Tag Archives: summertime

Towards The End Of Summer

 

It’s over – summer session, that is. Classes are on break until the end of the month. And now that I’ve had some time to process everything a little more, I’m ready to talk about my summer.

Our little summer performance has come and gone, my group choreographic debut. Such a mixture of feelings! In a way it’s sad, knowing that we will never dance this dance again. I mean the choreography can be recreated, but it wouldn’t be the same people, so it wouldn’t be the same – what each of them brings to the table. If I’m honest, i have gotten attached to every dance I’ve performed, but this time’s different – when it’s something you’ve created, it’s yours, you’ve brought it forth from where it existed in a realm of possibilities and made it happen. During each of the performances I saw people recording during it, and that makes me happy – i feel like this way my work lives on.
In general, the audience response was positive- i mean, if anyone thought it sucked they either kept it to themselves, or I didn’t hear of it. On the other hand, lots of people told me they enjoyed it. They can’t all be lying to me, right?
I didn’t know what kind of response it would receive. I mean, I loved it, the entire process from when it was one of infinite possibilities in my mind, as it began to tak shape. I didn’t know (or care, if i must be honest) if the audience would “get it”. There’s different levels of understanding and I don’t thing art requires to be understood to be appreciated…yes, i think i just referred to myself as an artist, no offense meant to those true artists, if there is such a thing… I’ve come a long way… but my point is that I created the piece that I felt I must create, not a piece meant to be a crowd pleaser. That it be enjoyed is a bonus, and it pleases me, but it wasn’t the point.
The process, as I metioned in a previous post, was stressful as can be. I would plan out the details for my next rehearsal at home (I’m a big time planner, definitely), videotaped the end of every rehearsal so there was no confusion about what we got done, and took copious amounts of notes. I worked my butt off, but it was all a pleasure, because I was committed to getting this to work. I was desperately hoping that my organization, planning and just pure effort would make up for all my shortcomings. The finished product – and the recordings that I have seen of it – make me so proud. I’m not one of those obnoxiously self-assured people, quite the opposite, so I have no way of knowing if I did a good job. But I really like the outcome, that’s enough for now. And this has been the most fun I’ve had performing, ever.

But the shortcomings were there. I learned so much throughout this entire process. For someone who usually hates working in a group, I had my work cut out for me. Yes, I confess at some point I found myself searching online for information about how to be a leader, and especially, how to lead more “dominant” people (for the record, the closest I found to useful information was to give them a task or responsibility). Despite having a carefully thought out plan of what we’re doing, there were some moments when I felt so incredibly overwhelmed. Having a plan and getting people to follow it are not the same thing, I soon learned. I also quickly figured out that being a leader is hard work! There are sometimes difficult decisions that you have to make, or decisions that are easy to make, but hard to inform the person that they affect. In my dance piece I had different parts for different dancers, depending on their skill level (I had everything from brand new beginners, to people who have danced for years, just not ballet, to some ballet experience), and one of the most difficult parts was dealing with people that ummm, overestimate their dancing ability. People that have the confidence, but not the moves – so awkward to tell them that they aren’t getting to dance a certain paet, and dealing with the reactions… I’m a people pleaser, unfortunately, and giving people news they don’t want to hear is very difficult for me. It’s something I struggle with still.
But in the end we did it! And honestly, I would do it again – am I a glutton for punishment, or do I just require tasks that force me to focus and step out of my comfort zone in order to grow? Don’t know, but I know that I feel like I’ve learned a lot, not just about what it takes to put on a show successfully but also about interpersonal interaction and human nature. I value all my lessons.
***
The summer modern session ended as well, and I had a great time throughout. I am so much more comfortable with floor work than ever before. One of the other pieces that I performed in in the show had lots of floor work including falling down from standing or jumps and I was able to do it all (with the help of my trusty knee pads!) and live to do it again the next day. In the modern classes I took a couple years ago (wow – has it really been that long?!) we did more warming up and less across the floor or combinations, but in this summer’s class we got to everything. So sad that this teacher is not going to be teaching modern at my school this fall.
I’m feeling a bit out of practice with ballet. While all the rehearsals and modern classes were going on, I was not able to keep up my ballet practice – I was lucky if I go to do ballet twice a week or so. And during the last show someone landed on my foot, so I’ve been taking it easy for the past week. But today I pulled up Kathryn Morgan’s Advanced Barre on youtube and gave it a try. It was so fun to attempt that level again! Not that I was anywhere close to mastering it, but it felt so good to try. The improvement from the first time trying the new combinations to the second time was actually really encouraging!
But this reminds me, I don’t know which classes to sign up for come fall. I mean, I almost feel like I would like to take the int/adv class again… I’ve taken it before, I was strong enough to be in it last year in the Fall, but I discontinued last Spring. Instead I took beginner class en pointe. While beginner class en pointe was really fun, I don’t know if I was feeling challenged enough. Int/adv is a good challenge, but if I may be honest, I really don’t like some of the people in the class – mean-spirited, stuck-up people – especially when contrasted with the fun atmosphere in the beginner class. The unpleasant people really make the class not fun, especially because I would like to attempt the more difficult options for the combinations (you gotta start somewhere…) but I feel like they are judging me, or staring me down. In short, I don’t feel welcome. And no, it’s not in my head that some of these people don’t like me – one of them was involved in this past show, and as part of the pre-performance we usually all have a group warm up. One of the exercises we did for warm up was walk around and when the music stopped we were supposed to partner with the person nearest us and stretch together, then repeat. Well, at one of the times when the music stopped, this person was right in front of me, closest to me, and she turned around and walked away trying to find someone else (there wasn’t, every one else had paired up). I mention this not to get sympathy but to show that there are some mean-spirited brats out there masquerading as “adults”; often times people like to believe the best in others (“maybe she didn’t see you…” but I was right there) , and I just wanted to prove that this is not in my head or a product of my anxiety. But anyway, haven’t decided yet which class to take – I guess I have a few weeks to figure it out. Also have a about a month to figure out if I will audition for the next show. A lot can happen in a month…

Summer Fun And Ballet

This post is somewhat  and undetailed, but having spent the weekend having some summertime fun – picnic-ing and swimming at the lake – I am tired.

Second week of my summertime ballet session! The week was fun – the level of the class is something like Beginner 2, more challenging than basic beginner level but definitely not intermediate (both regular Intermediate class, and that Beginner-Intermediate class session from last summer). Well, actually it’s a little difficult to narrow it down to which level it is. At barre we’re using port de bras for some exercises, some of us are working on releve a bit more, and in center we’re using the body facings instead of just facing front for tendus. At the same time, we haven’t worked on any turns and have hardly jumped. I’m hoping this coming week we will do more of that, since I don’t want to feel out of practice. I actually started freaking out the other day at home, thinking about how I hadn’t done any jumping at all in about a week, and I haven’t had time to go for a run or even a walk, so what if I lose all my stamina. My fears turned out to be groundless (I had a home practice session with plenty of jumps and I was fine), but still, I got myself all worked  up. Since it took me so long to build up the strength to jump through a whole saute combination without ending up with flexed feet, I’m pretty worried of losing it again.

About the tendus with facings that I mentioned, I was so glad that during my weeks of completely from class I did the Kathryn Morgan Easy Ballet Center, because it was very similar to it – tendus croisse devant, en face, efface (we did ecarte as well), and reversing it, all with port de bras. I felt super on the spot, especially after one of my classmates made it clear she was going to follow me, but it went pretty well even the reversing. I think the facing I’m least familiar with is efface, but I’m starting to become as comfortable with it as I am with the rest. This body facings thing was something else that took years for me to understand, but to be fair not all of my teachers have taught the body facings to the Beginner class.

Class at NS was also fun. There was not one, but two(!) couples taking class together, a fact that I immediately mentioned to Boyfriend when I got home, as a hint somewhat. He’s still not going for it.

Barre went slow and detailed, with lots of work on our plies and tendus. Then for center NS Teacher had the more beginner students work on passe releves and pique passe along the barre while some of us did a turning combination. It was pique turn x2, stepover/lame duck pique, pique turn x2, pirouette en dehors from fourth, repeat. It was pretty tricky – basically, from the second pique turn, momentum takes you all the way to a fourth position preparation for the pirouette. That part scared me a little. I wasn’t really trusting myself and making it a fluid motion, so I’m sure I looked far from graceful. But a couple of my pirouettes were ok, in the sense that I made it all the way around, but not great. I had a few definitely bad ones in there as well… As for the pique turns, they were ok, but by the end I noticed I was getting a little tired. I feel like that’s because I haven’t been working on single leg releve lately, so I’ve gotten weaker. Or perhaps I was just tired, since it was my second class of the day.

We also did the temps leve combination (saute passe, saute arabesque) which is always fun for me. We started from B+ with the saute passe instead of saute arabesque (which I’m more familiar with), which makes it seem like it’s more difficult. Once we start it becomes just muscle memory, but the start just feels like it would throw me off, as I watch the first group go. But I’ve noticed more advanced dancers do this thing where they kind of plie and spring off their supporting leg when they start a combination from B+, and  think maybe this could help get me in the habit of that?

I’m still doing my yoga session (4 days a week, 1.5 hour per day), and the results have been interesting. Throughout the first week I was thinking ‘yeah, this is ok, but I feel much more of a workout with pilates’. But then in the middle of this past week, something changed – while doing/attempting to do one of the poses, I realized that my shoulders could open up even more than I previously thought possible. In pilates it’s always like ‘engage your lats!’ or ‘relax the shoulders!’ (which seems a counterproductive cue for me, since my shoulders feel relaxed in  their slightly forward incorrect posture, and to bring them back and down I actually feel like I’m contracting a muscle, not relaxing it), but in yoga the instructor said to ‘open up our side chest’ and ‘lift the shoulders up and back’, which somehow did the trick. It’s like I discovered even more muscles that I didn’t know I had and it felt awesome! So I’m defintely becoming a bigger fan of yoga. Don’t see myself stopping pilates though.

My body imbalances from left to right have also become apparent to me while doing yoga. There’s poses that I find it much easier to do one one side than the other. There’s also poses that I can’t really do all the way (I feel like I should clarify that this class, just like my ballet classes, are based on a session system and get increasingly more difficult or challenging as the session goes on. Since we’re barely at the end of the second week, we’re not doing anything crazy challenging, or even headstands, yet), including one where you stand, cross one leg over the other, bend your supporting leg, and try to wrap the foot of your working leg around your supporting calf – sort of the anti-coupe (or at least that’s how I think of it, and it’s the final wrapping the foot around part that I can’t do).

We are going to get to handstands and headstands by the end of the session, and honestly I feel a little worried about that. The instructor really emphasizes safety, but still, when it’s something that’s completely new to me I hesitate to just trust my body. And for me, there’s something about being upside down – as a kid I was obsessed with it. but I could never do it,so I have this, like, mindset about it. This can be so hard to overcome sometimes, the idea that I’m doing  the same action so why would I expect a different result. But then, this past weekend at the park I was doing cartwheels wth Boyfriends nephews and nieces, having a great time, and I barely learned how to do a cartwheel a year and a half ago for the first time ever. I turned 33 this past week, and I’m so happy that at least I’m getting to experience at my age now what I never got to as a child.

And that paragraph just went on the biggest tangent ever.

 

hello, summer

Well, it’s officially summer here now!  And while I love the sunsets (seriously though, I think sunsets from around late May or so until about September are so freaking beautiful, I could stare at them all day. or at least until, you know, the sun sets), it is just so hot! Even at 6:30 in the morning or 7 at night it is so hot that it makes physical activity at least somewhat unpleasant.  During this time of year if I want to go hiking,  or at least for a nice long walk, I have to be out there by 7 am so I can be back home in the shade before it heats up too much.

And ballet practice?   Lately I’ve been waiting to practice until it’s almost sunset. I like to practice for at least an hour (on days when I’m not feeling particularly enegetic) and on other days I’ve been known to stretch it out for almost two.  But in the summertime, it gets tough.  I guess during the colder time of year I’m happy to be in motion because it will help me stay warm.  This time of year, just sitting on the couch without moving a muscle is already keeping me warm, so to get up and do some physical activity just means it will get warmer.  And it does.

Usually by the time I’m done with my warm-up plies I’m already starting to sweat.  I think that’s the hardest part, getting motivated to get off the couch and warm up, because for some reason it gets easier after that.  I’m not sure if this is due to me getting used to the heat or just me getting into it and getting caught up in the ballet-ness of it.  All I know is by the time an hour has passed I’m dripping in sweat but I don’t want to stop, it almost feels like it takes that long for my body to go “oh we’re dancing? Cool, let me help you!” instead of it being my mind doing all the work.

Except that by the time this happens it’s already nighttime and I get sleepy, probably from getting up early to beat the morning heat and go for a walk.  And as much as I love the summer sunsets (and summer vacation), I miss winter.  Winter, when I can have a ballet session at 2 in the afternoon, go for a walk at any hour of the day, actually be active outdoors, just sounds so nice when it’s so hot outside that even going to check the mail sounds like an effort.

But as you get older, time starts passing faster and faster and you realize that if you spend all your time looking towards the future then you are not really living in the moment.  An so, I will appreciate this summer weather and enjoy it.  I am grateful that I have figured out a way to work a schedule to fit my activitites around the heat.  And besides, now that the longest day is upon us, it means that the days can only get shorter and shorter, right?