Monthly Archives: October 2013

A fun piece by a guy performing in our Nutcracker

He’s going to be performing soldier doll and lead Russian. But this is a much different genre.

Unexpected partnering class

Expect the unexpected, that’s how I approached the return of ballet after a week’s absence.

Since company dancers make up the majority of the open classes I take in the mornings, I knew we weren’t in for an ordinary class. They were coming off a weekend performance, so I expected a laid back class, which is what we got for the first hour.

The guest artist who served as an emergency performer took over the last part of class. The last 30 minutes of class, we worked with partners. With only four guys in class, it was about like an assembly line. We rotated and worked with each girl, and the lone adult woman recreational dancer,

It was fun. But it was a refresher about how intimate working with a partner in ballet really is. No personal space! And of course, you worry about crazy things like “why didn’t I get a fresh mint, do I have enough deodorant on and am I sweating too much?”

It was simple stuff. Just a few turns. It made me realize how much I miss partnering class, the one thing I really wish I could work on enough to where I’m comfortable with it. Seriously, though, it helped my comfort zone to have at least one partner my age. But the girls were great and really amazing to work with.

Aside from the unexpected, my turns were pretty good for a return after an absence. I had a few double pirouettes that were as clean as I’ve done them in ages.

The night class, on the other hand, still continues to be a challenge. But I have goals to work toward in Dawn C.’s class, like getting the combinations down. My jetes were sloppy during petite allegro. And I struggled a bit with the pique turn-double A turn combination (one pique turn followed by four double As, which I can’t recall ever doing before I took her class).

Her class is my most difficult, but I enjoy it. Because most of the class was coming off a performance, we did the full 90 minutes to modern-rock-pop tunes (you haven’t lived until you’ve done ballet to Fallout Boy, Imagine Dragons, Flo-Rida and Katy Perry). Of course, it appears now the other male dancers have dropped out of that class, leaving me with just the company girls.

That makes it even more of a challenge, I think. But we do this thing called therapeutic barre, which feels so good. That alone would make the class worth going to.

My “Dead Week” at the Ballet

When I first went to college years ago, the university had a “Dead Week” right before exams.

No tests were to be given. No projects were to be assigned. You just studied before exams, or spent time working on final projects.

The university I attend now doesn’t believe in the concept.

But for me at the ballet school I attend, this is “Dead Week.”

By that, I mean that most of my classes were cancelled this week because the company is performing in its fall show this weekend. I haven’t danced since my two classes on Monday. And I’m not performing in the fall show, so I’m getting a little stir crazy (the price I pay for being in open classes where the majority of dancers are in the company, or in the company classes).

Because of my work schedule, the alternative (the slow beginner open classes) are out of the question.

I’m trying instead to rest up. Come Monday, its plunge back into ballet full throttle. While I’m sitting out the show this weekend (and really, for me, it’s tough because they’ve spoiled me for casting me in so many fun shows), that is not the case for Nutcracker, where I have three parts.

It’s classes and rehearsals full blast until Nutcracker during the second week of November.

But right now, it’s hard sitting out. I’m be glad when my “Dead Week” is done.

I’m tired of sitting out. Monday won’t get here soon enough.

A piece our company is performing

Our company does an “Unplugged” performance every fall of works that are more contemporary ballet.

The amazing power of a night dance class

When I first returned to ballet as an adult, I didn’t have the crazy work schedule I have now.

I’d rush to class after a rough day at work, dance for 90 minutes, go home a little sore, but my body always felt relaxed when it was over.

Now I work 3-11:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday (in addition to college classes Monday through Thursday before work), which means three of my four dance classes are in the mornings on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. I have one lone night class that I’ve had to miss the last couple of weeks because of college projects.

It’s a class I’ve mentioned before that I take with company class taught by Dawn C. Her classes, I’ve mentioned, are a little more challenging because we do steps and combinations we don’t normally do in my other classes. We also do something called therapeutic bar, which stretches my body in ways it normally isn’t stretched, but my body usually says … Ahhhh! when it’s over.

Class tonight wasn’t nearly as complicated as they have been, although we still did a long, tough adagio. We did a few more interesting combinations that I’m beginning to pick up. I remember thinking “you know this wasn’t a frustrating class” when it was over. It was a fun way to end a day, a relaxing way to end a day considering how mentally exhausted I’ve been.

I left thinking, boy it’d be great to be able to dance more often at night.

How about you guys? Which do you prefer? That morning dance class that gets you started on your day. Or the one that relieves the stress of the day and makes you sleep better at night?

That awesome moment when …

Your artistic director tells you you danced a combination better than the company kids.

That happened on Wednesday. We were divided into twos and did four changements in one place, and then on the diagonal (sort of resembling bunny hops). Yeah, it’s simple. But the young company professional and I were singled out by Mr. O for doing the best in the class … clean, with height, with the music.

It’s a small triumph. But when there are no other “recreational dancers” in the room, just pre-pro company kids and a couple of contracted professionals, you take your victories where you get them.

It was actually one of the best classes I’ve had since the start of the season. To be honest, part of my problem has been a lack of energy because of long work hours and going to college part-time. The timing of the classes, coupled with a brutal work schedule have completely drained me.

So I’ve tried to make sure I either get enough sleep, or eat something that will give me energy before ballet class, and I think I’m beginning to succeed.

I had more energy on Wednesday than I’ve had in a long time. Same for today, and on Wednesday, my turns were better than they’d been in a while. I feel I’ve got a shot at a breakthrough with my double pirouettes, although I wasn’t quite feeling it today. Mr. O did praise my turns on Wednesday, which was a plus.

But everything else was better today. My jetes in petite allegro were cleaned (feet pointed), and I was on time with the music. I believe my legs were straighter with my tour jetes during grande allegro.

And for an old man, I think I did well coming out of grande plies in fifth during adagio in the center. Trust me, at my age, it’s not easy to do.

I think it helped, though, that our teachers have sort of taken things off the gas pedal with the company’s fall show two weeks from today. Feels weird not being a part of it, especially after being in the spring performance. But with my work schedule, it wouldn’t have been doable. I will be jealous, I’m sure.

Look forward to seeing them perform if the work schedule allows. A part of me will be glad when the fall show is done. Why? That’s when the focus shifts to Nutcracker, and my turn to perform.

By my count, my first rehearsal will be three weeks from today, and then with my parts, it’s pretty much rehearsals every weekend until tech week. It’s my favorite time of year.

A rising star from my school

The male dancer in this video is from the school and is a former company member where I take class. He’s now a lead dancer with Orlando Ballet.

More than Dance

Love this Anaheim Ballet video. The joy, the beauty, the grace, why I love ballet so much.

City Ballet

City Ballet

Another reality ballet series coming in November. It’ll be interesting to see how ballet is portrayed in this series, which is being done on my favorite company.

Why do you do ballet?

That’s a question I get asked all the time since I don’t exactly fit the image of a ballet dancer.

I’ve decided to ask you guys, my fellow dancers out there, the same question. I really want to know what drives you to the barre every chance you get. I’d really like to hear from a wide-range of you out there: Dance students with professional dreams, adult recreational dancers, dancers male or female.

One reason: I’m thinking of creating ballet site for my web design class, and I’d really like to hear your stories.

In asking you why you dance, here are a few of my reasons why I do ballet:

1. I do it because I love it: Because I’m a guy I usually give the normal stock answers as to why I do it. But the truth is, I love ballet. I like sports, but I’d much rather be in a ballet studio than a football or baseball field, or a basketball court. I love everything about, always have since that first class as a teenager. No, I will never be a professional dancer. Too old, not talented enough, but ballet was something I was meant to do.

2. I do it because it’s fun: Even the frustrating classes I have, it never ceases to be fun. Seriously, give me a grande allegro combination I can nail, and I could do it all day. Same with a graceful combination. When you’ve got a combination where muscle memory takes over and you do it well — there’s not better feeling when you’re leaping, spinning, turning and moving across the floor.

3. I do it because it de-stresses me: A job with frustrating challenges, going to school part-time, being the single parent without any help, trust me a 90-minute ballet class, rehearsals and performances allow me to escape for just a little while. Sometimes I carry my burdens into class and it will affect how I do, but usually, I feel much better about things when I leave class. It’s a mental health thing, it’s therapy.

4. I love the challenge: Ballet beyond the beginner level isn’t easy. It strives for a perfection that never really can be achieved. But every milestone, every step or accomplishment you conquer that you didn’t think you could really achieve is a feeling I cannot really describe.

5. It spurs me to live a healthier lifestyle: When I first started dancing, I lost around 40 pounds. It’s helped me keep weight off. The people I dance with have really good eating habits, and that has inspired me. It’s helped my heart rate. The improvement of my posture and the stretching have all but eliminated the back pain I used to have quite frequently. My knees are in great shape for a person my age.

6. My classmates and teachers inspire me: They do for a variety of reason. There are the 16-year-old wonders who dance beautifully across the floor. There’s my 40-something teacher who also dances like she’s a company kid. Then there is the 65-year-old lady who keeps plugging along and doesn’t let the limitations of age slow her down. I could on all day about the people who inspire me.

7. I love the camaraderie: I’ve gained some really good friends since I returned to ballet as an adult. Some are my fellow adult dancers. Some are the company teenage wonders, some are my teachers. Some are the parents of the teenage wonders. Our ballet school and company, we are a family.

8. I love the beauty and grace of it: It’s amazing how I feel in class. It’s my guilty pleasure about doing ballet. My man-card might get revoked because of it, but I don’t care.

9. I love the thrill of performing: Seriously, who’d have thought that when I first started dancing again. I love every aspect about it, from the endless rehearsals, to the adrenaline rush you get when you step on to that stage.