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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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A Few More Thoughts On Choreography; More Good(ish) Classes

D and I are now rehearsing our #Playthink piece.

It’s actually going much better than I expected it to.

As one does, I’ve re-written essentially the entire piece now that I’m setting it on actual people and not just on myself prancing about in the studio and waving my arms to vaguely represent the acro moves.

Initially, I had one vision in mind. Because I was futzing around with it by myself, it involved a lot of ballet.

Now, of course, that has changed. I mean, there’s still ballet: there’s always going to be ballet because, hello, it’s me. That’s kind of what I do, apparently.

But choreography has a way of getting away from you. You begin with one vision, and as you actually create a dance and actually set it on actual people, it transforms.

I suppose that this is because, in a way, a dance is sort of a living thing. It’s a little like having a child (though, of course, on a very different scale) or maybe an elaborate pet. You might think, of a horse, “I’m going to train this horse to be the best cow pony ever,” but the horse might actually not be any good at being a cow pony. It might turn out to be a dressage beastie or something else[1].

  1. My philosophy on training horses was very much shaped both by my childhood trainer and also by the trainer of my friend’s lovely Arabian gelding, which began life as what the Arabian show world in the US calls a “park horse,” morphed into what the Arabian show word in the US calls an “English pleasure” horse, did a brief stint in Arabian-show-world western pleasure, and then eventually found his calling as an endurance racer. Basically, the lady who was responsible for training the horse felt that you needed to figure out which discipline suited the horse, and then train it to be as good as it could possibly be at that discipline. I think that’s a good way to do it.

Anyway. I digress.

So this dance is now almost a steady stream of rather-balletic acro and physical theater, and I’m okay with that. One of my goals was to build a dance that tells a story, and in this case, the story is kind of funny and implausible, and acro and physical theater are good ways to tell it.

I’m not going to try to force this dance to be something it isn’t. I have an entire lifetime in which to craft ballet pieces on ballet dancers (I keep joking that I have this entire three-act ballet in my head, now I just need about fifty dancers and a million dollars or so to get it off the ground … but, really, I do have an entire three-act ballet in my head, and it’s taking up a lot of space!). Right now, I’m working with one ballet dancer (me!) and one Denis, and that presents its own set of challenges and limitations.

Honestly, in creative work, it’s so often the limitations that free us to innovate (just as necessity—or, just as often, laziness—gives birth to invention).

The neat part is that this has led us to inadvertently create a new acro move. I mean, probably someone, somewhere has done it before, but I’ve never seen it. It happens to be one that requires that the flyer have a legit center oversplit (among other things), so probably there are a lot of people who can’t do it. Bony impingement is real, it’s just not something that I experience.

Anyway, the sequence involves moving from this:

stag

Kind of, erm, scorpion? thing…

…to this:

stag-x2

Double stag…

…to this:

superman

Superman? Deep sea dive? Front balance? Limbs bird?

…via returning to a standard vertical candlestick, then opening to a straddle and rolling down onto the base’s feet, and then rotating your legs back and around into the position above (the arms also have to do a thing, obviously).

The same basic end could be approached by moving from the vertical candlestick into a pike candlestick and lowering both legs down that way, but I don’t think it would look anywhere near as cool.

Annoyingly, when I snagged these screenshots, I completely failed to get one of the straddle transition. At the time, I think I was like, “A still photo of this isn’t going to impart any useful information.”

Anyway, you really have to have a perfectly flat straddle for this particular sequence so you don’t just rip your legs off, because your hips take a lot of your weight in the middle of the transition. Basically, if lying face down in a center split feels stretchy, this isn’t the sequence for you.

You also kind of need really good turnout in order to do the rotation bit.

The fact that D literally cannot straighten his legs in an L-base also means that I kind of drop myself onto his feet. Eventually, I’ll reach a point at which I can do a complete smooth rolldown whilst upside-down in a full center split, which will make things a little easier, but right now there’s a gap between the end of my smooth rolldown and the end of Denis’ range of motion (because my core strength is still only pretty good, and not completely awesome).

I wanted to use a sort of grand rond de jambe as an exit, but that also takes more adductor power than D has right now. If I bring my downstage leg to second, then rond it over, the force makes his right leg (which supports my left hip) shift, and I fall off 😀

We’ll get it eventually, but not in the next two weeks.

So there’s that.

Anyway, classes were good-ish yesterday and today.

Yesterday’s, in fact, was fairly lovely. Today’s was our first Advanced Class with JAB (OMG, his initials are seriously JAB!!! XD), who really does actually give an advanced Advanced Class.

On the upside, I’m finally (FINALLLLLYYYYYY) jumping again for real: grand allegro and everything. Cabrioles with turny bits, even (though I think I kept turning them into some kind of cabriole-scissor hybrid and landing on the wrong leg).

On the other hand, possibly because I went to a party last night and didn’t get to sleep ’til almost 4 AM (and then had to wake up and eat a sandwich, which was surreal because I was still pretty tipsy and more than half asleep), my brain was for the birds today.

I struggled because there were gaps in my recall of Every. Single. Combination. once we left the barre. The bits that came off, though, mostly went pretty well (except for a weird disaster in adagio during which I basically fell off my leg and then couldn’t get back on because gravity is the worst thing sometimes).

I also hit up a new class at Suspend, which is basically floorwork for acro.

You already know how much I love floorwork, soooooo…

Anyway, we got to break out our improv for the last 10 minutes of class, which resulting in some video that’s party really cool and partly like WHY DO YOU KEEP NOT COMPLETING THE MOVEMENTS WITH YOUR ARMS, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.

But, anyway, here are a few nice shots from this morning’s video, just because I like them:

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Also, I feel like in the arch picture, my butt looks like a couple of angry badgers having a fight. Muscular angry badgers, though.

The tape, by the way, is just there because a tree stabbed me in the foot yesterday :/

Anyway, I was being annoyed with myself for not making the effort to do quadruple turns today, and then realized that I’ve somehow, like, sideswiped my ballet goals without realizing it. Like, basically, I’ve made a significant dent in them and didn’t even notice.

Basically, one of my major goals for this year was to nail down reliable triples and unreliable quadruples, basically. And, bizarrely, I have achieved that goal. I had this weird epiphany on the way home from class yesterday: I realized that, like, a year ago or so, even doing one little triple turn more or less by accident was the most amazing thing ever.

And now I’m like, “Meh, triples, yawn,” when I don’t try for quads.

So, basically, I need to pause and appreciate how much progress I have made.

For what it’s worth, I’ve also got turns in second sorted. They’re not always beautiful (or, let’s be honest, even pretty), but I can always do them. Just not always sixteen of them.

So, yeah. There you go. I feel like I’m “back,” more or less, right now.

Of course, Choose Your Own Intensive begins Monday, soooo… . .  .

You Guys! We Got Reviewed! 

Or, erm, pre-reviewed? 

Anyway, you can read it here

This has been a rough week for the show in a few ways (a serious illness, injuries, automotive shenanigans), so it’s heartening to see such a thoughtful and positive first look from of our local theater critics!

Danseur Ignoble: That Feel When You Figure Out That You’ve Leveled Up

…Not to say, that at a really good school, you’re ever making a mistake by stepping back a level or two. You can use those classes to perfect your technique.

But it’s really cool to do Beginner Class and realize, Hey, I really actually do belong in Intermediate Class, even when you’re returning after an injury. That’s pretty cool.

I think when I first started doing Intermediate Class, I was reaching more than I’m reaching now: realistically, I was a fairly strong advanced beginner, maybe, and I think the stretch was good for me. I feel like I’m pretty squarely in the Intermediate camp at this point (part of which is being able to figure out what I’m doing wrong, where, and why, and to correct it myself).

There’s been a part of me that has been iffy about my decision to jump right back into Intermediate class. Yesterday I stayed home to do a whole boatload of work that needed doing, so today I did Beginner Class at noon (for the past few weeks, I’ve been doing Intermediate Class and Essentials).

I felt very on top of it — confident and effective, with a few minor exceptions: some of my allegro and adagio were less than awesome, but they were less than awesome in that “I am reconditioning after an injury and haven’t done this since February” kind of way, not in an “Erhmagerd, I don’t know these steps!” kind of way or an “Abort! Abort! We’re going down!” kind of way.

My petit allegro is still slow, but I’m okay with that right now. Speed will come back. My ballet homework now involves doing tendus, degages, and frappes in the water while I’m Florida. Slice, slice, slicing away in the pool, in the ocean, wherever. And then doing flips because they’re fun, per Claire’s orders 😀

I feel like I should probably download the Rocky Theme Song so I can create my own Getting Stronger montage which, I guess, should logically end with a sequence of Petit Allegro That Doesn’t Suck?

Also, my flexibility was 100% there. Full splits both sides, no sweat; pancake to center. Nice to have that back; my right thigh has been tight for the past few weeks. I’ve been stretching after riding the bike (and while riding the bike, which I’m sure looks very bizarre to everyone who does not ride bikes and/or dance).

This coming week, however, I’ll basically just be doing Brienne’s Wednesday class and possibly Margie’s Friday class (depends on what Denis wants me to do), and then we’ll be heading off to Florida. We don’t have class on Monday because of Memorial Day (which I somehow thought was next week; I am eternally so confused about time).

In other news, Amazon Music’s Show Tunes channel is faaaabulooooous!

That’s it for now. Off to level up in doing the finances…

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