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.

 


The Second Act

From my personal blog

Source: The Second Act


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.

 

 


Ever think about teaching?

Yeah, I know I probably wouldn’t be qualified.

But a drive to Native American festival yesterday had me thinking what if.

I took a tour of an old cattle drive town with maybe about 1,000 people. The friend driving showed me an old abandoned high school gym that was built by a public works program in the 1930s.

After a new school was built, an actress bought the building and ran a community theater there. She’s since passed on, and the building remains vacant except for community reunions and such.

Then we drove out to the nearby Navajo reservation, and talked about the poverty and the lack of programs there.

I guess, in a sense of a dream, I thought wouldn’t be great to offer dance classes for free at some place on the reservation or at the old abandoned gym?

I might could at least teach barre, and maybe some centre, and offer classes for all ages.

But I wouldn’t know how the idea would fly since I am … you know ,,, a middle aged adult dancer approaching the age of 50.

That’s not what people would think when they think of someone teaching ballet in a small community.

Of course, it would keep me involved, since the nearest dance studios are really about 70 miles away, and I can’t seem to make classes consistently.


A subject that is dear to my heart

I still think culturally it’s a little easier for a boy who wants to dance than when I was a kid, but it is still outside the box
http://www.npr.org/2015/08/22/433264225/ballet-programs-look-for-more-boys-to-step-up-to-the-barre?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20150822


Semi-private, semi-tough

I really looked forward to driving up to Albuquerque for Thursday’s class.

Last week was extremely fun, and I had to miss Wednesday’s Ballet I class because of an artist reception I had to attend.

Got there a little ahead of time, and kept waiting for others to show up.

One lady who wasn’t there last week showed, followed by the teacher.

No one from the previous week other than me showed, which really concerns me. One of the ladies who attended the week before said she was relieved we had more than four, because evidently that’s the magic number to keep the class from getting cancelled.

With only two of us, the teacher shortened the class from the usual 90 minutes to just an hour.

And it exposed a major weakness: I depend too much on my neighbors at the barre to remember combinations and to keep time with the music.

I led first on the barre because of where we were positioned, and I kept messing up during the combinations (I’d leave our a step or draw a blank about halfway through combinations). I felt sorry for my classmate. Hope I didn’t mess her up to badly.

I think part of the reason I kept messing up was because I felt so much pressure. When there is just two of you, it’s kind of hard to not catch the eye of the teacher. And his barre routines are not simple, which I appreciate.

Did much better in center, which is amazing. I actually think I’m showing more improvement with my glissades and my jetes seemed a lot sharper.

And I thought I did well during grande allegro. It started with chaine turns, then a tonbe pas de bouree glissade assemble, pique, chasse tour jete, tonbe pas de bouree glissade grand jete.

My timing was a little off coming out of the chaines. Because I was slower than the company kids at my old school, I have a tendency to come out on three turns instead of four to make sure I’m on the timing.

Semi-private classes are tough. But I do appreciate all of the corrections.

As for performing being over for me?

I did ask about the adult-character audition, and ended up missing it because I needed to spend time with my daughter today.

I was told there is still a chance the artistic director would still give me a call about possibly being a part of their Nutcracker, but I’m not really counting on it.

My old artistic director from my school back in Alabama asked me on Facebook if I would be returning home to be in their Nutcracker.

Told him I would love to be in it, but I don’t know if we’ll be able to save enough money to either fly home or drive the 1,200 mile trip. And I know he can’t wait for me to decide if I can.

I thought for a moment I could do one of those “Go Fund Me” so I can be in Nutcracker things. But I don’t get a lot of comments or likes on the blog anymore, so maybe I wouldn’t be that successful at it.

Like I said in a previous blog, maybe it will be OK just to sit out this year and enjoy taking class.

That is if we have enough coming for the classes I’m in just to keep them going.