Monthly Archives: May 2013

Nutcracker stress at the end May?

I finally got a firm date for when our Nutcracker performances are (I should have known, but the confusion on whether the performances were on the second weekend or the second FULL weekend of December threw me). Make the request at the end of May and there shouldn’t be a problem, right?

Unless, of course, you have a co-worker ask for the same week off, and beat you to it.

I was afraid of the possibility. Before we consolidated copy desks with another newspaper, no one I worked with wanted that early of a week off in December. But last year, this new co-worker went on a family vacation the week after Nutcracker.

Since the second FULL weekend pushes Nutcracker back almost a week, creating the conflict.

We have had two people off on either vacations or furloughs the same week in the past, but they usually begrudgingly allow it. It puts a lot of strain on the people who end up working during that week (usually I’m one of the ones who has to). I’m hoping they’ll allow it this time.

The know how much Nutcracker week means to me.

It’s an issue now because I’ll have to make a commitment to be in it in just a few short weeks.

Being off to perform in Nutcracker makes working a crappy work schedule the whole year somewhat worth it.

I’m in my zen during tech week and performance weekend. Performing the three roles I’ve had in the Nutcracker the last few years helps me get rid of all the stress of working in a volatile industry, not to mention of being a single parent.

It’s my week to escape to a much funner place.

I have to have that week to maintain my sanity.

Don Q pas de deux

Tamara Rojo is amazing. Julio Bocca is pretty good, too.

Fun, messy last class of the year

I don’t think it’s dawned on me that this morning was the last Saturday morning that I’ll crawl out of bed and try to make it to ballet class until mid-August.

There are times when it’s been a struggle after a long night of work and a long week of balancing work and college projects. But every time I’ve made it to that 10 a.m. class, it’s been worth it.

The way Mrs. O teaches, it has been the class I believe I learned the most, especially about body alignment. Considering it’s a company class, and I have routinely been the lone recreational dancer in class, it has at times been my most challenging, the one that pushes me the most (along with the Thursday morning open class).

Today, well Mrs. O decided to give us some pretty challenging combinations to end the year on, things we don’t normally don’t do. And the company kids seemed to struggle during combinations that I also struggled with … which being the last class of the year seemed to amuse Mrs. O.

It was a little messy, but her grande allegros are always fun. She is the one teacher who pushes you to soar higher than you normally soar.

Now, there’s a week off to get adjusted to the new normal: Summer classes, the ones where you change teachers nearly every week, where you are in class with different people from week-to-week, depending on who is on vacation and who is at a summer intensive.

But those classes are still fun. I can never understand why some studios and schools completely shut down during the summer months. I can understand breaks. Teachers and dancers alike need vacation time. But I’ve never found ballet to be something you can just drop all of the sudden and come back a few months later and expect to dance at a high level right off the bat, but that’s just me.

Class today reminded me of the progress I’ve made this year that I sometimes don’t always get.

Petite allegro used to be the part of class that I dreaded most, but now, it’s starting to become a strength, it’s becoming one of my favorite part of classes. I still have a ways to go. I looked in the mirror and saw that my feet were still sloppy (but I can do the combinations!) I can beat assembles’. I can beat jetes (although my jetes are still a little sloppy).

I’m going in the right direction in combinations involving fouettes. My legs are straighter and I can travel further in sisonnes (another step I could never get in a million years). My chaine turns were praised the other day in class, and my pique turns are much cleaner, including on the left.

I go into the summer with a few specific goals:

1. Raise my confidence level. I know most of the steps and I’ve improved my musicality. I don’t have to rely as much on the better company dancers. They are like my security blanket, but I shouldn’t need them as much as I do.

2. Be more consistent with double pirouettes. I know this has been a constant battle for the following reasons: My ability to spot eludes me at times (although I have no problem spotting during chaines and pique turns, go figure), I use too much force and let my upper body steer me instead of my feet and last, but not least, I look down too many times.

3. More height with my tours en’lair, not to mention do more doubles (see No. 2 for reasons why I struggle).

4. Turns from second, for many of the same reasons as No. 2 and 3.

5. Improve my hands, arms and head coordination.

6. Be more aware of my facings, do a better job of using space and travel more.

I know, that’s a huge laundry list. Maybe I’ll see progress in those areas the week I do the intensive.

I’m going to try not to get too frustrated, just have fun and enjoy the moment.

Have class without a teacher? Why yes, we can

The final “open class” of the regular school year took an interesting turn.

Today was supposed to be “wear something wacky” day in Mr. O’s open class, and the company kids pretty much wore some wacky things (me, I wore a Rocky t-shirt, because Mr. O is a huge Rocky fan).

Mr. O walks in and tells his daughter is sick and he has to take her to the emergency room. Mrs. O is at home with their son since school is out for the summer at his school. The usual subs are at end of school activities for their children.

He hands class CDs to one of the company kids and tells us “you’re going to have to teach yourselves today.”

At this point, since I am the only non-company dancer in a class of about 16, I’m thinking “would it be more awkward for me to stay or go at this moment?” I really hadn’t come up with an answer for that when we started plies, and I couldn’t figure out a way to bow out gracefully.

So I ended up staying. And it turned into a fun, entertaining class. It was teach by committee, and actually pretty cool. The kids ended up scrapping the CDs Mr. O gave us, and instead we had a ballet class to punk, alternative and hip-hop music (the one group I did recognize was Coldplay).

Some of the combination the company kids came up with were pretty tricky, but I think I did pretty good for an “old man” trying to keep up. My turns from second while the girls were doing fouettes left a lot to be desired, but other than that I think I acquitted myself quite well.

Let the record show I stayed until the end.

The one thing I hated? It will probably be the last class I’ll have under Mr. O until August. He’ll be busy with our intensive weeks when open classes are going on, and he’ll teaching at two summer intensives elsewhere and on vacation during the regular summer session.

I am looking forward to the last company class of the year on Saturday. Here’s hoping Mrs. O totally kicks our tails.

The lovely Alina Cojocaru

Giselle variation. She’s beautiful. Amazing steps.

One Last Dance

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of Dirty Dancing. I liked Patrick Swayze more in Road House, Red Dawn and Next of Kin. But I truly believe he was an amazing artist as a dancer. I don’t know if people truly appreciated that side of him. And I love the interaction with his wife in this piece.

And so the end begins …

Hard to believe we’ve reached the last week of class of the regular year at the ballet school.

Doesn’t seem too long ago we were having Nutcracker auditions.

The last week is usually bittersweet. A few of the company kids I’ve been in class with and performed with are graduating, going off to college or moving up the professional dancing chain. The company male dancer who was brought in from Pacific Northwest Ballet will be moving on to a company in South Carolina, which is what our school is meant to be … a stepping stone.

The classes this week are usually more fun and challenging. That was the case in this morning’s class. Mr. O threw in some fun combinations we rarely do, and I think I did well. I just need to learn to finish better on double pirouttes.

He announced that since Thursday is the last open morning class of the regular year, he wants us to wear something wacky. So I guess I’ll pull out a wacky shirt.

And I’m sure the last company class on Saturday will be an emotional one, the last class for a few at the school.

For me, it’ll be time to get used to the temporary new normal … also known as the summer session. The teachers rotate, depending on who is on vacation or who is away teaching at a summer intensive. And the faces are different from week-to-week because of much of the same thing, plus we always seem to pick up students from around the area who schools or studios don’t have summer classes.

And of course, there is the week of the summer intensive that intend to take, which will probably be the biggest challenge of my ballet life (I’ll be sharing more about that when it gets here).

Oh yeah, I found out we’ll be doing Cinderella for our spring performance next season. Is it weird I want to be cast as one of the ugly stepsisters?

Ballet and sauna … at the same time!

Didn’t know I was in for a two-for-one deal in company class this morning.

Either someone accidently someone turned the heat on, or something was wrong with the A/C. That’s not a good thing for a ballet class in Alabama, where it was already humid outside. It was so humid my shoes were sticking.

The heat evidently played a roll with everyone’s pirouettes (although mine were better today than they had been all week). Mrs. O asked us why our pirouettes were a bit off …and she got comical answers and demonstrations from the company kids about hot it was.

“We’re melting” was the phrase I gave an amen to. But I won’t complain too much. I’m pretty sure I left some calories behind when I left the studio.

Despite the heat, it turned out to be the best class of the week, which was good since this was my first class with Mrs. O since she called me out during petite allegro last week. Even my brises (one of the scourges of my dancing existence) looked cleaner than they normally look in a combination I fared much better at than I thought I would. It probably helped that the brises didn’t come with any vole’s.

After being called out last week, I made sure I finished every combination today, and most were extremely fun. That included a combination that included an arabesque turn (also one of those scourges of my existence). Went right into the turn, know problems at all. 

And I managed to go the right direction every time during our grande allegro combination that included going from a fouette to a tour jete. The only glitch was coming out of the sisonne into the chasse’ assemble’ part of the combination … but I can live with that since I went the right direction on the fouette-tour jete.

Maybe someone should turn on the heat every day if I’m going to have a class like that.

I’ll be honest, I love the Saturday morning company class more than any other class I take. I’ll miss it during summer session.

My guilty pleasure is returning

Breaking Pointe a couple of months away.


A little offering from the Rock School, where Mr. and Mrs. O guest teach during their summer intensive, and where some of the company kids I take class go, along with PNB, SAB and a few other schools.