Let’s start shall we? I know you’re all at the edge of your seating, waiting over a week for me to update. I took some time to recover from the intensity of it all. I also dove into my work for my etsy store too. I’ve been a little busy to say the least.
Saturday we arrived to Vancouver around 2:30/3pm? It was a bit of a journey. It was brilliantly sunny with heat beams streaming through storm clouds. We had a few moments along the highway where we nearly or did hydroplane because the amount of water just instantly pouring from the clouds. It was crazy- but as soon as we arrived into Vancouver, which is literally an exit or two away from the Columbia river that is the border between Washington and Oregon. Vancouver was balmy. I think it was about upper 70Fs or 80Fs.
If you don’t know, dancing in Seattle it’s common and comfortable to be dancing in upper 50/60Fs. My friend from Texas found our temps up here freezing, as 70s and 80s was mild for her. Yuck! All camp I felt like the eskimo of the pack, I didn’t ask how the Canadian’s felt, I should’ve. It was freaking HOT all week and miserable for me to dance in. I sweated as if a faucet wouldn’t turn off.
So Saturday (again)!! We did not dance this day, ahhh…no throwing objects please. Katie had RSVP’d for me (with out me knowing) for the dinner that evening. What else were we going to do that first night anyways- c’est la vie… I got to meet new faces, old faces, and see the new teachers. I did not get a chance to talk to them at this dining occasion. It was a lovely dinner and nice to chat with people. A lot of my favorite people from camp, who I am friends with on Fbook, weren’t arriving until late in the evening or until the following morning. It was a chatty night, but uneventful evening and everyone was ready for bed for the next day.
Sunday rolled around, after a horrible night trying to sleep in the room where we were still trying to figure out how to get the right temp. We were miserably hot and woke up for several hours, then finally went back to sleep briefly only to be awoken again in a couple hours. ROUGH- honestly it was like that all week. I would wake up around 2-3am and roll around for an hour or two, go back to sleep only to be woken up again to get ready for the day. Definitely added to my stress. Last year I enjoyed the free breakfast in the morning, but this year. Nothing was appetizing. It was horrible trying to choke anything down but I actually found myself most mornings not interested at all in eating a large breakfast. Previous year I made sure I had something otherwise I was dying after the first class.
I think with all the extra added classes this past year my body had learned a way to metabolize properly for the extra work load. I found myself skipping breakfast for a banana half a cliff bar and a coffee at the local coffee shop. Unthinkable to me last year. Really surprising to me this year. Lunch was the same, I’d eat half my sandwich and by the end of the week there was at least 3-4 left over lunches still in our room fridge because I just couldn’t eat more.
Sunday we strolled to the dance center, picked up our name badges, checked in, and settled in greeting old friends and introducing ourselves to new people. I started to realize the second time around felt like Sophomore year of HS! You still felt a little apprehensive about teachers and the week ahead. Yet you knew A LOT of people. It was so good to see people from last year. You really make great friends coming to these intensives. So many varying ages, places, professions, experiences etc. It’s amazing and you can delve in seamlessly with talk of dance.
The new comers were being evaluated and placed into their designated classes. Since I was a “second” year you stick with your original class level from last year and Heidi (the Director/Owner of SKD) will come in each class and evaluate you. See if you’ve changed in the last year.
We started off with EBAS, Elemental Body Alignment System. Something that was being researched and cultured in Virginia for Dancers and those in similar trades. It feels a little hinky and weird at first, several times your brain will go “what are you doing?!” Until you roll up after you finish the exercises and you find yourself elongated and aligned! It’s not a replacement for warm up, so a word to the wise warm up for 30 minutes before hand, and then do your EBAS. It’s very hard to explain EBAS, but as the website says, it’s a lot of anatomical/brain recognition of parts. So being able to manipulate your pelvis and other muscle groups to get the desired movement to awaken them and put in place your skeletal structure. It was mind-blowing to me, in a positive way.
After our introduction to EBAS we moved into our technique class. I got to work mostly with Danile Giesy all week, who also is the EBAS instructor. She was amazing and I appreciate her constantly drilling me. I was really happy this year for all the critique and attention I got. I don’t know how much more I could pull up my abdominals and it crossed my mind many times, “can you pull or cramp your abdominals?!” Danile added a lot of port de bras to balances. We did these arm cycles where you go from devant to derrier and continue to cycle until one arm reaches fifth and then the other follows. Try it- yea it’s hard. It was a pleasant challenge because I did a lot of stationary balances in class all year. This is what I had wanted last year. Recognition of my hard work and my passion to grow. All my teachers were very thorough this year on corrections and were not afraid to make me do corrections with repetition front and center while everyone watched. Example; in pirouettes we were working en dedahn turns, she had me practice in front of everyone on correcting from a solid fifth position, spotting, trying to get my foot immediately up to my knee and connecting it- no floating! I didn’t feel embarrassed or self conscious up there. Everyone was learning, no one was judging. With each repeat of what she wanted, and small adjustments the turns kept getting better and better. PROGRESS.
Technique I got a refresher in something my Mentor has always nagged us dancers about. Learning our positions. A lot of us didn’t utilize our brains when we practiced our positions in center. I knew most of them, still I am very shaky on them and should learn not only the balanchine ones, but the vaganova, and chechetti. While I’m at it probably RAD too. Not only their positions (which include arms), but arabesques and how they do turns. I’d love to learn the RAD method of turns. If you watch their dancers do pirouettes, they are SOLID and have magnificent effortless turns. Go check them out on youtube. I’ll wait… RIGHT?!
So after technique we had lunch followed by our alignment workshop. Which was interesting. I paired up with one of our most advanced younger male dancers. He’s a friend of mine on Fbook. We worked on recognizing areas of where we want feeling and how to tell our brain to manipulate that area while working another. Like when standing in retieré right leg. Your right side of your hip should be pushing down against your retieré, because in ballet we don’t make things easy- that’s cheating, While you’re using your hip to push down, your left shoulder should counter balance and pull you UP. This will allow you to elevé with ease to demi and if you’re in pointe shoes all the way up- maybe, depending on your strength. Then my friend and I got into a balancing competition. Since it was the end of the day I was cramping and he being a guy who has to have awesome long winded balances was blowing me away lol. Jealous!!
It was a short day, so after alignment we all went back to the hotel to clean up. We decided to all go out to dinner in Portland. Unfortunately the place we wanted to eat at was a two hour wait! So we walked up the street to another restaurant where they served Thai noodle soup- and it was so good! Also, while lovely out in the shade we started getting a little cold haha. It was such a lovely evening. We were walking back and decided the busy ice cream shop with the huge line sounds interesting. Devised a plan to go to their “short” line by buying a small quart of ice cream. As groups we decided on flavors, grabbed spoons and dug in! They had my favorite caramels there too, so I bought those to share and eat through the week. It was a wonderful summer moment lol. We were all full and bushed then, so we headed back for the night.