Category Archives: male dancer

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.


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.

 

 


Why ballet?

I’ve known for a while that I’m not exactly a guy who lives inside the box.

Most men my age who are active do things such as softball, golf or maybe bowling. Some are a little bit bolder and still play some soft of sandlot football … although when you’re approaching 50, that might can be physically punishing.

But then again, if you’re really hard core, so is ballet.

I’ve actually been taking stock in that, re-examining my goals, when it comes to that.

I haven’t been back to class since December, an amazing thing for those who know me. Sickness and personal matters have meant only one class since the end of Nutcracker.

I miss it. I intend to plunge back in on Wednesday and just enjoy moving and being in class.

There are so many reasons why ballet shouldn’t be my favorite hobby, or passion, especially when you are male, and you’re old.

1. Ballet is unforgiving for those of us whose bodies don’t fit the stereotype. There is at least one mirror in any studio you take class, and sometimes there are as many as three. If you are hard core enough to wear anywhere near the proper attire … it is extremely difficult if you have body image issues. And while poor body image is often more thought of for girls or women, they exist for men. I’m overweight and I cringe when I see myself in a mirror, especially when most of the people I dance with are in really good shape.

But even if you choose to cover up, the mirror exposes really how “bad” of a dancer you are, especially when compared to others in the room. It exposes your lack of technique or flaws.

2. Ballet is difficult. Trust me there are easier dancer forms. I’ve taken jazz, modern, hip hop and have experienced ballroom and contemporary either as a teenager or adult. And ballet doesn’t come as easily as the other. I’ve have been in a struggle to consistently do a double pirouette (spotting it seems eludes me), one really nice tour en’lair (much less a double) and don’t get me started on doing a coupe’ jete leap with a turn or just about any complicated petite allegro. And even things I can do, tour jetes, pique turns, chaines, balance’s can look horrible if done with bent legs, feet not pointed, or the arms and head doing the wrong thing.

3. Stereotypes die hard. I put up with bullying when I danced as a teenager and in college. Even the lighter stuff nowadays “Do you wear a tutu … how is the ballerina doing today?” Even though ballet has come a long way from when I dance, there are still the questioning of sexual orientation or really how much of a normal dude you are.

I used to hide the fact that I danced. I don’t any longer. Kind of hard when you’ve performed in eight Nutcrackers, Romeo and Juliet, Firebird, Billy the Kid, Dracula and Cinderella. Still not as much “in your face” about. And it gets tiring telling people that no, I don’t wear a tutu, or a leotard (not since I was a kid) and that male dancers aren’t called ballerinas … although I’ve since embraced it, sure call me a ballerina if you like … lol And no, guys don’t normally go en pointe (more power to you if you do).

4. I find myself constantly in class with kids, including the few adults, who are pretty much young enough to be my children. Moreso this year than in the past, it can be a little uncomfortable if you are a guy. Women, maybe not so much …

So why do I do it? Why do I have a longing to get back in class? Why don’t I embrace other dance forms which can at times seem more fun like I do ballet?

Maybe it’s kind of hard to explain.

1. Ballet is my refuge. I live a stressful life. It is for me an escape. Once I walk in class, the struggles of being a parent, an over-worked newspaper page designer and stressed out back in college student are left at the door. For 90 minutes, it’s nothing but ballet. Nothing like getting lost in the music. For me, it feeds the soul.

2. Ballet works both the mind and the body. That’s important to me. My father withered away with dementia and heart problems. The fact that you’re working the mind as much as the body in ballet to me will pay dividends long after my final class is over. And the health benefits? Unless you’ve been a professional dancer who has been a little bit pushed too far past the limit, the benefits are numerous. My back has been strengthened because of the lessons of posture and proper body alignment. It used to go out about twice a year. That rarely happens since I’ve been doing ballet as an adult. Yeah, I’m a little overweight, but I’m a lot more limber than most men (and a lot of women) that I know. And my knees, because of the work, are in a lot better shape than most people my age.

3. The camraderie can be amazing. I was the only man in classes with a bunch of soccer moms for about three years. My definition is beauty was redefined by a group of ladies aged 20-something through about 70. They were encouraging and inspiring. As a single parent, I got tips galore. Even though I no longer dance with many of them, they’re still my friends. They are the reason I stayed with it when many beginners seem to flee after a few classes.

4. There is no feeling like it when you are dancing full out, when you nail that grande allegro combination … and you feel like you’re flying. Or when you are dancing in a flowy balance’, waltz turn, pas de bouree, pirouette combination. I will confess that I do love those “beautiful” combinations.

Even in classes where I completely sucked as a dancer, I’ve always felt better, my spirit up lifted when I left than when I first entered the door.

That is why ballet.


That awkward moment when you are called out in dress rehearsal …

for not wearing makeup.

I admit it, when I first performed in Nutcracker in 2007, I was like, “seriously? I have to wear that?”

I’ve somewhat gotten used to it as an adult male recreational dancer who happens to perform. Can’t say that I’m entirely comfortable with base, blush, lipstick, eye liner … Not that anybody can really tell on stage.

But still, I guess it’s the not wanting to let loose with the man card in me who tries to get away without makeup when I can get away with it.

Can’t do it when you’re a party dad in Nutcracker. Or playing the somewhat effeminate hairdresser in Cinderella. But I was able to accomplish the feat when I was a cowboy in Billy the Kid … and when I’ve played a priest in Dracula and Firebird in performances past.

Not this time … even though I’m only on stage for three minutes during Firebird … even though I’m wearing a priest hood with the robe.

The artistic director points out I look too pale. Tells me I have to wear it tomorrow night.

Darn it.

Which leads me to an “only in ballet” moment.

All the guys share a dressing room … which happens also to be the storage closet.

Preteen boy dancer to teen dancer: “Which do I put on first, the eye liner or the mascara?”

That conversation, if heard outside the dressing room, would probably give a father a heart attack if he has a son who wants to take ballet.

I’ve reached the point where I find that really funny … rather than well .. disturbing.

Which brings me to another “only in ballet” moment: Going through a drive thru between performances while wearing makeup.

“Why yes, drive thru lady, I am wearing makeup … don’t judge me!”

Seriously, ballet is really fun … and if you’re a guy and you want to take class … makeup is not required for class.

But if you end up in a performance, beware … you may be told to pick up some Max Factor, tan 2.

Did I mention, sometimes you really need a sense of humor if you’re a guy, and you happen to take ballet?

#maledancerproblems


Male ballet dancer problems …

“Why yes, I am wearing makeup, don’t judge me,” I thought as I saw the strange look on the lady at the McDonald’s drive-thru between our Saturday Nutcracker performances.

“Gentlemen don’t normally do this,” my female teacher said before we did bourees across the floor along the diagonal.

“Seriously Capezio, can’t you make men’s tights that aren’t see-through?” I thought after an epic fail online order.

Male friend who invited me to work out with him at the gym where he has membership: “So, what did you think?”
Me: “It seemed to be a little weird.”
Male friend: “How so?”
Me: “I’m not used to working out in a room full of men.”

Thought I’d throw in a little true-life humor. Hope everyone has a happy holiday.