lighter side, I danced a girl’s part as a substitute). It will be interesting to see how the dance unfolds. Love seeing choreography put together.