Thursday, September 27, 2012

Living the Ballet Life

It makes me laugh when I think about those people who say "I'm living the life." Some of them are usually pretty successful, working a steady job, going home to a family every night, spending time with friends on the weekends. Then, there are the ones that aren't married, living on their own, partying most nights, doing the whole unattached thing. There's a whole spectrum of people who claim that they are living the life. The point to this random rant? It's all about perspective. If you are loving what you are doing with your life, then, technically, you're living the life! And the truth is, I am living the ballet life :) I get this awesome opportunity everyday to squeeze into a leotard every morning at the crack of dawn (ok ok, that's an exaggeration...but seriously, 7 am is pretty early!), and get into the studio and work my butt off in ballet class everyday. I get to rehearse with amazing teachers and choreographers. I get coached by supportive, experienced people. I get to watch an amazing company prepare for their next tour or performance. Sure, it's torture most days. I mean, who in their right mind would consider looking at themselves every single day in practically no clothes at all, forcing their bodies into very unnatural positions to make a "correct" ballet position, enduring pain on most occasions just to be able to take class and lying about it when people ask if your hurt (be honest. All dancers have done this one time or another), putting yourself down when you fail, underestimating your successes when they occur. It's tough, but honestly, I couldn't live without it; the feeling you get when you nail that triple pirouette, getting that one correction from your teacher that you so look up to and respect, hearing the audience cheer for you after performing a variation. That feeling of success! When the thing you do everyday is so gosh darn impossible sometimes, it is so much more rewarding when you finally get it right, at least for that moment. So, I guess you could say, I'm living the life :)
I think I'm really happy here! It's easy to get in a rut when you're devoting so much time to an art form that kinda hates you. But, it's one month in and I am absolutely loving it! I look forward to each day, taking class with Jeff Rogers, one of favorite teachers of all time. He's the first teacher I've had in awhile that I feel like I can sit down and have a real conversation with. He's a real person, which is amazing because he was an incredible dancer in his prime, and I think that would give him a good excuse for being arrogant and unrelatable. He makes class everyday so funny and exciting; cracking stupid jokes and making me laugh as the stupidest things. I'm really excited to learn from him all year. Right now, we are working on a few things in rehearsals, which happen for a few hours after class. With Jeff, we are learning La Ventana, a Bournenville piece with two girls and a guy. All I can say is it's killer. If any of you know of Bournenville's work, you know how hard it is. There's a pas de trois in the beginning, then two female variations, one male variation and then a finale; all of it is full of fast footwork and awkward jumps and very 1800's stylized port de bras. But, I really enjoy Bournenville work! The only other ballet I've done by him was Napoli when I was like 14, so it's nice getting to go back to that. We are also working on a new piece with the ballet mistress of the company; Aladdin. Pam, the ballet mistress, is choreographing this full length ballet on the company this year, so I guess we were kind of her guinea pigs for a couple weeks. It was 11 to 4 for one week and then 11 to 2 the next week; just setting new choreography, which can get a bit tedious. Hours and hours of her setting pantomime and steps, just so we could rehearse them over and over again and then she'd change them..over and over again. It was cool getting to work with her though. I got to be the part of the baby tiger and sometimes the monkey and sometimes an Odalisque. It was thrilling learning so much choreography in such a short amount of time!
The last thing we are doing right now is Ballet West for kids. In the next month or so, we get to go out in groups to different elementary schools, performing a very shortened version of the Nutcracker and teaching kids a little bit about ballet. We've learned all of it so now we just have to get our castings and rehearse.. a lot. I used to do these outreaches with my old ballet school in Colorado and they were always so fun, I mean except for the part about dancing on concrete and carpet and having to dance on practically cold muscles, but the looks on the kids faces when they saw you in full makeup and costumes just made it all worth it. So, I can't wait to start doing that!! It's going to be a blast.
In the afternoons, we take class with the Ballet West Academy kids and I love getting to see them most everyday. It kinda keeps me young haha :) I envy their tiny little bodies and how young they are still. I wish I could go back and be ask good as they are now! It's amazing to me how they can be such great dancers at their ages. It makes me sorta jealous actually. Even the youngin's are competition I guess ;) We take a variations class with them and we've learned all the variations from the Kindom of the Shades scene in La Bayadere. Although each one is extremely challenging in it's own way, they are all so fun to do. Variations class twice a week has to be one of my favorite classes. You wouldn't imagine how much work goes into only two or three minutes of dancing. There's so much style and technique and attention to detail when it comes to having a short little solo on stage. And you have to nail it because there are no other people out there with you. It's both an intense anxiety attack and an exciting exhilaration. But, we love it all the same!! haha
And after a long days work, I get to go home, crawl back into my nonjudgmental, totally comfortable pajamas and lay in bed on my laptop until I can't keep my eyes open any longer. On some occasions, my sister skypes me or I call my mom for a couple hours, but mostly, Netflix becomes my best friend :) sad as that may sound. But, honestly, being the introvert that I am, I just need the last few hours of my day to be by myself and veg out in front of a lighted screen, watching dramatic television shows or facebook stalking people I really miss. It's fantastic :). In fact, I think I have an episode of Modern Family that's calling my name. And I think I'm going to get to that. So, goodnight! More talk later...

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