ASDP 2015 – Week One

Blogapathy is still reigning here, I suppose.

Either that or I’ve become too cool for school now that I’m an ASDP veteran.

Not sure whether my readers (are you still here?) will be rejoicing or lamenting my lack of minute-to-minute chronicles of the ASDP experience, but I do want to keep some sort of record here. And now that week one has wrapped up, this is the perfect time…

This year I’ve got peeps with me, which is pretty cool. Although I really enjoyed my anonymity last year (I didn’t know any of the teachers or students in the program and it was kind of nice to dance on a clean slate), it’s also nice to share the experience with people you have an established relationship with. I’d mentioned that one of the kids (well, technically an adult now) was joining me for the core program this year. Well, a few weeks ago I brought up the ASDP in conversation with someone at work and was surprised a few days later when she started asking me questions about it. I was all… “Wait a minute, do you… dance?!” It turns out she had danced as a kid and was thinking of getting into it again. I mentioned that they had beginner and elementary levels and between the two she should find a good space to dip her toe back in the water. So she bit the bullet and signed up, too.

The program is set up pretty much the same as last year. The core program generally includes an hour and a half technique class followed by an hour of something else. Most often the “something else” is repertoire, but can also be a technique workshop, variations class, or a lecture of some sort. Then there is an optional enrichment session that takes place for an hour before the core program. Last year it alternated between modern and Pilates. This year students got to choose which of the two to take (though we could pick between the two and alternate if we wanted to).

So let’s start with the enrichment session. I got there the first day and the girl behind the desk asked which I was taking and I told her I wanted to do both. “So which days are you going to do which?” she asked me. Um… I thought YOU were supposed to give ME that information, not vice versa. I dunno! Isn’t there a plan?

Well, I ended up doing modern on day one, dragging coworker with me. Helena Froelich is teaching this class again this year and I enjoy her technique… as I mentioned last year, it’s very similar to the technique one of my modern professors in college taught, so it gives me a sense of happy nostalgia. The following day, I did Pilates (coworker in tow, once again). Same teacher as last year there, too. I hadn’t done Pilates since then, so it took some remembering, but it came back to me. Coworker decided that she was going to stick with Pilates from here on out since she was worried that modern might be a bit much based on the length of her dance hiatus and she figured something more fitness-based was a bit less intimidating. I returned to modern on Wednesday, but this was when I realized that the whole “choose-your-own-adventure/enrichment” method was not really as well thought-out as I expected. The people who were in modern on Tuesday had started learning a combination and Wednesday they were adding on to that combination… and I had absolutely no idea what was going on. So at that point I decided that it would be Pilates from here on out. I’m bummed to miss out on modern, but I just find it too frustrating to spend that much of a class lost and confused. And yes, I could ask for more of a breakdown of the combination, but it doesn’t seem fair to those who are doing modern every day to have to slow down to accommodate those who are switchers, so… rawr.

On to technique classes… first up, the levels: first day we had an abbreviated class since we had a welcome meeting that cut into class time. During the meeting they mentioned that the first technique class should be thought of as a placement class and that if the teacher felt we would fit better in another level that they would sort things out there. Which is good. It’s kind of hard sometimes to tell from a description which class will fit you best. I had told my coworker to sign up for elementary initially since she did have pretty extensive ballet background as a kid, so she might be fine there and, if not, she could always go to beginner, but better to try the more advanced level and see how it went. She reported back after class that she had, in fact, been demoted. She felt like the teacher worried she might be offended by this news, to which she was all, “Um, no, that’s fine!” She knew that elementary was a bit ambitious and I think was kind of relieved to be given the go-ahead to drop down to something more manageable. My collegiate friend and I, though… well, our experience was a bit different. After day one we were feeling a bit frustrated for the opposite reason… we were bored. But no one said boo to us. And we were left wondering whether we should say anything to anyone or hope that it would get more challenging or… something? After day two my friend ended up switching to the advanced level. And I… well, I just stayed in intermediate.

Why? I’m still questioning myself about that. Part of it, I guess, is knowing that my friend is, in fact, a more advanced dancer than me. She was always one of the best dancers at our studio and, weird as it may be, I’ve looked up to her since I started there, despite being nearly old enough to be her… uh, big sister… because she is talented and has such focus and meticulous attention to detail. So I can see that she should be in the advanced class. But… I’m not sure that the same applies to me. I’ve joked that she is my sister from another mister, but I don’t really want people to think I’m comparing myself to her when she is clearly far more talented than I am. So… that’s thing one. Thing two is that, while intermediate class can be a bit slow at times the upside is that I feel competent in there! Not perfect, mind you. I screw up plenty. As one of our instructors reminded us, #thestruggleisreal and boy, is it ever, but at the same time that feeling of competence gives me more confidence and I feel like I can get out there and actually dance full out. I worry that I would completely lose that in the advanced class, that I would retreat back to the shadows and hope that no one will see me. Then there’s thing three: mysterious injury to inner thigh (don’t want to aggravate it further) and thing four: I mapped out all the teachers for both intermediate and advanced and there are a bunch of teachers that I wouldn’t get to experience if I was in the advanced level and that would make me sad.

Speaking of teachers, so far we’ve had Hird, Jeffries, Beckwith, Leeth, and Kelley (any BBS regulars will probably recognize at least a few of those names). Jeffries was the only one I’d never had class with before, but this year we have worked with him nearly every day. First day he did our workshop (pirouettes & allegro) and he’s also working with the intermediates on our repertoire piece (see below). Both he and C. Hird are very technically-focused with clean combinations and clear corrections. Beckwith teaches a very beautiful, flowy class, emphasizing the “dance” part of it. Her classes freaked me out last year because I never felt like I quite got what she was looking for, but this year I enjoyed her class very much. And Kelley is like the best of all worlds: very technical, but also very focused on port de bras and épaulment and where the eyes should be focused… he’s great at explaining the coordination of all those elements, which a lot of teachers gloss over or just expect you to figure it out yourself.

We had three nights of repertoire last week. We’re all learning pieces from Sleeping Beauty this year and the intermediates are doing the nymph dance from… is it Act II? I’m not sure. I heard it’s on YouTube, but I could find nothing resembling the dance we’re doing, so don’t quote me on that. I guess it’s where Aurora meets the Lilac Fairy and all her friends. It’s rather aerobic, that’s for sure. Lots of ballotés which occasionally makes us look more like a band of deranged leprechauns than adorable nymphs flitting around, but it’s getting there. Mr. Jeffries set it and worked with us the first two days, but then Gene Murray (who I talked about here) worked with us on the third day to “clean” it. I thought we were going to give the poor man a stroke… it was pretty abominable. But it got… better? (Still time to work on it this week, thank goodness!)

One night was variations with C. Hird. The men from elementary and advanced were pulled in to worked on the Bluebird variation while the intermediate ladies learned the Aurora variation from Act III. I was able to find the choreo for this one on YouTube. Not only that, but it’s Boston Ballet’s version with Misa Kuranaga!

After the variations class we also had a physical therapy lecture with one of the PTs who works with BB company dancers. Most of the time was spent with people asking questions about their own injuries and the info was pretty much the same as what she gave to last year’s group, but I liked having this as part of the intensive. She also gave us the name of a dance medicine doc that I am planning to call about this nagging hip issue I’ve been dealing with for the past two months. Bonus is that they’re located at Boston Children’s Hospital which is just a couple blocks from the hospital where I work.

Overall, a great week. It’s tiring (especially after putting in a full day at the office), but I’m getting different things out of it the second time around and it’s nice to see some of my own growth from last year.

The adventure continues this week… stay tuned!

Whatever helps…

Was in a cute gourmet grocery chain this weekend (the kind with classical music and dim lighting that makes you want to linger and lull you into buying overpriced goodies) and spied this among the teas:

IMG_20150803_152801600

Hmmm… as I recall from last year’s ASDP the first couple days did render me a bit stiff. Decided I should add this to my office tea stash (I have a huge stash of tea despite hardly ever drinking the stuff… I think I like the ritual of making tea more than the actual drinking of it).

Haven’t brewed any yet, so can’t say whether it works or not. Mostly bought it as a gag gift for myself, but who knows, maybe it’ll turn me into Gumby. Worth a shot especially since I managed to tweak one of my inner hip flexors a couple months ago and it’s taking forever to recover. I’ll take any assistance I can get!

T-minus two hours until the start of ASDP 2015… woot woot!!!

It’s coming around again…

ASDP time!

(That’s the Boston Ballet School Adult Summer Dance Program for the uninitiated out there.)

While I’m a bit disappointed that my home company isn’t doing a summer ballet this year, I am extremely thrilled to be able to take advantage of this awesome opportunity for a second consecutive year!

And, even better, a fellow dancer from the home studio goes to college in the greater Boston area and stayed on campus this summer to do an internship and I just found out that she is going to be joining me! It was nice to be kind of anonymous last year, but I’m looking forward to sharing this with her since I’m sure she’ll appreciate it as much as I did!

I chronicled the ins and outs of my time there last year, but if you missed it or want a refresher here’s my (sort of) quick and dirty recap. Hoping to renew my writing inspiration by blogging along again this year, though might not be QUITE as in depth since it won’t have quite the same level of novelty. Stay tuned!

If someone asks: “Can you do a cartwheel?”

…make sure you know why they are asking the question before admitting ANYTHING!

So, Nutcracker casting this year…

I was chosen to be a Snowflake and a Rosebud. I’ve been a Snowflake every year. It’s an honor to be in it, so I was relieved to be chosen for that again. Rosebuds are typically new people each year, but they recast the two of us from last year. Which is fine. It’s an easy role, but I love the music and being part of that scene.

But… okay, I was a TEENSY bit disappointed not to have something else. Usually we average three roles apiece and I couldn’t help feeling like I had really bombed the audition and was getting a subtle hint from the adjudicators that it was time to consider a new hobby.

Of course, it’s doubtful there was anything personal about it. We’ve got some stellar young dancers who were given a ton of roles, as it should be. I’m one of the middle-of-the-road dancers and am happy to be given the opportunity to play the roles I do. So I sulked in the privacy of my own home, got over it, and moved on.

But… I’ve been to this rodeo enough times to know that there was probably something else in store.

A couple weeks into rehearsals we were chatting in class and one of the party moms mentioned that she needed to get character shoes. Since I’ve given her some pointe shoes that haven’t worked for me, I knew we’re around the same size and piped up, “Gee, you should have told me, you could have borrowed mine so you didn’t have to spend the money!”

The director looked over at me and said, “Well, actually, you may want to keep your character shoes. I was planning to talk to you… one of the maids dropped out and…”

“And you need me to be a maid,” I filled in.

“Well, yeah, maybe, I mean, I can ask so-and-so, too, but…” she trailed off.

Maid Rori, reporting for duty!

Maids don’t really dance, but we do get some fun acting stuff. I am the stern, no-nonsense maid. It suits me, really. I’m finally finding a purpose for all that Downton Abbey binge-watching!

So there we go, three roles.

A couple days later I was in class on a Saturday and the director looks up at me and says, “Can you stay late to understudy for Hot Chocolate?” We don’t often have formal understudies, but one of the girls cast in the dance was temporarily banned from pointe work due to a sports injury (stop playing sports, kids!) and another one is pregnant (I should specify that the pregnant one is a woman, NOT a girl… it’s all on the up-and-up!) so there was some anxiety that would be allayed by having an extra person know the dance. Which I was cool with learning; while I’d been in Hot Chocolate twice, they were changing the choreography this year and I figured it would be fun to learn the new piece.

So that was all well and good.

Then a couple Saturdays later I was getting ready for class and saw that the two choreographers were having a hurried conference. Through the closed French doors I caught the eye of the director who pointed and mouthed something to me. “What?” I said, puzzled.

I cracked open the door and poked my head in.

“I said, can you do a cartwheel?”

“Um, yeah, I can, but…”

As soon as the words were out of my mouth I knew I had made a grave error. The other choreographer said, “Good, we need you to learn Candy Canes.” Butbutbut…. Candy Canes is danced by CHILDREN!!! Adults don’t do Candy Canes (see: cartwheel)! “Oh, don’t worry,” she said. “Many of them are taller than you, you’ll fit right in.” Phooey.

Thankfully another child was found who wanted to learn the dance. But the choreographer asked me to learn it anyway. Just in case. It’s always good to have extra people who know the part, you know. So there I was, like the one old candy cane you find at the bottom of the container of Christmas ornaments, left over from last year, ready to crumble into bits the moment you touch it next to a package of brand new, fresh candy canes. I muddled through well enough. Things only got vaguely hairy when I had to jump through my own candy cane hoop like a jump rope and then try to cartwheel (on my bad side, of course) to the knee. And, of course, all my fellow adults thought this was thoroughly entertaining.

It was fun to learn, but I was thoroughly relieved to learn that the original Candy Cane appeared to have recovered from her illness and will be able to continue on as planned. Whew.

So… lesson learned. Bemoan nothing, even in your head, lest you be appointed chief cook and bottle washer!

And… don’t admit to any proficiency in tumbling skills without knowing why you’re being queried! ;)

BB Up Close

In case I ever develop a case of the “I never win anythings” someone please remind me of this:

Apparently when I renewed my subscription for Boston Ballet’s 2014-15 season super-duper early I was entered in a contest. I don’t recall this fact. I was just so excited about the line-up and I adored my seats so much that I simply wanted to secure my spot in the next season’s action.

But I was.

And I won!

What did I win?

Oh
.
.
.
just the chance to go watch Boston Ballet’s Swan Lake rehearsals!

My non-ballet acquaintances were all, “Oh, that’s… nice?”

To which I replied, “Nice? Nice?! It’s fan-f&^$ing-tastic!”

Because I am a big ballet nerd.

Thankfully I’m well-acquainted with some other big ballet nerds and… as part of my prize I was allowed to bring one of them with me!

So I picked my time (there were four times during the weekend to choose from): Saturday afternoon.

Then agonized over what one wears to watch rehearsals: one does not want to look overdone or underdone and skirts are 100% out seeing as I could totally picture them giving us a nice scrap of marley in the corner from which to watch. The outfit I chose probably made me look a bit scattered, though I preferred to think of it as casual-chic-military-inspired-1950s-housewife.

Then agonized over whether we’d have enough time to get there (because, of course, we had our own class and rehearsals that ran past noon AND it was a nice warm day which Bostonians know cannot be wasted therefore pedestrians and motorists alike would be out in force AND the Head of the Charles regatta was going on in town, too).

But travel worked out perfectly: we were told to get there by 3:15 and I think we were at the door right on the dot. We met a couple staff members at the door and were told to wait there and to use the restroom if necessary NOW as we would not be able to wander in and out of the rehearsals.

So we waited politely until we were summoned to the elevators. There were two other women and a gentleman who were part of the “Winners’ Circle.” Somehow I was expecting a MUCH larger turn-out. They said they selected 100 winners! There were four times to pick from and I think they said that one of the Sunday times had a lot of people, but still… five people? Are all the other winners cray-cray? Or are they just super-popular with posher plans already in the works?

Whatever… that means larger scraps of marley for us.

Except, no. We weren’t actually marooned in a corner, peeping at the action like forlorn little mice. We were led up to the huge 4th floor studio and shown to a row of chairs that ran along the mirrors. Front and center! We were told to avoid certain areas for the directors, but other than that, we had our choice of seats right in the midst of the action.

Wow.

Although… hello, my name is Rori and I am conspicuous! Felt a teensy bit awkward to be positioned so we were staring directly at the dancers as they were warming up and running through bits of choreography before the action started. I mean, who knows, maybe they’re used to random people just hanging out watching them. But I was just relieved that I had been allowed to bring a friend so we could chat with one another and not let our awe be TOO obvious.

And then… well, then, Mikko came in. I say that like he and I are best buds; I should probably refer to him as MISTER Nissinen. But if you are a regular BB fan, you will easily recognize BB’s Artistic Director, not only from his picture in the programs, but from the shows themselves. I think I’ve seen him wandering around the Opera House at every show I’ve gone to, kissing cheeks and looking appropriately mysterious in his black leather jacket. You begin to feel like you know the guy even though the feeling isn’t even remotely mutual.

I guess black leather jackets are a bit much for running rehearsals. It was a black polo, track pants, and dance sneakers on this day. And… dear reader, he came right up and talked to the five of us! I guess I should have expected that, but I could also see someone of his stature being all, “I’ve got important artistic work to do, I’m not going to spend time talking to the ‘fans’ the subscriptions team decided we should drag into the studio!” But no, he was completely gracious, thanking us for coming (thank us?! NO, thank YOU!!!) and telling us that we would be seeing a run-through of acts III & IV of Swan Lake with Ashley Ellis as Odile and Eris Nezha as Siegfried. He told us about Nezha being from La Scala to which I was all, “Eek, I know, he and his wife came to talk to us during the ASDP!!!” Okay, that’s what I said in my head. Externally I only managed to smile and nod mutely because I could think of nothing witty or endearing to say.

And then… rehearsals got underway. I must apologize for not having any pictures to share with you. We were told we could take photos as long as we didn’t use flash and, of course, didn’t take video, but I would have felt really, really weird doing so. So you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was incredible and amazing to be so freaking close to the dancers. I thought Eris Nezha was going to land a grand jété in my lap at one point.

So many amazing things to witness.

For one thing… it really isn’t that different from when we do studio run-throughs before a show. Okay, so the dancing is obviously at a totally different caliber, but aside from that, the dancers who aren’t on are standing around watching, some of them are chit-chatting, some of them are checking their phones or sewing pointe shoes, etc.

Another thing is… yeah, they make it look effortless, but when you’re that close you can tell how much work it is. They are breathing like they’re running a sprint and “glistening” like nobody’s business.

Also… they don’t always keep their game face on during rehearsals. I saw some lip-biting, a few deadpan faces. I don’t mean that as a criticism at all! It’s actually a relief to me. I’ve always had a hard time getting super-emotive in rehearsals… I do fine on stage, but, for a current example, when we’re running Snow in the studio, being a smiling, beatific snowflake is not my MO in that moment. In the midst of going full-throttle for 6 minutes adding in a smile for a non-existent audience seems like a total waste of energy. I save it for the stage at which point, of course, it’s 110%, “Oh my gosh, I’m so THRILLED to be sucking in fake snow, this is the best thing I’ve ever done!!!”

But… they ALL clap for one another after each piece! I wasn’t expecting that. Not just clapping, but cheering and whooping for the hard stuff. I’ve heard that this is a close company, and that seemed to prove it, at least in some way. They seemed super-supportive of each other, working together to figure things out, etc.

And… for those people who think dancers are all built the same… they’re not. Woah. Revelation. I’m not sure if any of you have been following Katie (Kathryn) Morgan’s YouTube channel, but she’s mentioned multiple times in there that there are ranges of normal in ballet. You might have thought she was being PC. But she’s right. Maybe back in the Balanchine heyday the string-bean waif was the hand-picked ideal, but I think that is changing and it certainly is the case with BB. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all super-slender and you’d be hard pressed to find any pudge in that room, but… there are some bean-poles builds (guys and girls alike) and there are some very athletic dancers who have cores and quads of steel (again, guys and girls alike). It was nice to see women that I could look at and say, yes, if I were to work out/dance as much as they do, that’s what I imagine I’d look like.

That goes for feet, too. I, of course, saw plenty of to-die-for feet. I also saw some that were remarkably adequate. In fact, one of my favorites, corps member Sarah Wroth… yeah, her feet don’t appear much bendier than mine. Obviously you can’t be completely flat-footed; you have to be able to have the foot and ankle flexibility to get over your boxes. But banana feet are not a requirement.

It was great to see the rehearsal process. Even though these are professionals it was clear that this is a work in progress. It’s a nearly-finished work, but there are always tweaks to make, entrance cues to learn, details of placement. Mikko talked to us a bit towards the end while the ballet mistress was working with the swan corps and was saying that the individuals learn their parts: it starts messy, but gets better. Then they all come together and it’s like the whole process starts again. Then, of course, once they get that level down they move to the stage with the full costumes, props, and scenery, and again there is a process where you run through and things are awry, but they work it all through until the curtain goes up. Lots of building up and breaking down in the process of getting it to a completed work (and even then, as anyone who performs knows, there are always notes and things to learn and work on, even as the audience thinks it’s seeing a “finished product”).

All in all a fabulous afternoon peeking behind the curtain. As an amateur dancer, it was amazing to see how many parallels do exist. Dance is dance, after all. But it was also incredible to see so much amazing talent up close in one place. I feel so privileged to have been able to indulge in that afternoon and am so grateful to Boston Ballet!

As we were walking out one of the staff members came looking for us and said they had gifts for us… as if what we just experienced hadn’t been sufficient! They gave us totes filled with a mug, pen, magnet, and the requisite publicity pieces.

BB Swag

We chatted with them a bit before we headed out. I guess this was the first time they’ve ever done something like this, opening the doors for patrons to see the rehearsal process, so they were curious what we thought. All five of us were equally agog.

As my friend and I exited we saw one of the dancers outside hop on his bike and ride away. Somehow it seemed absolutely ludicrous that one of these amazing dancers would just… get on his bike and go… home? I don’t know what we thought he should do. Grand jété to the moon? I guess it’s just surreal to realize that these dancers, as awesome as they are, are still just… people. At the end of the day it’s their job. And they think what any of us think when we leave work: “Crap, I drank all the milk this morning, need to stop and get more. Did I pay that bill that’s due tomorrow? Oh, and I need to call Suzy and see if she still wants to get together tomorrow.” It’s not, “Aw yeah, I’m a star!” And to most people, I guess they’re not. They look at them and see some guy on the T, some girl walking down the street.

But as ordinary as they all ultimately are, to some of us they represent something so incredibly special, and they are superstars in our eyes. I am eternally grateful that they allowed us into their world, even for just a few hours, to see what their “day-job” looks like, to dream and admire and appreciate and expand my ballet education just a bit more.

Thank you, Boston Ballet!

The tools of our trade

As regular readers are probably aware, I fund my dance hobby with a job in healthcare. I’m trained as a nurse (though currently I have a nursing job that does not involve directly caring for patients; I’m behind-the-scenes… in the wings, as it were!).

I had become a nurse just a couple years before resuming ballet and I found that this bank of knowledge gave me a whole new appreciation for the things my body can do. So much of our time as dancers is spent focusing on what we can’t do, but when you look at what we’re given to work with it’s pretty amazing that we can stand up and walk, let alone plié, grand jété, and stand on our toes.

It also gave me a new appreciation for how important it is to care for this tool we’re given. A lot of what we do in ballet isn’t entirely natural (hello, turn-out). While unnatural doesn’t inherently mean dangerous, it can be harmful if we don’t approach it in the right way.

This is why I’m such a fan of people like Lisa Howell and Deborah Vogel who spend much of their lives helping us understand how to get the most out of our bodies. The demands of ballet are constantly increasing and with that the risk of injury increases, as well. Whatever level we’re at, professional or amateur, we need to take care of ourselves if we want to continue enjoying ballet in the studio or on the stage!

If any of you are as interested in this as I am, but don’t want to embark on a new career, I’ve got a free (!) course for you! HarvardX (yes, that Harvard) just opened a MOOC (which stands for Massive Open Online Course) called Musculoskeletal Anatomy. Here’s their trailer on it. Fair warning: there are some brief shots of human cadaver dissection at about 1:15-1:45 — medical students learn anatomy by dissection, so if images of surgeries or that fetal pig you had to dissect in high school made you gag, this might not be the course for you. But if you can handle that (and keep in mind that the cadavers are people who made the choice when they were alive to donate their body for this purpose because they felt strongly about contributing to medical education in this way) this is a cool way to learn more about how our bodies work and how injuries may be evaluated and treated.

Through the Escape Hatch

So I skipped my Saturday morning class today…

To go to Saturday morning class at another studio.

Does this make me unfaithful?

I don’t know, I just felt the need to get away.

Our Saturday morning class is one I have a love-hate relationship with anyway. For one thing, it’s the one class where the adults and kids are combined. We have nice kids, so that in and of itself isn’t a problem it’s just…

I don’t know, sometimes (a lot of times) I leave feeling totally defeated and frustrated. The kids seem to take whatever gets thrown at them and just do it. Not that they always do it well, but they do it. Which is respectable. Sometimes I think that’s how you learn… just try and see what happens and refine as you go. But there are times when all I can think is, why am I here? Is this class meant to remind me of my weaknesses, my failings, the things that I will likely never conquer in the studio?

And then I want to cry and break things.

I know, I know, I being overly angsty about this.

The truth is, a lot of us adults feel this way at one time or another and the nice part is that we can all support one another.

And then there will come a class where the exercises all (or, at least, mostly) feel good and you walk out feeling exhilarated. Which makes up for a boatload of meh classes.

I don’t know, I think I’m just going through a weird growing pain phase in my ballet “career” that I don’t quite know how best to approach.

But I’m getting ahead of myself into a topic for another post.

Back to this morning.

So, Nutcracker auditions are tomorrow. Which are always a bit anxiety-provoking, even if they are mostly a formality (most of the dancers come from our own stock of students, so the people doing the casting know the raw material they have to work with and who will work best for what). You still want to go out there and dance proud, which is hard to do if you’re in a weird mental space brought on by feeling defeated.

Also, it’s hard to slay anxiety when you’re surrounded by people who not only share that feeling, but talk non-stop about the feeling!

Thus, I decided to spend the morning in a class where I knew I would A) get a good workout, B) get good corrections, and C) not be around anyone else I know from the studio!

So… I returned to BBS-Newton for the first time since the ASDP glory days to take class with one of the teachers I had over the summer. I’d enjoyed his classes then and was hoping to rekindle some of the magic I felt during those two weeks.

And, dear reader, I’m so glad I did. It was just what the doctor ordered. There were no miracles in the studio, but I felt good for the most part. I felt strong and centered and technically clean. And, bonus, I saw a lot of familiar faces which was fun. I’ve taken a couple classes at the main studio in Boston and didn’t recognize anyone from the program there… I guess they’re all Newton regulars.

Time will tell if this will spell a good omen for tomorrow. But I will at least be going in with the reminder that I can feel beautiful and strong and competent as a dancer and that will be the most recent ballet memory tomorrow when I pin on my number bib and go dance in front of the panel of judges!

Ballet zen has been achieved for the moment.

Go forth and conquer, grasshopper.