Tag Archives: adult ballet

The last time I did a fishdive lift, my partner wasn’t even born

How is this for returning to ballet for the first time in more than a year: Class No. 3 this week was a partnering class.

It’s been maybe five or six years since I’ve been in a partnering class. But we never did fishdive lifts in those classes.

The last time I did a fishdive lift was when I was 18 in a partnering-pointe class.

And I am two weeks away from birthday No. 51.

There were four men and four women in the class, counting the 30-something guy who taught the class. The other two guys and all of the girls were about my daughter’s age.

We rotated partners. I’ll be honest, I was nervous. I never really thought I did well in the partnering classes I was in a few years ago.

And partnering girls my daughter’s age has always seemed a little awkward.

But I was pleasantly surprised by how well the class went, and by how fun it was.

Other than the waltz-turn ballroom type combo that I completely butchered, I thought I did OK for an old man who hadn’t been in a partnering class for a few years.

The holding your partner while she did pirouette turns part went better than they ever did when I took those classes from Mr.O back in the day. I always thought I did pretty decent with finger turns and whip turns back in the day, and today was no different.

The weird thing? I can’t remember when my lifts were as good as they were today.

I lifted a girl over my head while she gracefully leaned back. Of the three-non teaching guys, I actually did the best.

And they’re much younger. And assumingly have more upper body strength.

Go figure.

My promenades with my partners en pointe were all in the right direction, which for me is a victory. I’ve often been more than confused doing any thing to the left.

As for the regular classes? I’m still shaking off the rust. My glissades suck, but some parts of my petite allegro arsenal seem to have gotten better.

My pirouettes need a lot of work. Getting back to actually doing a double might be a little harder than I thought.

And for some reason, I’m better at floor than barre. The teacher I’ve had for both classes has been challenging, but her combinations are doable. It’s just my brain has got to get used to putting together the combinations, and then getting the body to do them at the pace I need.

It would help if I could get in a little better shape. It would also help if I cut myself a little slack.

For an old man like me, I think I’ve done OK for the first week.

The neat thing is that maybe a few things I thought were beyond my reach when I quit class last year might be back on the table.

There is the opportunity to perform at this school for an old person like me.

And I’ve done one pas de deux since I returned to class as an adult. I messed up, and wanted one more chance at it.

Maybe if I stick with partnering class, that might be one more opportunity for an old man to do one more simple pas de deux before I really do hang up the ballet shoes.


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.

I believe I’ll sit this one out

This past week was the first regular week of classes at BRT in Albuquerque.

For me, it was an interesting pair of classes.

Because of my now-mostly day job, my class choices were a Ballet I class on Wednesday night and Ballet II on Thursday.

The Ballet I class was pretty interesting. I hadn’t been going to it in the summer. Didn’t know who the teacher would be.

The same anxieties always hit with that first class.

The regular teacher wasn’t there. The guy who taught was the guy who has been teaching the Ballet II class that I had been going to during the summer.

There were five of us, and it was a bit of an unusual mix. Of the five, only two were women. I’ve never been in a class where we (the guys) so outnumbered the girls (I have been in classes were the numbers were almost even).

It wasn’t one of my better classes.

I’ll be honest, I always have a hard time finding the right tempo when it comes to a slower class. And this class wasn’t quite a beginner class, and the teacher didn’t quite teach it as one.

I was a bit sloppy and off count.

That is until grande allegro (big jumps) time. Sautee, fi-e, glissade, assemble’ (repeat), pique, chasse, tour jete, tonbe pas de bouree, saute chat is a combination I knew pretty well and managed to earn praise for.

Made me feel a whole lot better.

Night 2: Ballet 2 went a lot better.

Same teacher taught. Everything we did was technically a whole lot difficult than the night before. My timing was better. Technique was better.

I’ll be honest, I rely too much on my neighbors, and since my neighbors were better, I was able to step up my game.

I even managed to make it through petite allegro a lot better than I normally do. My glissades didn’t quite suck as bad as they normally do.

I also think it helped that I was more in my comfort zone.

My four other classmates were women. Why am I more in a comfort zone in a class like that?

When there are other guys in the room, I tend to get a little more competitive, unless they are good friends of mine who are company wonders like two of my close dancer friends back home.

And the two other guys are a couple of decades younger than me. Can’t figure out why I wanted to be so competitive, other than the fact that neither seems to understand spacing, which did annoy me a bit (but I didn’t complain).

Now for the title of this blog entry.

BRT has auditions on Saturday for Nutcracker and its spring performance of Beauty and the Beast.

If you follow my blog, you know I love performing. And I’ve been in at least one ballet a year, and most of the time two, since 2007.

And I was in three in what turned out to be my final year of performing with HBC before packing it up and moving from Alabama to New Mexico.

BRT has an audition for adults for character roles (and company if I were about 20 years younger and three times as good as I am). With HBC, I was pretty much always drafted, something that happens when you are a guy with the shortage of men in ballet.

A few days ago, I was for sure I was going to audition (which would have been a first even though I’ve danced in classes that were audition classes).

But I’m still adjusting to life in New Mexico. So is my daughter.

Even though there is a Ballet I class on Saturday morning (a tough one to make since my ballet commute is about 70 miles), I’ve opted to use Saturday as a sleep-in day, and a day of recreation day with my daughter, who is still not quite as connected to life and friends here in the Land of Enchantment.

So, for the first time since 2007, I believe I’ll be sitting this performance season out.

Which for me is kind of difficult.

It will be really hard reading about other people doing parts with HBC that were solely mine for the past few years.

But I’m getting older.

Maybe it’s time for me to just enjoy class and learn to enjoy performances from the audience.

Being a little nostalgic

When the Internet was out the other night, got a little nostalgic from my performing days.

This the opening scene from our production on Billy the Kid, the only video clip I’ve ever put on here of me dancing.

Trying to regain the fire

I’ve found my dance home in New Mexico.

BRT in Albuquerque is the closest I can find to my home in Alabama.

The Thursday night class I’ve been attending has been as much a challenge as I’ve ever expected for an open class that includes really only adults.

The guy who teaches the class teachers really similar to my teachers back home.

Maybe it’s because I’ve only been dancing about once a week, but my technique seems about shot.

Maybe it’s because I’m dancing at about 5,000 feet above sea level, or I’m getting close to 50 … or the fact that I’m just not in shape, but I don’t seem to have the energy I once had.

I want to plunge back in. I’ve danced at a higher level, and I want to show that.

But the energy thing has been an issue. So has being 70 miles away from class, and there is no other class to be found in the small community south of Albuquerque.

Or the fact that my body is also adjusting to a first-shift job after working a second-shift job that I chose to sleep in on a Saturday morning rather than go to a beginner class that starts at 9:15. From the lovely town I live in, that would mean leaving at 7:30 a.m. just to make it.

That’s a hard thing to do when you savour sleeping in on a weekend.

There was a time when being ballet-obsessed meant that really wasn’t the case. I mean, who needs sleep when you can dance?

At one point a few years back, I danced five days a week and could keep up with company kids and harbored performing dreams and goals like they did.

Now, I’m not sure really what I want.

I do want to dance at least one more day a week. And there are only two options, Wednesday night beginner class or Saturday morning beginner class.

Both present challenges. And I do wonder how slow the classes are. I love the more intense classes even though my energy level is lower and my technique is shot.

Seriously, I want to scream in class “I can dance better than this.”

And I’m also unsure of myself nowadays, and I’m unsure of my goals.

Do I want to just enjoy class? Do I want to perform? Can I be happy just taking class without performing?

And the performing option is one available at BRT. There are auditions for parts in the Nutcracker and other BRT company performances.

August 22 is the big day, and there is an audition for adults performing character roles (I haven’t noticed many guys dancing in open classes at BRT, but the audition is actually city-wide, so I don’t know about the competition).

I do know this, I need to get back dancing more if I’m even halfway serious about auditioning. I want to show I can do much more than I’ve shown in class.

Yes, you can sweat in Albuquerque

One of the things I haven’t missed about the South is the humidity.

I traveled to New Mexico for a week in college and didn’t sweat a drop, a wonderful perk of dry air.

I arrived in New Mexico on Tuesday. I hadn’t sweat a drop until today.

I’m not blaming it on the 40 percent humidity today (which for New Mexicans is like 90 percent from what I’m told).

It was from my first ballet class since relocating. Took in an open-adult advanced class.

I was pleasantly surprised by how challenging the class was even though I knew every step and could do every combination.

It was very fast-paced. We worked pretty hard.

I was dripping when it was over.

I was a bit surprised because an advanced adult class usually doesn’t compare to a full out company class

But this one was close.

I didn’t know quite what to expect. The teacher is sort of a roving teacher whose classes are spread apart between two studios.

She caters to adults.

I was afraid I was in for a glorified exercise class. It was not.

The class was sort of in what I call an Indie studio. It’s not a pre-pro school (which I’m also going to try later this week). It wasn’t a Little Miss Susie studio.

This place sort of reminded me of the studio Jodie Sawyer visits in Center Stage that had the modern class, only we did classical ballet

My fellow classmates were decked out in sort of relaxed attire. It was a good change of pace, as was the fact that I was in a class with strictly adults of just about all ages. There were people older than me, which was an experience I really haven’t had in a while.

The timing of the class could not have been better.

I needed a stress-buster the day before I start my new job as an editor of a small New Mexico newspaper.

Looking forward sweating a few more drops next week in Albuquerque.

A tearful goodbye to my ballet family

It dawned on me as I was driving to the ballet school for one final class that it will be 10 years this fall since I first walked into the studio for the first time as I returned to dance as an adult.

I was nervous, thinking it was absolutely crazy to be trying ballet again at the old age of 39.

I found myself in a class of some amazingly encouraging, inspiring women who redefined my definition of beauty. I was content taking class, and fellowshipping with them in the lobby. I was content with class, how it was cool that it destressed ne. It was good exercise.

I had no desire to perform, but a friend talked me into being in the party scene with her in The Nutcracker, and I was bit by the performance bug.

Around the second year I was there, our school changed artistic directors and brought in a new ballet mistress.

Suddenly, ballet went from being just a hobby that was good exercise to becoming a passion where I set goals I never thought I’d set.

I went from being in class with adults around my age, to routinely being outnumbered in classes full of company kids. Because of the shortage of male students, I found myself in partnering classes, working with girls who were my daughter’s age and eventually performing a pas de deux myself.

And I went from being a deer-in-the-headlights party dad in The Nutcracker to performing as a Chinese lion, priest, brawling cowboy, frothy hairdresser and court man in Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Firebird, Dracula, Billy the Kid, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

I also ended up helping with fundraising and performing tech crew duties when I wasn’t on stage performing.

My ballet family expanded from a wonderful group of ladies that I still call friends to dance teachers, company kids, parent-volunteers and the wardrobe ladies.

I’d been focused on my move to New Mexico that I ended up missing a lot of classes at the end.

But I felt the need to make one last class.

I was surprised by Mr. O as we left barre for center work when he entered the room with a plaque to show his appreciation for the work I put in at the ballet.

Mrs. O, our ballet mistress, taught the class. I gave her a tearful hug when class was over.

And I said a tearful goodbye to friends and faculty before walking out of the building. It was tough because the school was overrun with parents and kids registering for fall.

I do not know where my dance journey will lead from here. I hope to find a challenging open class in Albuquerque and build some relationships there.

But now, I’m kind of sad.

I started my journey just renewing a hobby. And somewhere along the line I gained a family.

Pictured is a scene from our performance of Billy the Kid. I’m the brawling cowboy on the right.billy