Monthly Archives: March 2015

Musicality, movement quality and line

There really isn’t much dancing involved with my part in Sleeping Beauty.

That’s sort of by design.

There are four court men in Act I.

I am the only dancer. The other three are dads, and I think the notion of having to do any difficult steps would have frightened them away.

Our wives, like me, are dancers.

But in Act I, we’re basically props.

But that doesn’t mean we just stand there.

Because I am the lone dancer and most experienced performer of the court men … my lady and I are front and center. We have the most to do.

Even when you are performing more of a character role in a ballet, you can’t forget three important elements to what makes ballet, and dance in general, beautiful and graceful.

Musicality, movement quality and line.

With my part it means when and how you walk, gesture and pose.

Twice in the scene, we’re in lines, we halt and go into first arabesque. My lady and I are at the end of the line. No one in front of us.

Two questions run through my mind: Will our line look good to the audience? Is my knee straight when we tendue?

I know the latter is such a small thing, and the audience wouldn’t notice. But as a dancer, to me that’s important considering this is one of the few things we’re required to do that is balletic.

I don’t think people realize how much the three elements I’ve mentioned really are important to a dance performance.

Must of us focus on the steps and technique.

You can do all of the steps correctly, but if you don’t those three elements, you can really look bad performing.

If you don’t believe me, watch Dancing with the Stars.

That’s become my daughter’s and my guilty pleasure.

My daughter is amazed how many times I will mention whether or not I like a couple’s movement quality, comment on their music quality or line, and one of the judges will say basically the same thing.

They may not be dancing ballet, but those elements are just as important when you’re doing other forms of dance from contemporary, ballroom to even hip hop.

Everything was beautiful at the ballet

This really isn’t about the song, but there is a line that really is true for me.

The ballet studio is home for me.

It’s a home I didn’t visit as often as I would have liked since Christmas break.

But I’m finally getting back in a ballet-groove with classes Thursday, Saturday and today in addition to rehearsal on Saturday.

I didn’t realize how much of a boost ballet gives me until I stopped giving in to the fatigue of long work and college hours and started forcing myself to really get back to class.

Going to class refreshes me mentally. It’s restoring my energy physically.

And it’s been flat out fun spending time with what really is my ballet family.

Among the tidbits from today’s class from Mr. O:

Two things make a dancer: Technique and movement quality.

We worked on movement quality today, how we should look in our transition steps, in arm movements, walking.

Sometimes we get so caught up with technique we become mechanical, at least that’s been my problem.

I needed to have that lesson thrown at me today. My part in Sleeping Beauty doesn’t have a whole lot of dance steps. But there is a movement quality that is needed.

And that’s what I’ve liked about the three classes I’ve attended since Thursday. Each have had a different theme, from body alignment, to proper technique to movement quality.

And one of the cooler things is that I’ve noticed I haven’t beaten myself up on what I struggle at, or things I can’t do that I should be able to do.

I think I’m finally learning really just to enjoy class.

Body alignment-Thursday

Between a new computer system at work and college work projects, I have been a slack in going to the morning open classes during the week.

It’s been a constant battle between the want to sleep in and the want to move.

Forced myself out of bed early to go to the Thursday open class I haven’t attended at all this semester.

It was well worth it.

Mentally, I needed it after working 12-hour days and during my off days, going all out doing college projects.

Ms. O subbed yesterday. You get either a move and push you to the limits class from her, or a teaching class.

It ended up as a teaching class.

She teaches more about body alignment more than any teacher I have.

And since there were only eight of us in class, each one of us pretty much got corrections.

A bad habit I have? Pushing my elbow past my shoulders when arms are in second when I’m at the barre.

She usually gives very good pointers on posture, and line (which is important to my Sleeping Beauty role).

And she is good at diagnosing problems with turning.

Case in point: When I doing pirouettes, sometimes I’m trying to go across my body, almost fighting the turn. It’s better to use my turnout (she says I have more than I think) and plieing more (especially with the working leg).

And not use my arms to steer, which I try to do a lot.

My pirouettes were actually smoother yesterday, although my inability to spot continues to hinder me. I stay up long enough long enough to do triples and beyond, but not being able to spot properly limits me.

And it’s a mystery on why I can’t seem to do it. I have no problem spotting when doing chaine turns and pique turns. But spotting while doing pirouettes, turns from second and the occasional foutee is beyond me right now.

White shoes, white tights required

The law of averages finally caught up with me.

I’ve performed in Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Firebird, Dracula, Billy the Kid and Cinderella without hearing the words “white ballet shoes and white tights are required” from the wardrobe lady.

Through almost nine years of performing, I’ve gotten away with the security of black tights and shoes.

That is not the case for Sleeping Beauty and my role as a Court Man. Had a second fitting today, and that’s when the wardrobe lady dropped the bomb: You’ll need a pair of white ballet shoes and white tights.

For the record, I didn’t pitch a fit.

I may be an old recreational dancer, but I am a dancer.

I know that if I’m asked to perform, weird and wacky costumes are part of the territory.

A tunic, white shirt, nickers (thank the Lord) are part of the costume this time around along with white shoes and tights.

There is a store in town that is a sponsor of the ballet, so I got the shoes. And since I’m wearing something over the tights, the store lady suggested ladies tights as opposed to ordering a more expensive pair of men’s tights that I would never ever wear in class and may not ever again in a performance (although you never know).

Cue the laughter, I’ll be wearing an extra-large pair of ladies Capezio tights under the nickers (maybe I should have read the few reviews my fellow bloggers who happen to be female did about them …lol).

Seriously, though, I am liking this role more than I thought I would. There is a little partnering involved and a few other ballet steps to it.

And I was assigned a role front and center since I have more performing experience than the rest of the Court Men, which is really cool. We’re on stage for the entire opening act, including the opening scene.

We really got into the meat of the role today.

It was fun. And it was cool to see Act I finally unfold. The fairy dances were absolutely beautiful, which is remarkable considering how many classes and rehearsals that have been missed because of the wacky winter weather we’ve been having,

And once again rehearsal followed a very kick ass class (pardon the expression).

The petite allegro combinations were a bit more tricky today, but I thought I acquitted myself quite well today.

We also did a tricky combination across the floor today that included a pirouette that went into a fouette. And amazingly I was able to go into fouettes pretty well during most of the combination.

Amazing to me considering I hardly ever do fouette turns during center work, normally turns from second.

I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things with classes. Hopefully, the weather will start cooperating.

Finally, ballet normalcy

Saturday class, costume fitting and rehearsal.

It’s been a while since my Saturdays have had anything like that on the agenda, thanks to school work, sickness and a brutal work schedule.

I made my return to Mrs. O’s Saturday class for the first time since Christmas. God how I’ve missed it.

It was physical. I was sloppy because I’ve missed more classes than I’ve made since Christmas break.

But it was really fun. Barre was doable. My pirouettes sucked (but that usually happens when I’m back in the routine). I actually fared reasonably well during one of the petite allegro combinations. The other, not so much (the combination of sissones and brises threw me off).

Mrs. O’s grande allegro combination once again was pretty cool, although the foute after the tour jete on the left side didn’t really process well, But it was really fun trying to execute it.

Between class and rehearsal was the costume fitting I finally was able to make for my part in Sleeping Beauty..

Interesting exchange with the wardrobe mistress.

Wardrobe mistress: Are you shrinking?

Me: Pardon?

Wardrobe mistress: Have you lost weight?

Me (thinking): Either this is a positive side effect of having the flu a couple of weeks ago, or my Dr. Pepper diet is working better than I thought!

Evidently, my measurements were smaller than they were for Nutcracker or Cinderella last spring.

The batteries aren’t working on my scales, so I have no idea if I’ve lost weight or not. But it’s nice to have someone ask you if you’ve lost weight.

Finally, it was fun to actually begin rehearsing for my minor part. Not much dancing to it as far as I know. It’s mainly character. And there is a lot more to it than what we rehearsed today.

But it was cool to see Act 1 coming together.

Can’t wait for next week. It’s nice to finally get back in a routine.