In love with swan corps rehearsal; BPB Week 6, Day 26

Rehearsal for Swan Lake Act 2 was wonderful tonight. It was one of those nights that make this all worth it, that makes me happy and makes me remember why I do this. Which is good, because for balance there are also rehearsals like the one I had last Saturday, which somehow I just couldn’t get my swan on.

What made me so happy tonight? Aside from some inexplicable magic thing that can’t be explained and the fact that I was dancing as a swan (yes, classical ballet! Don’t get me wrong, contemporary is great, but this is what I’ve been craving), I was standing in the swan corps.

If you are a dancer or know anything about being in the corps de ballet, especially in Giselle and Swan Lake, you may be questioning my sanity right about now. Corps work is tough, and without the luxury of going offstage to prepare for Cygnets or Big Swans, the swan corps must stand on stage during three different dances, mercifully switching legs. And it’s not enough to just stand there for ten minutes, but you must not move at all. A swan must look like a swan, not like an uncomfortable person. A swan must not let herself sink into the position, but must keep the energy going at all times. A swan must stay in character as a swan the entire time with just as much energy as the soloist and principal swans dancing in the center.

And through all of this I am happy. Today was the first rehearsal we did all of Act 2 without stopping, so it was the first time we did all of that standing and staying in character without stopping the music for corrections. And I was pretty proud of myself. I was able to stay pulled up and in correct alignment (something I’m working to fix while at BPB) for at least most of the time, as well as stay in character as a swan maiden trapped under horrible Von Rothbart’s curse. Well, at least I thought I did pretty good. I’m sure when we have more nitpicky rehearsal time I’ll be corrected plenty, but since we are working with the students to flesh out the corps they were the main focus tonight.

At the end of it all, today I am happy. I usually am, but today was especially wonderful. I understudy the Little Cygnets, but I’m happy to be standing in the corps all that time. I won’t complain, because it will only make me stronger and I will improve my alignment. Besides, any budding ballerina must do corps work, so if I am able to enjoy the nitty-gritty parts of ballet then I know I am in the right career. (Also I cut my bangs again finally, and they always make me feel a bit more ballerina-like, in a Gelsey Kirkland kind of way.)

-Your Friendly Neighborhood Swan-to-Be

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BPB Week 5, Day 20: A Bit of Body and Belief

I doubt myself sometimes. I’m human, sue me. And sometimes during ballet class, almost always at barre, I do start to doubt myself. Ballet is hard, and then you look at yourself in the mirror and all your frustrations are right there in your body staring back at you. You work so hard, and your body just isn’t doing what you want it to, it just doesn’t look right.

But I was uplifted today at the end of barre. We were stretching after grande battements, and the ballet master comes over and gives me a correction, fixing my back in my battements to the back. And then she says that I have, “the perfect little classical tutu body”. She told me that the most pure classical line I could make looks best on me. And then she turned to who could be considered a principal lady in our company and says the same thing, to which she agrees.

My thoughts? Happy, a bit embarrassed, but mostly happy. Needless to say my spirits were raised for the rest of the day.

Of course, I did rationalize a bit. She must have been talking about my proportions and general look, because right now my body is not quite how I want it to be. That being said, body types go in and out of fashion and now, with so many diverse companies and successful dancers, body types are really quite subjective as to what is ideal. I suppose I was being compared to the ballerinas of the past, and they really did keep to a very pure line, without all the crazy extras and affectations of dancers today.

And considering that my body doesn’t like to do the crazy bendy things that some dancers can do, and that I’m not super tall or skinny like some find fashionable, I have to say that the comparison isn’t bad. As much as I look at the fashion of some ballerinas today and wish I looked more like them, I think in the past few months I’ve started to finally make peace with my body. As one of my fellow company members said the other day, “you’re a ballet nerd, aren’t you?” I am. I love my pointe shoes, I love the classic ballets over contemporary (though contemporary can be fun too). So you know what? I have a, “little classical tutu body”. And it suits me. I like it.

Sometimes, to believe in ourselves sometimes we need someone else to believe in us first. This ballet master told me the third day of company, “You have the most lovely expression when you dance. Don’t ever lose it.” This ballet master wasn’t the the first to believe in me, thankfully my other teachers saw something good in me as well. They helped believe in me even when I quietly despaired that I might not be good enough. And hopefully when I one day realize that I don’t have to be perfect, I can be good.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Ballerina-to-Be

Dance movies: A Chorus Line

We all love movies. And dancers especially love dance movies. Most of them touch on the basic stuff (cue the ugly ballerina foot shot). We dancers ourselves all laugh and nod and say, ‘ah yes, there we go, we all know that!’ All dance movies have some degree of truth to them, among all the Hollywood drama.

If you want a pretty honest look at the reality of dance, watch A Chorus Line. (If you can watch the musical live, even better, but the movie version is good too.) Of course, the movie looks more into short contracted dancers, that work for musicals in chorus lines as backup dancers. But, there is still truth in it for ballet dancers.

I won’t spoil the whole movie for you, but some of my favorite lines I feel are worth a mention:

  • Do you want to know all the wonderful and exciting things? Or do you want the truth?
  • Everything was beautiful at the ballet
  • It wasn’t paradise, but it was home
  • Give me somebody to dance for, give me somebody to show. Let me wake up in the morning to find I have somewhere exciting to go!
  • If I stop dancing? Real life, I guess.

But its the way the movie ends that really gets me. Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil it! But the movie just ends. It doesn’t have a nice clean wrap up, like: this is what happened. And I realize this is true of other movies as well. But the way it happens in A Chorus Line, for me as a dancer, really hits home. Because the truth is? Just as in life, the show goes on, the dance goes on. They find another dancer. Sometimes that dancer is you, and sometimes it isn’t.

-Your Friendly Neighborhood Ballerina-to-Be

peace one day

Take this day to invite someone to dance with you, and spread the message of peace.

Setting The Barre

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” -Elie Wiesel

nyc-ballet_p2_garance-dore_24

In a world where human nature seems to be more heavily focused on hatred and violence than love and unity, a day of worldwide peace sounds like a lofty goal.  Billions of us, all of differing race, religion, class, opinion, as a planet of people, we appear to be disconnected at the very core.  But! Obstacles aside, 24 hours of globally observed peace-making is precisely the goal of Peace One Day.

Grown from film-maker Jeremy Gilley‘s ambition to bring a day of active non-violence to the world, Peace One Day is nonprofit organization dedicated to the globalization of an annual day of cease fire on September 21st (Peace Day).  With its unanimous support…

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“The Death of the American Dance Critic”

Miss Kirsten over on Setting the Barre recently published this post full of fascinating reads and views for dance aficionados here online. While I have yet to explore all of the links in between company rehearsals and tasks of ‘adulting’, (Ballet Palm Beach just began its third week and I am so happy but with so little time!), I would like to direct your attention to one link in particular: The Death of the American Dance Critic.

This article covers all to do with its title, as well as a few well-stated opinions of the author. A wonderful read that you should all partake in, lovely readers. And of course, let me know what you have to think about it as well!

I think the article makes a lot of valid points about the state of dance in media, and the lack thereof. Ballet especially is regarded as too otherworldly for most people in our society, and too untouchable? But why? Is dance really too hard to understand? Too old? People who want to feel cultured go to art museums, concerts, musicals, operas, so why not ballets?

I distinctly remember a time when I only a few years into ballet. My teacher, the artistic director of the school, was giving one of her many speeches (she really loved to give those, still does, but I always loved them). She told us that even if we stopped dancing it didn’t mean we had to leave dance. She told us to write about dance, because not enough people were writing about it. People writing about dance gets others interested, excited, and keeps dance prominent in the world. I remember thinking that it was a good idea. I’ll be a professional ballerina, and then I’ll become a dance critic, a dance journalist, and write about it!

Actually, I still think this is a good idea. After dancing, I want to stay connected to the dance world. Sure I could teach, but just because I can dance doesn’t mean I would be a good teacher. Coaching, I think would suit me better. Choreographing? Right now I couldn’t see myself doing that. But after reading that article (and writing this blog for awhile!) I remember this other option. How wonderful would it be to spend my time after the stage watching other performances for a living? Writing and sharing ideas to cultivate more interest among the general population?

In other countries, which have an older history with dance, this death of critics might not be so much of an issue, but it is here in good ol’ ‘Merica. I, for one, do not want to let the American Dance Critic die. I want newspapers and magazines to once again talk about the art form as much as they talk about a celebrity’s butt. I want to bring the discussion back. I can do my part blogging, but maybe someday when I give my last bow, I’ll write, and write, and write even more. And hopefully, if the media catches on, I will get published too.

Go ahead, give the article a read. What do you think? Add to the discussion!

Your Friendly Neighborhood Ballerina-to-Be

Ballet Palm Beach: Week 3

Hello lovely internet people!

I have been away from the keyboard, but in my defense the start of the season has been a whirlwind, quite literally. I will spare you the gory details of my navigating of ‘adulting’, (i.e. part-time job issues, car tag issues, extra rehearsals and no time issues, not having my own laptop since my own died issues- you get the picture), because really, it’s better for us all.

Instead, please join me in celebrating the start of my third week of company here at Ballet Palm Beach, because honestly I am loving it here!

Artsy picture of the envelop my contract came in…Isn’t the way my name written so pretty?

Last week with our guest choreographer, Roger van Fleteren. He set his piece Messin’ with Mozart on us for our first performance, and it’s awesome to dance, and to watch! (I am second from the left in front)

This season is off to a wonderful start, and I’m sure the rest of it will only get better. Here’s to 2015-2016 at Ballet Palm Beach!

-Your Friendly Neighborhood Ballerina-to-Be

Today I Turn 18…no longer a Dancing Queen?

(Note: this post is A Hot Mess. I apologize. Yes, I could probably edit it a bit and make it look nicer, but honestly, I think it’s best just the way it is. This is me at 18, imperfections and all!)

Dear Past Ari,

Congrats! You will live to be 18 years of Earthly age, and you may not be in college, but you end up in a pretty good place.

Dear Future Ari,

Congrats! You made it past 18 years of Earthly age, to adulthood (in the most basic definition of the word, you are by no means not still a child in some sense).

To either my past or my future, I just wanted to write to myself, seeing as this is a milestone and all. I mean, how many times in your life do you turn 18, become a legal adult, you know, all that good stuff? Once. Once in your life. So, without further ado, a list of things I want to tell myself, to remember, be it past, present or future:

  1. All those corny sayings, quotes, bits of advice on the internet? At some point, they are probably true. At least try to listen to them.
  2. Those problems that look to be so dreadful when they are happening? Yeah, you get through them.
  3. You have the coolest mom ever. I know you sometimes didn’t think so when we were younger, but you come to realize this.
  4. You may not get everything you want when you want it, but the things you need and truly wish for will come at some time, in some way.
  5. Just because the US decides to recognize you as an adult legally from now on, does not mean you cannot let your inner child survive.
  6. People aren’t judging you as much as you think they are. Just do you.
  7. Things only happen if you make them happen. Sometimes it may seem like things just come to you, but that just means that you’re doing something else to attract it indirectly.

Well……….I tried writing one of those lists to myself, or one of those letters to myself. It didn’t really work out the way I wanted it to. I have too many things to say, and then they all bundle together until the words in my head come to the front of my mind looking like a blank sheet of paper.

I just want to say this: I hereby pledge to never grow up. Now, I certainly will grow older, that in itself is a guarantee of life. Perhaps the words of others will serve better purpose than my own to get my meaning across:

“We never really grow up, we just learn how to act in public.” -Bryan White

“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” -Robin Williams

“The creative adult is the child who survived” -Ursula K. Le Guin

Okay, so you get my feeling. It’s not growing older I fear, it’s growing up. For more beautifully written words on the subject (because it would take forever to put all the wonderful written words here, and the images are nice too), look no further than my own Pinterest board, labeled Peter Pan Syndrome.

You all know that song by ABBA, “Dancing Queen”, right? (If you haven’t, go to youtube and listen to it. Yes, right now.) The lyrics are, “Dancing Queen, young and sweet, only 17…” …and so on. It’s only for one year in my life that this song could (literally) apply to me, so of course I was excited, since I am a dancer. For me, 17 was a truly great year, thanks in no small part to my BOOM trainee girls in my dance company. This year, I turn 18, everything in my life is completely different, and I was a little sad to no longer be “the dancing queen”. Or so I thought. After posting my sentiments to Facebook and saying farewell to my reigning year, I got a couple of lovely responses that made me feel better:

“Have a very happy birthday! You may not be 17 anymore, but you’re still the dancing queen!”

“happy birthday, i hope it’s fantastic (furthermore: just because you’re no longer seventeen doesnt mean you arent the dancing queen, it just means you have seniority)! 💙”

“Once a Queen, always a Queen!”

So, I suppose I am still a Dancing Queen at heart then! All in all, I’m having a very happy birthday, and I just want to say I have some awesome friends and family. They all really make me happy. 

-Your Friendly Neighborhood Ballerina-to-Be, or simply, Ari

P.S.: Saw a rainbow on my way home from cold stone today (chocolate cake batter birthday cake remix, yes!), it was as if it was saying, you’ve lived eighteen years of life and that’s a beautiful thing. Warm fuzzies inside and all that good stuff, a smile, a moment of peace and contentment. 

When in Palm Beach, go to the beach!

Before anything else……..Obligatory arabesque picture:

Hello lovely people of the internet! In regards to the picture above, I actually haven’t been taking class seriously for about a month! (Scary.) So when I took this picture, I was extremely happy to find that I was not embarrassed to post it! (Go self!)

Anyway, yesterday marked the first trip to the beach here in Riviera Beach, which is a mere 10 minute drive from where I now live. (That’s right, be jealous. I can now be that stereotypical Florida girl.) Yesterday also marked a week from the day I moved in to my new apartment. Yay! So without further ado, below is my new roommate. Say hello to Kaytlyn!

Neither myself or my mother could say that my living on my own wasn’t just a bit worrisome. BUT it turns out that together with my roommate, I can survive! As proof, I sent a photo of our healthy after-beach meal to my mom, and I will share it with you, dear readers, to prove that yes, I CAN eat healthy and take care of myself (mostly!):

So, the all-important questions have been answered:

  1. Yes, I have moved down to Palm Beach (okay, technically Riviera Beach. Still Palm Beach county)
  2. I have a roommate, and she is fabulous
  3. I live right near the beach, and yes, it is the best thing ever
  4. No, I am not completely incompetent! I can take care of myself!
  5. In regards to number 4, I am still learning. This is my first time on my own, and I didn’t even get the college learning curve. But as many songs will remind us in their lyrics: I will survive!

  

We took turns taking beach pictures for our families…I’ll admit her selfie game is stronger than mine.

This has been a post from your friendly neighborhood ballerina-to-be 🙂

Acheivement unlocked: Over 6 months on WordPress

So I’ve had this blog for over six months, and I am truly enjoying it. And what do you know? Some people other than myself must enjoy it too, cause I actually have some people reading, liking, and leaving comments. Feeling the love!

I joined WordPress and started this blog because it was something I know I would have enjoyed reading. My grade-school self spent hours scouring the internet for a glimpse into the lives of other young ballerinas chasing after their careers. At first I thought it would be nice to document my way as a ballerina-in-training through college, since it looked like that niche hadn’t quite been filled. That could still happen, but even if not, I can share my experiences in my path. If some other young hopeful dancer were to read this and use it for inspiration or for reassurance that there are many paths to a career, that would make me happy. And to all of my older readers, dancer and non-dancer alike, I can provide insight into the world of a young dancer’s life.

This ballerina-to-be would love to connect with even more people in the WordPress community. I am slowly discovering more and more dance blogs, as well as non-dance blogs that are exciting to connect with. I did try out Blogspot for awhile, and although there seems (from what I can tell so far) to be more young dancers in that community, I find it easier to connect with people through WordPress. Basically, I tried both, and I like WordPress overall much better!

I am excited to see this blog grow even more through the end of the year. I started out just blogging for me, and while I still am, it’s nice to see it grow! If anyone reading this can suggest any wonderful dancer-minded (or other great) people to follow, let me know in the comments!

Miss Ballerina at National American Miss

So, last weekend your friendly neighborhood ballerina-to-be competed in the “pageant for today’s girl”, National American Miss.

  
What was your friendly neighborhood ballerina-to-be doing competing in a pageant? Excellent question!

This year, I was not participating in any ballet competitions. The reasons include:

  1. The expense. Seriously, ballet competitions cost so much!
  2. My age. Or more specifically, I was a senior in high school this year. The possible reward of studying somewhere fantastic for the summer or a year were not as appealing as in previous years. I thought I would be going to college, and I knew I was going away, so I wanted a relatively free (and less expensive) summer, and I knew that if by some miracle I was offered training during the year, I wouldn’t be able to take it.
  3. I have had the experience and performance opportunity from competing before. Multiple times. And I also have the experience that says even if I am fortunate enough to win, say, a summer scholarship to some fabulous place, I may not be able to take it.

So, with not competing in any ballet competitions, my schedule and pocketbook were open to something else. In the mail, I received an invitation for an open call for NAM. Unlike the year previously, however, I did not ignore it. Fast forward to July, and I am at my first, and most likely last, pageant event!

I honestly can say that I have enjoyed the experience. I had the opportunity to wear my prom dress (and feel like a princess) again, rocked an interview (and my “kickin’ outfit” according to my mom) and presented myself onstage speaking into a microphone. For the optional contests, I chose Top Model, in which I had fun working one-on-one with a photographer. And let me tell you, I got one huge ego and confidence boost from the photographer’s constant compliments during the shoot. I had the biggest grin on my face for hours after. Oh, and I also received a CD of the pictures from the shoot, which I can honestly say turned out pretty good.

  
The other optional contest I competed in was of course Talent. Even if it wasn’t strictly a ballet competition, I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to perform onstage! And my mom was able to make a Don Quixote tutu, which made her happy. (Side note on the incredible seamstress/ mathematician Momma- she might be starting her own sewing blog here on wordpress!) And I guess I made the judges happy too, because I ended up winning the Talent Category!

  
So while I didn’t even come close to being crowned Miss Florida Teen (let’s chalk that up to lack of experience, shall we?), I did walk away with a pretty cool trophy, a cash prize, and an invite to compete at Nationals. I was very happy with this outcome. Some girls get into doing pageants (almost) as much as I love dancing, and I wasn’t disappointed at all for not coming in the Top 20. Frankly, at the time I was just tired of standing on the stage in those heels! But really, I didn’t want to win. Not only because I knew I couldn’t go to Nationals due to scheduling conflicts if I did, but because pageantry just isn’t as important to me as it is to those other girls. Sitting in the audience cheering on the finalists, I felt content. It was nice to enjoy the weekend of competing without the stress of a ballet competition, and I wasn’t stressed because I didn’t want it bad. Which is also why three years ago I cried my eyes out when I didn’t make the NYC finals for a ballet competition. Because then, it mattered. And at that time three years ago, a friend of mine made me realize this.

  
To wrap this all up: Ballerina takes Talent Category by storm, enjoys pageant for fun, and gets to spend a weekend feeling pretty and cheering on other young ladies. It was nice to have a different perspective and just enjoy myself, rather than need to win.

A lot of people might have wanted to try a pageant at least once. My advice is: go for it! National American Miss gets you out of your comfort zone with public speaking, interviewing, giving back, and of course walking onstage in a pretty dress. You’ll enjoy yourself, meet new people, and come out with increased confidence!

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