Tag Archives: Nutcracker rehearsals

The Deep End of the Pool

I may have used that title before.

But that’s how I feel in my Monday night class a lot. In our school, it’s Ballet V-VI (company level).

It’s not the only company level class I take. I also take a company level class on Saturday morning. And the open-advance class I take on Wednesday is pretty much company level, since the majority of students in the class are company kids who home school, along with our school’s young professional male dancer fresh out of college.

I take an open-intermediate class on Monday mornings, but the makeup is pretty much the same as Wednesday, with the addition of a couple of other adults.

I don’t struggle nearly as much in those classes because I’m used to Mr. and Mrs. O. I used to their terminology. And the steps and combinations both give from week-to-week are pretty consistent. They may vary it up sometimes. But at my very worst in their classes, I can still pretty much do more than 80 percent of the steps and combinations.

I’m still learning in Dawn C.’s class on Monday nights. Her adagios are longer and more complicated, Her arms are different. Her terminology is different (oh, you mean a tour jete or balance’ turn … if you catch my drift). And the combinations include a little more variety of steps … for example, for grande allegro last night, we started with a developpe’ on releve, then ton be pas de bouree glissade ¬†assemble’ right, then left, pique chasse tour jete, saute chasse, saute chasse, saute chasse, step, step saute chat … and that’s a combination I actually got right.

For much of the class, my mind was spinning, trying to master steps and combinations I don’t usually do. It felt like being thrown into the deep end of the pool.

The biggest problem with that? The shallow end is like the kidding pool. The open classes that Mr. O doesn’t teach are mainly adult beginner classes. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with those classes. That was the level I returned to dance to, and that was my home for three years.

But then I moved on to a level that no longer exists at our school: adult intermediate.

And you end up with two choices: Go back to beginner classes … or plunge into the deep end of the pool.

And plunging into the deep end really has improved my dancing.

I used to feel overwhelmed in Mr. and Mrs. Os classes. But I found I progressed more in one year in those upper levels than I did in the three years in beginner classes.

Don’t get me wrong. You learn your fundamentals in a beginner class. You build your base.

But really, you learn steps broken down. You learn steps bigger than they’re really performed.

At least that was the case for me. There is a thing called range of motion I learned from Mrs. O. Movements you learned big in a beginner class, you have to shorten to keep up with the tempo in a more advanced class (as in glissades in a petite allegro combination). You learn how steps you’ve learned in a beginner class are put together in a combination.

For that reason, I actually appreciate Dawn C.’s class. I learn more my trying to do rather than just watch, And you really don’t have an opportunity to sit out. She groups us in lines, and she moves the lines forward, so everyone experiences the front.

It is my greatest challenge, I do confess.


On the Nutcracker front, rehearsals are getting more intense.

We went over Act II full out for the first time on Saturday, and it was a mess. Act I on the other hand, seems to improve every time we rehearse.

We just broke for Thanksgiving, but when we return on Sunday at noon, it’s the mother of all rehearsals. We’re rehearsing both acts, which means four hours in the studio, with each cast getting a run through. I’m not double-casted in two of my roles, so it’ll be a long, tiring day for me.

We’re less than two weeks from being in the theater and the start of production week. We’ve got a lot of work to do … especially when you consider ticket sales are way up from this time a year ago.

We’ve got to put on a good show.