I got cast! (And not the broken-bone kind 😁)
Next audition on my radar is ballet-related, but I’m not sure when it is. Dates haven’t been posted yet.
Recently I had a chat with a good friend of mine about goals and so forth, and later it occurred to me that I’d failed to say a few really important things—or, well, things that have been important in my own journey, anyway.
They’re things other people have said to me, mostly, though a couple are insights I gleaned by osmosis growing up. They’re things I need to hear too, from time to time, in order to help keep myself on track. I’m writing them down here, where I can always find them if I need them.
Here they are:
1.Identify your actual Wild, Impractical Dream.
This is harder than it sounds. It took me a long time (though it wouldn’t have taken anywhere near as long if I’d just listened to the voice inside me screaming, “GET BACK TO DANCING FFS”).
First, not everyone actually has a wild, impractical dream of this kind: and that’s okay. Honestly, there’s a lot to be said for practicality and reliability, neither of which which are associated with being the kind of lunatic who goes off in pursuit of a Wild, Impractical Dream.
Second, the kind of Wild, Impractical Dream I’m writing about rarely involves the word “and.” It’s an all-in kind of gig: I want to dance for a regional ballet company, not I want to dance for a regional ballet company and ride my way to the top of the FEI stadium jumping circuit.
Occasionally, someone manages a spectacular “and.” Usually, if you look into it, it owes either to truly extraordinary circumstances or happens largely by chance and involves related dreams (dance and musical theater, for example, or visual arts and fashion, or architecture and mathematics).
Usually, though, pursuing a Wild, Impractical Dream requires singularity of focus (not least because tunnel vision helps you ignore naysayers).
Basically, when you discover the thing that makes you willing to put everything else aside, you’ve probably found it.
If the thing is coding or massage therapy, congratulations: you’ve got a Wild, Practical dream. You can still read the rest of this if you want, though. I’m pretty sure that, when it comes down to it, the same basic advice applies.
2. If the phrase “…be (a) famous…” is part of your dream, consider reassessing your goals.
I say this not because any one individual is wildly unlikely to become famous, but because if being famous is part of the motivation, you might actually be barking up the wrong tree.
The passion for the thing, whatever it is—dancing, writing, rotary engines, differential calculus—has to come first.
Otherwise, you’re very probably not going to be motivated enough to stand a snowball’s chance of sticking with it long enough to become mediocre, let alone famous. Wild, Impractical Dreams are harsh mistresses.
If, on the other hand, fame itself is the real Wild, Impractical Dream, own that.
The history of the world is rich with the stories of people who thought, “Man, I’m really not good at anything, but I want to be famous.” The ones who succeed are the ones who acknowledge that fact and dedicate themselves to taking any and every path that might lead to fame until, eventually, one does.
Oddly enough, that’s essentially the same approach that one takes in pursuing any Wild, Impractical Dream.
3. Take Any and Every Path As Long As You Do So With Focus
Maybe ballet is your One True Dream, but in the course of pursuing your Wild, Impractical Ballet Dream, you get an offer from a modern company.
If that’s the thing that’s going to let you keep dancing, take it. Be a good Buddhist and avoid clinging to perceptions and phenomena. Maybe ballet feels like the only thing, but sometimes serendipity leads us via scenic byways. Sometimes modern is the way to ballet—and sometimes, on the way to ballet via modern, you discover you were born for the weird and wonderful world of contemporary ballet.
Just learn to discern between scenic byways and “shortcuts” that leave you in Poughkeepsie. And know that sometimes you might get stuck in traffic for a bit.
4. Stand Up for Your Dream
This might be the hardest one.
A Wild, Impractical Dream is Wild and Impractical at least in part because people don’t “get it.” It might be ahead of its time. It might be way outside of the predominant cultural framework where (and/or when) you are. People might think you’re too young, too old, too black, too white, too poor, too mentally ill, too fat, too skinny, too disabled, too whatever.
Any good Wild, Impractical dream is one you’ll probably have to defend at least once. This requires you to believe not only in your dream, but in yourself—or at least to act like you do.
The funny thing is that by acting as if we believe, we tend to come to believe: we stick around until things start to get real; so real that even we can’t deny it.
5. Accept Change Gracefully (if not Immediately)
Sometimes, in the midst of pursuing your Wild, Impractical Dream, life will intervene in profound and unexpected ways.
It’s okay to be upset when that happens. Feel the feelings. Have the meltdown, if a meltdown comes along.
The death of a dream is a very hard thing. Even the temporary side-lining or minor refitting of a dream can be hard.
But change is inevitable, and sometimes change knocks is off one course and puts us on another.
Fight with conviction for your Wild, Impractical Dream, knowing that in the end you might not get there. It’s worth doing anyway.
I was, in fact, on the nervous side this morning when I left home.
Surprisingly, by the time I reached Clifton Cultural Arts Center, that nervousness had evaporated. Instead, I simply felt delighted to be returning to a place where I had a really great experience last year.
I picked up my number and the little program for the intensive and parked myself in the main studio, where a bunch of the students were watching Rosas Danst Rosas. Even that was pleasantly familiar: Rosas is one of the seminal works of progressive modern choreography that almost every dancer who’s worked in the discipline knows, and Mam-Luft & Co’s 2016 intensive was the first place I saw it.
Improv class went well. I really actually rather love improv, though my body took a bit to wake up today. The drive up to Cincinnati is nearly 2 hours, which is a long time to sit still. Tomorrow, my class starts a little later, but I’m still going to leave at the same time.
I am not, I’m happy to report, the Onliest Boy this time. There’s another guy, and he’s quite good. He’s auditioning as well. We’re very similar in size, but quite different in build and movement style, so I’m actually kind of hoping I’ll get to work with him in the partnering classes at least a bit.
A couple of the girls from last year are also there this year, which is awesome. Regardless, I don’t feel so weird and shy and isolated this time. Like, I kind of feel like I know what I’m doing this time, and like I have some business being there.
After class, I dashed away almost immediately (partly so I could stop at United Dairy Farmers and get a milkshake, which turned into the greater part of my ultra-healthy lunch).
Back in Louisville, I took a break to read things on my phone, then headed over to the ballet. We’re in the main studio downtown, which is really nice. There are only 10 or so of us in the master class, so we have a ton of room to move … which is good, because BW likes to make us travel.
Class went well. I got through everything, jumps and all, though I couldn’t convince my body to brisé during combinations, only during marks. I do, however, have my entrelacé back. I got to do grand allegro, and it was pretty good.
I took a couple of technical notes, but I left my notebook in my car and I can’t remember what they were. That’s fine, though: if I don’t remember at least some of them by the end of this week, I am probably beyond hope and should consider a career in Couch Potato Cultivation rather than in dance.
I am, in fact, the Onliest Boy in the masterclass series this week, but I’m okay with that. It’s a much smaller group than ML&Co was last year.
Anyway, I’m really tired, so I’m going to close here. I think I intended to say something more interesting, but I’ve been busily doing a billion other things whilst writing this post, and I can’t remember what they were.
PS: You know you’ve worked hard when you drop in at your aerial studio to say “Hi” to your friends, and the first thing someone says is, “Did you get caught in the rain?” 😀
Today’s class was a … you know what, the French do have a term for it: a melange. A mixed bag. Tutti frutti, perhaps.
Barre was good. Then bad. Then good. Then bad. I’ve mostly recovered my strength, anyway. There were some very nice balances, some very nice fondus … and some balances that weren’t, and some fondus that were really very much fondon’ts.
Adagio started out awkwardly and progressed into beauty (thank freaking G-d). The waltzy terre-a-terre thing was actually fairly nice going right (musicality! literally effortless triples! literally acceptable chaînés!) and terre-a-terrible going left. I mean, so bad that on my second run left (when I inserted myself back into the last group for a remedial run), my badness became contagious and BG, who was taking class with us, blanked on the second half of the combination.
I then tweaked my mostly-healed toe and bailed out mid-run going left on the next thing, a very similar-but-rather faster terre-a-terre. I couldn’t get it taped fast enough to make it back in for the warm-up jumps, so at that point I was done. Meh.
So, basically, several points in the “progress” column and several in, depending on who you ask, either the “regress” or the “congress” column[2,3].
“If pro is the opposite of con, then the opposite of progress must be Congress.”
—Attributed to Mark Twain, anyway
After, I joined AMS for swimming and roller-coasters (and inventing fake rides for an imaginary theme park of our own), which may have been completely irresponsible, but which was also completely worth it. I now have a season pass to an amusement park that’s located barely more than a stone’s throw from my house and actually literally on the way home from ballet.
Since there’s a water park there where I can swim my brains out in a wave pool, I intend to use the bejeezus out of said season pass.
As is the way of these things, the season pass is less expensive than paying regular admission twice. It’s also comparable to or less expensive than a membership to various local swimming pools that don’t have waves and gigantic waterslides (or rollercoasters).
This solves my “How can I do cardio without overworking my quads?” problem quite nicely. I can now go swimming a few times each week … and if the occasional roller-coaster or two sneaks into the deal, that’s probably okay.
So I’m going to write a short one and just get it doon.
After last week, during which I lacked A) higher cognitive (and any executive) functions and B) the ability to actually execute a decent pirouette, I appear to be regaining my faculties.
The weekend was highly mediocre ballet-wise, with a really nice moments lightly sprinkled on a field of “meh,” “Wait, what’s the combination?” and just plain “WAT.” Highlights included half-awake me and pre-coffee BG attempting to follow each-other at the barre, with about the degree of success one might predict under the circumstances.
Last night I took class because, in short, I’m an addict. Even though I was late (and made friend L, who came with me, late) thanks to challenges resulting from last week’s brain fog(1), it wasn’t half bad. I managed some nice doubles and some intentional, if not awesome, triples.
Today’s technique tidbit: take a second before launching your turns (with all guns blazing, if you’re anything like me) to feel a few things. Where are your trochanters in their hip sockets? Is the pelvis rotated or tilted? If so, can you adjust it? (Unless you’re in a ridiculously huge 4th,the core muscles can usually correct the pelvis.)
Obviously, this is easiest to do when the music is slow, so use your discretion, but it can be really helpful. More than once, I’ve caught myself preparing turns with one hip cocked, which isn’t what one might call a Best Practice.
Still couldn’t stop second-guessing myself during petit allegro, though, which resulted in a petit allegro that looked as if I’d been told, “Using the medium of ballet, interpret the behavior of a ball in one of those showy random-number generators they used to use in televised lottery drawings.”
What’s the rule, again?
“There’s no THINKing in BALlet!”
—Not Tom Hanks in A League Of Their Own, but close enough.
…So that was Monday, also known as Logical Friday The Second, because my schedule is FUBAR.
Oh, and I think I acquitted myself decently in our lone grand allegro, which is good, because I kept running over myself in a high-momentum tombé-pdb during Sunday’s.
The Time of the Allergies(1) is upon us again, and D had a coughing fit at 6 AM that woke me up.
Since then, I’ve actually managed to put dishes away, wash last night’s remaining dishes, put those away, make waffles (because either someone in the neighborhood was making them or I was totally hallucinating the scent of waffles, and I just couldn’t stand it anymore), eat a waffle, feed D a waffle, clean up after the waffles, and run a couple of loads of laundry.
I also failed at making tea, however: boiled the water, then forgot to actually make the tea for two hours, so had to start over. Anyway, I have tea now.
Fortunately, D picked up some allergy meds for me, so I’m breathing through my nose pretty decently at the moment. #smallvictories
Anyway, ballet-wise, I feel pretty on top of my choreography, including the Partner All The Girls! bits (actually, those are the easy bits; I really basically just stand there, look pretty, and put my hands where they need to be). However, we still have the last 23 seconds to learn, so I’m going to rehearsal tomorrow instead of going to see Wendy Whelan’s “Some of a Thousand Words.”
Funny thing is that it really wasn’t a question (because apparently my #priorities are properly aligned, or something). If we’d finished the dance last night, I might have gone to the performance instead, but I really actually want to go to rehearsal.
Fortunately, D isn’t offended that I’m opting out on my birthday present, and in fact agrees with me that going to rehearsal is the right choice. He is going to give our tickets to someone who wants to go and doesn’t have tix, which is a nice thing as well. So instead of seeing Whelan’s show for my birthday, I get the pleasure of giving someone else the chance and still getting to go to rehearsal 😀
In other news, I still have no idea what I’m wearing in the show, besides white socks and white shoes. I keep forgetting to ask, and people keep asking me, and I keep having to say, “Um, actually, I have no idea.”
BG described the tights I’ll be wearing as “awesome,” so of course I’m picturing something like this:
…But I suspect that reality will be somewhat less ornate, since all the girls are wearing pastel leos and white romantic tutus, and not so much with the bling.
In other news, today is perfect soup weather, but I forgot to buy soup, so #firstworldproblems etc. I could make soup, though, if I get desperate.
Here’s what I wore last night, anyway:
I was use-testing the socks, which are new. BG and I agreed that we kind of liked the blue tights (which are brighter in real life) with the socks, but also that they would clash with the rest of the performance.
The shirt, OTOH, is just the same shirt I wear every damn day.
I learned to love side successions in Cinci last summer. They are so the opposite of ballet, but when they work, holy crap, they’re beautiful (and they feel really good; like your body kind of massages itself while you’re also stretching).
Yesterday we worked on side successions a lot, especially a little traveling side succession thing that has been doin’ me a heckin’ bamboozle during a combination we worked on Tuesday and today, à la “Ballet Squid Goes Modern.”
I wasn’t thinking of it as a travelling side-succession. I was thinking of it as … I dunno, a more vertical washing machine(1) with wavy-gravy arms?
In fact, it’s a side-succession coupled with a chassé and a little turn-under.
We did a bunch of these across the floor to some super-cool flamenco music (if I had time for another dance form in my life right now, I’d go straight for flamenco).
Overall, a fairly successful class: I got frustrated at the end because I was struggling to remember bits of a long bit of choreography and I was All By Mysee-e-eeelf, so I couldn’t crib off someone else for the missing parts.
Curiously, I think I remember most of the choreography now ._. I am sorta cursed with that thing where the choreography consolidates on the way home.
Anyway, now I’m going to go try to wrangle the finances. Apparently, at some point, our Quicken restored a backup file (and apparently lost the newer ones?), and I’m basically having to re-do the reconciling for all of 2016. Not happy about that at all.
I got cast! (And not the broken-bone kind 😁)
Next audition on my radar is ballet-related, but I’m not sure when it is. Dates haven’t been posted yet.
Today was a long day: class at 10:30 (with a smidgen of rehearsal afterwards); teaching at 1 PM; suspended meditation at 2; callback at 3:30 (ended a little past 6:30).
Class was … erm. Like, barre was great? And the rest of it was … yeaaah. Erm. I had issues. On the other hand, I did manage one not-very-good triple, and except for the points at which I actually screwed up, things looked okay.
All three members of my Ballet Girl Posse were in class, and two of them stayed after, so we ran through our choreography … and I actually learned all their names. YAY! So at least I’ve accomplished something today. BG was still around, so he ran us through our bit a couple of times, and we decided that we like fourth arabesque better for my bit of the first partnering piece (a series of supported fouettés).
I begged off the last ten minutes of the modern dance portion of the apprentice-teaching class because my legs were a bit angry at me and I was going to need them for the audition. I used the time to foam-roll the crap out of them.
During meditation, I fell asleep. Given that I am the world’s worst napper (seriously, I can normally only nap when I’ve been awake for at least 48 hours straight), that’s saying something. Evidently, I was pretty tired.
The callback turned out to be the highlight of the day. It was more like a dance-and-theater workshop than an audition—we did some partnering stuff, then learned a dance and performed it in groups, then played theater games and ran some sides. Honestly, it was a hell of a lot of fun with a great group of people (both judges and fellow auditionees), and if every audition was that much fun, I’d audition for everything.
It turns out that I know the guy who’s directing the production. I met him at a party (which happened to be at his house) and felt instantly very, very comfortable with him, which speaks very highly of him. Also: proof that my world is incredibly tiny, heh.
We’ll hear back in a week or so about roles and such. Fortunately, I have too much going on to have much time to chew my nails about it, though I don’t have class with BW on Thursday this week.
Regardless, BW gave me homework—jumping rope to improve my cardio as well as the usual Turns Homework and … erm. I’m supposed to be doing something else, too, I think? Fehhhhcccckkkk. I can’t remember. It’s in my notes somewhere.
Anyway. I will miss BW’s class this week, but I suspect my body will welcome the extra rest. The fitness is returning, but my body hates me so much right now.
Two things: first, I’ve had plentiful occasion this week to reflect upon how radically dancing has altered my life.
Three years ago, I had a tiny handful of local friends and didn’t really really feel connected to anything or have any overarching vision guiding me.
Now I’m increasingly knitted into this strange, tiny, amazing world of dance and aerials people as my life furiously churns (ohai, unintentional modern dance pun) towards some kind of future in which dance and aerials are central.
I am stunned and awed and grateful every time I think it.
Second … Well, crap, I’ve forgotten what the second thing was. Honestly, it was probably about class this morning and still feeling like a space cadet whilst struggling against allergies.
So that’s me: an allergic spaceman.
If I was Matthew Bourne, I’d almost certainly write a ballet about it.
The most interesting man in the world doesn’t always fall off the trapeze, but when he does, it’s during an audition … and lands him a callback!(1)