Category Archives: Performing

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?


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

A small part in Sleeping Beauty

After sickness, personal matters and a large college work load, I finally returned to ballet class for the first time in 2015.

There was little mercy for the old man who hadn’t been in class since the week after Nutcracker. Even though there are more adults in the Monday open class than there are in the other morning classes I take, Mr. O’s class was pretty physical.

And I’ll be honest, it took a while for the ballet brain to kick in after a long, tough barre. Ended up on the wrong leg in a combination, so I did a pirouette in the wrong direction. I also shortened a petite allegro combination and ended up going the wrong way and almost collided with one of the company boys in class.

But other than those little mishaps, I thought I acquitted myself quite well for an old guy who has been out a month.

Seriously, I’ve pledged to just enjoy class and not take things too seriously this semester. I even thought about taking a break from performing.

But when your artistic director asks you if you’re interested in a small part in a full length Sleeping Beauty the company is doing, really how can you refuse?

It’s a small part (a court person), probably mainly character and little dancing. Supposedly there’s not as demanding rehearsals with this one. So yeah, with my busy schedule, agreeing to do the part was pretty much a no brainer.

You learn so much more and appreciate story ballets once you’ve been in them. This will be my seventh different ballet to be in. That’s a bunch for an old recreational dancer like me.

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?


That moment when the artistic director wonders where you’ve been …

I didn’t make class as planned on Wednesday.

I worked late Tuesday night, and didn’t get much sleep with the start of my college classes later in the day.

The rest was needed.

After my college class was over, I raced home to get ready for work.

As I was getting ready to race back out the door, I thought I’d check my email and Facebook messages.

There was a Facebook message from Mr. O. He was going over casting possibilities for the company’s fall production of The Firebird and thought of me, and wondered where I’d been. 

I’d been in the two previous productions of Firebird. And the company was hit hard by high school graduation … so I’d be one of the few who would be able to reprise a role.

I’m going to be plunging full force back into the ballet world next week.

It feels good to be missed.


Getting a “good job” from the artistic director

Somehow the words “good job” from the artistic director makes it all worth it.

I had a small part compared to others, but I had a fun time. And it was an honor to be in such an amazing production. I got to perform with so many people so much more talented than I. Hard to believe we’re done.

The girl who danced Cinderella was gorgeous. The two girls who danced the step sisters role were hilarious. And the friend of mine who is my age who danced the role of the evil stepmother might have stolen the show. She was incredible.

And I was in complete awe of the guest artist who played the prince. He was amazingly athletic. If I could jump as high, do tours like him, or as many pirouettes, I’d be happy. But to do what he did, I probably need to be 20 years younger, and a few pounds lighter.

But I was pleased with what I was able to do. Thought I did well with my pantomime. Thought my gestures were big enough. I hit my cues and the last two shows, I thought my dance steps were as good as they’ve been since we started rehearsing in January.

The sets were beautiful, the costumes were amazing. And the choreography was completely mind blowing … especially the part involving the little girls who were our “clock dancers”. They raced around an elaborate huge clock carrying roman numerals in a circle. From the wings it looked extremely awesome.

Hard to believe it’s over so soon. Withdrawals have set in.

Fortunately, there’s the school sketch dance in a little more than a month, where I’ll be dancing far more than I did during Cinderella.

I’ll post more pics when I get them. Image