Category Archives: ballet

Can I do this again?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and for good reason.

I thought I’d given up ballet for good. Not long after I retried to get back into ballet, I was promoted to publisher of the small town newspaper that I was editor of.

The long drive and added duties pretty much led to that decision.

Well, something else happened that has rocked my world a little bit. My daughter and I had both been battling weight problems, so we finally decided to find a family doctor in this small New Mexico town.

I was feeling good about where I was at 50. My heart rate is good. My blood pressure was fine. My lungs checked out as I expected as a non-smoker. But because I was overweight (really, I was shocked I weight only 218, which I thought was OK for a man my age), the doctor suggested I do fasting labs.

Maybe doing that right after Thanksgiving wasn’t a great idea. I’m not going to say I’m a border-line diabetic. You either are, or you aren’t. My sugar is too high. My cholesterol is a little high, too.

It’s really not surprising. Too many sodas and too much fried food finally caught up to me.

Changing my diet was the first order of business.

The second? The doc wants me to exercise 4-to-5 days a week.

I started walking. And my cousin and I have set a goal to run in a 10K.

My daughter suggested I get back in dance.

Yeah, at 50.

But it was the only form of exercise I’ve consistently stuck with most of my adult life.

I thought about going back to one of the couple of places I’ve tried since moving to New Mexico.

They’d probably say “you again? how long before you quit again?”

Another dance studio kept popping up in my Facebook feed that encouraged people to give their classes a try after the holidays — including adults.

So I sent an email about the lone adult class listed I could take because of my schedule. I mentioned I took open classes back at my old school in Alabama, and that I had mainly character role performing experience.

Rather than receiving an email giving a little information on the class, the school director asked that I give her a call.

She was curious about my performing experience. A company was not listed on the website or Facebook page. But it turns out the school is attached to a company.

She is encouraging not only to take the class that I sought, but a couple of regular classes she teaches of which adults are allowed to take … and that includes a partnering class that includes adults. She said I could take them at my own pace.

“We also have a choreographer who needs another man for a character role for a ballet this spring about ancient Greece,” she said. “Look at me, I’m already trying to cast you and you haven’t taken a class.”

Really, even at my age, the thought of a partnering class and a performance opportunity does excite me.

And I’m looking forward to taking class tomorrow night.

But some of my doubts have already creeping in about how my skills have already eroded. Seriously, it’s been really two years since I was seriously taking class (not counting the false starts).

What if I’m too fat? What if she says, sorry, you’re not what I thought you were?

I’ve decided to try to have fun tomorrow night.

But I have to wonder … Can I do this again?

meonstage

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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.

 

 


A scene from Sleeping Beauty

meonstage

I posted scenes from the wings of our production of Sleeping Beauty last week because we have an official photographer. But here is one from the production.

I am the lone guy in the photo talking to my stage wife during the variation by the fairies, which happens to be the one we did in class earlier in the week that I mentioned in a previous post.


Curtain falls on Sleeping Beauty

It seems so surreal.

It seems theater week flies by faster and faster each performance.

Three shows. Two days. So much fun.

The glitches, the problems we had during the tech rehearsals and dress rehearsal? They disappeared once the curtain went up for real.

My spur of the moment Act III role? I eared praise from the boss, our artistic director. I pretty much had my Act I part down.

All three shows were amazing, from the dancing, to the costumes, to the dancing.

I’ve mentioned before that this has been an odd year at the ballet school. A lot of our best dancers moved up the ladder to more well known companies and schools, or graduated and went to college,

We have a much younger group of company dancers than we’ve had in years,

But you would not have known it this weekend. Despite having to rush to the finish because of wedding delays, this was one of the coolest productions I’ve ever been in.

It was three acts, the longest performance I believe we’ve done. But it was really nicely done.

My mind is tired from the week. So are my legs,

Withdrawals have already set in.

Don’t know if I’ll be in the fall production again, but it’s still months off.

Going to use the next few months to see if I can’t polish what I can as a dancer before I get to old.

I love performing. I hope I have a few left in me.sbfinale