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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.

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Mid-Year Progress Report, 2017

You guys, WTF?!!!

IT IS ALMOST JULY, YOU GUYS. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN.

did-that-really-just-happen

This blog has now reached a point at which I can recycle images at will for almost any topic.

Anyway, as you know, ballet goals: I haz them.

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Some of my ballet goals, affixed to my copy of Tarasov’s (ahem) *man*ual pour les danseurs (Get it? *MAN*ual? Whomp, whomp, whooommmmmp… :V).

Anyway.  (Yup, it’s about to get long in here, so have a cutscene thingy.)

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Danseur Ignoble: Practical Considerations

Yesterday, I signed up for the GRE, which doesn’t sound like it will be too bad.

It’s also possible that none of the programs for which I’m applying actually require it, but I might as well get it out of the way.

I’m not worried in the least about the writing and language bits; my only concern was that I’d have to do a whooooole lot of math review, but it looks like it should be very doable, provided that I don’t leave it all ’til the last minute because SQUIRREL!

As a matter of perspective, I’m much less worried about the GRE than I was about my audition piece.

Curiously, having done the audition has somehow made me feel much more confident and capable, even though the audition itself was kind of a mess due to the fact that there was absolutely no way I could be really adequately prepared under the circumstances. I don’t know, just getting up and winging it, doing it anyway, was a huge confidence-builder.

There’s something about actually doing creative work that is deeply edifying. I may not have had much of the work done in time for the audition, but the part that was done looked like … well, it looked like real dancing, if that makes any sense? And, since then, I’ve been rocking along creating and revising, which feels really exciting.

I’m learning to think of myself as an artist (not just in terms of dance, but also in terms of the visual arts), which is something I’ve always been hesitant to do. It seems somehow hubric to do so — and yet, at the same time, I’ve realized that you have to take your own work seriously, or you don’t give it the time it needs to get done.

…Or, well, that’s how it works for me.

I’ve also started organizing information about application deadlines and stuff for graduate school. Eventually, the most pressing details (application deadlines and materials needed) will go into a table or spreadsheet or something so I can just check them off as I go.

I’m not organizing cost-of-attendance data yet, because every time I look at cost-of-attendance I really rather feel like my eyes are going to explode. I know I’ll figure it out somehow, just like I figure everything else out somehow, so for now, except for looking into scholarship opportunities, I’m more or less ignoring that whole zone.

So now I’m contacting graduate schools, signing up for open-house days for their DMT programs (in this sort of devil-may-care, I’ll-figure-out-how-to-get-there-later kind of way), and so forth.

It’s a weird place to be, somehow. A couple weeks ago, I was all, I don’t know if I’m going to be ready for this; I don’t actually even know if I want to do this. A lot of that stemmed from being persistently sick for a rather longish period, though: eventually, I’ll write about what that does to me emotionally, but I can’t figure out yet how to put it into words.

Anyway, a couple of days ago, I woke up, remembered what I want to do and why, and felt ready to get started … so yesterday, I did.

I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that this happened within a week after getting back to class.

The structure that ballet provides is so essential to my life. While I actually do very much like being a homemaker, I seem to do best when I have a schedule imposed upon me from the outside. It forces me to organize my time in a way that’s really quite difficult for me to do otherwise.

Moreover, going to class is, for me, a signal that things are normal; that life is moving along in its usual rhythm. Not going to class is a signal that Something Is Very Wrong (usually, that either my physical or emotional health has imploded).

That said, I didn’t take Wednesday class yesterday because I don’t quite yet feel like my respiratory system is up to the demands of Brienne’s class. Lingering cough is lingering.

That said, I forgot that Margie now teaches a Wednesday morning class which I could have taken instead. Derp.

I’m hoping to be back up to speed next week, but if I’m not, I’ll do Margie’s class on Wednesday morning (I’m trying to avoid doing evening classes except on rare occasions, since this time of year it means getting home at 10 PM, which is problematic for a number of reasons).

I wrote in yesterday’s post about the relative costs of therapy and ballet as part of my defense of the cost of dancing — not to say that ballet should replace therapy, but it augments therapy rather beautifully. For me, the sense of structure and, I suppose, of belonging are an enormous part of that.

Dancing is part of what makes my life whole. For practical reasons as well as purely impractical ones, it’s terribly nice to be dancing again at last.

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