Category Archives: Rehearsal

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.

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?


Opening night

Officially, the two public shows of our performances of Cinderella are tomorrow.

But tonight, we take the stage for a special performance as part of an event that honors the outstanding contributor to the art community.

Today is a little bit of a chill day before I head to the theater for warmups at 6:15. Curtain goes up at 7:30.

I’m sort of glad it’s a chill day. The rehearsals have run really long this week. There’s been a lot of stopping and going for the tech crew to figure out the lighting, the timing of the backdrops and the pulling off of props during the change of scenes.

We’ve even tweaked scenes as well, probably more so for Cinderella than in Nutcracker.

Throw in the fact that I’ve still been going to university classes and working on class projects, and this week has been an exhausting one. But it’s been fun, anyway.

As for my part, other than a malfunction when trying to adjust the evil stepmother’s wig on Tuesday, it’s going pretty well. I’ve hit my cues, and have done well with my dance steps (the few that I have). It’s amazing how fast the week has gone.

After going to ballet class in the morning, university class at midday and the theater late afternoon well into the night yesterday, I feel a little more refreshed getting to sleep in this morning. I hit the bed early last night.

Here’s hoping for a good first run tonight.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I wished I was able to be in two different places at once Wednesday.

I had a graphic design piece entered in the university art show. I was amazed it was picked to be in the show, since a large number of pieces were rejected. They had a reception for students with pieces in the show and an awards ceremony … at the exact same time we were rehearsing Act I of Cinderella.

I was stunned to find out my piece placed second in its category. I wished I could have been there … but my first love in art is dance (well, ballet) and I was where I needed to be.

Shot a couple of shots of Cinderella’s carriage and the clock from my smartphone from the wings. Wished I could better photos, but I wanted to share a little from the experience.ImageImage

Dancing on tired legs

If my legs could talk, they’d tell me to take the elevator tomorrow when I go to my second floor college class in the morning.

They are sore … the good sore … and with good reason.

Three classes, two long Nutcracker rehearsals, all since Saturday morning.

Saturday, we worked on Act II finale waltz (which was fairly easy). But Sunday was the bear, Act I complete. I rehearsed my role as party dad (really easy). But the guest artist from the Rock School who is performing soldier doll and lead Russian has not arrived yet.

So I performed soldier doll twice. My timing is much better, but note to self: where warmups and tights next time because doing pirouettes in blue jeans is a killer. And do plies, stretch and warm up next time. Lesson learned.

And I did the dreaded Nutcracker bed (under a bed, in a harness, pulling a 50-75 pound Clara) twice during battle scene run throughs.

And then, I went to two ballet classes today. Pretty crazy, right?

They were both fun and challenging. Mr. O stayed in stamina building mode. Combinations were fairly simple. And, despite the tired legs, I was pretty consistent with my pirouettes. They’re getting there.

Dawn C’s classes continue to be the hardest for me, in part because we do combinations I’m still not as familiar with. I’m working on those pique-arabesque turns. Eventually, they’ll come.

Love her therapeutic barre at the beginning of class. For tired legs, it’s what the doctor ordered.

She also had us do a grande allegro combination that really rocked (chasse pas de bouree’ assemble’ right, chasse three times, assemble left, chasse tour jete’ three times). I think that was my best combination of the night.

I really am beginning to appreciate the way she teaches. She is more formal, more strict. And she will call the entire class out if we’re not performing the combination correctly,

My tired legs will now get somewhat of a break.

There is no class tomorrow. I’ve got Mr. O’s open advanced class on Wednesday, then no dancing until Mrs. O’s Saturday morning class, which will be followed by Act II complete rehearsal. It will be my first rehearsal to dance Chinese full out.

We’ll rehearse Act I again on Sunday, followed by two classes on Monday again.

If tradition holds, we’ll break for Thanksgiving the rest of the week before returning for an intense rehearsal on Sunday.

Tech week is rapidly approaching.

First party scene rehearsal = chaos

I think the more than 10,000 people who will see us perform the Nutcracker in about a month would totally be surprised if they saw our first party scene rehearsal each year.

Our first rehearsal with all of the parts (children, parents, maids, Drosselmeyer and the Stahlbaums, but no dolls) was yesterday, and boy, it was a doozy.

It always looks messy the first time we run it, and this year, moreso.

There aren’t as many “party parent” veterans this year, so everything had to be completely broken down and run through quite a few times, and that’s just with one cast. Because they’ve redone some of the costumes (which have to be shared when it’s double-casted), there was a quite a bit of shuffling around with which party parents go with which children.

For the rookies, it was a crash course. And it will continue to be so for the next couple of weeks. One huge difference this year? With the exception of a teacher who also dances with the company, and one other lady, the vast majority of the party moms are either company members or senior students at the school instead of recreational adult dancers or mothers of dancers.

The reason? New fancy dresses were designed this year, and the girls fit them. The party scene for them is actually somewhat new, although some of them danced roles as children or danced as dolls,

There are about three or four of us party dads who were basically the only veterans, and even we were moved from roles we’ve been doing for years.

It was a painstakingly slow rehearsal of which only one cast got to rehearse. Next Sunday, we’re going to have to try to get the other half of the cast done, along with adding the battle scene.

It’ll be fun. I’ll be rehearsing all three of my parts this weekend, with Chinese on Saturday and both my parts in the party scene and battle scene on Sunday (before going to my final Sunday work day). I’ll be sweaty and sore when it’s over, especially when you consider I also have company class on Saturday.

On a humorous note, I believe I have now covered just about every age group imaginable when it comes to party wives I’ve performed with. Three of my first four years as a party dad, my
wives” were my age. The lone exception was a modern-salsa dancer/teacher in her mid 20s.

My last two years, my “wives” have been older than me, in their upper 50s-60s (and three of the most amazing recreational dancers you’d want to meet).

This year, my two rotating wives (I’ll also rotate with another party dad) are … 18!

Fortunately for me, I take classes with both (and performed in quite a few shows with one of them). They are both good natured girls.

Class-wise, because of the holiday, I didn’t get to dance today. I may take a makeup class in company class tomorrow.

That’s after coming off one of my better weeks of classes.

Saturday, my turns weren’t there like I’d prefer, but I was able to do some tricky petite and grande allegro combinations.

And I seem to be on the verge of a breakthrough with a step I’d convinced myself I’d never be able to do: Ton be couple jete’ (sort of a leap coming out of a turn).

“You’ve got the steps, you just need to work on the timing,” Mrs. O told me Saturday.

From her, that’s praise.

And speaking to timing, I did perform soldier doll during party scene rehearsal. I did the steps of the dance OK, but somehow managed to get ahead of the music (don’t know if I started too early, or rushed it like I do when I get nervous).

If I’m asked to do it again this week, I’m confident I’ll do a much better job with the music.