An Apple a Day


“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”
― Twyla Tharp

I could move almost anywhere. My daughter could study ballet anywhere. If you call home a place where your family is, then we certainly have a home. It is wherever we put ourselves and our stuff. “Our stuff” can mean many things, though, including ideas! I do not think you have to watch or see other people’s art to make art, but it is often interesting to do so-getting ideas can come from almost anything. My children have almost never had a house-well, we did once, but that was not permanent, so that is different. But your ideas and creations, your art, definitely needs a house-and then you need a place to work. That could be a studio, a coffee shop,  a theater, or an office, etc, but it is a place where you have a work ritual and is conducive to being productive. I had a house growing up. It was the only time in my life I felt really secure. But, there were some things I realized I could NOT do in that house-art sometimes needs a different house. Now that I think back, I knew it wouldn’t go away, we wouldn’t have to move or run away, but it did and what I was left with were the memories and fond feelings which in turn became allegorical to me, so a house, for me, is a metaphor for a place where you are free; free to create, sleep, love, eat, entertain, work, etc….and that place is in yourself, too. An abstract notion and a metaphor puzzle me. You can think we are the masters of the planet or you can reverse that and feel like a Dr. Seuss character hanging off the trunk of an elephant-one is secure, one is not so secure. Or is it? It is important in art to turn things upside down and shake them a bit, you never know what you’ll find. Looking at things in different ways can also be interesting. Abstract art/dance is not always a big turn-on for me. I like to have the security in experiencing it, by knowing somewhat what the artist intended. I do not feel secure out their, hanging off the trunk of an elephant trying to figure out what they are trying to say. it makes me feel dumb if I do not get it. I do not think Twyla Tharp left a lot to the imagination about the intention of her work. As a child, it appealed to me immensely, it made perfect sense, just be happy and dance! Now, I see it as less interesting, oddly. Change is good, and that is another thing about perspective(s)-those change too, even for artists, one day they make a work, see it one way and have lightened their load. The next day, they are really not satisfied with it anymore. They have to move on and once said, a piece does not always any longer carry much meaning for them. It still means the same to us, I think, and we keep in our experiences, thins we have seen in different categories. There is certainly a “live” category, which is interactive to some extent, and there is what I like to call a 2-dimensional category. This is or can be the process of making or experiencing art in some other way-not “live.” Fewer senses are used, or different senses called upon. The artist is the maker, and the viewer is, well, the viewer.

“Creativity is more about taking the facts, fictions, and feelings we store away and finding new ways to connect them. What we’re talking about here is metaphor. Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art, if it is not art itself. Metaphor is our vocabulary for connecting what we are experiencing now with what we have experienced before. It’s not only how we express what we remember , it’s how we interpret it – for ourselves and others.”
Twyla Tharp

What I want to discuss today is working habits. people need them, as much as a form of security as a house. a place to put our things, our ideas, our creations. We need a house. Not in the sense of a box-we have to think out of the box, but first you must start with a box to think out of it, so one cannot exist without the other. You have to throw ideas away and keep ideas. It is not unusual then, that in a school (of any sort), we have those who think inside the box and those who think outside the box. Any institution or school of thought is similar, ideas can be parallel, but they do not have to be the same. Twyla Tharp also said:

“A lot of people insisted on a wall between modern dance and ballet. I’m beginning to think that walls are very unhealthy things. ”
Twyla Tharp

One can make the assertion that ballet is dead, but any art form may come alive again, and it does, again and again. I believe walls are important, otherwise no walls would need walls, sometimes. Many people begin one study in school, and experiences or  life happens to them, changing their goals, their dreams and their visions. This happens to artists, and too much desire to control the experiment often results in less being produced and not more, but clearly an artist must know where to stop. In a drawing, this can be very plain, when artists do not know where to stop and there is too much said, too many things going on, and for me, frequently, too little with abstract art. Ballet usually tells a story. In classical terms, this was generally an allegory. Why are symbols necessary?

To escape, must one run to the forest of one’s mind, to the fauns, the dryads, an urban sprawl, or love, to cycle around feelings and try to get different perspectives-one perspective is often called a “style.” The representation of abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms, or using a figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another is one definition of an allegory. We do it every day, for instance, when we make a comparison (simile).

In Paquita, which is abstract (actually) and allegorical (incidentally), and not based on any story at all, and features the music of Minkus, and the choreography of Petipa, and was the result of years of successful collaborations by the two, the abstract works. The Grand Pas, was written for Petipa’s revival of Deldevez’s Paquita in St Petersburg in 1881. It is a jewel of the classical ballet repertoire in its own right. As an independent, abstract divertissement, the Grand Pas has remained immensely popular with dancers, ballet companies and their audiences all over the world, but had not been seen outside Russia in its original context (as the climax of the concluding celebrations) before Pierre Lacotte’s  re-creation of the 1846 ballet in its entirety at the Paris Opéra in 2001. I notice the French love anything with French words in the title, whether it is French or not.

The Grand Pas was designed to showcase the ballerina, premier danseur, six premières danseuses and eight second soloists. In serves as a kind of miniature gala performance, with an array of solos that are not only interesting for their choreography but also the obbligato writing. Minkus’ real talent in composing was for the violin, his own personal favorite—which can be seen in the extended adagio. There are also several other instruments highlighted in his ballets, such as the flute, harp, cello and cornet. It is surprising to me that ballet dancers usually do not know very much about ballet. They are not always very well-educated. I think it is more possible to interpret something from different standpoints if you study it, or learn more about it-more information in, more information out. The violin and harp solos were especially written for the maestros of the St. Petersburg orchestra in the day, Albert Zabel and Leopold Auer. The piece was used extensively in Pavlova’s touring company in the 1920’s and it is today all over the world.

http://youtu.be/E-mWwwSsiwk

Another, lesser performed piece, but more interesting to me because I love character dances, and as an allegorical reference, is Nuit et Jour, created by Petipa and Minkus to celebrate the accession to the throne of Tsar Alexander III in 1883. It is an interesting example of abstract allegorical work because it illustrates the movement of time through the day and the seasons of the year. The ballet metaphor recreates the co-existing beautiful characteristics of both night and day (created by the great ballerinas Yevgeniya Sokolova and Yekaterina Vazem, respectively), the struggle between darkness and light for first place, and climaxes in the natural harmony in which they must have détente, some of the time, in the dance of the nations. This assumes a patriotic stance by sampling the talents of no less than ten national types from the Russian Empire in a tour de force, masterfully showcasing the composer’s skill in capturing the various national styles: Uzbek, Tartar, Siberian, Finnish, Cossack, Belarusian, Polish, Caucasian, and Ukrainian, as well as Petipa’s choreographic importance in preserving the dance styles of the nationalities in a ballet. Over and over again, we are to see and hear these great artists works today, though in different cultures, we are served them up in an entirely new stew. Some music from that piece is here:

http://youtu.be/Glc6DS_AxAQ

The piece is not now performed by anyone (on YouTube). However, another interesting allegory is Maurice Béjart’s Firebird. I love Bejart, particularly Bolero. This ingenious work reinterprets the traditional fairytale as an allegory of revolution, idealism and rebirth, played out against Igor Stravinsky’s glorious score here heard as performed with Alvin Ailey’s dancers.

Still anyone with a penchant for the music of the Firebird, being familiar with the score, will want to see what Ailey’s dancers have done with it. A new perspective is good, whether you like it or not. The point is, the familiar is exciting, the everyday is relevant, and as these ballets and music themselves were at one time revolutionary, they were the purposefully driven vehicle of the composer and choreographer to make interesting the art of ballet, an allegory in themselves, within an allegory within an allegory. Today, this chain continues with the not-so-modern-anymore work of Twyla Tharp, dependent on the good vibrations of the Beach Boys and other artists of the era (and before) allegorically to remind us of a period by the use of its symbols, one is the music itself, the metaphor of the dancers just moving to the music differently, and I think, syncopation to illustrate perfectly logical dance technique, which here was revolutionary use of a new style. The ambiance, lighting and simple costumes imbues a sense of simpler times, when emotions were playful and innocent, fun and frolicsome,  a love story, the social atmosphere and interactions of her characters (almost) are like Dick and Jane in Little Deuce Coupe. The use of the dances of that period, viewed from a different perspective, lend a convivial excitement to the pieces, in place of the usual feelings and emotions one is transported to in a ballet. It is a vehicle to make you perfectly comfortable, expecting one thing and then delivering quite another in her complex and very serious choreography, which to any other music might not be as appetizing and the audience might rebel. And the anticipation created by the use of these songs, relaxes the viewer, allowing them to concentrate only on what the dancers are actually doing. The dancing is rebellious movement, not ballet, and not modern dance, but something of both, something without oppressive walls and yet we accept it. It is believable.

http://youtu.be/dmy7d7CbF0E

American’s We, also from Ms, Tharp was referred to by Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times as “cosmic allegory.”  I do not see why she refers to it as allegory at all, other than that many abstract works present a patriotic or social comment or use a metaphor to make a point-like Laugh-In-they are not necessarily allegorical. Its premiere, featuring Angel Corella and Paloma Herrera, opened on May 3rd, 1996, (by ABT) spawning a heartless review: “A ballet by Twyla Tharp, no matter how muddled, always has a streak of unmatched originality,”….”and The Elements, her new work about order and disorder for American Ballet Theater, if flawed, is also striking.” “While not entirely transformed into a showpiece for Angel Corella, the revised ballet nonetheless explodes with this young dancer’s phenomenal bravura. Don’t miss him. Largely re-choreographed for Mr. Corella and Paloma Herrera and using some new music, Americans We now treats its theme of light and shade both sensibly and sensationally.” Apparently, the re-choreographing of a live piece of art occasioned a gradual acceptance into the vernacular by this critic, but who says art has to be dormant-it can’t change? Most live art changes. Only film and visual art is static. Sometimes we see the allegory within an allegory from the press and since we cannot see it on YouTube, that is the best we are going to get-metaphors for dance which induces the audience to come to the show (sort of-in this instance). Twyla Tharp found a home for her works, housed in Oberlin College (Ohio)-if you are ever there, take a look. Remind me again-what do we need critics in dance for? Film yes, but dance? Maybe not. Perhaps Petipa’s and Minkus’ productions were not so very well received in their day!

Allegory expects from the audience a level of comprehension, to know what the symbols in the story, the dancers, represent. The best allegory is a game of charades, where you realize the pantomime, with surprise and yet with a sense of personal accomplishment in recognizing the obvious. Allegory would be unsuccessful if everyone left the theater with a different impression. The result of a successful allegory is that the audience comes away with a feeling of a universal togetherness, united in the same belief; for the briefest of moments having shared spirits. I have looked into the eyes of other theater goers and known I was “reached” and they were not.

To me, this kind of ballet is less boring than a masque, and no wonder the success of these ballets, for some of the reasons outlined above. I wonder then, how an abstract ballet can have the same elements of a story ballet, and how these almost indescribable pieces can result in the audience experiencing the same emotions, but they can.

Les Presages and Choreartium are two, choreographed and performed by The Joffrey Ballet, premiered in Los Angeles in 1992, amidst anticipation not heralded by “new” abstract allegories, according to one NYT’s review. What is new about an allegory by now, you say? Isn’t everything a metaphor/allegory in ballet, dance, art, music? No everything is a metaphor (again). But, audiences, tired of being talked-down to, lost interest in old themes of personifications of good and evil, night and day, light and shade, etc-and the reviewer is always there to remind them of what to think. What was “new” could still be predictable.

Les Presages was set to Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 and is almost an hour-long performance in itself. It is one of two historically significant “symphonic ballets” (Choreartium being the other) that Leonide Massine choreographed in 1933 (even ballet has become an allegory for itself!), for Col W. de Basil’s Ballet Russes. Neither ballet had been performed in the states since the 1940’s. Choreartium was set to the music of Brahms’s Symphony No. 4. It is ever important, if possible, to lend credibility to a balletic reconstruction, to have on hand, original members of the cast, etc., and this was the case with these works as well; Nelly Laport and Tatiana Leskova supervised (both former members of the Ballet Russes).
and a very clever UK band (The Mask) borrowing the mythological “Pandora’s Box” à la moderne or street dance, as well as other allegorical references, vis-à-vis Diaghilev/Nijinsky, but set to contemporary music. Twyla Tharp did this also, using about every form of dance in her ballets. I still call them ballets.
Massine, having created the symphonic ballet, sought to visualize the musical content of symphonic works through movement. Music from Valse Allegro-here, which typifies the movement being suggested by the music of these works. Pop music also makes us move certain ways.
The Positano Myth Festival Selection Massine/Nureyev/Picasso
and
This last link quickly demonstrates (the importance and significance of) the Polovtsian dances (Fokine, Borodin) as performed by the Kirov, and the elements of allegory, not only in dance, but in voice, pantomime, costume. It serves to also keep this particular kind of history, passing down a story, relevant for many reasons today, as it was centuries ago, and is just as important in that it passes it along the way it was performed-and cannot be any other way except this way. Every performance is a different work of art.
Voice and pantomime have all but gone from the ballet and dance, except in music video which are snobbily put down and are not always what they could be. Today’s audiences are usually listening to an iPod in a dock, but even the smallest performance can benefit by instrumentation and comedy, dance and mime, live voices, and art, for these elements were a part of most ballets, part of ourselves and involve many variations of interaction. A feast for the senses (plural). What has come down, and what is, seems to be less and less, and is not always very creative. Fewer dancers, smaller companies, less glorious performances-no wonder the audiences were enthralled. I really think it does not get much better than this.

Perhaps the most famous allegorical ballet is Swan Lake, but upon this I will not dwell on the story and the dichotomy of the black and white swan, portrayed by one dancer, clearly revolutionary at its start, but rather on the music, which in itself also cleverly draws from earlier scores. An interesting aspect of the composition process and history is that supposedly specialist composers (for ballets) were frowned upon by Tchaikovsky (think Minkus and Pugni) until he studied their scores and, impressed by the nearly limitless variety of infectious melodies their scores contained, he copied their pattern(s) to some degree. Tchaikovsky later wrote, “I listened to the Delibes ballet ‘Sylvia‘…what charm, what elegance, what wealth of melody, rhythm, and harmony. I was ashamed, for if I had known of this music then, I would not have written ‘Swan Lake'”. We would have been lost if he did not copy those other ballets. I love Sylvia, too, but for different reasons. Tchaikovsky also copied leitmotif (think Giselle, Adams), which consisted of associating certain themes with certain characters or moods, a technique he would use in Swan Lake, and The Sleeping Beauty. We often wonder why certain music reminds us of certain other music. All allegory!

Truthfully, all dance is metaphor, on some level, and an allegory is an extended metaphor, wherein a story illustrates an important aspect of the subject-another definition of allegory. Non-linguistic metaphors, such as in dance, can be the basis on which we compare ourselves, or imagine ourselves in the role of a broom as danced with in Cinderella and no doubt is where Disney got his idea of the broom in Fantasia, among other dancing items: Hippos, flowers, fauns….and ostriches (as set to music by Leopold Stokowski)

http://youtu.be/zaMlGheUlXU

As in art, most choreographed works of dance are presented as if in a language all their own, based on on metaphors, and which demands imagination and intuition take precedence over logic and reason. The interesting aspect is how dance is a language of its own and also tells stories, sometimes using completely fixed objects, as in art, to denote certain iconographic statements and how these universal symbols, whether to adult or child, across any culture, can readily convey the same emotions to completely different people. I am not speaking of the pageant-like recitals of ballet and dance academies where a prop, of a window is all they have to stage, but where these articles are truly elements of communication-a part of the symbols necessary to communicate a feeling or an idea, and together with the music, costume and sense of movement-or logical flow of movement, we can put together a story with iconographic images, music and association. Note the word necessary.

Every dance is to some greater or lesser extent a kind of fever chart, a graph of the heart.—Martha Graham

Martha Graham, first and foremost engages me as a developer of movement, a movement linguist. For me, her technique makes it possible to express certain kinds of feelings, and it is so easy to learn-so natural~! It is sort of like swimming with the water buoying you up, supporting you and in this security, you can think clearly. Her technique is a relaxed sort of strength, one the body gives up honestly, practically no effort is required, outside of breathing. From this technique comes her many works and examples of expressed feelings at one time considered understandable to most viewers and significant.

http://youtu.be/XmgaKGSxQVw

and her technique is quite rhythmically suitable for certain kinds of music, mostly dark or discordant (ahem) themes, but not always. I find a great deal of joy in Appalachian Spring.

http://youtu.be/CpXOBHDiFD8

Isadora Duncan and Loie Fuller (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAoPeYG9Znc&feature=related) are two examples of pioneer women dancers who also thought of dance as a metaphor for freedom and for life (supposedly). But in dance, as in all other commercial art forms, there must not be only the artist’s ability to express themselves, but also the ability to engage and audience.

Another modern allegory I like, Babel, by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, expresses how non-language is sometimes more uniting, universal, and inoffensive than any other form of communication. Perhaps we understand more by watching visual movements and symbols than by talking. As envisioned by Cherkaoui, Babel demonstrates through allegory, music, singing, icons, and especially dance, that perhaps dance is a common language in which we can mostly be peaceful. Allegorical, metaphorical or truth? Perhaps, it has taken these centuries to get past all of our obstacles in seeing the plain and simple truth. Too much talking, not enough dancing…..

http://youtu.be/IBkDk_Vq1Lo  (discussion)

http://youtu.be/GhTQ86gY3qk  (piece)

Keep on dancing!!! 🙂

The achilles tendon and important pointe(s)


This is not what you think. I am sure by now I appear like some half-psycho wandering mother with her children living out of a car, and dragging her little girl to ballet classes a la Rosalind Russell (Gypsy, 1962-the year I was born). But I am not. I do have a little trouble paying all the bills for her ballet class and no one in our household is very supportive of her dancing. She was feeling bad because I bought her a new pair of point shoes-well, she cannot very well dance without them, can she? The ones she had were too soft, so she ran the risk of hurting her achilles tendon, again. Ballet, I repeat is NOT for poor people. You have to be really smart to juggle classes, clothing, photos, point shoes and other shoes, transportation, fees for costumes, etc., and privates. It’s around $1,000 per month and if you have a lot of discretionary income, that is fine. Before ballet, there is usually gymnastics-we skipped that part-or other kinds of dance. We did one half-year of tap and jazz at a small studio by our house with her friends.

The truth is, I danced for two years in modern and ballet, when my teacher said, let’s get point shoes! I was not sure whether to be excited or dismayed (ha, betcha thought I was a ballet dancer!) Well, I was. But the point is, point was not my primary interest in the art form at age sixteen, and to be honest, all of the women in my class were college students or beyond and were looking forward to it. They all went down to the local dance shop and bought point shoes right away. To me, it was like a strange beast you put on your foot and tried to walk around in-nothing could have looked more alien to me than a point shoe. I studied them in the magazines, I went and gawked at the store window (we only had one shop) at the Capezios (one brand-life was simple in Ohio). I had a very straight foot. Physically, I was built very straight up and down. No chest until I was about 16-at all, none. I wasn’t exactly skinny, I was muscular, but slim. My feet always seemed to stare up at me like that comic character, L’il Abner, and I could raise one toe with what seemed to me a large nail. I quickly looked away hoping no one else would see me do that. I think the stigma came from my mother telling me that she was going to have to start buying the shoeboxes for me when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade. By the time I was in the eighth grade I wore a size 8.5. Like Catherine d’Medici, I learned that my feet looked much better, well—pointed. Shoes were flat then, in grade school. There was no little heel to disguise my seemingly big feet, and my compressible foot had spent several years in a cheap converse which didn’t do my arch any good. I got shin-splints in my 2nd year of ballet for which there was no Internet, Ballet Talk or other source of advice and a gym teacher gave me the exercise to roll a tennis ball with my foot. I did. For whatever reason, in my third year of dance the splints went away.

I remember standing between our pool table and the sofa and jumping up in the air in a leap when I was in grade school. What intrigued me was the feeling of weightlessness and what made me stay up in the air which I could do for the longest time. Like a bird and I would go leaping around in the yard to see how long I could stay up there, what made me stay up longer, stretching myself longer and longer to achieve the greatest height and distance. I did well in standing long jumps in school (second place again to Nancy!). Nancy still looks fabulous and thin. But I also ran. I had stamina, I walked miles everyday. I had nice carriage and good posture. But I did not feel proud of my feet. The toe turned up when I pointed and was forever looking at me, just a little bit past my tights in my bare feet and I could imagine it in my ballet slipper, turned up, so that my shoe even had a little place in it where the toe rubbed the top! Point shoes.

Tatiana Riabouchinska darning the ballet shoes...
Tatiana Riabouchinska darning the ballet shoes, Sydney, between 1938-1940 / photographer unknown (Photo credit: State Library of New South Wales collection)

Well, I got mine. But I was not looking forward to that class. I just knew. I sewed the ribbons on, elastics, and went to class. There were no dreams in my head of becoming Heather Watts or Cynthia Gregory. I loved the ballet, was moved to dance, and was good at ballet in certain respects. I had very good technique, good turnout, balance. I simply missed the prima ballerina train. I was even flexible and could jump up and touch my toes, perfectly. Cheerleading practice. I loved ice skating and bicycle riding (it was my car). I did not have big hamstrings, or behind. I was rather built like a boy or a flatsy doll. I put them on. They hurt right away. The princess and the pea. It burned! Like the witch in The Wizard of Oz, I threw them off mentally, 1,2,3. I was melting. They were rough inside. I could feel every hard surface and crevice, pinching my probably swollen peds and I stood up. Wobbly!!!What was this? How could I…..walk? It just got worse from there. I vocalized the gnawing, searing pain during exercises. I had no control. Pull up, up, up! I was really angry. I quit trying to find a comfortable hiding place in those shoes and they looked at me evilly from the shelf. My teacher actually had to repeatedly hush me and give me warnings. The first class was murder, and yet when it was over, like having a baby, you think next time won’t be so bad. It was-worse. This time she corrected me repeatedly, but I turned around at the barre several times and actually made it to one foot (yes). I cursed under my breath and grimaced. How can dancers go on? They must be c-r-a-z-y. I stopped again. Once you start on that negative swing you are doomed. Lie, lie, lie (the 3rd time). Made it. Center, pirouette. But, I knew after several classes, watching others steadfast and determinedly go through this agony, that point was just not worth it-for me. I realized they did not feel what I felt. They actually liked it! One or two were very good, some had had point as children or teenagers. I did not care, no jealousy really. Just no-zero-desire.

I lost some interest in ballet after that for awhile, not wanting to see the torture. Disbelief and denial set in. I saw dancers and their feet an extension of their legs and tried NOT to see what was on their feet. Pointed, good enough. Okay. Let’s move on to the modern. I was made for modern. No question. I could rise up practically on my toes, no point shoes, roll neatly through my foot. Connect with the floor. Me very happy….I truly admired ballet dancing and went back to drooling over lithe dancers, in unitards with tremendously long feet in point shoes and happily imagined myself like that without point shoes, perfectly content to live vicariously ever more. That did not stop me from taking ballet, being really good at it, but not dancing on point. They continued their class and many adults pursue ballet just to go on point. I blame my father for his upturned toe, my grandfather’s delicate feet and perhaps a late start. My mother was a whirling dervish en pointe and my grandmother had natural bunions-nothing phases her, 92 and still going.

Well, my daughter is like them. Not me. I never told her this until she was in point for well over one year, because I did not want to jinx her, but there was no synergy or moment of dancer-to-dancer bonding when I saw her first in point shoes. She wanted to try them and I helped her a few times. I know a lot about feet. But, I never said a word as she seemed born to them, to the blisters and pain, balance and pounding that I remembered vividly. It hurt to watch at first and I kept expecting her to come home crying, admitting that she, too, was not cut out for point, didn’t like it and it was to never be. But she did not. I waited. No. I became a little bit jealous. She has no turned up toe, but her feet are my baby’s feet with her pretty little turned up toe. No! It is flat and straight and the first three are about the same length. I blamed my almost longer 2nd toe. She threw away spacers after 3 months, pads after six, and even wool. She tapes her toes, liking the feel of the shoe (yuck!), and uses the littlest, tiniest, bit of wool in the toe to even it out. She looks so pretty, and is so tough. I really have admiration of the highest sort for her and all other dancers, pads, wool, spacers and everything. They are really special. I was not, at point.

The thing that concerns me are the other aspects of the point shoe. Pulling up is sooo very important. Light and articulate is the way I would describe the prettiest pointed dancers. But I see Maria Tallchief doing things on those feet that (ouch!) I can still almost not bear to watch, but I do with strange fascination, now. I know what to look for and I can see inside those point shoes with my x-ray eyes, and know what is real and what is an illusion. Alina Somova has an interesting and pretty point, even though she has corkscrew legs (hyper-extended). I just see her feet, articulating and pawing the ground like a little horse. Lightly and in so many pieces this is what I want to see, but not what I do see. You need feet the audience can’t take their eyes off of. Something the audience cannot stop watching, studying. I do not know what advice to give my daughter, who so wants to dance. Daily, I see her practicing and stretching. She has so many things to work on. There she is crying because her point shoes do not have a long enough vamp for her long toes. We got the wrong ones again.

She needs the long vamp and the low profile, otherwise her sweaty little feet go sliding down, boom and she jams her achilles. This happened with the last pair of Repetto’s we bought; perfect in every way, but very soft shanks. A performance shoe, no doubt. I really need to learn some French. You can’t talk to them otherwise and you cannot read the catalogue. None of the shops know anything about feet or shoes, it seems. They don’t dance on point. It is up to the dancer to be smart. To educate herself about the shoe she needs, to know her foot. Mother’s really cannot go around blaming themselves. But it is so much for little girls to know and to learn. They take their futures and their careers in their hands dancing en pointe. But she suffered a pretty serious pain from the achilles jam. Not a serious tendonitis, but enough to keep her off from dancing for almost two months now. She has danced off and on, but one recital and the next week she’s down. It will heal and if she practices preventative exercises and is very, very careful not to overdo it, she will avoid it becoming chronic (I hope). But just one pair of shoes that were too soft, and a propensity for the injury. Not putting your heels down can be a cause, twisting while on point can be a cause, overdoing it can be a cause. So many other things. Good street shoes. A low heel. Exercises to stretch and strengthen the feet, diet. Fatigue. Too hard a shank for the reason of always fighting to get up on the box. Popping up. Jumps-not landing in a plie properly, pointing too hard, and possible a heel spur. Where to start? It’s like being a med student/hypochondriac. Dancers go through the list of things they might have, every time they have a new feeling or injury. It’s just the dancer and herself. No one else can really give advice, except medical advice and not very many dancers listen to that. Caution and proper technique. Physical therapy, if necessary, to massage out the adhesions (knots) which cause strains and tears-not just in the achilles tendon, but in all tendons!

Achilles tendons heal very slowly due to the low vascularization-no blood vessels-so massage also helps heal-don’t practice this yourself-you need a licensed physical therapist. We are going to try yoga for her. It is supposed to be good for ballet students and healing. Whatever you do, do not put your children up on point too young. I have been reading about more cases of it with young dancers 8-11, due to going up too soon. It is not that you do not have other foot issues, such as bunions, and my daughter has a wide metatarsal. She now needs a spacer she realizes, when she dances a long time, such as in rehearsals. But most of all she needs the support that the shoe offers, flexible wings and a strong box! Her shank is still medium to soft as she is only three years dancing, and her feet have gotten much stronger, but working the foot is good-not too much. Her straight foot is now pleasantly arched a little and she does not use a stretcher. Once upon a time, she did not believe she would ever have an arch and she looked down at her straight little feet and pronounced aloud that her toe turned up (hehehe). But it really does not.

The dance store should have seen that little toe winking out of the side of the shoe and known that all of her toes were not in the box. She really has a tapered foot. But they say all these things to you, and it is just so much information, not really making relevant sense until over time, piecing itself together, and becoming useful information, but as you learn with it and it slowly falls into place. Like French. Reading is very important, but you really learn one pair of shoes at a time. Hopefully with no injuries. Keep on Dancing!

The Perfect Pointe

Pointe-shoe-brands | Pointe Shoe Brands | Page 8

Pointe of view: bring your perfect shoe into focus. – Free Online Library

The Master List Of Pointe Shoe Specifications

Care of the achilles tendon – Ballet Talk for Dancers

Achilles Tendon Questions – Ballet Talk for Dancers

“Controlling” the Depth Of Demi Plie – Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pointing feet without pain – Ballet Talk for Dancers

Achilles Tendon Trouble – Ballet Talk for Dancers

Stretches, and pressure on the achilles tendon? – Ballet Talk for Dancers

Proper barre stretch – Ballet Talk for Dancers

Finding The Right Dance School For Your Child | Second Act Consignment Dancewear


Finding The Right Dance School For Your Child | Second Act Consignment Dancewear.

 

Not sure I agree or not, haven’t read it, but I wholeheartedly approve of their intent and the consignment dance store which every studio should have in fact!

George Balanchine – YouTube


George Balanchine – YouTube.

Stretching, Drawling and Thinking


So much is bothering me right now I do not even know where to begin. One finances are very tight. I am going through a career change and have no job currently. My son is driving a cab instead of going to college-he is 25. Very bright, but not much self-esteem sometimes. My other son feels left out. We are going to be evicted because the dates of my income have changed and every month the landlord tries to catch me up by giving me a three-day notice instead of waiting a couple of days for the rent (which she knows I always pay). Reason: Doesn’t like so many people in the apartment (Great-grandma is in the living room) and she just does not like this. Also, she can get more for the place right now-maybe one hundred dollars-so she is going to destroy my credit. I have not received child support for three years (regularly) and when I do it is nothing frankly. His telephone line is on my phone account and that is about all I get help with. Grandma needs to be changed constantly, otherwise she is not really a problem, usually. The money is just not there to pay for ballet. At all. If I have to move, I will have to shell out at least $5,000 and put off finishing school because I am just too stressed out. All I have to do is take this test and I am done. No matter what, I am going to do that. My daughter has to be driven to ballet also, not that far, but $15-20 per day in gas is not uncommon and if my car goes as well, I might as well, well, you know. It’s a lot.

Why do I care? What is the big deal? Why does it seem everything converges to defeat us just when she starts to get ahead? I simply cannot afford the privates. I need to get my head examined. There are no scholarships and if there were, many people would be ahead of us for various reasons. She is learning two variations. Her teacher is very good, but says she has two problems. Her back needs to be stronger and she has to continue to work on her turnout. It is a constant battle. But, she is getting better. When she is very warm, it is much better. XXX said, when she is not warmed up, it is almost completely turned in! Perhaps, but I do not really think so-more about that later. She works so hard! He says, maybe too hard. She also has had achilles tendon pain again. It is one teacher’s class primarily. Jumps and sousous-only on point. Sometimes I think that teacher just tries to hurt her. My daughter said her arabesque is getting better, but it is only 90 degrees. They had her keeping her leg low to straighten her hips-now they want it up again-demand, demand, demand. Her teacher asked why I bring her to so many classes-after this paragraph, that ought to be obvious! If she is taking too many classes, she runs a risk of repeating too many barre and other exercises and getting injuries-just enough, not too much. The teacher said she needs to “work smarter”-not so much. Work on what she needs to-above-take fewer classes-heal-don’t spend so much money!!!!Impossible. If you take the open classes it still ends up costing more than the flat rate. Also taking fewer classes means she loses some of what she has gained. She said I take the fun out of it because I scolded her after class one day. She said I do not really take the fun out of ballet. There is that between us, though-I just cannot let her have her own feelings sometimes-or to look at it another way, her feelings would not necessarily “come out” if I didn’t nudge her a bit. She dropped her arms when she was having a bad day, because the competitive girl was there-I told her I never wanted to see her let someone interfere with her own class again. If this is going to continue to effect her, then I am not going to pay for it at all. Grrr! I know my daughter (?!@#$%^&*)

She is really looking good otherwise and her teacher said her technique is pretty good. That is a big compliment-she was very pleased. I can see a big difference. She articulates her feet much more and her point is BETTER. She has a beautiful ballet body. I see a lot wrong, but for a change, I see a lot that has changed from what they said was wrong before-so do I see a lot right? I think so. The teacher said she has her fouette. This is a big deal and in that class, she is comfortable and continues to do well. Really, can we afford to miss other technique? With this teacher, I think so. It was suggested that since she is constantly injured in the other class and not in that one, that we only take those. Perhaps, “the information is contradictory.” I agree. The other class is very hard. It is good, but it is hard. Maybe she has been working too hard and needs to take fewer classes-these only-that is still several per week and her privates-we have to continue those. Also, because of this, this teacher wants to follow the actual Vagonova curriculum with her-level 5. We are to buy the book(s).

There is the money problem. I am almost caught up. Next month will be easier except for moving, and if we move closer, that is less gas. The director is concerned that she does not really care about her education. She does. It is just that she cares about ballet more. She is learning Russian (trying to) herself. This ought to be good. Also, they do not see how I can continue to pay for classes. If they are suggesting we go, then we would both be lost. For now. I can see money is a big issue there. There are late fees. lots of little tots. I am glad I do not have a business like that-I would not for long. She is a good business woman and she has been patient. I do not think her teacher would oust us, but she would. We will not be able to do the summer intensive. That would be very good for my daughter but seriously, $500 per week and from home-cannot do it. They are charging more for classes too next year and even more if you go between the two studios. We have to. That is $60 more a month (and fewer classes). I will have to get two jobs. I suggested my 16-year old get a summer job. It would be a help. that’s all. I have filed a case with the support unit-we will see. It can take 3-6 months for it to come up.

I continue to apply for jobs. I applied for the one publicity job locally, with a theater company-they stole my press release snippets! I didn’t have any current work so I did a press release for one of their up-coming shows. Then I get a placard in the mail announcing the play and they have stolen my snippets. Business! I didn’t get the job. Oh well, God never closes one door…..without leaving a window open so you can jump out!!! Just kidding. She would have done well to go to Joffrey in NY for the year I suppose, but even with the scholarship-where would she have lived? It would have cost just as much or more as it did here. More. I could move back to the city….many jobs. But, we like the teacher here. I would like my son to finish high school in this district but there is no guarantee we will be able to find a place in this area for what we can afford. I applied for jobs as a manager-we’ll see.

The performance was okay, actually, no one was that good and frankly I did not like the dance-it was very fast, and it kept changing before the show, so the teacher scolded everyone, particularly my daughter for dropping the ball. She did much better the last performance. Her teacher said she needs to perform more. How can we do less and do more????Well, a fresh start is always a good thing, so many, lots of good things! Has to be. She is going to the beach on Sunday. Her annual “burn the papers” bon fire. California has some strange traditions….

 

Poll Question #1-What grade of dancer are you?


Flying High


I had a company called World Stage. It’s very cool and references the Shakespeare line-the world is but a stage….This is an exciting promotion and much needed in the world of dance. Dance is beautiful, dance is HOT, dance is life!!!!

allie duthie

My absolute favourite ballet company in the world, The Royal Ballet, has been doing these marvellous ‘World Stage’ videos and these are the ones of two of my favourite dancers.

Edward Watson:

Lauren Cuthbertson

I love the music and the editing, and Edward and Lauren just look fantastic.

View original post

The path to excellence is not necessarily the path to acceptance….and getting up on Sunday!


Well, today we arise early to attend a “secret” class by one of the teachers at our school. It is Father’s Day, which won’t affect our plans as the Father is not at home-or you’re talking to him. whichever way you see it. But it is Sunday. Why do we do this?

I could go get bagels, finish washing my carpets and write in this journal gloriously until I am tired of it, make Sunday dinner, and do a number of things that come to mind when you are having a day off. My daughter is up preparing to go with little nudging from me and the gripe that I could have woken her up sooner.

Coming after Friday’s private where her teacher informed me that she has back and rear extension problems. Her back is flexible but not very strong yet and her arabesque remains at a resolute 90 degrees. Her other problem is turnout. If not warmed up she is turned in although she looks pretty good to me otherwise and is improving rapidly under his tutelage. I think she works only partially on these issues, except for turnout, because she needs supervision and advice. If your Bolshoi and Vagonova-trained teacher told you these things, you would probably take up jazz. He wants her to do her frogs about ten times per day and says the stretching he must do with her is “tricky” but essential if she wants to become really great. Of course she does. I feel I will have to watch as it is my responsibility as a parent to sit by while he performs this (cruel torture) just to make sure she is not really hurt.If you have been in the other room when your child was circumcised-and felt it-then you will understand that to watch as your child is stretched is difficult to bear. I am told it does not really hurt them, though. But, I know he does not want to hurt her. All of this for Raymonda, so to speak.

She has been attending so many classes per day that he did not hint, but asked right out why I bring her to so many (!). He is worried about her achilles tendon injury (or others) and the fact that she is repeating too many of the same exercises. I know what he means. In order to bribe me, he offered to teach her (work on) exercises straight from the Vaganova syllabus-7 different cambres, etc….and demanded that she work on the above stretches and strengtheners on her own, instead of overdoing exercises in class, and at barre. Well! This way he intends to switch up her exercises but still train as much. He calls it training “smarter.” We love him!!!!

Even though she got moved up a level she would have different teachers everyday which he considers too many teachers for her. So, we will be modifying her schedule with respect to his dogma and advice. This suits us fine actually even though she will miss two advanced classes and probably anger other teachers. But when you know what your child needs (and wants) sometimes you cannot be afraid to assert your will to get what you want and need, even at the expense of going against the grain of a regimen….

Keep on dancing!!!

He also wants her to dance more often ???? I think he means performances. How??? Could anyone ask for a better teacher (or a better daughter)? <3…..