Monthly Archives: April 2013

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.

Funnest part I’ve ever had

The saddest part of performing to me is the final bow after the final performance.

We’ve been rehearsing Billy the Kid for almost three months (the most intense rehearsals I’ve been in, including Nutcracker). We had three performances and they were over too soon.

No more trying to get the “Journey West” dance down. No more trying to figure out the horse dance steps that I seemed to butcher until the performances. No more learning how to die “realistically.”

And sadly Nutcracker is still eight months away.

I’ll be honest, I never felt more comfortable on stage performing that I did the last two nights. I did the correct steps during the “Journey West” dance each performance and my timing was good. The horse steps finally, finally came during the performances.

And I was able to finally, really be able to get into character during the Town Scene, which was my main scene during, and much to my surprise when I first went to rehearsal, my character was one of the main characters of the Town Scene.

And my death scene is the end of the Town Scene, and the most dramatic parts of the whole ballet. I get into a fight with one of the other cowboys in the scene over two saloon girls. His character pulls a knife on me, the dancer playing Pat Garrett pulls the other cowboy away, and I accidently shoot Billy the Kid’s mother. Young Billy ends up stabbing me in the back at the end of the scene, starting his life of crime.

Loud applause followed my death scene during each performance. That’s an amazing feeling. Maybe I did OK.

The intense rehearsals, company warmups on stage, and the fact that this was a real dancing part, I think I felt more like a dancer this weekend than at any time since I restarted ballet as an adult.

I am eternally grateful to Mr. O, our artistic director, for casting me.

I’m sure come tomorrow, I’ll start having Billy the Kid withdrawals.

All day at the theater

It’s kind of hard to explain to people how much it is to perform in front of hundreds of people.

It scares the heck out of me, but really exciting at the same time, especially when you know you did your best, which is what happened last night. What a rush!

I’m hoping today will be the same. About to leave out the door. We have have an hour and 15 minute class on stage at noon. For an adult dancer like me, it’s sort of like pretending your dancing with New York City Ballet, Ballet West or Royal Ballet. Warm ups are really cool, far more relaxed.

First curtain is at 2, second at 7:30. My heart will pound as usual when the music begins to play, but I’m OK once I’m out on stage and for some reason it was really easy last night to get into character. There were no slip-ups, except my foot slipped as I was trying to go down during my main “death scene,” which may have made it look more realistic.

I really love this part. It will be really hard to let it go once the curtain falls. Nutcracker is just too many months away.


A really cool piece from students of the Rock School, where our artistic director and ballet mistress both teach a couple of weeks during their summer intensive.

It’s opening night!

Can’t believe it’s gone by this quick. Three shows, one tonight at 7:30, and two tomorrow at 2 and 7:30, and then we’re done!

Dress rehearsal was a lot of fun last night. It was by far my best rehearsal.

I think my confidence picked up during company warmups. I mentioned the marley is different than it is back at the main studio at the school. Maybe it’s because the marley is a little slicker, but my turns in warmups were amazing. If only doing double pirouettes were so easy at the school. Even my inside turns were better.

I think warmups also made me a little more limber. And in the first dance (my main one), that’s really important (we do more back bending). And probably my main death scene, too. I found it a little easier to fall down to my knees.

On a side note, unlike a few years ago, we didn’t go down to the pit during our short tornado warning. We calmly did our stretches before warmups. The sirens went off just before we started … and warmups were really cool hearing the rain hit the roof and hearing the thunder and lightning.

And fortunately, there is no threat of severe weather now that we’ve reached our performance days. Sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s-80s, nothing that will cancel the shows or keep the crowd away.

And if there is someone from north Alabama reading this blog today, come see Huntsville Ballet perform tonight at the VBC, show’s at 7:30. Or tomorrow at 2 and 7:30.

And even though I love classical ballet, the pieces we’re performing tonight (other than the beautiful Dying Swan), our three main pieces aren’t what many people think when they think of ballet, so if you have any non-ballet friends, bring them. I think they’ll enjoy it a lot more than they think.