Category Archives: adult dance

The night my double came back

I have always had a love-hate relationship with my pirouettes.

Some days they’re spot on. Other days, I couldn’t buy a double to save my life.

It’s been that way since I returned to dance as an adult.

And after a year away, my expectations haven’t been that great. But that’s OK. How many people are still dancing when they’re 50?

But Monday night was one of those nights when I just felt it. I was staying up long enough, I felt, what the heck, why not go for it.

I nailed doubles on both sides.

I know, it’s a modest goal.

And for once since I started back I felt reasonably well with how I did at the barre. My mind didn’t drift nearly as much. And I kept on pace with the footwork … frappes, pas de chevals, the whole works.

And centre was OK. I zigged a couple of times when I should have zagged. But my transition from pique turns to pique arabesques were OK. As were my chaine turns.

But there are steps I haven’t done in a while that I’m trying to reprocess after such a long layoff.

I want to step up my game and show these folks I can still dance, especially by the time they hold auditions in the fall for Nutcracker and the other shows they have.

Rumor has it, they might be doing Firebird.

I love the ballet. And I’d like to have more than the bit part I used to have in it back at the old studio back home.


You want me to do a “bluebird lift?” Seriously?

The first thing that came across my mind during today’s partnering class was: You’ve got to be kidding me.

I mentioned last week that it had been years since I’ve been in a partnering class. And even then, my experience is limited.

I’ve done one pas de deux in my life. And messed up.

And one to have one more shot at it.

Today, well, was a master class taught by one of the former teachers from the school who was back in town.

It was also led by a dancer with State Ballet, fresh off the Nutcracker.

The teacher from out of town, who was really good, had the pro dancer lead us through the Snow Pas de Deux from Nutcracker.

Did I mention this was only my second partnering class in eons?

We went through it in part. Boy, my promenades with my partner need work.

Near the end of the pas, there is a thing called the “Bluebird lift.”

At least in this pas.

I mentioned last week about my lack of confidence with lifts, and my lack of upper body strength in general.

I thought I would sit this part out.

“Scott, are you doing the bluebird lift?” the teacher who led the class asked.

Evidently, no was the wrong answer.

Thanks to a couple of spotters and a very trusting partner, an ancient soon to be 51-year-old not only caught a 100-pound woman, but lifted her in the air.

Much to my surprise.

“You’re really brave,” I told my partner when I lifted her back down to the ground.

“I trust you guys,” she said.

Did I mention ballerinas are fearless?

The get a bad rap. But try jumping into an aging guys arms and have him lift you above his shoulders.

I still amazed by their complete trust in their partners.

As for the regular class before, yeah, I struggled with barre again. It would help if my mind wouldn’t wander when the teacher explains the combination. Most were doable, but there are times when I wish my mind would move a little faster when remembering what step comes next.

I thought I fared well during the adagio combination. Maybe I can dance after all.

And petite allegro went OK for me. Sisonnes, how I’ve missed you.

And sense there were enough guys, we actually did a couple of men’s variations. It’s been a while since I’ve been in classes where that’s happened.

A tour-enlair? Now that’s a challenge for an old dude who hasn’t done it in a while.

But I think I did OK.

On the health front: My sugar count has dropped to its lowest level since I found out I was a type 2 diabetic.

Weighed in today after the back-to-back classes at 210.

That’s down 8 pounds since that dreaded checkup when the doctor informed me I was a diabetic, need to change my diet and exercise almost daily.

Which I do. I walk at least two miles a day on days that I don’t dance. Except Sunday. That’s the day between dance days.

My body does need a break now and then.

Thank you for putting up with the ramblings of an old dance dude few readers there are out there.

Till next time.


The last time I did a fishdive lift, my partner wasn’t even born

How is this for returning to ballet for the first time in more than a year: Class No. 3 this week was a partnering class.

It’s been maybe five or six years since I’ve been in a partnering class. But we never did fishdive lifts in those classes.

The last time I did a fishdive lift was when I was 18 in a partnering-pointe class.

And I am two weeks away from birthday No. 51.

There were four men and four women in the class, counting the 30-something guy who taught the class. The other two guys and all of the girls were about my daughter’s age.

We rotated partners. I’ll be honest, I was nervous. I never really thought I did well in the partnering classes I was in a few years ago.

And partnering girls my daughter’s age has always seemed a little awkward.

But I was pleasantly surprised by how well the class went, and by how fun it was.

Other than the waltz-turn ballroom type combo that I completely butchered, I thought I did OK for an old man who hadn’t been in a partnering class for a few years.

The holding your partner while she did pirouette turns part went better than they ever did when I took those classes from Mr.O back in the day. I always thought I did pretty decent with finger turns and whip turns back in the day, and today was no different.

The weird thing? I can’t remember when my lifts were as good as they were today.

I lifted a girl over my head while she gracefully leaned back. Of the three-non teaching guys, I actually did the best.

And they’re much younger. And assumingly have more upper body strength.

Go figure.

My promenades with my partners en pointe were all in the right direction, which for me is a victory. I’ve often been more than confused doing any thing to the left.

As for the regular classes? I’m still shaking off the rust. My glissades suck, but some parts of my petite allegro arsenal seem to have gotten better.

My pirouettes need a lot of work. Getting back to actually doing a double might be a little harder than I thought.

And for some reason, I’m better at floor than barre. The teacher I’ve had for both classes has been challenging, but her combinations are doable. It’s just my brain has got to get used to putting together the combinations, and then getting the body to do them at the pace I need.

It would help if I could get in a little better shape. It would also help if I cut myself a little slack.

For an old man like me, I think I’ve done OK for the first week.

The neat thing is that maybe a few things I thought were beyond my reach when I quit class last year might be back on the table.

There is the opportunity to perform at this school for an old person like me.

And I’ve done one pas de deux since I returned to class as an adult. I messed up, and wanted one more chance at it.

Maybe if I stick with partnering class, that might be one more opportunity for an old man to do one more simple pas de deux before I really do hang up the ballet shoes.

 


Going to get back to work on that double

Today was week three in the incredible new world of nothing but adults ballet class.

As an adult “Ballet II” class, we still have quite a few different levels. It’s nice to be among the top of the class.

We continued to work on building up to pirouettes, and those of use (about three in a class of about 15) who had experience with turns got to try them at the end of the combination,

When you haven’t been doing ballet of any kind for six months, there is much to build back up. That includes my turns.

My old problems have returned. I still lean back when I turn. I can’t stay on releve’ long enough. And my left side, which used to be my strength, was pretty bad.

But in this new, informal without performing ballet world, the old goal still remains to hit doubles cleanly and consistently, and work up to a triple. If I can do that, I’ll have to get video of it to send to Mr. O, who once vowed to make it his life work (a joke of course).

As much as I do like the new place, I still miss my home, and the adrenaline rush of being on stage, that I confess.

The classes I’m taking are basic compared to what I’m used to, but still fun.

I didn’t look like a complete idiot during petite allegro, and was one of the better ones in class doing a two pas de chat, jump second, three changement combination that kept changing directions. At least at a slower pace, I’m not thinking about arms and head. I’m hitting those without thinking.

Of course, petite allegro hasn’t involved jete’s or glissades (things I confess I’ve never done well), so it hasn’t been a mess.

And grande allegro went well. Always been my strength. It was the same arabesque hop combination we did last week.

It was pretty basic, but still a good work out.

Class is going great. But that 140-mile round trip will pretty much limit how many classes I’m able to do.

Right now, it looks as if one class a week will have to do.


Muscle memory kicks in

I remember when taking class with young company wonders at the old studio back home how envious I was of them.

The could do steps and combinations without thinking.

I would usually be really frustrated.

Mr. O, the old artistic director would remind me that most of the company wonders had been taking ballet since they were 6 or 7. Many of the steps that were routine for them, I was just trying to master.

Things are a little bit reverse in the Level II adult class I’ve managed to make for the second Sunday in a row.

Out of the class of about 10-11, I’m up near the top. Most of the steps are basic, but that is OK.

I think part of the problem since I restarted ballet as an adult is that in some ways, I plunged in too quickly. I moved on to more complicated steps without entirely mastering technique.

I’ve used the last couple of classes really to concentrate on technique. In a combination across the floor, we did passe releve’ where in my old ballet world I would try to work on hitting that double pirouette consistently. Muscle memory wanted me to turn (and I did a couple of times).

While others in class were doing combinations at the barre with arms in second, I was trying to concentrate on the proper arms and head positions. Muscle memory carried me through while others struggled.

I know how they felt.

I have to say, while the class was pretty basic from what I’m used to (Ms. B., the teacher, introduced grande allegro to class today, so we are a long way from my favorite step, a tour jete’), it was pretty cardio as ballet class gets for a 50-year-old out of shape dude.

There is a Thursday class I’m trying at the same level with the same teacher and many of the same students.

So I can finally say that I’m plunging back in.bianca

Oh yeah, the iPhone shot is a bit blurry of Maple Street Dance Space in Albuquerque, where I take class.


Back to the barre

I finally made good on the thought of returning back to class.

Maybe it was the binge watching of “Bunheads” with my daughter, which followed binge watching Gillmore Girls (don’t try to yank my man card, I have a crush on Lauren Graham).

As I’ve said before, I’ve been missing ballet … a lot. I’ve come up with a lot of excuses as to why I hadn’t been going, the most important part was the 70-mile drive to Albuquerque.

The class was pretty basic from what I’m used to. It’s a level II adult class. I was disappointed there wasn’t any turning in class. Muscle memory kept wanting me to turn as we were doing a waltz combination across the floor (not to mention feeling the urge to pirouette at the end of a combination that included a pas de bouree.

The barre was pretty simple. The class evidently hasn’t really progressed much past having arms in second, other than a couple of times when they went to fifth.

But it was fun to move. And the stretching at the end of class was epic. And we did a small, choreographed piece, pretty simple, that involved a little bit of partnering which reminded me of my last ballet role which came in Sleeping Beauty where I escorted my stage wife on and off the stage.

Although I miss the challenge of the classes I took with company kids at my old school back in Alabama, I will say that I fully appreciate the dynamic of being in an adult class. It’s nice to receive encouragement and be able to strike up a conversation without wondering if it’s awkward (a struggle when you’re not only a guy, but are greatly outnumbered in a class of teenagers).

Not to mention the partnering part. My partners today were younger than I, but at least they were a few years above the legal drinking age.

 


Longing to restart the journey

I’m too old. I’m too fat. The drive is just too far.

Those are among the reasons I haven’t been to a dance class in more than three months.

I stopped going to the pre-pro school in Albuquerque I briefly attended because of the lack of consistency. You never knew if anyone was going to show up.

The motivation to continue to go just wasn’t there. I made the decision to end my dance journey.

But my love for ballet, and dance in general, never disappeared.

The truth is, I’ve missed the barre and centre work. I miss feeling the music and moving.

I miss the combinations.

I miss the healthier lifestyle I live. I miss the one place I could go and de-stress.

I plan on going back in the next couple of weeks to the adult program that I tried during the summer a couple of times.

I don’t go with any goals, even though I love performing.

I’m three weeks away from 50. I will do what I feel my body can do.

I will just go and enjoy class.

My dance journey is in transition.

I’m going to look for other ways to express my love for the art form.

I may use this blog to discuss all things dance.

As a writer, I’m thinking of writing ¬†young adult novel about a boy’s dance journey, in part because I feel there are very few books that cover the subject.

There are plenty of books about girls pursuing ballet dreams, but very few about boys doing so.

The same can be said for television shows featuring young dancers. Bunheads was a favorite. The Dance Moms shows not so much.

Male dancers in either play only minor roles.

Maybe that will also be featured in this blog.