Monthly Archives: January 2014

PNB Stepsisters

This is really similar to the scene that I’m in

And now a recital dance …

We were in for a little surprise Monday night class that I’m in.

I had my fourth Cinderella rehearsal in five days earlier in the day for performances coming up in April. I’ve been in company spring performances before.

Our school also has school sketches at the end of May where classes perform recital pieces. The company and open ballet classes I take normally don’t participate in it because the concentration is normally on the company’s spring performances. The only time I’ve been in  a recital dance was a hip-hop piece a couple of years ago.

Our teacher informed us tonight that we’ll be performing a recital piece. It will be interesting, because this is the class that I struggle in most. It is the class in which I am least in my comfort zone, the only adult and only male dancer in a class of teenage company girls.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of dance we’ll be doing.

This is the class, I’ll be honest, where I need the biggest confidence boost. I am still reliant on my better dancing classmates, but a lot of company leaders are not in this class. To be honest, the majority of the girls in this class are really close to my level.

Combinations I usually nail in other classes, I struggled with tonight. Our petite allegro was a variation from Giselle … glissade, assemble’, sissone, sissone, glissade, assemble’, pas de chat, pas de chat. I’ve done it before, but for some reason struggled tonight.

I can dance so much better than I did tonight. I can dance so much better than I’ve shown in this class. I need to prove it.

How can I be excelling in Cinderella rehearsal and not be able to do things in this class?

Most intense rehearsals I’ve been in

When I was cast in Cinderella, I really expected more of the same of the roles I’ve performed.

Like most roles, the hairdresser is mainly a character role mixed with some dancing. I expected rehearsals around once or twice a week until tech week.

I was mistaken.

We’ve had rehearsals for my scene every day since Thursday. Today is the first break away from the ballet studio. But I’ll be racing from college class to rehearsal again tomorrow.

There is a reason for the intense rehearsals. Most of the story ballets we’ve done during the spring have been condensed versions. I’ve been in Romeo and Juliet, Firebird, Dracula and Billy the Kid, and none of the versions have been more than 45 minutes long. The company only did Act 2 of Swan Lake a couple of years ago.

Cinderella, according to Mr. O., is the first full-length non-Nutcracker ballet he’s staged since his arrival here. It’s based on the version performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet. We’re changing some things around and trying to cut it from a three-act, three-hour version, to a two-act, two-hour version.

The ballet seems to be a little darker, but still sticks to the main theme. This version, the step-sisters are danced by company girls (not men in drag) who are quite comedic. And one of my teachers who also still dances is simply amazingly evil as the evil stepmother.

My scene involves them, a dancing master and a dressmaker. The dressmaker and I do a short dance around the stepmother when presenting our bills. We’ve got much of our scene staged, but there is still a bit to add. I’m still learning my music cues and trying not to botch the little polka step I have to do.

It’s exciting to watch it being put together, and really exciting to be a part of it.

As for class, I’m doing OK. The new schedule for the semester has taken some adjustment to get used to, and I’ve been a little sluggish. But I’m trying to get back into a routine.




Birmingham Royal Ballet Cinderella

This is the version of Cinderella we’re doing. Started rehearsing my part the last two days.

Fitting MKL Jr. tribute: The stunning Misty Copeland

She is one of my favorite ballerinas

The Sunshine Award

I’d like to thank all of you who nominated me. And don’t really know 10 people to nominate (since most of the ones I know have already been nominated by others).

But I will do the 10 Things about Me. So here goes:

1. I am a copy editor-page designer for two newspapers.

2. I am pursuing a second degree in art studio-graphic design.

3. Cinderella will be the sixth ballet I’ve performed in. I’ve been in The Nutcracker about seven times. I’ve also had parts in Romeo and Juliet, Firebird, Dracula and Billy the Kid.

4. I was bit by a Brown Recluse spider once, so like Disney, I can’t stand the creatures. Yeah, I’m scared of them. But I still kill them … because I’m a dad and that’s what we do.

5. I want to drive cross country to California.

6. I found out my great-grandmother was Jewish during Christmas Eve dinner … while we were eating ham.

7. The ballet studio is my favorite place on earth, even over the beach or the mountains.

8. My dream vacation would be a trip to Italy to tour the sites of ancient Rome and Renaissance buildings and works of art.

9. I have two wonderful kids who love me, a son and a daughter (this should probably be No. 1 on the list).

10. I’ve become addicted to the TV show “The Walking Dead.”

Ballet confession: I love “pretty” combinations

“Ballet is Woman” is a phrase used by the late, great George Balanchine.

It’s not entirely correct, even for Balanchine. Even Balanchine choreographed and taught steps that flew in the face of the stereotypes out there for men dancing. Ballet can be, and is, a “guy” thing as much as it is a “girl” thing.

But … there are aspects and dynamics that at times prove Balanchine correct.

You get a different vibe when there is a male teacher, or if there are multiple male dancers in the room.

Be the only male dancer in a room that also includes a female teacher … there are times when your class fits in the “Ballet is Woman” category.

That was the case in the last two classes I took this week, the visit to my old, slower class on Friday, and my Saturday class, where the other two male dancers were “no-shows.”

The classes were a bit on the “girly” side (Dawn C’s class on Monday also fits in that category).

Confession No. 1: I’m cool with that. Before Mr. O arrived, that was my adult ballet world.

Confession No. 2: I like dancy, “pretty” combinations.

Case in point: Pique turn, pique turn, ton be pas de bouree into fifth, then fourth, pirouette. That’s the combination Mr. O’s sister gave us Saturday. It was flowy, showy, but I loved it just the same.

She also gave us a balance’, balance’, balance turn (waltz turn), chaine turns where you went to passe (I can’t really explain the step) into an inside pirouette turn. It felt beautiful, and graceful, and I loved it so.

We did several combinations that were like that in her class.

Ballet was pretty, graceful.

It was a bit girly over the last two days.

Is it weird for me to say that it was OK by me?

I’ve been cast in Cinderella!

No, I didn’t get my dream role. I won’t be a stepsister.

I’ll be playing the part of the flamboyant hairdresser. Sounds like it will be a fun role. Can’t wait for rehearsals to begin. We’ll be performing it the weekend of April 12. I think there are four shows.

This will be somewhat of a departure from my previous non-Nutcracker parts (I played a priest in Romeo and Juliet, Firebird and Dracula, and a cowboy in Billy the Kid). I do hope it’s more of a dancing role like the Cowboy in Billy the Kid.

But I am grateful for any role I am asked to play.

Class this week was a bit different. Had my first class with Mr. O on Thursday since the holiday break. His sister taught last week since he was helping a professional company stage Firebird (a very cool ballet if you haven’t seen it). I think because of my congestion, I was a little sluggish, although I thought I did OK. My turns still have not returned.

Since my dance schedule has changed because of college work, I tried one of my original classes today. It’s an open beginning-intermediate class, but none of the company crew were in there, just adults, a lot of the ladies I started dance with as an adult. It was totally weird being one of the younger people in class.

I love ladies in the class and count them as friends, and I love the teacher, who was my original teacher when I started back. She’s a stickler for fundamentals but … the class was way too slow and the combinations too simple.

We did balance’ turns across the floor (nothing else in the combination). I’m thinking to myself, this is way to slow! Then the teacher apologizes for it being to fast! Ugh.

We didn’t really do much dancing across the floor, which is what I live for. We did a lot of things broken down (again I appreciate it for fundamentals), but I like to move!

I may be in there a few more times this semester.

It’ll make me appreciate the Monday, Thursday and Saturday classes with the company kids that much more!

Ballet in crisis because it’s turning into a sport

Ballet in crisis because it’s turning into a sport

I thought this was a very good read.

Time to play online order roulette …

I know I’ve said I’ve sworn off buying dancewear online.

But when the dance store you use is no longer reliable as it once was … you give online a try.

I found out during Nutcracker that one of my trusty pairs of tights ended up with a rip in a place where they didn’t need a rip. My other trusty pair is starting to get a hole in a place it doesn’t need a hole.

Both already had holes in the toes, which didn’t go well with leather shoes that had holes in the toe. I ended up getting a canvas pair of shoes, and well, they’re not my favorite shoes I’ve ever had.

So, I ordered a pair of tights online. I’m praying they fit. I’m praying they are opaque, thick and opaque. The reviews claim they are. But we’ll see.

It still boggles the mind why it seems the majority of men’s tights out there are a little “see through.” I can’t believe there are guys who are OK with that.

I also ordered a cheap leather pair of shoes. We’ll see how it goes this time.

As for class itself, I’m beginning to get back into a routine.

I mentioned Monday’s class was pretty rough.

But I ended up with two really good classes back-to-back on Thursday and Saturday morning. Mr. O’s sister taught those as well. They were intense with complicated combinations, but somehow I managed to pick them up.

My turns, though, left a lot to be desired. It seems they disappeared with the holiday break.