Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Favorite Things

Do me a favor and just ignore how my knee began to bend before my heel arrived on the ground
I have a hunch that if I'm ever reincarnated as a musician all my work will be in 3/4 meter. Why? Because all my favorite ballet steps are in 3/4. (Because I know the curiosity is killing you, my favorite steps are: rond de jambe par terre, balancé and waltz turns.)

Apparently I'm a very waltz-y person. I wonder what that says about me?

Also, I once had a teacher say that people are either natural jumpers or natural turners. I beg to disagree. I am neither. I'm not sure what I am, but let's save that discussion for another day. You'll notice that my favorite steps are not jumps or turns, nor are they preparatory steps for jumps or turns.

What are your favorite steps?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

So Flattering

A little while back I received a note that I had been nominated for a Liebster Award. The Liebster is an award freely given to new blogs with less than 200 followers. I was so flattered to receive one! (And frankly rather relieved that someone is interested in what I have to say.)
Here are the rules for accepting the award:
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves 
2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create 11 questions for the people       you’ve tagged to answer
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post
4. Go to their page and tell them
5. No tag backs
First of all, I need to thank Alice in Danceland for nominating me. Someday I may plan a road trip just to hug her. And now, in gratitude, I will go on to follow the rules:
11 things about me
  1. I have scoliosis
  2. I have 13 ribs
  3. My sacrum isn't fully fused
  4. I dance anyway, and somehow nothing hurts too much
  5. I love to waterski
  6. My favorite food in the whole world is raspberries, although most people guess chocolate and I often don't correct them
  7. I am neither a morning person nor a night owl. I suppose you could call me sloth-like, but please don't
  8. I have always wanted to be the Arabian soloist in Nutcracker but, at 5'4" I am too short
  9. I started dancing when I was 12
  10. I love decorating sugar cookies
  11. I am a really good cook
My answers for Vivian
  1. What is your best recommendation for new bloggers? If you aren't blogging specifically for friends and family, I would highly recommend reading The Startup of You
  2. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Right now I'm fantasizing about Boulder, CO, and southern Spain. Although if the chance to live in London (again) came along I would absolutely take it!
  3. What types of posts and blogs do you tend to comment on the most? I usually comment when I have a relevant experience to share. Although I often read and enjoy without saying anything
  4. Favorite Youtube dance clip? This one
  5. Would you give up your day job to dance? Dancing already is my day job and I feel incredibly blessed for that
  6. What is your favorite dance studio? Oh my. I love any studio where excellent teaching and learning happen. They all have a special feeling of their own
  7. Do you like being corrected in class/what type of corrections work best for you? I appreciate corrections and love hearing new imagery
  8. Favorite book? Favorite quote? I read a lot so picking a favorite book is hard . . . I do love The Giver. I also have a few favorite quotes, but I'll pass along this one: 
    Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.
    —Kurt Vonnegut 
  9. Best snack between class? As the teacher, I get no time to snack between classes
  10. What’s your favorite leotard? (brand, style, color) Whatever one is newest, and I am still searching for this one
  11. Best advice you wish you would have known when you were younger? Stop worrying about being acceptable. Just work hard to truly accept yourself
11 questions for my nominees 

    1. Why did you start blogging?
    2. What's the coolest thing you've done this month?
    3. What kind of treat do you ask for on your birthday?
    4. What is your dream vacation?
    5. What is the most recent thing you read?
    6. What is the best advice you've ever received?
    7. What was/is your favorite subject in school?
    8. What is your favorite breakfast?
    9. What are your hobbies?
    10. Do you dream in color or black and white?
    11. Any tattoos?
Blogs to check out (there aren't 11 and I have no idea how many followers they have, I just like them)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Audition Tips

I've been judging a few auditions and placement classes lately so I thought I'd share some tips I wish I could have given the dancers.

  • I am hoping to see you succeed. I know auditions are stressful, but try to remember that I'm looking for good things. One mistake isn't the end of your life.
  • Smile. Or at least look pleasant.
  • No matter how you're feeling on the inside, try your very best to look cool, collected and confident on the outside. This means no fidgeting, making odd faces or frantically practicing on the sides when it isn't your turn.
  • Remember that auditions aren't the same as class. It's not okay to be practicing in the back because you're distracting the judges from the actual dancers. It's not okay to join the last group for one more chance at a combination. (Actually, that's never okay in my classes but some teachers don't have a problem with it.) And it's not okay to decide how many pirouettes you feel like doing. Do exactly what was asked of you.
  • Look pleasant. Better yet, smile.
  • When you see the judges talking or smiling together, don't assume the worst. Sometimes we're poking fun at ourselves. (Example: last weekend a fellow judge and I noticed that everyone on the panel was marking the combination with our feet while we took notes. None of us could sit totally still. It was funny.)
  • Don't stare at yourself in the mirror. We want to see you perform.
  • And did I mention how important it is to not look pained? Smiling is always a better look.
Good luck!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Headpieces Can Be Hazardous

headpiece available at tiaras4dance
I feel like I'm the only ballerina who thinks a costume can be complete without a headpiece. Don't get me wrong, I love a beautiful headpiece--but I don't think that you have to have one. Nor do I think bare heads makes your production look amateur. But many, many people around here disagree with me.

In the spirit of Jungian analysis (or maybe not; I only took one psych class in college) I think I've traced these feelings to their source: that one time my headpiece got caught in the scenery and I spent the finale looking like I was being hanged. (Which was not entirely inaccurate.)

The setting of the ballet was a little village in the countryside. The wings were made of netting (the holes were each about a square inch) with tree trunks and branches overlaid. It was very pretty and I really liked how the wings looked irregularly shaped from the audience. But remember the netting, because it played a role in my demise.

Many aspects of that production felt rushed. The sets were great and the dancers were well-rehearsed but the costumes weren't all ready for dress rehearsal and there was some kind of delay getting into the theatre. The tech and dress rehearsals were squashed into a much shorter time slot than usual and everyone's nerves were a little frayed. For some reason (probably to avoid exhausted people killing each other) the director decided not to run the finale in rehearsal. This seemed like no big deal since finales are essentially people running in, standing in straight lines, doing a couple of simple steps in unison and then holding a pose. A monkey could do it. In fact, monkeys probably have.

But no matter how close to the opening we were running, heaven forbid that anyone should go onstage without decorations in their hair. Never mind that the costume department didn't have time to make anything. Never mind that no one had time to run to a craft store for supplies. If you spray paint it silver, it counts as a headpiece! At least, that's what someone thought as they gathered sticks from their backyard, hot glued them to a large bobby pin and painted the whole mess silver.

It looked ridiculous. It looked stupid. And it ended up pinned above my bun. (A classical bun, of course.)

The opening went well. It was a lovely show. And at the end we all ran on, stood in a straight line and danced in unison, ending with soutenous, kneel. [Cue applause.]

Oh, but wait. I was on the end of my line. And I did my turn right in front of the wing. And the sticks in my hairpiece got caught in the netting. And I couldn't kneel. I was the only person standing on stage. And it looked rather like I was hanging from the tree branch.

When the lights went out I put both of my hands on my bun and yanked as hard as I could. The "headpiece" broke in half, some of it still dangling from the tree. As I returned my costume that night the costume mistress demanded tartly "Who broke this?!" "I don't know," I lied, "It belonged to someone else." That woman was scary. I don't feel bad about lying.

And thus was born my belief that it's okay to leave your hair plain.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Lots and Lots of Napping

Thank goodness there isn't a picture of me napping. I sleep hard.

This time of year gets a little hard for me because it feels like all of my students are burning out. I teach adorable little kids, but I can tell that they'd rather be outside playing than inside pretending to be fairies or zebras or (my recent favorite) hot dogs.

Plus we're getting ready for the parent demonstrations at the end of the month so I'm not introducing a whole lot of new stuff. Mostly we're perfecting what we already know and seeing how much material we can squeeze into a class. The kids are doing great but they are still ready for a break.

It's pretty draining teaching a room full of people who'd rather be doing something else, hence the napping. But it will be okay; demonstrations are at the end of the month and then comes summer. This slump happens every year, and it always resolves itself.

But if you're wondering why I haven't been blogging, it's because I've been asleep.