I survived the first half!
Enrichment class, we were back to Pilates again. The teacher added some new exercises or varied exercises to make them harder citing our “intermediate/advanced” status. Hey, I’m intermediate/advanced ballet, NOT Pilates! No, it was a good class, though. Things were feeling less foreign and as a result I (hopefully) am getting more out of it. One of the new exercises we tried was the “jack-knife” where you kind of go over into plow pose, but keeping the legs parallel to the floor, then try to press your legs up towards the ceiling, like you’re doing shoulder stand, without letting the core go all wobbly. I got a compliment on that one! The teacher asked if I’d done it before. I can’t recall if I’ve ever done it formally… I was embarrassed to admit that it’s something I’ve randomly done ever since I was a little kid simply because I find it weirdly entertaining. Should’ve joined the circus.
The intermediates stayed in the same studio for technique class which was being taught by yet another teacher, Gene Murray. I could tell from the moment he entered the studio that this man is a Character. Capital “C”. He’s one of the “guest” faculty for the program (he teaches for BBS at the Boston and Marblehead studios) and the plan was for Christopher Hird to introduce him. Well, he wasn’t there yet, so Mr. Murray introduced himself and went right into our warm-up exercise. This man will not stand on formality! Now… I’m trying to recall whether I’ve ever had a teacher who, legit, bangs on the floor with a cane to the music. I don’t think so. Well, now I have.
He was demanding, for sure. “Épaulement! You are at a level where you must use épaulement!” was a constant refrain throughout the class. But he would also pepper class with, “You are all lovely. Where have you been all my life?!” and other such endearments. I think a lot of my fellow students had no idea how to take this guy. Personally, I thought he was a hoot. Some of the people in my class are obviously on the younger side and seem to be used to a certain kind of teacher. Gene is not that kind of teacher. But thought he was delightful and managed to get a high degree of focus and clean technique while also keeping class fun.
There’s a great article about him here, written a couple years ago when he closed his own studio. Gives you a taste of what the guy is like. There’s a nice video along with it, too. Check it out.
After that was Repertoire, this time led by Carlos Molina. He’s a former principal dancer with Boston Ballet (also danced at ABT prior to that) and is married to current BB principal Erica Cornejo (whose brother is a principal dancer at ABT… lots of ballet going on in that family!). We continued to work on the polonaise from Swan Lake that we had been learning with Christopher Anderson. Didn’t learn any more choreography, but Carlos spent a lot of time working on cleaning what we had already learned. Due to the enormous size of the class, that meant there was a lot of down time. I mean, of course we marked things even when we weren’t the group of focus, but even so… lots of down time. But on the plus side, it kind of encouraged us to chit-chat a bit with our fellow dancers and actually built a little bit more camaraderie. So that was nice.
On the whole, week one was quite a trip. I’m so glad I decided to do this program and, as nice as it will be to have a few days free to rest and relax, I’m excited for next week… and a little sad knowing that it will be over after that!