Category Archives: work

In Which We Make A Spectacle Of Ourselves

You guys! We have graphics (stolen from the Facebook event) and everything!

I’m in this, and stuff? (Poster design by Erik Underwood.)

…Here’s a plain text linky, too:

https://www.facebook.com/events/715635038638570/?ti=as

In other news, D and I started working on our PlayThink piece this weekend. I might have forgotten that he’s not accustomed to basing fish-hooks with danseurs who got dat grand allegro booty. I kept discombobulating him and, as such, he kept dropping me :O

Kevin Spalding has officially documented the heck out of my thunderous grand allegro-enabling hindquarters. These legs got powerrrrrrrrr. Also, people look hella weird in modern-dance freeze-frames. 

Regardless, we got the first two verses sketched out. I just need to resurrect the ballet choreography from whatever room corner of my mental Dance Attic it’s crammed into.

I promise that this act is all kinds of silly and definitely not knock-you-on-the-head-political like “Fade to White.” Instead, it’s fun and light-hearted, and if you’re in the area you should to PlayThink and see it. 

But mostly you should to PlayThink because it’s like everything you secretly hoped adulthood be like when you were 5, and that’s amazing.

Memories … In the Corners of My Mind

Here’s how I memorize ballet:

  • The Mark: Okay. Okay. Oh, crap! Wait, what? Okay. Maybe this? Okay. And okay!
  • The First Run:Okay. Okay. Okay. Wait, what? Okay. Maybe this? Okay. And okay!
  • The Second Run: Okay. Okay. Okay. Wait, what? Okay. Okay. Okay. And okay! 
  • The Third Run: Like a Boss, Like a Boss, Like a Boss, Like a Boss, etc. 
  • Next Rehearsal:Like a Boss, Like a Boss, Like a Boss, Like a Boss, etc. 

Here’s how I memorize modern*:

  • The Mark: WTF, even how, but what, can I just-, where do I, how do I, what do I, WTF
  • The First Run: okay, even how, but what, can I just-, where do I, okay, what do I, WTF
  • The Second Run: WTF, okay, but what, can I just-, okay, how do I, what do I, okay
  • The Third Run: okay, okay, can I just-, where do I, okay, what do I, okay
  • The Next Rehearsal: okay, okay, okay, where do I, okay, what do I, okay
  • The Rehearsal After That: “Are we sure we learned this dance already?” 

Modern: the struggle is real. 

(Also: Autocorrect: the struggle Isreal.)

“And then she was like, ‘No, it’s up, flick down, swirly, and contract!’ and I was like, ‘I can’t even remember my own name right now.'”


*Okay, so I’ll own up to a little hyperbole, here.   

On Learning To Be Serious

Sometimes, in the process of navigating your life, you look up and realize you’ve passed a bunch of waypoints without even really noticing.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately: I realized that I needed to update my dance resumé, which pretty much made me laugh out loud, because I’ve come a really long way in less than one year, and I totally failed to notice.

In short: this year, my life has suddenly taken off.

Or … well. It feels sudden, but when I think about it, it really isn’t.

(moar behind the cut; it’s long)

Read the rest of this entry

Today I Learned… 

…The Apollo jump (which I had seen, but as far as know had never done) and the last remaining piece of our dance, which is mine alone and involves a turn in second and said Apollo jump.

That’s about all of it: we finish the Noodle Experiment, I back away from the girls and throw in a turn in second, then I pause for a second and when everyone else is essentially running upstage, I do the Apollo jump downstage, land it, collect myself, and run a few more steps to my place for the end of the dance. 

We might change up the first partnering bit, though we might not. We’ll see. I like the change that T and BG worked out, but it’ll be a question of whether the remaining two girls from that group are okay with it.

I’m fine either way. They’re worried about kicking me. 

I mentioned that if they kick me, it’s probably my fault. That’s kind of how partnering works for boys:

  • If the girl kicks you, it’s your fault. 
  • If you kick the girl, it’s your fault. 
  • If the girl smacks you in the face, it’s your fault. 
  • If you smack yourself in the face with the girl, it’s still your fault. 
  • If you drop the girl, it is Definitely Your Fault (and you will never live it down). 

FWIW, yes, this is intended to be funny but it’s also largely true. If you’re dancing the (traditionally) male role, part of your job is being in the right place at the right time and accounting for glitches, because the person dancing the other part has enough to worry about already. You adjust. 

And if she stops dancing, turns around, and punches you squarely in the nose? 

That is also Definitely Your Fault, unless it’s Because Ancient Aliens. 

~

PS: I was wrestling with keeping my waterfowls in a linear array in the turn from second because ATTAAAAAAAACK!, and BG was like, “Keep your chest up and think of it like … a hammer throw, only your foot is the hammer.”

Bizarrely, this worked really hecking well. 

Important note is that you still have to keep the working leg hella engaged, especially if you have sick mobility in your hips. If you think of a track & field person winding up for a hammer throw, though, they stay really tight basically the whole time. 

La danse est fini! 

…Essentially.

“Knocking,” that is, not the ballet one. 

The second-to-last missing piece was The Lift, which we hadn’t gotten around to really trying. Today it was just ABM and me, since AMS has a tech run for another thing tonight, so we took the time to firm that up. 

The one we’re using is a simple modern-dance lift that involves wrapping yourself around your partner as she wraps herself around your middle, lifting her, turning in place, and then releasing her back into the wild.

Of course, that all happens as one smooth movement. In this case, it follows a series of washing-machine chaînés, which makes spotting the turns essential if you want to maintain a spotless record as someone who doesn’t drop his partners. 

Getting the lift down also solved another problem I was having, which was an Awkward Classical Ballet Moment. I replaced it with a Contemporary Ballet Moment that hooks into the surrounding steps, et voilà, it all hangs together.

The really-last remaining piece is just a little moment that each of of us has individually right before the last sequence, and I’m confident that we’ll all come to the next rehearsal with something.

So, basically, the whole thing is thinged.

ABM told me she’s proud of me for stepping out of my classical ballet box and creating something much more contemporary. I’m pretty pleased with that as well—I feel like I left the dance go where it needed to instead of fighting it. That’s kind of a breakthrough for me, too be honest. 

Our performance date, meanwhile, has moved to April 1st, which is totally fine by me. It gives us time to really polish the dance, and I think the end result will be nice.

Meanwhile, our Rep group is swinging right along. We’ve made really good progress this week! I’m still enjoying that piece immensely. 

That’s it for today. Everything is tired, but I have really good chili and an evening and a day day to stay home and recharge. 

Saturday, we’re going to see Human Abstract, which is exciting. I’m glad I take 9:00 class, though, because we opted for the mâtinée.

Good News 

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. 

Callbacks ‘n’ Sech

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.

Just A Quickie Before Rep

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. 

Remember That Audition Where I Fell Off The Trapeze? 

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)

  1. Okay, so falling off the trapeze may have had exactly nothing to do with it. But still! I got a callback!!! YASSSSSSS!

Pretty much a perfect depiction of how I’m feeling right now 😀

The Best Five Words Any Dancer Can Hear

…Besides, of course, “You’re hired, here’s your contract.”

Modern went well today. It was just me, and we worked a lot on release and … hm, what I’ll call the redistribution of tension.

My ability as concerns modern in general and release technique in particular varies drastically depending on various things.

I am, after all, Central Casting Troubled Ballet Boy, which means I am also Uptight Ballet Boy.

When I haven’t been doing modern class regularly in a while, I have to completely re-learn how to relax and release and let my head have weight and stuff like that. My first few classes usually leave me convinced that I dance like a poorly-maintained robot. It takes a little while to learn to feel my body again.

Once I figure all that out, though, things start to get considerably better.

Today was one of those revelatory classes. Parts of my body remembered how to modern, and I continued working on applying the general lessons I’m working on right now.

Anyway, at the end of class, LT said The Five Greatest Words to me:

You’re such a hard worker.

If there’s one thing dancers seem universally to respect, it’s a solid work ethic.

It makes sense: dance is work.

We go to class and we work. We go to rehearsal and we work. We get out there on stage and we work. We stand in our kitchens working on our balances and our turns. Even if our sleep, we dream about dancing, and our brains work overtime.

As dancers, everything we do is work, and no matter how talented you are, your talent will get you nowhere if you don’t show up and put in the work.

So when someone tells me I’m a hard worker, it means a lot to me—especially since, as a kid, I was The Talented One That Doesn’t Realize He Has To Work, and part of me feels like the rest of my life is basically a chance to atone for being that jerk.

In other news, I’m starting to “get” the choreography for the showcase piece. LT explained the concept today, and that actually really helped—a light went on in my mind. I’d been thinking of it as sort of a jungle cat kind of feeling, but that wasn’t working. In fact, it’s more like searching for something in a swirling fog.

Thus far, this has been a good week for me, dance-wise, except for the part where I hit myself in the face with a girl (yeah, that happened) but I didn’t drop her, so it’s all good?

Besides, she’s solid Cirque stock and not the kind of person to be phased by such things. We were doing that one lift that literally nobody I know can think of what it’s called right now where you scoop your partner up as if in a basket and toss her (or him) up onto one shoulder in a front balance. Every time everyone tries to think of what the feck it’s called, we just wind up going, “Well, it’s not fish dive…”

Essentially, it’s this:

front-balance-lift

Ganked via Googles.

…Only, in this instance, with fewer tutus and sleevy things and more grunting and sweat.

I didn’t give it enough oomph on the first go, so the second time I way overdid it and basically flipped my partner into my own face instead of rolling her up to my shoulder. Heh.

On the upside, our partner acro instructor said, “On the upside, that means you can definitely do this!”

Lastly, in other, other news, there’s a four-day Easter ballet intensive (for adults) at Holistic Ballet in London. I’ll add it to my 2017 intensives list. It’s all about La Bayadere, and it looks like there’s two levels; the beginner group will be learning the entrance from “the Kingdom of the Shades,” and the other group will be learning Gamzatti’s Act II variation.

It doesn’t look like there’s a variation planned for guys (though I wouldn’t object to learning either of the above, to be honest).

Honestly, I think the entrance from “Kingdom of the Shades” is one of the best possible pieces of choreography to learn as a beginner, since it can be learned and executed well and then continually refined. The ladies at Lexington Ballet’s intensive did it last year, and it was so lovely, even without the ramps.

Anyway, I must now run away and go dig through AS’s costume closet, then go collect BB for class tonight.

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