Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Big Day

At this point in the post, I wish I could cue the music you hear when something bad is about to happen, you know that music that comes on in every horrible scary movie or during those ridiculously suspenseful moments that really could have been avoided if the characters had just done what any normal person would do and not gone into the dark room or opened the creepy door. People are really idiotic in movies. There's simply no other way of putting it.

As you have probably already guessed from my previous posts, this entry will be completely dedicated to the YAGP competition day, otherwise known as the most stressful, most ridiculous and most political day of the year. Since I intend to be completely honest in every entry, be prepared to hear some choice words regarding this competition, which may or may not be justified in any manner.

The day started out quite well. I woke up sprawled out on my king size hotel mattress, threw my hair up into a bun, scarfed down some continental breakfast with some very lovely company from my friends and made the half hour drive to Torrington. It really makes a world of a difference being with people you actually enjoy being with. One thing I can take away from this experience, with the exception of a free pair of tights, is some new found friendships and unforgettable memories. When you just take ballet class with the same people everyday, you never really get the chance to get to know them. It's that time talking and driving and laughing with people that builds true friendships. I am proud to be able to say that I talked and laughed with some pretty incredible people this weekend. Thanks for an amazing time, guys!

I now reference back to what I said earlier about every single dancer: We are all completely judgmental. All 15 of us piled out of the van and walked inside the theater only to be greeted by a million dancers all too eager to look us up and down and give us the hairy eye. What is that all about? What ever happened to simply smiling at people when they walk by? It there something morally wrong with being nice to people you are competing with? So, of course, being the generous and kind person I am, I smiled and waved at everyone who gave me a dirty look, just to make them feel stupid. . . .wait, I guess that makes me just as mean. Oh well!!

One of the worst things about YAGP is that you never really get a full warm-up class. There is no studio space available and, in our case, your teachers don't give enough crap to actually show up and pretend to care about warming you up, so you end up fending for yourself, grabbing the next available hand rail and giving yourself a less than decent class. In any case, you just want to be warm enough to do your variations without completely making a fool of yourself. That's mostly the goal. Although, most of the time, you end up just staring at all the other competitors, comparing yourself to them and realized how much better they are than you. This was exactly the case as I did my plies and watched another school of dancers warm up out of the corner of my eye. It totally kills your confidence and I suggest avoiding watching anyone at all during a competition. It'll only create further problems for you. It is best to simply stare at the floor. . .or your toes. Whichever fancies you most I suppose.

Well, after much anticipation, hours of waiting in our freezing dressing room, sweating a little (ok a lot) and multiple trips to the bathroom to relieve my nervous pee, it was finally my time to get on stage. I first did my contemporary variation in my floor length red dress, which apparently makes me look tall on stage, interestingly enough. It was nice to know that I had people supporting me. Even though they got yelled at every time they tried to watch, practically all the dancers from Washington Ballet ran up the stairs to catch a glimpse of my dancing. For some reason, watching from the wings was unbearably wrong and this utterly horrible Russian lady screamed at you when you tried to come and watch. I still don't get the big deal about standing in the wings. I guess it's just one more thing I have against YAGP. The contemporary piece went well, or so I thought. Apparently, the judges thought their wasn't enough technique and I needed to be more impressive. Despite their criticism, it felt good to be on stage, trying to emote this feeling of remorse, as this was the mood of the piece. I felt free and I wasn't worrying about anything at the time. Once you step out onto the stage, you forget about everything else. I think that's why I love ballet as much as I do.

Then. . . you wait. . . for a very very long time. Next was the group piece, where we all wear the most unflattering piece of clothing ever thought up by humankind: the unitard. And to make things worse, they are bright red. Talk about attractive, huh? The nice thing about the group piece is that we all get pumped up together and we get to depend on each other during the piece. Interacting on stage with your friends in another one of life's simple pleasures. As you can guess, we got out there and kicked hardcore butt, seeing as the other group pieces involved bat costumes, chicken costumes and drag queen "four little swan" costumes. Yes, I couldn't believe it myself, but a school thought it was a good idea to perform the four swans variation from Swan Lake, which is, indeed, the most torturous thing you could ever do. It is fact that every dancer dreads that piece. You could probably even quote me, go ahead, quote me. Minus some less than major screw ups, the piece was a success and the judges really enjoyed it, as they gave us a 97 overall! We even ended up winning first place, tied with a pas de duex, for the ensemble category. Let's just say we worked it :)

Then. . .some more waiting, and snacking. I think I owe a great deal of thanks to my Raisinettes that got me through the day. They are seriously miracle workers. So, thank you Raisinettes! You really pulled through for me. But, as it always does, the most anticipated moment arrives and you must face your greatest fears which cannot be curbed by a deliciously addictive chocolate covered raisin by any means. The time to perform my classical variation had finally come. First, we had 15 minutes of staging, which was an utter joke. In a nutshell, it's a hundred dancers crammed onto a tiny stage trying as best they can to get in everyone elses' way just so they can practice their variation. So, you can either be the tool than runs into everyone, or you can be the considerate one who avoids the tools, but unfortunately doesn't get to practice at all out of fear of getting smacked in the face with a pointe shoe. I was a mix of the two. At times, I was like, screw everyone, and just did what I had to do. At other moments, I valued my life over trying to squeeze in that last pirouette trial and simply ran off stage before a concussion occurred. Needless to say, you will not be any more prepared with that extra 15 minutes than you were at the beginning of the day. That's all it comes down to.

I heard my name over the intercom, the music began, and I stepped out onto the unsprung stage, losing sight of anything but the stage lights and my overwhelming desire to simply not screw up. Things were going well, I balanced my attitudes, I was using my port de bras. . . then came the turns, which are really the thing that screw me over and freak me out more than anything else. All I want to do is get through them and move on. They were a little shaky, but, nonetheless, I made it. Then, the slow section from the corner. It really makes a difference when you used to dancing on a soft, sprung floor and then your thrown onto a ridiculously hard floor and you're forced to walk slowly and controlled on pointe and look pretty while doing it. This was the worst part, despite it being the easiest part of the variation. By the end of it, my confidence was shot. The last section, surprisingly went well, seeing as they were pirouettes, again. I finished with a slight balance and got the H off of that stage, running down the stairs to my dressing room where many tears came and went. I regret my classical variation most of all. The one piece I really worked the hardest on was the one I felt the worst about. After countless hours of rehearsal, I had nothing to show for it. I wish I could have been able to come off stage and say that it was the best I had ever done it, but I could hardly say that at all.

The award ceremony came. I was in my Jessica Simpson heels, a pencil skirt and a newly discovered updo, thanks to Pinterest :) They began calling out names to give out awards and I sat on the edge of my chair, half expecting to get called. . . . which never happened. Yep, I didn't place. Bummer. But! The group piece won first place, we were awarded best school, and some of my closest friends got some very impressive awards! In fact, Albert, the most dedicated dancer I know, was given the honor of Grande Prix, which basically means you owned everyone. The best part was that he wasn't even expecting it. I hate when cocky people get first place awards. It just makes their overly large heads that much bigger and I would love nothing more than to knock them back into first grade. That being said, I am very proud of Albert. He totally deserves it and I should probably take his completely obnoxious but utterly true advice and be a little more dedicated to this art form. He takes the extra time to practice, even though it makes me mad sometimes. I guess I am just jealous that I am not trying as hard as he does, which is probably part of the reason why I didn't do as well as I should have in the competition. I can only hope after getting Grande Prix, Albert can keep his meekness so I won't have to punch him one day for saying some overly annoying comment like "Well, I won Grande Prix, you know." That would simply ruin it for me.

In the end, it was just a stupid competition. Sure, it would have been nice to win something. Get a little trophy or plaque to hang on my wall and admire every once in a while, but I am just glad that I got scores that were close to those who did win. That gives me a little more comfort. All I can do now is hope for a better tomorrow and work just as hard as the dedicated ones. It's not worth the tears or the time to think about it anymore. So, as of right now, I rid myself of the whole thing. I did get some nice comments from the judges, too, which makes me feel a little better too. . . .alright that was my last note on the competition. I promise. The end to YAGP! It's finally over, until New York, that is. We can move on to bigger and better things, and hopefully shorter posts. I apologize for dragging this out so long. In that spirit, I will end this now. Until next time, your ballerina in the making...

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