I’m sitting here at my computer with bed hair and a cup of coffee trying to conjure up thoughts and feelings from the past week that felt like a month, yet short like the week it was. My general feeling, and I hate to say, is that I felt “meh” about the experience. I am though an extremely harsh critic. It was a great experience, and I got to meet many dancers and try things I may have never had the chance to do with professional and ex-professional dancers.
I found myself middle of the pack. I was not an exceptional dancer with many previous years of dancing under my belt or a brand new dancer just escaping my egg. So I found I received little critique or attention. Or really I felt few people received critique to be honest. Things were brought up that I have been told by my Mentor, but nothing absolutely revolutionary to me besides a few things.
Saving grace was my Mentor always yelling at us to “dance” at the barre. You are to be seen and perform so DANCE! Which I did, and was given nice props for that at least. Also doing my balancé with pointed toes.
There were a many grievances that I was surprised that none of the teachers really corrected, scyled feet in B+, people placing toes in demi in B+, hip alignment, some very basic but important factors in making a dancer look and dance like a dancer. My assumption to this personal faux pas is that they didn’t want to bog down the minds of beginners with small details. Yet in my fledgling dancer classes we (my Mentor and I) highly lecture them on the small details of proper foot placement and alignment. Though, there were some beautiful dancers from remote areas who had great alignment and stances just needed the epaulment and conviction. Extra effort into those tendus to make them stronger. What’s the point of making a half hearted tendu? It’s to make you strong… I never understand half hearted-ness in ballet.
3 Choreographies to learn in a 5-6 days was a challenge. A nice one personally. Again though I didn’t feel I was critiqued enough about my body when doing the choreography so I feel my performance was extremely lack luster. Like was my shoulders down? Was my attitudes at a good angle with a strong arched back or was I slumped? Was my knee down and my leg extended properly for my attitude? Or was it just mish mosh that no one wanted to comment on because … what? I don’t know. I felt certain things were held back and it drove me crazy wondering what, what could I do better?! I know that wasn’t perfect!! I found many pictures taken by my friends with me in those issues, not erect back, shoulders forward, I could’ve beveled my foot many a times, I should’ve been going ecarté but there I was just going across, I was running into one of my dancer friends and didn’t know it, etc. Gosh, I bet there’s a lot of times where my back collapsed and my shoulders rolled forward- UGH! IT makes me so angry.
Two of the choreographies I enjoyed. One was a tame version of Petipa’s Raymonda Scarf variation. I attempted once in pointe shoes and realized my feet were not strong enough to do this so I opted out. It was “classical” variation. I enjoyed it and it probably showed because I was complimented on this dance and the PDD.
Then there was the modern/classical ballet pas de deux piece. I forgot and changed a lot of the choreography by mistake on this and wasn’t ever really corrected. WHAT?? Don’t you want me to do the choreography the way you want?! Also a lot of forgetful back usage in this. UGH.
Also the contemporary ballet repertory piece. Which was done to the Princess Bride “Friends” song. Which for some reason just rubbed me the wrong way and I did not enjoy it. The teacher was adorable and her barre was hard, but I’m not sure if it was the choreography… which probably it was, that just didn’t make me happy to do it.
We had some interesting guest teachers. One was an ex PNB artist. Her first name is Gavin I forget her last (here she is!). She had like- no body fat. She was a total principal dancer in the flesh and I did enjoy her barre. I also liked how she explained to “zip” up your legs which I’ve been told before, but she emphasized in a way that struck a cord and I was able to stretch and contract muscles to bevel my foot in a way I’ve been wanting. Also creates the tightest sous sous possible which is a new balance point for me since my old one has a decent gap. Also the way she could gyrate her torso was unbelievable. She taught us pilates one morning it her ability to manipulate her body totally. blew. my. mind.
I realized my inner thighs/abducting muscles were not as strong as I’d like, if not very weak.
There was an ex principal from the SF ballet, she was fun and I enjoyed her barre too. I can’t remember her name right now D: I’m horrible guys!
There was Randall Marks, FABULOUS man. I think EVERYONE loved him. His barres were hard because he did a lot of weight shifting which meant you had to move and not think and my mind was not ready for that. He’s the one who really emphasizes dancing at the barre and or just dancing all the time. Period. He choreographed the PDD I was in. Also in his barres you warmed up so fast, I think that was the deepest back cambré I had ever done and I’m still recovering from that. My back is all sorts of whack and does not want to cooperate in back cambrés at this point and time.
I didn’t get to take too many classes with him. He did the Mens variation and Mens technique, so overall he was a busy man. I did get to take a Mens technique class with him which I successfully made a fool of myself and failed miserably at the fish jump LOL. You start in 5th, leap, and create a curved appearance but your legs must stay together in sous sous. I couldn’t keep my legs together hah. There was also an attitude jump and assemble that I failed at too.
He also emphasized not to follow Balanchine method because of tendonitis. You never allow your achilles to stretch and contract like it’s supposed to causing to to work really hard. Which then enflames your tendon. Also he was determined on teaching everyone a “proper” tombé in which you don’t “fall” like I was taught, you kind of glide. Your pelvis guides you, and you kinda let yourself dip into your leg and bring the whole torso. While I learned you drop weight onto a leg and then kind of hinge your hip and keep your chest up kinda fall-y method. I wonder what my Mentor will think. And it’s not a chasse because you’d want to slide your foot in a chasse.
6+ hours of dancing turned out not so bad. Sure I was sweaty and tired by the end of the day but I would still manage to go out or linger awake until 10 or 11pm. Having a sports drink with me, a bottle of water, a banana and a protein bar was the perfect amount of junk. I would eat half my lunch so I wouldn’t be too full to dance but you’d still end up sleepy. Some nights the other half of my sandwich would be dinner. I tried to avoid going out to eat to save money and did relatively okay.
A typical morning for me was to get up around 6-7am hop into the shower, pop out brush your teeth, moisturize, tights and leo and over clothes, I wore my sneakers with orthotics to rebalance my feet and legs. Brush and put your hair up into a bun, contacts and a bit of make up. Get downstairs for breakfast. Breakfast was neat. We could make our own waffles, some times there was yogurt, there was cereal and fruit, also instant oatmeal, occasionally a bagel but those went fast, toast, scrambled eggs, and either sausages or bacon. It was nice to fill up on that before going to the studio and if you didn’t eat plenty you would starve before 1pm lunch. Which happened once. I learned then to eat bananas at certain times.
I guess the big question is, would I do it again. Maybe. If this upcoming year I spent 5 days a week in the studio and became more proficient I feel I may get more attention from the teachers. I think I’m one of those few lucky dancers who feels fulfilled and has Mentor who puts a lot of time and effort into her dancers. So when I get no attention I get buggered to bits about it. If I do go back I’ll try and be more vocal for sure to my teachers to insist they bug me about my back and nit pick details. Also cost was a big thing. The classes were $800+ and the week stay with gas and food factored in was $1000. I’d like to go back improved, and see all the people and dance with all the people again. I just don’t know if it’s in my cards. MAYBE next year I can room with my Texan friend and that will really save us both money. Breaks down a room to about $30-$40 a night instead.