A tale of two performances: Tale 1

Here’s the first of two recaps of performances that took place in the same week, but on VERY opposite sides of the spectrum. Introduction can be found here!

This was the choreography showcase. I was feeling pretty good going in. Since we had crammed at the very beginning to learn the piece, we were able to spend all the subsequent rehearsals tidying and such. I think we all felt quite prepared going in.

We got to the week of the show and our scheduled tech rehearsal. There were two showcases, no pieces were repeated between the two, and all rehearsing that night, so time was short to get everyone in. We were able to sneak in a quick walk-through during a break, but only got to run the piece once that night.

Then show day. We rehearsed one final time in the studio after class that morning, then headed to the theatre. The piece I was in was in the second show which meant that I actually got to be a regular audience member for the afternoon show, which was kind of a treat. The program was a mix of classical, contemporary, lyrical, and modern stuff, with a tap piece thrown in for good measure. Some I quite enjoyed. Others not so much. I suppose that’s the way it is with these things! Something for everyone.

Once the show was over I rushed home to bun up and slather my face in makeup before returning to the theatre for the second performance. Call was ridiculously early. I wouldn’t have minded the extra time backstage to relax, but we were, of course, sharing our dressing room with two or three other companies, so it was crowded and awkward. The sponsoring company did offer a warm-up class open to all performers. And here’s where things got a bit interesting.

The studio space at this venue is cozy and there were only a few real barres. Those of us who didn’t get a barre made do with chairs or used the wall, trying our best not to kick one another. We’d angle ourselves so as not to grand battement into the person behind, but then would end up kicking the person across the aisle instead. None of this was the interesting part, though.

As I’m sure my readers can appreciate, one of the beautiful things about ballet is the transcendental language of the art. You can go into another studio — heck, you can take class in a foreign country with a different native language — and you still know what to expect, not only in terms of exercises, but in terms of how to behave. Or, at least, that’s what I thought before now.

Perhaps people were just punchy after a long day. Maybe they had too much sugar in the between-show break. I’m not sure. But two things were very obvious in this class. Number 1 was which students belonged to the host studio. And number 2 was that these students had zero respect for their faculty member who was conducting the class. Oh, and number 3: they had zero respect for the other studios/companies who were invited to perform alongside them. It was one of the most awkward classes I’ve ever taken. I could barely catch the combinations because I couldn’t hear what the teacher was saying over the endless cackling and chit-chat that took place every time the music was off. On top of that I felt deeply embarrassed for the teacher who was doing his best to take the high road and ignore the behavior, and for the girls who were from that studio, but who were acting appropriately.

Up until this point I had viewed this studio with a lot of respect. They turn out dancers with very strong technique (we have some of their alums at our studio and they are all talented dancers). I hope that the entitlement and brattiness I witnessed was an aberration. The alums I just mentioned are all lovely, kind people. But I can’t say that I would recommend the studio to anyone after what I saw.

I can forgive an off day. Sometimes there’s a full moon or a mass case of the sillies. (I wouldn’t have minded silly… but what I observed was simply rude.) But as with everything there’s a time and a place. When you are representing your school in public that is not the time to show off your queen bee skillz. Ugh.

I must say, though… our students and those from the other studio acted as though they didn’t notice the ruckus and performed the combinations seriously. At the end they all lined up to curtsey or bow and personally thank the teacher. Unprompted, too. Way to represent! Seriously, our director would have been irate if we acted the way these kids did, especially if we were the hosts!

After the class we got into our shoes and costumes and did last-minute run-throughs in our heads before going onstage. The performance itself… well, it was a bit disappointing for at least a few of us. Nothing terrible happened, but it wasn’t nearly as smooth as it typically was in rehearsal. There were a few bobbles here and there. I think what made it more disappointing was knowing that it was a one-and-done thing. Would’ve been nice to get a do-over once we got the wobbles out of our system.

But all in all, we came, we saw, we performed.

A couple weeks later we got to see video of the performance. And while we each focused on our own missteps, I think we could all agree that when looking at it as a whole it looked quite nice and we represented our company well.

On to tale two…

Took a walk down Clarendon Street

For years now — YEARS!!! — I’ve been wanting to take a class at Boston Ballet School. In fact that was part of my big excitement when I scored my current job. I’d be in the city, oh so convenient to taking classes in Boston.

But… since starting there nearly two years ago I’ve taken, oh, ZERO classes in Boston.

Not for lack of intention, mind you. Lots of good intentions. But with a few good excuses… and more often simply neglecting to actually, you know, make a plan, it’s never come to fruition.

But the last week in February when our own studio was on break, I was determined. Determined, dammit!

Another subscriber benefit is the opportunity to get my first class at Boston Ballet School for free, so I really had nothing to lose. One of my dance friends had taken classes there before and said she’d meet me there (admittedly some of my reluctance to go was that whole fear of looking lost, confused, and out of place). So, it was set.

What I didn’t count on is the damned polar vortex or whatever they called the bone-chilling weather we were experiencing. So when I popped up out of the T station at Copley Square I set the Google maps on my phone to give me walking directions, but was too damned cold to take it out of my pocket to look at it. I just hoped my internal compass would steer me in the right general direction.

I wasn’t feeling too sure. After I left Copley Square I found myself wandering through a decidedly residential portion of the South End of town. (Very cute part of town, it may be noted. I’m afraid that despite my determination to remain aloof to Boston’s charms I’m falling hopelessly in love with this ridiculous city.) I felt a bit lost, not helped by the fact that there was barely a soul in sight, aside from one woman who was hurriedly trying to get her dog to do his business so they could duck back into their warm brownstone. This really didn’t seem quite right!

Until suddenly I noticed a small girl walking up ahead with her dad. She had her hair in a bun. Then I saw another bunned-up girl a little beyond her. Maybe I was in the right place, after all! I came to an intersection and directly across from me was a building that had huge windows emanating a soft light on the street. I could see the shadows of what appeared to be dancing behind those windows. I MUST be in the right place!

I crossed the intersection and looked into a window where there were a bunch of people who looked like they were staffing a telethon. Which would make sense… I had just received a bored-sounding voice mail from someone at BB the night before asking me to call back if I wanted to make a gift (to which I said to myself, yes, I would, but not if you’re going to sound so unenthusiastic about it!).

Sure enough, I had found BBS. I ducked into the doors and took a good look around. I stood in a lobby that was a few stories high. In front of me stairs rose up to the next level. There was a security desk in front of me to the left and a booth off to the right with a young woman assisting someone who looked like she might be there to take a class. I stepped behind her, hoping I was in the right place.

The woman in front of me finished up and the nice girl behind the desk said, “Are you here to take an open class?” Phew, I’m in the right place! I signed in, with a bit of confusion regarding the whole subscriber-free-class thing. While I was in line I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around to see my friend who had just arrived a minute or so behind me. I waited for her to pay and she led me up two flights of stairs to Studio 6 where the intermediate class was meeting.

We were a good 15 minutes early for class, which is a remarkable feat for both of us. But it was nice to have time to settle our stuff, pick our places at the barre, stretch, and take it all in. We had walked past a couple other studios on our way, so I knew this wasn’t the biggest room of them all, but it did feel pleasantly spacious. And it was toasty warm… not the nasty, sweaty-teenager warm I typically expect of dance studios, but like someone was cranking the radiators warm. The gathering crowd seemed pleasant enough. It was obvious who made up the contingent of regulars, but the snobbery was kept to a minimum.

Finally, it was time for class to begin. Our instructor made some brief chit chat to talk up the current and upcoming BB shows and then we got to work. He did a pre-plié exercise which I enjoy… not a lot of my teachers do them. Then we progressed in the normal sequence of barre. Nothing terribly complex, though I did get a bit lost in some parts where the ballet vocabulary was dropped in favor of some: “and a buh-buh-buh-buh-BAAHH.” The regulars knew what the guy was talking about. I waggled my foot around in some approximation of what I thought he might have meant by that terminology. If it were a class at my home studio I would’ve asked for clarification, but that didn’t seem to be the culture here, so I kept quiet. It was a nice barre, good combination of exercises, some challenges, but not outside my range. Then we moved to centre. More of the same sorts of exercises. I hung back a bit, mostly because I wasn’t sure the culture of this place and I didn’t want to inadvertently step on any toes (literally or figuratively). All in all… a good workout (loved dancing in such a warm room!), not my best performance, but certainly not my worst, either.

Will I go back? Maybe. Probably. Might try some of the other classes, even the lower levels, just to experience more teachers. My main disappointment was that I didn’t find a shining star in the group. I don’t mean a real BB star. I’m pretty sure they aren’t going to be found slumming in the open adult classes. I just mean… you know how there’s usually at least one dancer in a room who exhibits that special… something? Could be stellar technique or incredible poise or just a certain je ne sais quoi. Maybe that dancer exists but was taking the night off, I dunno. There were plenty of adequate dancers, of course. I don’t mean anything disparaging by that. I was just hoping to see someone whose dancing would blow my mind. On the flip side, I was terrified going in that I would be in way over my head. Maybe Boston intermediate would mean something more than country-mouse intermediate. My friend had assured me that we would be totally fine based on what she’d experienced before, but the class descriptions can look a bit daunting. So it was good at least get validation that I’m performing at the level I claim to have!

After reverence my friend and I went downstairs to the locker room to change and then went strolling the frigid streets of Boston in search of post-class refreshments. We found ourselves at Aquitaine, which I’d heard of but never eaten at. I’m guessing their clientele does not typically consist of slightly disheveled, post-ballet class, but they were very accomodating of our vaguely hoboish appearance and we enjoyed a very sumptuous meal which more than made up for any calories burnt in class. Whoops!

So that was that. Now that I’m no longer a BBS virgin, I expect I’ll experience much less trepidation about taking classes there in the future. I know the space a bit and no one came after me with a pitchfork for having poor technique. It’s not nearly as scary as I imagined and, in fact, has a certain magical charm. So, yay for stepping out of the cold and into the studio. I’ll have to do so more often!

We know these things to be true…

…or do we?

As adult dancers we often tell each other to be gentle with ourselves. We’re doing this for fun, remember? We’re not training to be pros. Our bodies are aging and some things just won’t work anymore the way they did when we were young.

G-d damn, that’s depressing.

But yeah, I get it.

I’m just not sure I buy it.

At least… not yet.

See there are two things I’ve noticed over the past few weeks/months.

First off… les pieds. AKA, the feet. AKA, the bane of my existence (or is that my turnout? I can’t remember). I think it was sometime in college that I came to the conclusion that I was flat-footed. I mean, so many dancers have these amazing arches and super-high insteps and I have — what is it Adult Beginner called them?… ah yes, meat rectangles (correct my terminology if my memory is totally botched up there, AB!). I tried to find solace in the saying that us lower-arched girls tend to have stronger feet than those bendy-footed goddesses. Haha, Flexi-Foot, take that! But damn, it’s so hard to feel happy about this when so much of ballet is about lines and here you get down to the end of your leg and it’s all *sad trombone, wah-wahhh*.

But over the past few months I’ll be tenduing or just doing some mindless pointing during break and will look down and say, dang, feet, look at you! I mean, they’re no bananas, but it’s a vast improvement over where I was when I started back to ballet. The left one will always be a bit stupid, I’m afraid, but still, the amount of strength and flexibility I’ve gained in my feet… wow.

And then there’s extension. For those of us who were dancers in the past and took time off, that is one of THE most depressing things about coming back to dance. You get that developpé exercise at the barre first class back and think, oh yeah, I like these and then realize with horror that your leg barely goes higher than a dégagé. *gasp!* Okay, so that was a few years ago and things improved fairly rapidly and I was able to get to 90 or a smidge above. That should be enough, right? But I can’t deny wishing for one of those glorious side extensions with my foot over my head. Especially since I know I can get my leg up there (you know, that whole heel-in-hand stretch), it just… needs a crane to hold it up there.

One of my dance friends said something to me a month or two back about how much my extensions had improved. I thought it was sweet of her to say, but that’s about all I thought about it. So then there I was today at barre, doing a side developpé, when I caught sight of a foot in the mirror and realized, holy hell!, that’s MY foot up there. I looked over at it. I mean, I turned my head and, whoomp, there it is! At eye height. Without any major exertion on my part. That’s just where it went.

How did this happen? I mean, it’s not even like I’ve been putting in hours doing stretching and cross-training outside the studio. I should. I know I should. And sometimes I do. But… as an adult, sometimes the whole going-to-work, keeping-self-fed, cleaning-out-the-litter-box facts of life get in the way of my hobby and I have to be realistic. Most of the work is in the studio. Trying to be mindful of my technique and whatnot.

Dear reader, this is not meant to be a gloat, though I AM proud of myself. It’s simply a validation that all our work is not for naught. Up until these recent revelations I was feeling like I’d hit a plateau and was pondering whether it was time to accept the inevitable that some adult dancers try to peddle: I’ve reached “a certain age” and I can’t expect much improvement.

Well, that day may come eventually. But it’s not today.

Winter Update

Wow, I’ve been remiss at writing of late! Never fear, though, I’m here and there’s lots of dancing going on. I’ll try the quick recap.

Where did we leave off? Oh yes, December.

So our own Nutcracker show went quite well, I think. If you didn’t catch my somewhat flippant take on my experience as a party mom you can find that here. Snow and Hot Chocolate scenes both went reasonably well, IIRC. And my turn as a Rosebud, though light on the choreography, was full of some lively saut de chats, which I always find enjoyable. All in all I felt that I recovered all confidence that I lost the year prior and then some, so hurrah. Still end up on the plus side!

I also got around to scoping out a couple other studios’ versions of Nut. While they weren’t bad, I still think our version is best. I fully admit to being biased. One studio actually hires professional dancers from a major NYC company to play some of the leads (i.e., Sugarplum and her Cavalier, etc.). I was expecting to be blown away, but unfortunately… not sure whether it was bland choreography or a performance by dancers who felt they could just phone it in because, hey, why stress yourself out for a performance in some podunk high school theatre with a bunch of amateurs, but it was vastly underwhelming. I preferred the students’ dances. The other studio did not feature any special guests, per se. Actually, one child has been on Broadway, though they didn’t hype that. I had heard good things about their training, though, so expected some high quality stuff. I was disappointed to see that their scenery was incredibly cheesy and there was no plot whatsoever. I know the Nut plot is usually held together by a thread, at best, but this didn’t even have that. The party scene was lacking in Y chromosomes… or even people pretending to have Y chromosomes. Since they didn’t use adults and the children playing children weren’t particularly young you couldn’t differentiate between the moms and the kids. And then Act II was just a pure helter-skelter, hodge podge of divertissements. Both of these shows had their redeeming qualities, of course, but still, I walked out feeling a good deal of pride at being associated with our version.

Anyway, with Nut done we had our two week break for the holidays. I celebrated by being disgustingly sick. It seems to be an annual tradition, though this bout was especially violent and gross. Yay.

But… while I was recovering, shortly before New Year’s, I got an e-mail in my inbox from our director. She was wanting to submit a piece for consideration to a choreographers’ showcase that another studio was hosting. We had two weeks to throw this together and video it to send it. Who’s game? I am! So a bunch of us cut our break short to head back to the studio for rehearsals. In the span of two rehearsals we got the piece fully choreographed, costumes fitted, and the whole shebang taped and ready to send off. We found out within a week or two that the piece was accepted, so now we’re back to rehearsals and getting it cleaned up in time for the show! It’s a contemporary ballet piece, en pointe. I like it.

And in other performance news, I was invited back to participate in our local music school’s annual gala. They are reprising the Dancing with the Stars format with this year’s theme being Broadway. The fun twist this year is that the music school’s jazz band will be accompanying us dancers. The not-so-fun twist is that their repertoire apparently consists of snoozer songs. Nice songs, but not exciting to dance to. I had my first rehearsal with my new partner last night and, while not a dancer, he agreed that our song was boring, so we’re lobbying for a slightly more risque and definitely more up-tempo song. Fingers crossed that we get our wish! As for my partner… he told me he’s in it to win it, so I think we’ll get along just fine. We covered ball changes last night (which he referred to as “ball and chains” which was trés hilarious) and he made good progress on jazz squares. We’ll see what the next few weeks bring!

Aside from the performing and the class-taking and such, there are also a few Boston Ballet shows coming up. Close to Chuck (mixed rep) starts next week and shortly after that closes Cinderella opens.

So, that’s the quick and dirty of dance in this corner of the world. Hope everyone else’s new year is off to a good start in the studio, on the stage, or in the seats! Cheers!

Getting my Gaynor groove on

So… I’m trying to develop a functional relationship with my Gaynors.

At first I was all, “These suck, burn them at the stake!”

I shoved them to the depths of my dance bag and resurrected some old Chacotts while I wait for my darling new Freeds to show up on my doorstep.

That was all well and good. Except the Chacotts twist on my feet a smidge. The bigger issue, though, is that the area under the pleats is going soft. I’m not sure if I’m having some sort of technique issue (entirely possible) or if the glue was a bit shot to begin with. The shoes are at least two years old, based on when I bought them, and who knows how long they were hanging out at the store before then. Old glue does not make for a good shoe.

When I discovered this and experienced a pang of fear thinking, “I don’t know that they’ll make it until Nut and I really don’t want to order yet another pair of shoes.”

The logical conclusion then — of course — was to suck it up and learn how to dance in the new shoes I already own. Duh.

And… okay, I’ll admit it: after working with them a bit they’re not as bad as I felt initially. I do still think they’re kind of ugly in the box area. But I am figuring out how to dance in them and finding a few redeeming qualities. Like, they’re quiet (Freeds are quiet, too, but I’ve had some clompy shoes in the past, particularly the Russian brands). And my alignment feels better.

This in no way means that I’ll be giving up on the Freeds, but it’s honestly a relief to know that the GM purchase was not entirely in vain. Maybe there is room for both brands in my dance world. It may be sacrilegious to even suggest such a thing, but I’ll remain open-minded to the possibility!

Pointe shoe rescue, BB50 begins, and more fun with physics

Quick mash-up post here of three random ballet-related things flitting through my brain.

First off… the pointe shoe debacle.

Recap: old shoes (Freeds) are dead. I had been fitted into Gaynor Mindens this summer and thought I could just wear those. Plan made without ever trying to dance in them. Whoops! Turns out I find them rather unenjoyable. I do not have the luxury of time with Nut coming up in less than two months including two pieces I need to perform en pointe, so this is not the time to play the getting-to-know-you game! What to do, what to do?

Local store didn’t have any stock shoes from my maker in my size and I don’t have the time to call around to hunt some up. I ordered a new custom pair with a few tweaks from my last custom order, but that helps me nada seeing as it takes about 3 months for them to get made.

I ordered a pair of Freed Studios, but as with the last time I tried them the wings are just way too stiff. Sent those back. Argh!!! Emergency!!!

Then I remembered the Chacott Veronese II hanging out in my closet. They were a pair I bought a couple years ago shortly after I went back en pointe. I had bought these because they were a shoe I wore in college, but this was during my great pointe shoe odyssey in which I was buying up different shoes in an effort to identify “my shoe” and the Chacotts only got a couple wears before I moved on to other models. I pulled them back out and tried them on and I think these just might work to get me through until the new shoes come in.

Freed actually owns Chacott now, so I guess the shoes are cousins of a sort! They are nice and light and easy to dance in, so although I love Freed more, these are a serviceable back-up.

Crisis averted!!!

Next up… this weekend!

Boston Ballet is kicking of its 50th anniversary season with a run of La Bayadère. I will be there, bien sur! I got an e-mail from BB with pre-show info, including a link to the casting. I was super-excited to find out that Misa Kuranaga and Jeffrey Cirio will be playing the night I’ll be there (as Nikiya and Solor). My two faves! Yay!!!

Check back later for my review.

And finally… physics.

I was prepping for lecture and was printing out the slide deck. On the top page was the agenda of topics for the evening, including… pirouettes and fouetté turns! That and falling cats.

The bummer is that we ran out of time before we could get to those parts! Waahhhh!!! Professor said we’d cover what we missed next week, though. Phew! Maybe he has some secrets to impart that will revolutionize my dancing. If not that, maybe I’ll at least learn something about the crazy felines that inhabit my house.

Party (Mom) of 5

Just got the news that I am going to be a mother!

I have tried to avoid this predicament, but it has found me anyway.

Yes, my friends, it is true… the cast was short a party mom and I have been roped in.

Noooooooo!!!!

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this!

Okay, okay, the hysterics are a smidge unwarranted here.

Last week the director asked, rather off-handedly, if I could be in the scene.. this was during class, right before I was supposed to do a combination across the floor.

I was all, “Tombé, pas de bourrée, WHAT?!”

And she was all, “Well, it’s not definite, we may have someone, but if not…”

So today I asked if I was needed and got a reply in the affirmative.

Fiddlesticks.

“You’ve done it before, right?” she asked.

Um… no. My avoidance methods have worked perfectly up until now!

“What?! Well, that settles it… you HAVE to be in it!”

So, what, is the party scene actually some sort of hazing ritual?

And here I thought Snow was the hazing ritual!

Hm… does this mean I have to get some less-sexy/non-T-strap character shoes or am I going to be That Mom?

Party scene actually has some potential for fun and — bonus — I get to wear a hoop skirt, which was a childhood dream of mine since I read the Little House books.

This does, however, take the chill, relaxed show I was expecting and ramps it up a notch. Party scene isn’t particularly tough, but it is long and from that I have to quickly transform into a snowflake and then go on to perform in two dances in the second act.

Four scenes?! Phew!

But… it should be fun! Would be more fun if there was real champagne in the glasses we toast with on stage, however…

First rehearsal is tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted!

Fun with Physics

Did I mention yet that I’m taking a physics class right now?

Well, I am.

Don’t ask… it’s a long story. Maybe I’ll post about it later.

Anyway.

So I was sitting in physics lecture today listening to my professor discussing how we can determine the center of an object’s mass — stimulating stuff, of course — when he flips to a slide with a drawing of a grand jété!

I thought to myself, “Hey, wasn’t there some physicist who wrote about dance?”

And then the next slide was a video clip of Kenneth Laws (aka, “some physicist”) and Cynthia Harvey discussing the physics of a grand jété while Julie Kent and Benjamin Pierce demonstrated!

I actually do own Mr. Laws’s book… I’m thinking maybe I should read it instead of using it as coffee table decoration! Maybe this crazy classroom venture of mine will pay off in the dance studio!

Edited to add: It was all I could do to not voice my indignation in class that the dancer was actually demonstrating a saut de chat and NOT a grand jété. Okay, I know it’s just semantics, but still… ;)

GM – First Impressions

I finally sewed up those Gaynor Minden pointe shoes I bought back in… oh, JULY!

In my defense, the shoes are a major PITA to sew. Most pointe shoes have a separate inner layer of muslin-type fabric to sew the elastics and ribbons to (I sew my elastics on the inside… I know not everyone does that). In GMs the satin is fused to the inner layer which is some sort of flocked material. Getting a needle through all of that is un-fun, to say the least. My fingers still hurt days later.

Also, I had two other pairs of Freeds going and with rehearsals and such sewing up a new pair of pointes wasn’t high on my priority list.

But both pairs of Freeds (including my precious custom pair!) are essentially dead, so I didn’t have much choice with rehearsals looming in the near future.

Sew-sew-sew I go.

And then tried them out tonight for the first time in pointe class. I was hoping for the best, but I’m really not sure these shoes are for me. At best there’s going to be a pretty significant learning curve with these shoes and I’m just not sure I have the patience for it when I know the Freeds work.

Okay, let’s start with the positives, because it’s not all bad news.

They make my arch look really nice. And my feet have rather low arches, so that’s something. We were doing développés to the side and I was facing the mirror and though, holy Toledo, I actually look like I have bendy feet! Which I don’t. At all. So… that’s nice.

And… um… yeah, I guess that’s about it on the positives.

Argh. I really wanted to like these, especially since they are on the spendy side.

For one thing there is all the built in padding. It seems like a nice idea. Cushy inside. What ballerina doesn’t want some comfort in the shoes of death? But… I just felt like there was way too much going on in this shoe. I couldn’t put my finger on it until my teacher asked what I was wearing. She wears Gaynors so she is familiar with them (and obviously not anti-Gaynor like many teachers can be), but said that with all of the padding it can feel like you’ve got like an extra half inch of stuff in the platform and it means you have to go that much farther to get up en pointe. YES!!! That’s exactly it!

We weren’t doing anything particularly challenging in class today, so I was baffled as to why everything felt like a major ordeal. And that was a lot of it. I felt like my feet had grown overnight and I couldn’t figure out how to make them work.

Honestly, it kind of felt like I was trying to do pointe in a tennis shoe.

And then there’s the fact that they’re ugly as @*%#! Sorry. I know it’s stupid to get wrapped up in how a shoe looks, but these things look like boats on my feet. Again, I think it’s all the padding in the box that makes them look about twice as wide as my Freeds. The ugly box doesn’t quite make up for the pretty arch.

So… what to do, what to do? We’ve got rehearsals coming up and the show is only a little over two months away, so there’s no way I can get a new custom Freed order made up. I might look around to see if anyone has my maker in my size hanging around their stock room to get me through until I can get some customs made up. The other alternative, of course, is to just try to muscle through and figure out how to dance in these things. Probably more reasonable, but I’m just scared after how today’s class went.

Sigh… more to come, I’m sure. I’m not going to toss these shoes out quite yet, but I’m certainly not feeling any real affection towards them at this particular moment!

Nut 2013 – The chaos begins

Apparently my friends and I have developed a knack for choosing reunion weekends that happen to coincide with Nutcracker auditions.

This was the second year in a row that I missed them because I was gallivanting out of state with the same group of people. While I was swilling sangria and consuming tapas in Michigan, my dance friends were sweating it out in a curtained-off studio with numbers pinned to their leotards. Sorry, guys!

My dancer radar was up while I was traveling, though!

As we were leaving the tapas bar, I spied a brochure for the Grand Rapids Ballet. Might have to check them out next time I’m in town!

From dinner we proceeded to wander around checking out some of the ArtPrize displays around the city. Where I spied this:

Blind Grace, Dean Kugler

Blind Grace, Dean Kugler

This was just one of the works entered into ArtPrize that had a dance element, but we had limited time, it was dark, and there were a ton of people walking around the city checking out the art, so I didn’t get to search out any of the others. I quite enjoyed this piece, though. Details can be found here (and from there you can link to more info about ArtPrize).

It wasn’t my last chance to see dance-themed art during the weekend, though… because the following day we went to Meijer Gardens (should you ever find yourself in Grand Rapids, MI you must go there!) and I spied this Degas sculpture!

Edgar Degas, "Dancer Looking at Her Right Foot," c. 1895-1911, Bronze

Edgar Degas, “Dancer Looking at Her Right Foot,” c. 1895-1911, Bronze

Gorgeous!

In spite of missing auditions, I will still be in the show, though!

And I know you’re waiting anxiously to hear what my parts will be.

Repeats? New dances? Hm???

Well, in a way… both. I’ve been in all dances before. One of them will feature me in a new role, however.

First up is Snow… as a flake. Third year running. First year this piece nearly scared the tutu off me, but last year I quite enjoyed it, so I’m looking forward to it. We’ve got a lot of young blood in the dance this year, so will be interesting to see how it all pans out.

Next up is Hot Chocolate/Spanish corps. Another repeat – second year in a row. Last year I felt kind of meh about it. It had potential to be fun, but I was stressed and not totally pleased with my performance. Happy to get another run at it. The corps, with the exception of one guy, are all the same from last year. My partner from last year is the missing guy. Assuming the other ladies keep their partners from last year, I’ll get partnered with the new guy, but… new guy was actually the knight to my Lady in Waiting from Wild Swans, so he’s not totally new and he was a good partner, so I’ve got high hopes for this one this year.

Then the new/old dance. I’ll be back in the Waltz of the Flowers, which I was in my first year. But instead of being in the corps I’ll be a Rosebud. This is a role I’d had in the back of my mind, so I’m happy about that. My only disappointment is that I was hoping it could be en pointe, but the other rosebud doesn’t do pointe yet, so it’ll be slippers for us. Though, really… that piece is at the end of the show and by that time I can’t imagine I’ll be complaining when I get to take off my pointe shoes and put soft slippers on!

So, there’s the verdict. I think it will actually be a fairly fun, low-stress show for me this year, which I am looking forward to! Stay tuned for rehearsal updates and, of course, show recaps!

Best of luck to anyone else out there preparing for Nutcracker or other holiday shows!