Monthly Archives: November 2014

When Nutcracker tunes are stuck in your head …

One glance at the rehearsal schedule made me realize that what little down time I have over the next few weeks has disappeared.

Last Saturday, we had Act II rehearsal from 4:0-5:30. I worked split shifts to make it. It’s my favorite part, being in the Chinese dance the the finale waltz. I am by far the oldest dancer in Act II.

I was worn out when I walked out of work Saturday night around midnight. Two of my co-workers have quit. The workload on Saturday is usually a bear under normal circumstances. Now, it’s tough.

Sunday is normally an off day. But both people who quit worked on Sunday. We rehearsed the party scene for the first time (well, the children have already been rehearsing). But this was the first time the “parents” were thrown in.

So, I’ll strolled into the studio at 11:15 for a rehearsal that started at 11:30. Party scene rehearsal ended at 2 … and then for the next 90 minutes, it was time to practice my most brutal part … being “bed boy” during the battle scene.

What is “bed boy?” He’s the poor dancer under Clara’s bed, moving it across the stage making it appear to move like magic. Yeah, that’s me. It’s grunt work, too on the knees, very little vision, moving across the marley, making sure I’m aware of what part we’re at in the battle scene score (Got to be the longest in Nutcracker).

I staggered out of the studio at 3:30. Back in the office at 4, cursing me ex-coworkers for the fact that I wasn’t done for the day. I strolled out of the office at midnight.

I had every intention of making the 9:30 open class. But I watched The Walking Dead before hitting the bed. I was still feeling the rehearsals (and still hearing the music) when I woke up. I had a college class at 11:30 that I normally race from ballet class to make.

But I felt my body needed the extra couple of hours sleep to recover.

I have an open class Wednesday, and just looked on the rehearsal schedule and was surprised to see we’re running Act 2 Complete on Friday night after I get off work.

And then, after company class from 10-11:30 on Saturday, it’s back at it with Act II from 11:30 to 1:30, and rehearsal for our Gone Wild performance before staggering back into the office for another eight hour shift.

I can say why God rested on the seventh day. But my rest won’t come on Sunday. Party scene is 11:30-1:30, followed by battle scene from 1:30-2:30.

And then there is work.

I’m not complaining. My girlfriend said “Well, you’ve signed up for this.”

I did not sign up for having two ex-coworkers quitting in addition to the regular work, college work and dance load.

I love ballet. I love performing in The Nutcracker, even if the music does rattle around in my head until February.

And there are no rehearsals again until at least Dec. 1, which will allow my body to recover.

And other styles of music to creep back in my head.


The center of attention

I’ll be the first to admit, my confidence level has never really been that high as an adult recreational dancer.

I seek out the barre on the side in the classroom where most of my classes are just to avoid the mirror.

I depend too much on watching my neighbor when trying to do the step in a combination, and at times, to stay on the music.

Mr. O, our artistic director and one of my main teachers, senses it and will challenge me in class.

Such was the case during Wednesday’s class.

There were 10 or us. We were to divide into groups of five with two in front, one in the center and two in back.

I began to walk to my usual back. One reason is etiquette. There are two other guys and I generally go with them. And at times, I go in the back just to be as hidden as a I can during a combination in which it’s just me and company wonders.

Nothing like being at the absolute bottom of the class talent-level wise.

In this open class, there are two teenage girls who are really close to my level.

My plan was thwarted.

Nothing like being singled out.

I was to be in the center of the group with the company girls.

Just to work on my confidence.

It was a slow, graceful, adagio combination. Walk three steps, pique twice, then pique arabesque turn (pique attitude the second time we did the combination), tonbe pas de bouree pirouette (repeat).

I actually got praise the second time we did the combination, but it was a bit scary when I was told to look in the mirror to see “my line.”

Mr. O is always quick to point out that I’m a better dancer than I think I am. And if I’m showing any lack of confidence in doing steps in a combination he knows that I know … there I times when I’m made to do it solo.

That’s scary in itself. But maybe it proves I’m not always the helpless cause I think I am.


Dancing on empty

My biggest challenge this year isn’t going for that extra pirouette.

It’s not improving my technique or musicality.

Don’t get me wrong, those are still among my ballet goals.

Because of added stress and college classes, my biggest challenge lately as been having enough energy to dance.

Lately, I’ve slept in more after a rough late night at work. It’s the drawback of taking a morning open class when work until almost midnight.

I slept in on Monday after performance weekend even though my small part was not very difficult.

I practically forced myself to go to dance Wednesday. I need to get serious and get back into shape. I have two very physical Nutcracker roles that I’m not even close to being in shape for.

My mind was tired. Barre was a blur. And the beginning of centre work, things were a bit sloppy. You could say almost the entire class was a sloppy one.

We ended class with an interesting petite allegro combination. We were divided into partners … and mine was a fellow recreational adult dancer whose ability is close to mine.

The combination included glissade jetes in opposite directions, then coming back, then facing each other going in the same direction, and then royales facing front … and then doing the combination with the other person to our backs.

Not a good combination when your mind is much. But my partner was a good sport. And somehow, we were able to do it somewhat correctly after a few tries (which received applause).

The amazing thing is that once the class was done, I felt amazing, tired, but mentally refreshed.

Hence my struggle.

I love ballet. It’s fun. And I always feel refreshed when I’m done with class.

But getting out of bed after a long day of both college classes and work seems to be getting harder and harder to accomplish.

I lost that struggle this morning. I skipped class. I have a challenging election guide to put together in a couple of hours inside my office cubicle.

And all I can think about is how much fun I missed out on in not going to class.

Well, no sleeping in next Saturday.

Nutcracker rehearsals for my parts begin next weekend.