All These Things

It’s Monday afternoon: late afternoon, really. I’m feeling restless and lonely. I have all these thoughts in my head and I’d dearly like to have a conversation about them, rather than writing into the ether, but I’m not sure where to begin.

The time of day is a problem. At this hour, in this long, recurring air pocket in my weird freelance life, other people with normal jobs are responsibly working. I’m … you know. Washing the dishes. Debating whether I should eat something else. Doing a mental inventory of the laundry (Do I have a clean dance belt? Yes. Is it one of the good ones? Too late to worry about that now…). Letting thoughts arise and simply go on their way.

Percolating.

I say “percolating” rather than “thinking” because so much of what I’m doing isn’t thinking, exactly. Thinking implies some kind of volitional exercise; it is a thing one opts to do.

I am, instead, doing other things, and “…thoughts,” as the song says, “arrive like butterflies.”

Only, well, not exactly. It is very much a sense of bubbling up rather than descending from above. Not that it matters—either way it’s all a metaphor, really.

Often, it’s uncomfortable. When you’re busy doing something else, and as such not policing your thoughts, it’s really quite startling what floats up from the murky depths. At the moment, for me, it’s a lot of self-hatred and memory and sudden flights of insight into the harshest segments of my own past which I hope to retain but sometimes don’t.

This is, now that I’m thinking about it, not unlike the difficulty a great many of us run into with zazen[1]. You just sit, and while you’re just sitting, everything that’s In There Somewhere finds its way to your consciousness to feck about with your ability to, like, just sit.

  1. The trouble I run into is the whole sitting bit. If I can sit still for five minutes, it’s basically a minor miracle. I struggle to make it long enough to get to the point at which the Monkey Mind pipes up. I do fine with walking meditation and stuff like that, though.

Which, of course, is part of the point.

As it is, I suppose, part of the point in Just Washing Dishes. You find yourself accidentally meditating, as if Thich Nhat Hanh has teleported in and is standing at your shoulder, saying to you, “Breathing in, I am washing this dish.”

Oops, I guess?

~

Ironically, whilst ballet is an exceptionally fine way to enter a flow state as far as I’m concerned, it requires so much presence of mind that there’s not really much room for the percolation of stray thoughts.

I used to think that, for this reason, it constituted an ideal form of meditation, or at least that it did for me. Now, I’m not so sure. One of the strengths of zazen (and of its cousin, kinhin, and similar exercises) is precisely the fact that things bubble up from the depths in ways that they otherwise wouldn’t.

I constantly run from uncomfortable thoughts without realizing that I’m doing it. I don’t think I’m alone in this. Most of the time, I don’t even realize it: if I did, I suppose my self-respect would plummet. I believe in trying to face things that scare me.

(Then, I suppose I also believe in choosing my battles, and I could perhaps regard this automatic deflection of uncomfortable thoughts as a kind of unconscious method of doing exactly that.)

And yet.

So I stand at the sink washing dishes, because our dishwasher is an ancient beast that is both inordinately loud and almost entirely ineffective, which means that if you choose to use it (which, generally, I don’t) you must first wash the dishes anyway before allowing the dishwasher to think it’s doing its job.

Thoughts arise.

I am uncomfortable, but I can’t just plow them back under before I’m aware of them. Nor can I, it seems, usually bring myself to attempt to find someone to talk to in the middle of the afternoon.

The curious thing is that this has, in many ways, been the best thing that could happen to me.

For many years I lived my life on high alert; constantly hypervigilant. Invading thoughts and emotions could and often did provoke a five-alarm response.

For many years I felt that I would, I don’t know, catch fire or something if I neither spoke to someone about the thoughts or did something in response to the internal klaxon.

Yet, so often, talking made no real difference. In fact, I suspect it often made things rather worse.

I wasn’t therapeutically processing thoughts and feelings and memories; I was simply externalizing them as a way of avoiding really wrestling with them. Sometimes, rather than deflecting the thoughts, it only made them shout louder and stick faster. I became caught in storms of fight-or-flight level arousal. Talking about the source of the arousal (or what felt like the source) often seemed only to crank up the perception of danger.

And yet, somehow, uncomfortable as it is, as I persist in attempting to wash the dishes (or just this dish, as is so often the case—when I’m in that place, it’s too much to focus on anything but the immediate thing), I learn that if I remain in place, eventually the alarm bells will subside.

I’m pretty sure this has had a remarkable effect on my overall anxiety level—if ‘anxiety’ is the right word. Who knows? It seems good enough. Anyway, I spend less time than I used to in states of profound vigilance; less time with the warheads armed, as it were.

I become alert, aroused, because something inside me perceives some invisible danger: but the danger passes, and nothing really terrible happens, and each time my brain learns that perhaps the danger in question isn’t real in the immediate sense. My unconscious mind ratchets the Security Alert Level down just a little bit.

This is a thing I’ve learned through necessity. I have left behind the phase of my life in which most of my friends were other college students with giant gaps in their schedules. I now mostly know people with jobs and responsibilities. I have been forced to simply live with very, very wildly uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Interestingly, I have thus far survived.

I don’t know if I’ll ever live without the klaxons. I am still as wary as a wolf.

If you’d asked me ten years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to conceive of the way things are now, so it seems reasonable to think that, say, ten years from now things will once again be quite different.

There’s another thing, too.

When I don’t divert the thoughts, sometimes they give rise to creative work. I’ve struggled, recently, with the sense that nothing I’m doing as an artist is in any way actually original or creative (then again, how many minds over the millenia have given us some variant on the maxim, “There’s nothing new under the sun?”)—but I think what I’m really struggling with is that trying to create from whole cloth doesn’t work very well for me.

Rather, I do better to let whatever’s in there filter up and appear on its own, and then to build and refine from there.

I have never been a composer of music: when I try to compose, my compositions turn trite, bathetic, even schmaltzy. I play them later and they make my skin crawl.

When I just sit and play, or when I record the stirrings of visiting muses, things work out quite differently. I won’t say that anything I’ve set down will ever be great, but some of it is in fact quite good.

The same happens when I attempt to compose dances without reference to an internal vision. There’s nothing as depressing as the little passage in a half-baked ballet in which you can tell that the choreographer was thinking, “Rats, how on earth am I going to get the prince over to the punch bowl? All right, tombe, pas de bourree, something, something, just need a few more steps…”

That’s how essentially all my choreography feels (to me, at any rate) when I try to wrestle it into being instead of allowing something to surface, then building on that.

And writing is and has always been, for me, an exercise in hearing and recording the voices and stories of people and worlds that speak from within; a kind of visitation rather than an actual act of creation. The formal, authorial work generally comes after: I’m more of an editor, really.

Perhaps, then, it should be no great surprise that the same basic process allows room for healing of a kind that is, while it’s happening, very uncomfortable, but remains nonetheless crucial.

So I suppose that’s something to think about.

There’s a great deal more, probably, that I could and should say about this, but at the moment I need to put clothes on and go to class.

More, then, at some point in the future.

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A Very Brief Thought On Double Tours

Something I can’t recall just made me think about a jump we used in Orpheus. 

It was a variant on the barrel turn that traveled through the air: you launched yourself facing one direction, then tucked the knees as you turned in the air to face back where you started. That is to say, it resembled a barrel turn, but the axis of the turn was vertical (meaning that you execute it horizontally … this is all quite confusing, written out like this, isn’t it?).

The overall effect was that of gliding through space, pivoting as you go.

Which is, if you think about it, very like a tour as well, excepting the fact that tours don’t travel[1]. Or, well, they shouldn’t, and they try not to.

  1. Clearly, this is why the Tour de France is always in France[2] and not, for example, Costa Rica.
  2. The fact that it travels around France is completely immaterial, and if you disagree with me, you’re wrong, so there 😛

Anyway, I never had the least bit of trouble executing that given turny jump, which we’ll call a “floating barrel” because it amuses me. Indeed, it was quite easy enough to milk it for an extra revolution and a half, since you had a great deal of time as you sailed sideways through the air. 

What made executing that jump so painless was simply that one executed it as three basic steps:

  • launch
  • sail
  • turn

Just now, I realized that I have, in point of fact, probably been screwing myself out of a solid double tour by conceiving of it as this rather desperate one-step process:

  • jumpturnohg-d

It might, in fact, help immensely if I thought of it just as I thought of our floating barrel:

  • launch
  • then turn

I am going to have to try this. Between that and not throwing my head back (which has never improved anybody’s ballet technique), I’m hoping I’ve got this licked.

Sissones Again

Given that it’s our friend KH’s 50th birthday this weekend and we (by which I mean “I”) stayed out way too late and drank way too much last night, class was acceptable this morning.

Though keeping body and soul (by which I really mean adductors, rotators, and all that jazz) together was more work than usual, everything went reasonably well, except.

We had a medium allegro with small sissones fermées, and I was so busy being afraid I didn’t have the combination that I kept not really closing them, which made them …weird.

Part of the problem was that I wasn’t sure I had started on the correct foot in the first place. I also made the mistake of going in the second group, so I became engrossed in watching the first group, and wasn’t even any kind of ready when our turn came up. Derp.

But, all things considered, things were less bad than they might have been. I at least did the assemblé en tournant the right way.

Other than that, not much to report. It was one of those decent-ish mornings: passable enough under the circumstances, and enhanced by the fact that for once I didn’t look at myself in the mirror and go, “WTF is that guy doing here?” And for once in my life I was also the tallest person in the room (by, like, a millimeter, because HD is about as tall as I am).

Anyway, time to go buy balloons.

TL;DR: you have to put the fermée in your sissone fermée, or it won’t work very well

YMBADI

You mught be a dancer if you’ve ever paused in the midst of making a sandwich at 11:30 PM[1] to run through some choreography because you accidentally brushed your foot against the floor and suddenly tge waltz turns make perfect sense.

  1. Which you’re making because you returned home from class at 8:30 and promptly forgot to eat dinner

Ballet Goals, 2018: Part 2

After a really quite good class tonight, I asked BW for some input on ballet goals.

After we tossed a few ideas back and forth (yes, the coordination/port de bras/artistry/épaulement idea got the nod), as we were looking for at least one really concrete thing, he said, “Balances—how long can you hold your passé balance?”

And I said, “Heh, erm, well … probably not as long as I should be able to…”

And he said, “Well … how about holding your passé balance with no hands on the barre for 8 seconds by the end of the year?”

And I agreed that that’s a good goal, especially since I can already do exactly that inconsistently. The idea is to be able to do it consistently … which will, in turn, help with, erm, turns (spotspotspotspotspotspot!!!).

This led to BW saying, “You should definitely be able to get there. You have the body for it.”

Which was awfully nice. It is really rather lovely to have the right kind of body for anything in the universe of classical ballet, in particular balances, since they’re so essentially to basically everything else.

In other news, tonight’s class was the first one since I came back that really felt good all the way through … Except maybe the part where I did second arabesque at barre with my supporting foot on an unused facial tissue that had escaped from my reserve … BW was like, “ASHER TURN OUT YOUR SUPPORTING LEG MORE HEEL FORWARD” and I was mentally like I’M TRYING BUT OMG IT’S SO SLIPPERY … but OTOH I actually did manage to turn that leg out, tissue or no tissue.

Everything was working together, coordination was coming along nicely, and I was finally able to detect the existence of those little muscles under my butt that make everything work like “Boom-ba-doomboom-boom-ba-doomboom…” um, sorry, wrong musical thought.

I’m nailing nice floaty doubles on the regular both directions at this point, and surprising triples out of the bush, so triples and quads will be back soon enough.

To be honest, even chaînés felt good tonight, and my piqués felt boss, though I got excited and got ahead of the music and had to reel them in. BW likes to run us through an exercise that’s just four piqués and four counts of chaînés on repeat, which is nice.

It’s simple, but allows you to focus on the most awkward thing in the entire canon of classical ballet, AKA chaînés. There’s a reason that you begin learning chaînés in your very first class and keep working on the for the rest of your dog-forsaken life.

I got the facings right on the tendu-et-turns thing every single time, too, which made me feel amazing, and my assemblés actually assembled, and I mostly managed to keep my chest and shoulders open. It also changed directions with a glissade, which makes me indescribably happy. I love following any kind of turn with a glissade, and this exercise ended with: single en dehors, soutenu turn, glissade.

I realized during today’s simple-but-hard (because only in ballet…) fondu that I’ve been releasing my shoulderblade at certain points in my port de bras. That might not sound like a big deal, but it’s shorthand for saying that I’m disengaging my lats and traps, thus closing off my own lines. Derp. Predictably, I do it because it feels like doing something, when in fact what I should be doing really doesn’t feel like doing anything. Which, because I am flexible, is basically how many things feel.

Lastly, I’ve got my really nice sauté arabesque back. For a while I kept sort of running over myself: then I figured out (thanks to a brief word with BG that was actually about cabriole, but the principle is the same) that I was trying to land my sauté arabesque by bringing my leading leg back under myself instead of letting my body follow its momentum.

This, in turn, led to doing this screwy thing in which I feel for the floor with my foot and halfway release my turnout. Blargh.

Needless to say, once I focused on letting the leg go where it was going, instead of trying to reel it back in, things got about a thousand percent better.

I’m trying to retain the lovely feeling of dancing that I caught in Killer Class yesterday. Thus far, I think I’m succeeding. Every time my brain starts to go THIS IS HARD AND MY BUTT HURTS, I go, “But we’re dancing!” (or should it be, “Butt, we’re dancing!”) and it makes me smile and I relax a little, which helps get my shoulders back out of my ears.

So that was class tonight, along with the first of my concrete ballet goaaaaaaaaallllllllls for 2018.

Stand Back—I’m A Proffesional

woo! Finally getting paid on the sorta regular! I can buy a house car nice bike umm. Groceries and a coffee? #firstworlddancerproblems

Petit Allegr*oh!*

On the balance (see what I did there? :P), class went well today.

I felt a bit asleep at the wheel for the first half of barre, then found myself able to count with my brain but not with my feet, then finally got it all working at once, so by the time we came to center I was wide awake.

We had a lovely adage that looked like it would begin croisée right but in fact shifted immediately to the left instead—one picked up the back foot and turned the hips, devloppéed to the front, then lifted up and through into first arabesque before closing back and developpéing the front leg to écarté. From there, if I remember correctly, it closed back, shifted the facing again, extended to third arabesquefondu-ed to attitude, came around via tour lent (aka promenade[1]) just to the opposite corner, fondu-ed to allongé, came through pas de bourrée to fourth, turned en dehors, and began again on the opposite side.

  1. Killer B goes by the definitions in which it’s only promenade when partnered, which I also prefer.

I might be missing something, but it was a really nice combination. The constant shifts in facing meant you couldn’t let your body get behind you: on the first run, second side I did, and wondered why everything felt so heavy and awful. I fixed it on the repeat, and it was like magic.

The real magic, though, was our petit allegro—nothing complicated, just:

glissade
jeté
temps levée
petit assemblé
glissade
assemblé
sissone
sissone

…but the first time it felt heavy and disconnected.

Then Killer B said, “Think of each jump as preparation for the next jump,” and a little lightbulb turned on in my head.

We ran it again, and suddenly it felt light, free, and easy. I found myself inhabiting the physical memory of doing petit allegro as a kid. That, you guys, was a profound pleasure.

For what it’s worth, it’s not that I didn’t know that petit allegro should be done this way. There are many things that we, as dancers, may know intellectually without really knowing them. I hadn’t realized that I was executing each step of each petit allegro as A. Separate. Entity. Unrelated. To. The. Next.

But I was. And the times that petit allegro has felt good? Those were the times that I forgot myself, got out of my own way, and did it right anyway. The times that I let myself dance.

So, strangely enough, it seems as if maybe I don’t actually hate petit allegro. I certainly didn’t hate it today. In fact, to be honest, I kind of loved it.

We also learned how to correctly execute temps levée battu from jeté (presumably also battu): assuming that you’re not doing the weird reverse jeté that closes coupé devant, you spring off the leg you’ve just landed on, beat front as if in sous-sus in the air, then bring the working leg back to coupe as you land.

THIS LOOKS REALLY COOL.

Honestly, it’s one of things that always blows my mind when I fire up the YouTurbos and watch the Royal Danish Ballet.

In fact, here:

This clip is supposed to start at 0:55, where two of the boys break out that beautiful Danish petit allegro that always seems, to me, like a visual representation of the song of a canary. It might not start there for you (the preview keeps starting at the very beginning), but if it doesn’t, that’s where the really impressive bit takes off.

In other news, I had this very intense dream in which I smelled smoke and thought the house was on fire, but it turned out that someone was burning a stubbled field just down the road. I wasn’t myself—I was some random blond boy living in a farmhouse with my sisters, and we were all very afraid until we understood what was happening.

I woke to the persistent smell of smoke, but not “the house is on fire” smoke—more like that scent of burning dust that you get when you fire up your forced-air furnace for the first time in any given winter, but much, much stronger than usual, and much more persistent.

It turned out that what I was smelling was the bearings of the furnace fan burning themselves out.

D, fortunately, knows how to fix stuff like that. I continue to be impressed with him. In all honesty, while I sometimes enjoy lifting heavy things (like other human beings or myself), I am Not That Gay Guy. (And, yes, if you’re wondering, that was definitely a consideration when we were courting. He had me at “I can do most plumbing and electrical work myself.”)

So as I write, D is replacing the fan in the furnace that blows the hot air around so I can get out of bed with only two shirts and a hoodie on instead of with three shirts, a hoodie, and a parka (because we both refuse to turn the temperature above 65 degrees Fahrenheit but I’m a dancer so I get cold).

Speaking of dancers, back to the Royal Danish. There are some lovely moments in the coupled petit allegro that immediately follows the boys’ little variation wherein they’re folding and unfolding their legs in this way that is, for some reason, one of the things I love most about ballet. I love ballonés, ballottés, and temps de cuisse in part because they employ these folding-and-unfolding sequences, and so often when I catch sight of myself in class and thing, “Ah, I look like a dancer right now,” it’s in the midst of some developpé or balloné or ballotté.

If, by the way, you could use a little guidance on the difference between balloné and ballotté, Ballet Webb has a good, short article on exactly that.

Needless to say, the technicalities of ballotté are high on BW’s nitpick list. It drives him crazy when he catches us doing ballonés instead.

~

PS: I used the heck out of the “Look! A Foot!” cheat during the sissones. It worked like a charm, though then I got excited and kept sissone-ing to like 90 degrees. Mental note: CALM DOWN, IT’S PETIT ALLEGRO!!!

En DeDon’t

I went back to advanced class today.

All things considered, it went reasonably well. Our AD Emeritus came just to watch, and—to my great amazement—this did not cause me to completely forget how to dance. I’m hoping that this means that this particular hex has worn off, or at least only takes effect when the current AD is present (I should specify: I mean the ballet’s AD, not Cirque’s AD, who doesn’t appear to have this effect on me).

Rather, it caused me to remember a correction he gave me ages ago and in an incredibly memorable way: specifically, to make sure the supporting leg is stable before you start waving the working leg around in the air.

675px-Flamingo_at_SeaWorld_San_Diego

Like this. (Image credit: Howcheng, via Wikimedia Commons.)

This isn’t to say, however, that I didn’t make any really stupid mistakes. I did, in fact, make one.

And, in fact, I made it twice.

We had a lovely adagio that ended with what should have been an en dedans turn. As you probably know, I am in favor of en dedans turns: they’re easier for me because I err on the side of falling backwards, so the physics of the en dedans turn overcome that tendency.

However, immediately prior to executing said en dedans turn, we executed what you might call an en dehors tendu: opening from fifth front to a la seconde closing to fifth back. A balance at passé derrière followed, then the pirouette en dedans. The trick was to prepare the arms accordingly on completing the tendu. Sadly, I figured this out too late to save myself.

The first time, I managed to do it right by sheer main force on the first side, but didn’t correct in time on the second side, and the turn wound up being en dehors instead of en dedans.

The second time, I made an even worse mistake: I told myself:

It’s not en dehors!

This meant, of course, that my brain was full of en dedans, and accordingly I did the final turn the wrong way on both sides the second time.

Argh.

Anyway, in short, this demonstrates one of the basic principles of learning: the human mind (and indeed, almost any kind of mind) works better if you give it a positive input than a negative one.

In other words, it’s more effective to say, “Do this!” than it is to say, “Don’t do that!”

And, as such, I completely screwed myself, and probably would have been fine if I’d just told myself, “Prepare arms for en dedans … Turn is en dedans.”

Given that my mind is very visual, it goes a step further: it’s stupid hard to execute the right thing while visualizing the wrong thing. That’s just not how we work.

Anyway, everything else—including petit allegro!—went fairly well. There were no moments of full-on Baby Giraffe Mode, and I was able to easily recover from picking up the first petit allegro combination incorrectly (thought started fifth with left foot front instead of right, which made the whole freaking thing not work right).

The combination, by the way, was simple but a little bit of a mind-bender, since it begins with échappé. It went:

Version 1:
échappé
jump to 5th*
glissade
assemblé
changement
changement
changement
soubresaut
(other side)

 

Version 2:
echappé
jump to 5th*
glissade
jeté
jeté
jeté
petit assemblé
(other side)

*This could be accomplished via petit assemblé or petit assemblé battu changé.

I also didn’t die—not even a little. In terms of physical intensity, I would actually place this class third for this week–Killer B’s was the hardest, BW’s the second hardest, then this one, then JMH’s Monday class.

HD spent a lot of time working on me today, which is always reassuring. She also mentioned that she’s been following my adventures on Instagram, which I think is pretty cool 😀

Beyond that, for the first time in a while, all through class I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t hate what I saw. I’m assuming that’s more mental than physical, though I am starting to feel like I’m making it around the bend reconditioning-wise (especially given that I’m actually, like, enjoying petit allegro).

Next week, we may or may not have class, depending on how things roll for HD. She’s working on getting over a nasty cough and also Nutcrackering in addition to teaching our class. She’s currently the only person available to teach advanced class (everyone else is also Nutcrackering, some here and some elsewhere), and we would rather that she didn’t kill herself trying to do everything at once.

On the First Day of December

Last year, I published my list of ballet goals for the new year on December 18th.

Almost a year later, I can say I’ve made good progress on them (for one thing, I actually understand brisée now, instead of just doing the balletic equivalent of whacking at it with a big stick whenever it approaches). It’s been two steps forward, one step back, but overall the long arc of technique bends towards … um … better technique.

Anyway, I’m formulating next year’s goals now.

It’s funny—last year I focused on making my goals more concrete. This year, I intend to make fewer really concrete goals.

Part of this is that I’m not sure what’s next in terms of technique: obviously, I don’t know everything. I don’t think anyone alive knows every single step, if only because some of them exist in one stream but not in another, and most of us come primarily from one stream (Vaganova, RAD, Cecchetti, Balanchine, Bournonville) or another. That said, without the guidance of a syllabus program, it’s quite hard to say what should come next.

Last year, things seemed pretty obvious: the double tour is a standard feature of men’s technique, so it’s worth having if you’re going to audition; I had nailed triple turns and quadruples were obviously the next thing and also useful; etc.

This year, I don’t know that I need to focus on adding new steps as much as polishing existing ones. It would be nice to have a solid revoltade, but it’s not essential.

Anyway, I’ll have to remember to ask my teachers, especially BW and Killer B, for their thoughts on ballet goals. The elusive Reliable Double Tour has eluded me; if I don’t nail it down by December 31st, I suppose that’ll stay on the list.

More of my goals for next year have to do with pushing myself out into the world a little more—auditioning for more things—while shifting my focus a bit.

They say that it’s easier to get a job when you have a job, and I think that’s certainly true in the usual working world. I suppose there’s a corollary in the performing arts: it’s easier to feel confident about auditioning for things when you’ve already got a gig.

I don’t feel like I have to audition for every single thing out there. I have a gig that I like and that I’d like to continue with. I certainly wouldn’t turn down a paid ballet gig, of course, but I enjoy working with CirqueLouis. I feel like I can be a selective about my auditions, and like there’s less pressure: I am, rather surprisingly, on my way to my goal of making dancing pay, at very least, for itself.

I have my eye on some specific auditions, and I feel pretty relaxed about them.

Choreography-wise, my goals are a little more specific.

I think I’d like to actually see about setting the opening to Act II of Simon Crane—the traveling piece set to Ravel’s “Bolero,” which will stand on its own rather nicely. I’ve also rather completely re-envisioned the first piece of choreography I auditioned (that seems like about a thousand years ago now!). It began as a solo piece; I’m resetting it for two dancers (though more could work if I can lay hands on more dancers).

To be honest, I’m not sure it’s really even accurate to call it the same piece, at this point. It’s still set to Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” and it still centers on a theme of loneliness and grief, but beyond that it has almost nothing in common with the original version. It has inherited some ideas from “Work Song,” some from “Fade to White,” and some from the Pilobolus intensive. I’m hoping to snag L from Sunday Class, but I don’t know if I’ll manage to, as I haven’t seen him in ages. Either way, I’m really hoping to figure out a way to make that one happen.

Intensives-wise, only LexBallet and Pilobolus (all 3 weeks) are currently on my radar for 2018. I’m hoping LouBallet will run the master class series again. I might add another ballet-specific intensive and I might not.

It depends on what I’ve got on the calendar, how our finances look, and whether I can get a scholarship. Proposed changes to our joke of a healthcare “system” are set to significantly increase our insurance premiums, which will mean tightening the belt with regard to what I can afford to do out of pocket. I’d like to hit Ballet Detroit’s open intensive week, though, if I can.

So that’s it.

In summary, here’s the list:

  • Technique: consult the masters. Overall, though, I want to improve the quality, consistency, and artistry of my technique.
  • Auditions: LexBallet, Allegro Dance Project (maybe), Inlet Dance Theater, a couple of dancer/aerialist gigs with touring companies and/or cruise lines (haven’t decided which ones yet), Pilobolus if they hold auditions this year, other gigs as they appear on the horizion, probably.
  • Intensives: Definitely LexBallet and Pilobolus. Possibly Ballet Detroit.

Quick update: if you’re not completely sick of Nutcracker yet, there’s a really nice version from the Dutch National Ballet on YouTube here.

Work Work Work Work

It turns out that I’m working tomorrow and the 16th. It’s handy to have useful performing skills that you can do and people will give you a money. On the other hand I could’ve had several more dates in this run if I’d spoken up quicker, which tells me that I need to be more confident.

I’m working on it. This is less actual Impostor Syndrome than simple Newest Person In The Company Syndrome. I’m still figuring out the company culture, and though my inclination is to step up for everything, I don’t want to be obnoxious about it.

Anyway, I”m beginning to get the impression that stepping up for everything is totally okay in this company. Sweet!

ICHC-ice-cream-man

Ah, an ICHC classic.

Anyway, on to ballet.

Tonight we had a new girl in BW’s class. She’s actually someone I know from JMH’s Sunday class—she was, fortunately, wearing ballet clothes when I saw her, so she actually looked familiar 😀

Tonight’s was a good class. Less hard than BW drives me when it’s just me, but a good chance to focus on refining things.

Lately I’ve been working really hard on keeping my chest open and forward, which makes a huge difference at center. I feel like it gets me out of my own way when it comes to balances, turns, and weight changes.

I’m also working on synchronizing my épaulement. The lesson the week before last, with its deep port-de-bras drills, has been occupying a great deal of space in my brain for the past couple of weeks.

I also seem to have finally got my chaînés back in working order, more or less. I do them in 5th rather than 1st (this is a handy trick if you have crazy-huge thighs and gigantic, hyperextended knees) and kept, for some reason, squeezing and braking like you do when you do a soutenu turn that has to finish in relevé.

I don’t even know what that was, all I know is that it’s super awkward when your chaînés grind to a halt in the middle of the combination and you have to do a sort of half-baked glissade so you don’t cause a traffic accident.

Anyway, it didn’t happen tonight, which is good, because ain’t nobody got time for that. And also because we had this lovely combination that went:

piqué 1st arabesque
chassé
piqué 3rd arabesque
chassé
piqué 1st arabesque
chassé
piqué 3rd arabesque
failli tombé (coupé the back leg)
chaînés (4 counts)
sweeping rond de jambe
posé arabesque à terre (effacé, arms in 5th opposing direction of the hips)

I really liked that one. It was one of those simple/tricky combinations: simple enough choreography, but the counts were interesting and the facings were very explicit—the chaînés had to be executed towards the back corner, etc.

I think we acquitted ourselves rather nicely, in the end.

We also did a fun combination for warm-up jumps—just your ordinary 8 in 1st, 8 in 2nd, 8 changements in 5th, 4 echappés (2 counts each), but we alternated. It created the immediate impression of a nice little choreographed piece, which is exactly what BW said when we finished: “That was like a little show!”

I think the fact that each of us tended to watch the-other while waiting added to that effect.

I’m finally feeling reasonably friendly with petit allegro again, though it still sometimes leaves me feeling like I need to drill another hole in my head for breathing … jeez. My congestion has been worse than usual of late. But, at any rate, I keep making myself smile during petit allegro exercises.

I am forced to admit that sometimes it’s actually fun. And now that I’ve told you, I’ll have to kill you. Nothing personal, just, you know.

Trade secrets and stuff.

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